BMW confirms eco-supercar

BMW has fast-tracked development of its first hybrid supercar and last week confirmed it will put the vehicle into series production from late-2013.

It will be the Bavarian car-maker’s first mid-engined supercar since the six-cylinder M1 went out of production in 1981.

While confirming the new 2+2 supercar, BMW also announced that its Megacity electric car will be built on a new production line at its Leipzig plant in Germany from 2013, creating 800 new jobs.

BMW will invest around €400 million ($A553 million) on the new line for the carbon-fibre-chassis city car, which will help the company meet tougher future environmental regulations and will be sold under a new sub-brand when it reaches showrooms.

1888600342 BMW confirms eco supercarThe company has invested heavily in carbon-fibre production capability, having also committed $US100 million ($A98.9 million) to establish a new joint-venture plant with Washington-based company SGL Carbon in the US state of Seattle.

Confirmation from BMW that it will produce a production version of the Vision EfficientDynamics concept first shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show follows photographs and videos posted on an official BMW blog site in September that revealed a prototype hybrid sportscar based on the current 6 Series coupe.

As GoAuto reported, the images and footage showed it to be an all-new hybrid vehicle that extends on the work previewed with the Vision ED – a wild-looking four-seater that itself borrowed some styling cues from the ‘M1 Homage’ show car from 2008 that paid tribute to the M1.

While the yet-to-be-named plug-in hybrid supercar will have enormous performance – the prototype has a combined 241kW and accelerates from 0-100km/h in only 4.8 seconds – it will be marketed on its environmental credentials, along with other German eco-supercars such as the upcoming Porsche 918 RS Spyder, Audi e-Tron and Mercedes SLS E-Drive.

Sitting just 1240mm high and with upward-opening ‘gullwing’ doors, the 1500kg Vision ED has a carbon-fibre body with a claimed aerodynamic drag coefficient of just 0.22 and a chassis designed specifically for the car, with the 10kWh lithium-polymer battery pack located down the spine between the occupants for optimum weight distribution.

Performance comes from a 120kW alloy-block 1.5-litre three-cylinder common-rail turbocharged diesel engine – an engine expected to be fitted to a front-wheel drive 1 Series variant from 2014 – in combination with two electric motors.

The larger of the two motors produces 82kW of power and is located on the front axle, driving the front wheels only, while the smaller 39kW unit sits at the rear alongside the diesel engine, with both driving the rear wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Electronic controls monitor driving conditions and apportion drive to all four wheels as required.

BMW claims the power pack can be fully charged at a conventional power socket in two and a half hours, providing electric-only motoring of 50km or up to 700km when also using the diesel engine, which has only a 24-litre tank.

While matching the performance of the V10-engined M6 Coupe, the Vision ED is said to have an EU test cycle average fuel consumption figure of only 3.76L/100km while emitting just 99 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

For the North American and Asian markets where diesel take-up and availability is low, BMW is expected to build a Vision ED variant with a more powerful four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in place of the three-cylinder diesel, but it will still be a hybrid. The company has ruled out a petrol engine-only version.

Although BMW still regards hybrid as an interim technology, it will soon add to its current ‘ActiveHybrid’ offerings in the 7 Series and X6 ranges.

Speaking in Germany last week, BMW AG chairman Norbert Reithofer confirmed that a 5 Series sedan hybrid would reach the market in 2011 and that the next-generation 3 Series will also include hybrid models, even though “we regard hybrids as an intermediate step toward achieving the goal of sustainable mobility”.

On the electric car front, next year the Bavarian car-maker will introduce the 1 Series Coupe-based BMW ActiveE, which will also be built at Leipzig and will use a similar drivetrain to the company’s limited-production Mini E.

Dr Reithofer also last week announced a record quarter-year result for the BMW Group, with pre-tax profit in the three months to September jumping from €126 million ($A173.8 million) last year to €1359 million ($A1874 million) this year.

BMW Group (BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce) sold 13.1 per cent more vehicles (1.06 million), but revenue rose by 35.6 per cent.

While the company is on target to sell 1.4 million vehicles this year, Dr Reithofer said the target for 2020 was 2.0 million, with increased production in India, China and the US as well as Germany.

1885329670 BMW confirms eco supercar

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