Issue: Dec 2009


Exhilaration without excess



BMW is powering its drive to reduce emissions and the carbon footprint of its vehicles through both the alternative power and improved efficiency routes.

by Nick Palmen

“The electric drive is the great hope for the future. It is one way of making zero-emission mobility come true. And I am sure there will be many concepts here in Frankfurt. However, no other electric car has covered more miles and kilometers than our MINI E,” said Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG at the 63rd International Motor Show held in Frankfurt in September 2009.
“This car is also proof that protecting the climate can be fun. Why is that important? Isn’t environmental protection mainly a matter of reason and understanding? New technologies only promote an effect if customers actually buy them. And why should customers compromise? We consider it our responsibility to have an uncompromising balance between ecological requirements and attractive products,” he said. 

Where the rubber hits the road in terms of meeting the expectations of its customers, the manufacturer is focusing on what it calls “BMW EfficientDynamics”. According to BMW, it has reduced the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of its fleet in Europe by more than 25% “within just two model generations, at the same time enhancing Sheer Driving Pleasure to an even higher standard than ever before”.

The BMW EfficientDynamics concept aims to reduce fuel consumption and vehicle emissions whilst improving dynamics and performance. Vehicle optimization is done through improved aerodynamics, more efficient engine technologies, lightweight construction and a comprehensive system of energy and heat management within the vehicle.

Among the latest examples of EfficientDynamics on the road are BMW’s first hybrid production cars, which were unveiled at Frankfurt. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Luxury Saloon and the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Sports Activity Coupé “use an intelligent combination of the combustion engine and electric drive tailored specifically to each model to provide both an exceptional driving experience and truly impressive efficiency all in one. The BMW X1 is the first car to carry over the features and characteristics of a BMW X model into the compact premium segment, and the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo combines generous and luxurious space and outstanding function with a truly stylish and elegant look,” said BMW.

The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is BMW\'s most innovative concept car ever and sets a new performance car agenda. Its unique powertrain, ground-breaking performance potential and exoskeletal style bodywork crafted from aerodynamic knowledge gained in Formula One sets it apart from anything previously seen.

BMW is renowned for using lightweight materials as part of its EfficientDynamics strategy and this concept car is no different. The chassis and suspension are made entirely from aluminium while the roof
and outer skin of the doors are made of a lightweight polycarbonate glass. This material also comes with special properties that allows the glass to darken in sunlight to keep the cabin temperature at the desired level.

Automotive Industries spoke to Dr. Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, and asked him about BMW’s objectives for the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car that was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor show. The car boasts M3 power and record-breaking supercar economy and emission figures.

Draeger: What we have been doing for the past two and a half years is following our EfficientDynamics strategy. The idea behind the strategy is to have a massive reduction in fuel consumption in series production vehicles. Our vehicles currently use 156 grams per kilometer, which shows that our vehicles are some of the most efficient in the world. This is not only amongst the premium car manufacturers but is also below Volkswagen which is producing a lot of small vehicles for mass production.
What we want to show with the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car is what the future will look like. It will show that we can still have individual mobility which is sustainable, fuel-efficient and also a pleasure to drive. I believe that this is the kind of car which we will see in 2015 or so and it is proof that driving a BMW will still be a great pleasure in the years to come.

AI: Your new three-cylinder turbo diesel engine with two electric motors is capable of M3 performance but with a fraction of CO2 emissions and greater fuel economy. How is this technology going to translate into future BMW models?

Draeger: In BMW Vision EfficientDynamics (ED) we combine different technologies that are all part of our ED strategy. The four major pillars of ED are engine, energy management, light weight, and aerodynamics. With regards to the engine, we are downsizing and turbocharging. The next generation of diesel engines will have more power and reduced CO2 emissions, with three cylinders and sport performance.

The energy management part of the strategy involves investigating how we drive. There is a potential energy reduction of three percent depending on the driver. In terms of lightweight construction, I think the design of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car speaks for itself. Not only does the car have great aerodynamics but it also incorporates “green” tires which greatly reduce resistance in terms of rolling.

AI: Lower emissions, more driving pleasure - these are the principles of the BMW Group. What are the short and long-term goals for BMW’s EfficientDynamics development strategy?

Draeger: Our strategy is to provide the customer with products that are fun to drive as well as being highly efficient. This is really the main focus of our ED strategy.

AI: In BMW’s first hybrid production cars, the ActiveHybrid7 Luxury Saloon and BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Coupé, how did you manage to tailor the combination of combustion engine and electric drive to each model?

Draeger: I think this is a great task for every engineer. If we look at the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, it is a two-mode hybrid system combined with a V8 twin turbo engine which resulted in an extremely sporty car. This is the fastest hybrid SUV. If you compare it with the conventional one, you have a reduced fuel consumption of about 20 percent. The vehicle is also extremely quiet and can reach speeds of up to 55 kilometers an hour.
The range is limited due to the size of the battery, but the idea was to reduce fuel consumption, not to have an exceptional electrical driving range. The idea behind the ActiveHybrid7 is similar. It offers customers a practical car with reduced fuel consumption that is more environmentally friendly, with better acceleration and more dynamics.

AI: How do you carry over the features and characteristics of a BMW X model into the compact premium segment with the BMW X1?

Draeger: One of the real strengths of BMW has been its ability to define the sports activity segment. We started with the BMW X5 which was a great success. Building a sports activity vehicle with safe driving characteristics, good comfort and an elegantly designed interior has filled a market niche. We targeted this niche again with the BMW X3, a smaller model, and also with the X1. Currently, there is no premium sports activity vehicle in that class which combines perfect handling and interior, exclusivity and versatility like the X1.
AI: What are your expectations of the BMW5 Series Gran Turismo?

Draeger: The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is a great sedan for travelling. It offers the customer a luxurious interior and greater versatility. It is a completely different car. It is not just a coupé with a large tailgate. The rear seating is extremely comfortable, combined with very low noise levels and excellent climate control. The luggage compartment is clearly separated from the interior and the higher seating position allows the driver a good view of the traffic. Drivers and passengers can also enter and exit the vehicle easily unlike other sports cars. The vehicle also doesn’t have the height and the aggressive look of some SUV’s. We believe that this a great market niche and will attract a lot of new customers.

AI: What is the future of MINIMALISM technologies as we can see them in the MINI Coupé Concept?

Draeger: In our R&D department, we develop technologies for the BMW Group. All the technologies within EfficientDynamics are going into BMW brands. We see the same technologies in MINI and Rolls-Royce. We also see them in BMW M. EfficientDynamics is very much associated with BMW and MINIMALISM and fits extremely well with the MINI brand.


BMW takes checkered flag for sustainability

BMW leads the automotive field in terms of sustainability, according to the 2009 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which named BMW the most sustainable automobile company in the world for the fifth consecutive year.

The BMW Group is the only company in the automobile industry to have been listed in this index every year since it was established in 1999. BMW established a Sustainability Board in Summer 2009, which consists of the entire Board of Management and meets twice a year. The Management Board declared sustainability one of the company’s core strategic principles in 2000.

Sustainability is “firmly entrenched” throughout the entire BMW value chain: from the development of fuel-saving and alternative vehicle concepts through clean production processes to green recycling practices, according to Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW. The BMW Group also accepts responsibility for its roughly 100,000 employees and is involved in social projects outside of its plants, he added when commenting on the results of the Sustainability Index.

“Each and every proposal today is measured against the corporate goal of sustainability,” he added.


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