BMW is reinventing the motor car in order to ensure that people stay mobile into the future – in vehicles that have an ever reducing impact on the environment.
“Individual mobility has come to be an integral part of our society. Future generations also want to drive cars, with a clear conscience. Maybe the car of the future will look like the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics. Or maybe like our MINI E. We strongly believe in the future of individual mobility. And we are going to make it happen,” Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW said at the 63rd International Motor Show (IAA).
The car of the future is on the BMW drawing boards: “By the end of 2012, we will have renewed around 60% of our products,” Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, Research and Development told delegates at NAIAS 2010 in Detroit. “Just three years ago we first presented our BMW EfficientDynamics strategy. Back then we talked about the three pillars of Efficient Dynamics. The first was: to optimise combustion engines; to construct lightweight parts; and improve aerodynamics. Second: to develop hybrid and electric engines. And then, third: to create emission-free vehicles.
“What have we achieved so far? Our diesel vehicles with BluePerformance offer BMW owners the chance to enjoy both—efficiency and driving pleasure. We are now deep in the second pillar of BMW EfficientDynamics: hybrid and electric vehicles. US customers are today driving our new BMW ActiveHybrid X6. It consumes around 20% less fuel than a similar vehicle with combustion engine. And soon there will be the BMW ActiveHybrid 7.
“We are making excellent progress with electric vehicles. We currently have the largest global pilot project involving over 600 MINI E. The insights from this project are giving us a competitive edge in the field of electric mobility. We are learning every day before others have even started.
“So what’s the next step for us? To develop an entirely new type of vehicle. One specifically designed to meet the needs of urban mobility with electric drive. We need to think and act outside the box. That is precisely the reason why we created the ‘project i’ unit,” he said. Project i will develop solutions for sustainable mobility for urban environments. The MINI E is the first chapter of project i. “This vehicle provides valuable feedback for future projects: such as our new mobility concept for cities. We call it the Megacity Vehicle or MCV. We launch it in the first half of this decade”.
BMW also looks to its own manufacturing practices – and those of its suppliers. “Sustainability is not only about products – it is also about clean production. Our plant in Spartanburg obtains about 60% of the energy from a nearby landfill – by converting methane gas into power,” Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, Sales and Marketing told the NAIAS 2010 media contingent in Detroit.
Speaking ahead of the Copenhagen global climate summit, Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW. “So far, we have delivered 1.4 million cars equipped with Efficient Dynamics to customers. This is how we achieved greater reductions in fleet consumption than any other car maker. In Germany, our fleet has achieved an average of 5.9 liters of fuel per 100 km, corresponding to CO2 of 156 grams per kilometer”. The company intends to reduce the CO2 emissions of its products further by “at least 25%” by 2020. To achieve this goal, technologies like zero-emission electric drive will play a vital role,” he said.
The BMW Group has been ranked industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last five years.
Hybrid with brains
BMW has bolted its existing hybrid technology – along with new systems – into the BMW Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid.
It is described as offering a “particularly good rendition of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan in all its dynamic, efficient and innovative qualities, at the same time representing the ongoing development of the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 and the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 with their drivetrain technology already in production”.
Powering the vehicle is a combination of electric drive connected through an automatic clutch to a straight-six gasoline engine with TwinPower Turbo technology, and eight-speed automatic transmission. It allows all-electric motoring in city traffic. Drawing from a high-voltage battery at the back of the car, the electric motor develops maximum output of 40 kW. Features include Brake Energy Regeneration, which is already found in BMW’s current production models. The specially developed high-voltage battery is fitted in a reinforced casing near the rear axle – optimising safety and weight distribution. The battery also delivers electric power to the car’s on-board network. All electrical functions, such as the audio system, climate control or navigation continue operating when running on battery power.
Intelligent systems in the BMW Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid enable the vehicle to plan ahead using data provided by engine and chassis management as well as the sensors in the driver assistance systems on board the car. Data from the navigation system is factored into the calculations. Should the system determine, for example, that a steep downhill stretch lies ahead, the charge level of the battery is allowed to drop in anticipation of the boost from the braking energy going down hill. Similarly, the system may switch to all-electric drive along the final stretch of road. This forward-looking function is able to extend the cruising range on electric power by up to 30%, according to BMW.
Power of teamwork
BMW is fuelling its plans for the future through a number of strategic partnerships.
On the OEM front, there are agreements with Daimler and Peugeot. BMW is also working with a supplier to develop the MegaCity vehicle. A joint venture with the SGL group will see the formation of two companies, one based in North America (SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC), and the other in Germany (SGL Automotive Fibers GmbH & Co KG). The BMW Group holds 49% of the shares, and the SGL Group 51%. “This joint venture is designed to be a classic win-win situation. We are acquiring pioneering future technologies and raw materials that we need for our Megacity Vehicle on competitive terms. The SGL Group is moving into the automobile business with us as a strong partner,” BMW AG Management Board Chairman Norbert Reithofer said in Munich at the signing of the partnership.
Robert Koehler, CEO of the SGL Group, says: “This joint venture is a milestone for the use of carbon fibres on an industrial scale in the automobile industry. For the first time, carbon fibres are taking on an important role in series vehicle manufacture”.
World’s fastest all-wheel drive hybrid
That’s the way Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, Development describes the BMW ActiveHybrid X6.
“For this vehicle we have combined a V8 Twin Turbo with two electric motors,” he told media at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Compared with the “so-called conventional BMW X6”, the hybrid 20% more fuel-efficient. “I loved this vehicle right from the start – the way it seems to float without a sound, and on top of it the great performance. This is simply unique for a hybrid!” he says.
“The same is true for the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Series. Once again, the drive is based on a V8 TwinPower Turbo and complemented with an electric motor that supports the engine particularly during starting and accelerating and recovers brake energy. The electric motor basically serves as an “electric turbo”. As a result, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Series’ acceleration is even better than that of the BMW 750i. Besides offering enhanced performance, it also saves 15% in fuel and emissions.
“No other electric car has covered more miles and kilometers than our MINI E,” Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW, told the media at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
“This project goes far beyond the simple test of a prototype. We are working together with central and regional governments, energy providers and academic partners,” adds Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, Sales and Marketing. Drivers started testing the MINI E in Germany and the US in June 2009, followed by drivers in the UK and France. “This car is also proof that protecting the climate can be fun. Our customers’ experiences with the MINI E will be applied to the development of our Megacity Vehicle,” says Reithofer.
Another electric vehicle soon to be seen on the roads is the BMW Concept Active E – a fully electric vehicle based on the BMW 1 Series Coupe, and which will be available in 2011. According to Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Research and Development, the vehicle will provide “dynamic performance” through rear-wheel drive.
“This concept is powered by a completely new electric synchronous motor that has been specifically developed for this vehicle. With 170 horsepower, it develops a maximum torque of 250 Newton meters. In everyday driving it achieves a range of about a hundred miles. The power is stored in newly-developed lithium-ion batteries. Another feature is liquid cooling to keep temperatures stable. It guarantees the driver optimum output at all times and extends battery life,” he says.