Oil prices may be down at the time of writing, but the motor industry continues to gear up for the time when demand exceeds supply and the price at the pump stays high by developing ever more efficient engines.
The drive for efficiency also comes from environmental concerns, and in their search for answers vehicle manufacturers are redefining the concept of a vehicle engine. It is no longer a given that vehicles will be propelled solely or at all by fossil fuel burning internal combustion power trains. One of the leaders in research, development and practical implementation of this technology is BMW.
Automotive Industries (AI): asked Dr. Klaus Draeger, member of the board of management of BMW AG Research, Development and Purchasing Please to tell us about more about BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics (hybrid transmission with a four-cylinder diesel engine).
Draeger: What we are currently showing is part of our long – term strategy which is Efficient Dynamics (ED). With ED we address everything, from March 2007, when we started it, to our long–term goal when we say that we would like to drive without emitting CO2. What we have already introduced is a lot of measures in terms of reducing CO2 of the whole BMW fleet. We have introduced the engines burning with high – precision direct injections as well as the new turbo diesels with friction reduction in the drive train system.
On the energy management side we introduced brake energy regeneration, the auto start / stop system and reducing the fuel that is used basically to run the hydraulic power steering when we switch from hydraulic to electric systems. And all these are little steps that are going to help us to reduce CO2 emission. In addition to this, there is the idea about reducing weight. Each and every kilogram that we do not have to carry and accelerate again is going to help you with the fuel consumption. And the last point is aerodynamics – reducing drag is also reducing fuel consumption. If you compare the fleet of 2006 to the fleet of 2008 you can see massive reduction of fuel consumption (by 150 million liters of gasoline and diesel). When it comes to medium term, we can imagine having electrification of the drive train, and we think intensively about batteries and hybrids. We have two co-operation. The first is with Mercedes, Chrysler and GM and the second one is with Mercedes – Benz Cars. In Frankfurt we showed the BMW X6 Active Hybrid, which is a full hybrid. In Geneva we showed some alternatives, on one side – how is diesel going to work together with hybrid and we have got the four cylinder twin turbo charged engine into that concept vehicle with 15 kw electric motor combined with a newly developed automatic transmission, which is an eight-speed gearbox, and a new battery that also comes from our cooperation with Mercedes Car Group. All these measures we are thinking of introducing sooner or later in our series production cars.
Our innovation path is set for the future. The eight-speed automatic transmission is going to give us sporty behavior with quick shifting times and at the same time will be very comfortable with reduced friction. With eight gears we will be able to dramatically reduce fuel consumption and improve the efficiency. So the eight gear automatic transmission will be one of the major parts for the near future.
AI: Will your efficient dynamics strategy change in the light of the new Number ONE strategy for 2008/2009?
Draeger: No, I think that it fits perfectly. On one hand we want to be global and on the other hand we want to grow. Efficient Dynamics will also help us to meet the 2008 commitment that we have with ACEA in terms of fuel consumption. We are intensively discussing 2012 with the introduction phase in 2015 of 120 / 130 grams and then we are looking at how we are going to fulfill all these commitments. Therefore ED fits perfectly in terms of achieving our long term emissions goal!
AI: Do you expect significant reduction in the R&D quota? How would that affect your plans for the future?
Draeger: Usually, we publish the R&D figures in our annual report and we are going to stick to them. I think that we all within the company agree that R&D is part of the future and just cutting the R&D cost is simple cutting our way to the future.
AI: Are you looking at the possibility to share components and engines with other manufacturers?
Draeger: I think we have already very good experience with this. In terms of engines we have very long tradition of sharing engines with other manufactures. In the past, we have shared the six cylinders in-line diesel engine that we sold to Opel for the Omega. We still have the co-operation with Mercedes and Chrysler for the Mini Convertible. We have set up a new co-operation with PSA for the new Mini. We are supplying a couple of smaller manufacturers with V8 engines for instance Morgan and Wiesmann. Within our strategy Number One we are thinking about further sharing engines with other car manufacturers or maybe even outside looking for instance at motorboats.
A: What steps do you take to reduce variable engineering cost?
Draeger: One of the most important ways to reduce costs is not to develop each and every component again and again for each model. We are trying to bring modules and systems together and try to adapt these modules and systems for the different derivatives that we are getting out of one vehicle platform.
This is one of the major strategic issues, really to have the most intelligent solution – on one side commonality where it helps the customer (the customer does not get any benefit if you have different locking systems or different window regulators). The only disadvantage for the customer and BMW of course is higher cost and higher warranty. Especially with these components, we should try to commonize between different systems. Where the customer see the difference, in the interior trim, the dashboard, the panels we have to look very carefully not to make this typical approach of “this is a part coming from a small car and you want to sell it in the 5 Series”.
AI: What are your efforts to further optimize the engine?
Draeger: There are a couple of measures one can take. If we look at the gasoline engines specifically applying to Europe is lean burning with high precision injection for the four and six cylinders engines. The other possibility of course is downsizing. If you look currently at the 335i with six cylinder in-line, the power of the engine is the same as the V8 engines. In terms of torque, the engine is probably even better and if you compare it in terms of fuel consumption the in-line six turbo charged is definitely better than the V8. So downsizing is another trend.
If you look at the new V8 with turbocharger sitting in the V, we consequently are going to downsize the V8 as well. The V8 engine is so powerful with such tremendous torque if you compare it with the 12 cylinder engine. In terms of efficiency the V8 turbocharged is much better than the V12 naturally aspirated. I think that is how we have to treat the segment of the smaller engines with the engine that we have developed in co-operation with PSA, the four cylinders is a nice example of how to downsize and to have a good torque and pretty good fuel consumption. In terms of research, everybody is talking about HCCI. We are active in this research as well.
AI: How are you going to meet the challenge for reducing CO2 across the entire fleet?
Draeger: I think the best answer to that is with EfficientDynamics. You can see a number of cars with 120 – 130 gr. I believe this is the perfect answer because it is not specific to just one model but to our entire fleet. We started the first wave of the roll-out process with the 1-series, then the 5-series. In September we introduced the all ED package on the 3-series and the 6-series. Then we have the start of production of the new X5, which started from the beginning with the ED measures. The only vehicle without ED is the 7-series, but that will change with new 7-series. We feel that we are well prepared and the 150 mill litres reduced fuel consumption makes a very, very strong statement. This is the electric energy enough for the whole city of Geneva for four years.
AI: When do you expect to see mild and full-hybrids on the market?
Draeger: We announced that we will have the X6 active hybrid in 2009. I read an article from Mercedes– Benz that they will introduce the S-class next year. This is very much in partnership with BMW, so you could expect that we will be no much later that as well.
AI: What results do you expect from the Two-Mode gearbox?
Draeger: The Two-Mode gearbox is very highly sophisticated automatic transmission with two electric motors. We believe that with this technology we are going to have pitches that no other car manufacturer (besides those within the co-operation off course) has, in terms of gear ratios, in terms of electric driving, in terms of torque and efficiency.
AI: What are the new developments in bodywork for BMW (actively controllable air-flaps, fender module, etc.)?
Draeger: At this moment in time I would like to stress the relationship between BMW and all our suppliers are extremely good. The suppliers know that we are on the same side and they know that we are going to introduce innovations of high technology. It is very important that we continue our good relations with the suppliers introducing innovations and of course looking at the cost as well.
AI: What models can we expect from BMW in the near future?
Draeger: We can start in 2008 with the very beautiful and elegant new 7-series. We will have X1 SAV, and we are going to realize the CS concept car. There are a lot of models really to come. The life of BMW will be very exciting!