BMW has made good on their plans for developing an urban vehicle for the metropolitan areas. They’ve unveiled the first sketches and official details on the future Megacity Vehicle due to come to the market in 2013. According to BMW, it will be the world’s first volume-produced vehicle with a passenger cell made from carbon. The Megacity Vehicle will be built on a new LifeDrive architecture that will help reduce the car’s weight by 250 to 300 kilos.
The LifeDrive concept consists of two horizontally separated, independent modules. The Drive module integrates the battery, drive system, and structural and crash functions into a single construction within the chassis. Working in conjunction with the Drive module is the Life module which consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP. These aspects of car building will lead the way to a whole new process for building cars. A process that will be simpler, more flexible, and use less energy.
"The drive system remains the heartbeat of a car, and that also applies to electric vehicles. Powertrains also remain a core area of expertise of Bayerische Motoren Werke. Electromobility and the hallmark BMW driving pleasure make an excellent match, if you go about things the right way. For this reason we are developing the powertrain for the Megacity Vehicle in-house – that includes the electric motor, the power electronics and the battery system."
In an interview with Automotive News, BMW revealed plans on selling 30,000 units of the i3, which they say is "comparable to one of the lower-volume Mini derivatives." BMW also revealed that when it does go on sale in 2013, the i3 will be priced at about 40,000 euro in Europe, or about $55,000 at the current exchange rates.
UPDATE 05/16/2011: New details on the BMW i3 have been revealed thanks to CarAndDriver. According to them, the i3 will be priced at about $35,000 and will be powered by an 150 HP electric engine. It will be capable of hitting a top speed of 100 mph, while delivering an average autonomy of 160 miles.
UPDATE 08/15/2011: The BMW i3 was recently spotted on Wacker Drive in Chicago, presumably while filming a commercial. Hit the jump to see the i3 live and in color!
UPDATE 11/21/2011: After a very long time the upcoming BMW i3 has been caught on the back of a truck in the south of Germany. This latest prototypes gets the headlights in the correct position, while the roof line and that the window in the C-pillar are similar to the i3 Concept. The doors will be opened the same way as on the Mini Clubman - meaning the i3 will also get suicide doors. The car will use a powerful 170 HP electric engine that will sprint the car from 0 to 60 mph in under 8 seconds and up to a top speed of 93 mph.
UPDATE 02/01/2012: The upcoming BMW i3 has been caught testing again, during winter conditions in Nothern Sweden.
UPDATE 08/01/2012: Our spy photographers have caught the next BMW i3 testing during hot weather conditions somewhere in Southern Europe.
Press release after the jump.
BMW i3, Presumably During Commercial Filming
Cold Weather Testing in Sweden
The BMW Group is once again breaking new ground with the Megacity Vehicle (MCV), due to come onto the market in 2013: “The Megacity Vehicle is a revolutionary automobile. It will be the world’s first volume-produced vehicle with a passenger cell made from carbon. Our LifeDrive architecture is helping us to open a new chapter in automotive lightweight design. Indeed, this concept allows us to practically offset the extra 250 to 350 kilograms of weight typically found in electrically powered vehicles.” says Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management for Development.
“The drive system remains the heartbeat of a car, and that also applies to electric vehicles,” said Draeger. “Powertrains also remain a core area of expertise of Bayerische Motoren Werke. Electromobility and the hallmark BMW driving pleasure make an excellent match, if you go about things the right way. For this reason we are developing the powertrain for the Megacity Vehicle in-house – that includes the electric motor, the power electronics and the battery system.”
The electrification of a vehicle requires new concepts in vehicle architecture and body construction in order to exploit the potential of the new emission-free drive system to optimum effect. With the revolutionary LifeDrive concept, the BMW Group engineers are developing the car’s architecture from scratch and adapting it to the demands and conditions of future mobility. The goal: to offset the additional weight of an electric vehicle – typically 250 to 350 kilograms. To this end, the BMW Group is focusing on the innovative high-tech material carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).
The LifeDrive concept consists of two horizontally separated, independent modules. The Drive module integrates the battery, drive system and structural and crash functions into a single construction within the chassis. Its partner, the Life module, consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP. Furthermore, the new vehicle architecture opens the door to totally new production processes which are both simpler and more flexible, and use less energy.
The BMW Group is also aiming to be the force behind the best drive systems over the years ahead – systems boasting outstanding efficiency, performance and smoothness, even if it is electricity rather than fossil fuels that are converted into propulsion. To this end, the BMW Group is vigorously driving forward the technical development of electric powertrains. The BMW Group’s centre of expertise for electric drive systems brings together development, manufacturing and procurement specialists under one roof. All their efforts are focused on the implementation and typically BMW interpretation of the new generation of drive systems. Ultimately, electric vehicles not only provide a zero-local-emission and low-noise form of propulsion; their ability to deliver a totally new and extremely agile driving experience is also impressive.
The new architecture of the MCV also gives the vehicle designers additional freedom when it comes to creating a new aesthetic for sustainable urban mobility solutions.