BMW Megacity details revealed
The car will benefit from field trials the company has been conducting with the electric Mini E in 2010 and the 1 Series-based ActiveE electric car throughout 2011.
The VW Golf-sized Megacity will have no allegiance to any other car in the BMW or Mini stable, though. 'Purpose-built is the only way to go with electric vehicles,' says Manual Sattig of the project management team.
The car will be built on what BMW calls a Life-Drive concept. All the drive components – batteries, electric motor and management system – are housed in an aluminium chassis onto which BMW will mount a carbonfibre hatchback passenger cell.
The use of carbonfibre instead of steel will ensure the Megacity weighs no more than a similar-sized petrol or diesel car, despite its heavy battery pack. The sandwich layout will also keep the centre of gravity low and preserve the vital BMW fun-to-drive character, claims Sattig. Preliminary crash tests suggest the car will be as safe as a conventional steel-bodied model.
The electric motor is mounted at the rear of the car and drives the rear wheels, while the front-rear weight distribution will be 50:50 – another characteristic that BMW regards as essential for all its cars.
Despite the sandwich floor layout the Megacity will have a similar driving position to a VW Golf. It will be sold under a sub-brand name, rather like the high-performance cars from the company's M division.
It is being developed under what BMW calls Project i, a company within a company charged with creating 'sustainable and visionary concepts'. Ultimately, BMW plans a full electric version of every car it makes.
No figures are yet being quoted for the power and performance of the car, but BMW says field trials with the Mini E have shown that people use electric cars exactly as they would drive a petrol or diesel model. That has taught BMW that a range of between 150 and 200 kilometres (up to 125 miles) on a full charge would be about right, and that recharging ought to be possible in around two-and-a-half hours.
The Megacity could eventually blossom into a complete range if demand exists. The aluminium floor can easily be stretched or shrunk to suits larger or smaller cars.