Despite much hype and promise, the all-electric vehicle will continue to be a niche application until there is a breakthrough in the supply of power to the motor. Leading up to that, market leaders such as BMW are keeping motorists on the road through increasingly intelligent management systems, which are integrated into the navigation function.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Dr. Bernardo Lopez, Head of Powertrain Evaluation, how Efficient Dynamics is driving the company forward.
Lopez: Efficient Dynamics (ED) is an integral part of all areas of vehicle development at BMW. The goal is to continuously reduce the fuel consumption of all the group’s vehicles. One of the pillars of ED is to improve conventional components, and the other is maximizing the potential of electrical components. In the plug-in hybrid, we put the best of the two worlds together. We have a three cylinder engine and electric components which can move the vehicle on electric power alone for around 30 km. Conventional drive-trains will remain with us for the medium term. By 2020, we expect to have 5-15% either driven by battery or plug-in hybrid. We’ll still have 85-95% conventional combustion engines or active hybrid models.
AI: You showed in Paris the first turbocharged three-cylinder engine of 1.5 liters. Is this the future?
Lopez: The smooth and spontaneous three-cylinder 1.5-litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine is derived from BMW’s six-cylinder power unit, and features high-precision direct fuel injection, Valvetronic – a fully variable valve control – and turbocharging to help maximize efficiency. A raft of BMW Efficient Dynamics technologies, including Auto Start-Stop and ECO PRO mode, help to achieve remarkable efficiencies.
AI: What is the degree of commonality between the petrol and diesel engines in the new engine system?
Lopez: TwinPower Turbo technology has become the common feature uniting all of the brand’s petrol and diesel engines. The new engine concept allows considerable savings to be made in development, integration and production, while raising quality. The number of identical parts used in engines powered by the same type of fuel climbs to 60%, while the level of structural similarities between petrol and diesel engines is around 40%. Because petrol and diesel engines will be produced on the same production line for the first time, the production process itself will be significantly more flexible. The engine family will provide the base from which BMW will be able to offer future body derivatives.
Predictive Power Management is already standard equipment on the new BMW 7 Series. AI asked Lorenz Makeschin, Expert BMW ConnectedDrive, how the power unit learns to “see” using the navigation data?
Makeschin: We are talking about different features. Predictive power train management will be available as of 2013, while the ECO PRO Mode is available already now with every BMW vehicle. ECO PRO foresight as an additional feature is available now with the new ActiveHybrid 7, 7 Series and 3 Series Touring, and will be available successively with all other models.
These systems link the control of the vehicle’s engine to the Professional Navigation System. With the aid of the navigation-based information, the transmission control and the Foresight Assistant are able to chart the course of the road and the profile of the route, with its hills and descents, as well as the speed limits – and then to take these into account for gear selection and vehicle deceleration. Even the turning radius is known to the system before the driver reaches the bend in the road.
AI: Let’s talk about the new generation BMW Navigation system Professional. What does the new system offer in terms of performance (Navigation, HMI, Connectivity & Speech)?
Makeschin: Our system has Smartphone – equivalent performance. The new-generation BMW Navigation system Professional has a new design and an optimized control concept that gives the various displays a more sophisticated, sharper, more attractive look. The readouts appear against a black background, and the state-of-the-art feel is further intensified by an atmospheric lighting effect. Overall, the new display concept makes the contents clearer to read and the functions easier to use. For the first time, individual menus are structured entirely in virtual, three-dimensional spaces. Calculation is performed in real time. Quite apart from allowing smooth scrolling and browsing, the high-performance system with a 1.3 GHz processor and dedicated 3D graphics chip features top-quality animations and dynamic transitions to make the whole operating experience an immensely enjoyable one
AI: What about functions?
Makeschin: The route guidance graphics and the map views within the navigation function have been modified and improved by the addition of interactive options. The split-screen portion of the central information display, for example, now includes new display functions for the navigation mode. When the driver enters the destination, it is shown in a map view on the split screen for easier orientation. The driver can use a zoom function to change the section of map shown and check that the selected destination is the intended one. The arrival of the new BMW Navigation system Professional also sees new functions being added to the BMW ConnectedDrive Mobile Office portfolio. It is now possible to have two telephones connected to the vehicle simultaneously, in which case the contact details from both are combined into a joint contact list for phone calls and emails. Calendar and contact information is imported in next to no time thanks to the high-performance hardware, meaning that both telephones are fully readied for in-vehicle use as quickly as possible. For the Asian markets, and for the very first time, the BMW development team has integrated a touch-sensitive pad into the iDrive system’s central control unit. Measuring 45mm across, the multi-touch surface of the iDrive controller makes certain in-vehicle control functions more intuitive, faster and easier to use. The new generation of the BMW Navigation system Professional adds new speech functions to the BMW ConnectedDrive Mobile Office portfolio.
Most notably, a dictation function that employs a speech recognition system to transcribe the driver’s words. The dictated text can then be sent by SMS or email. There is also a voice memo function which can record up to two minutes of speech. This can be sent in an email or archived. More intuitive voice control allows virtually all functions of the BMW Navigation system Professional to be operated more simply, easily, quickly and, most importantly, safely than ever. On the multimedia front, a 20 GB hard drive makes for a richer in-car entertainment experience. The Music collection search function has been reprogrammed to allow the desired track to be located for playback faster than before. The extended toolbar principle is once again employed for fast access to additional sub-menu options, as well as greater simplicity and ease of operation.