BMW’s Green Sports Car Fantasy

“It’s the sports car of the future, the way BMW imagines it.” That’s how Adrian van Hooydonk, director of BMW’s group design, describes the “BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics” two-door concept vehicle to be unveiled at the upcoming Frankfurt Auto Show. Think of it as a showcase of the many fuel-efficient technologies that BMW has in various stages of development. Some of the technologies already appear in production vehicles, while the feasibility of rolling out other systems stretch the future to the point of never.

BMW’s overarching goal was to combine breath-taking speed and groundbreaking efficiency. In the BMW Vision, that boils down to 4.8-second 0-to-60 miles per hour acceleration and 63 mile to the gallon.

First, BMW engineers use the rear-axle to combine a turbo-charged small diesel engine and the mildest forms of hybrid technology. That kind of combo comes standard in BMW 1-series cars in Europe. The Vision’s setup is a little more similar to the BMW 320d, also to debut in Frankfurt, which uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel to deliver 162 horsepower, while promising more than 57 miles to the gallon. The BMW Vision takes it a step further by downsizing the engine to a 1.5-liter three-cylinder diesel engine mated with the more robust hybrid system found in the pricey BMW ActiveHybrid7, expected in the US early next year.

Not satisfied with 162 horsepower, BMW adds a second motor to drive the front wheels exclusively by electricity. When both motors and the diesel engine are called into service, the overall system can put out 356 horsepower. The BMW Vision is lightweight and aerodynamic. The design features an aluminum chassis and suspension, and an outer skin made mostly of polycarbonate glass. The car’s slippery design boasts a drag coefficient of 0.22—beating out the Toyota Prius’s 0.25.

BMW Vision EfficientDynamics

To mitigate the fuel efficiency penalty paid for power, the BMW Vision utilizes plug-in hybrid technology. This is where the Vision becomes more of a fantasy. The combination of diesel and hybrid technologies is widely viewed as cost prohibitive. Adding enough battery power to allow the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics to travel for 30 miles of all-electric drive, as BMW is promising, would send costs through the roof.

BMW also indicates that the Vision only needs a 187-pound 10.8 kWh battery to achieve the 30-mile all-electric goal. To pull that off, the Vision, according to BMW, will discharge the battery pack’s capacity by 80 percent, which is likely to significantly reduce the longevity of the battery. (The Chevy Volt will use about 50 percent of its capacity to help ensure a lifetime of use.)

Slipping further into fantasy—of course, the vehicle is mostly eye candy—the BMW Vision’s energy management system uses sensors to anticipate the driver’s needs to adjust engine, motors, electrical components, and even front grille louvers for maximum efficiency and performance. For example, the management system could anticipate traffic congestion ahead to increase regenerative braking or expect a merge on to a highway to let the engine hum and the motors buzz. BMW says the system can even help you more quickly find a parking space.

One more concrete takeaway: Green concept cars are no longer complete without a plug.


  • alancamp

    BMW does not get it. After companies like Telsa is offering ALL Electric cars to get over 300 miles per charge by 2012, and a quick charge in minutes, BMW FUTURE means trying to package their old diesel engines using petro with small amount of electric power.

    BMW’s big challenge is coming with companies like Telsa with new all electric small performance car to be priced in the $30s.

    The future is solar panels on homes, parking garages and slimline wind turbines in powering homes and communities. Energy to charge cars will come from the sun and the wind. Not petro stations.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Alancamp, the Telsa is a car that, depending on the model, will go 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds with a range of 244 miles – along with a price tag of $120K! And you claim this is the car that the masses need to buy? My guess is that ~80% of the people have a hard enough time buying a car that is $20K or even $30K let alone $120K. I know that I make more money in wages than 70% of the people in the US and I will have to save up at least $10K if I even want to think about buying an upper end $35K Prius or a baseline $40K Volt. Please come and live in the real world of most people.

  • qqRockyBeans

    Why don’t they just bring their existing four-cylinder gas and diesel engines to the US?

    I like the 318ti!

  • Samie

    “To mitigate the fuel efficiency penalty paid for power, the BMW Vision utilizes plug-in hybrid technology. This is where the Vision becomes more of a fantasy. The combination of diesel and hybrid technologies is widely viewed as cost prohibitive. Adding enough battery power to allow the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics to travel for 30 miles of all-electric drive, as BMW is promising, would send costs through the roof.”

    I guess some can piss at the public & get away w/ it. Did this idea come after a few drinks? Adrian van Hooydonk needs a top hat along w/ a curl in is mustache to add to this amusing joke of a hybrid concept.

  • crookmatt

    “BMW just doesn’t get it”

    Come on everyone, the article made it clear this is a vehicle is not a pre-production or even a concept car, it’s purely to demonstrate various technologies the BMW is currently working on, not necessarily to include in a single vehicle. If anything they are trying to demonstrate the high power and high mpg is within their ability to engineer, although I don’t think anyone is claiming that it would be economically viable at this time.

    Besides, one thing BMW does “get” is that if you let your engineers dream a little, and get a little creative, they’ll enjoy their job more and maybe come up with an ingenious idea or two.

  • Shines

    Nice looking concept! I really like the swoosh in the front (bumper?) below the headlights. At least BMW is showing off some good ideas.
    It actually has 4 seats?!?
    Light weight, but are those bumpers? Where are the air bags (front or side)? How about seat belts?
    I’m not sure I’d want to open the “Doors” on a windy day…
    I’m gonna wait till they come out with the off-road version $;-D
    Still it sure looks cool.

  • manti

    As far back as 2004 Citroen had a diesel hybrid based on the former Xara model (test prototype of course), predecesor to the actual hatch C4. This technology it is not new but it is ok that people like BMW are thinking to develop it in their own way, maybe in the future something cost efective could come out of it. Please stop bashing BMW for not providing something pure electric, they have a test fleet of MINI E

    http://www.hybridcars.com/news/mini-e-drivers-bmw-botched-program-25939.html

    and after they learn all the lessons from this testing im sure that some part of the technology if not all will be put into production.

    Of course the future is electric, but that doesnt mean that some enginers at BMW cant come up with an eye candy for Frankfurt motorshow.

    BMW has always been about speed and driving pleasure and 3rd place economy so do not expect in the future to see a change in the way they buid cars, this is their mentality, thats why they sell cars because are the best driving automobiles on the roads (except the purley sport brands).

    I would love to see a production car that will take some design ques from this prototype.

    Europe salute you

  • bmwfun

    It’s the best hybrid car I have ever seen ! Great, awsome !! I love it !!

  • Old Man Crowder

    0 to 60 in 5 seconds. A top speed of 250 km/hr. Yeehaw!

    Now I can beat the unicorns and fairies to my summer house in La-La Land!

    Come on, BMW. Throw me a bone, here. The world doesn’t need another impractical rocket on wheels that only a handful of people can afford to buy.

    How about putting all this effort and technology into a sharp looking sedan or wagon that will appeal to a larger market?

  • J-Bob

    @Lost Prius to wife
    Get a clue, if this concept ever came to the consumer, the price tag will be astronomical as well (easily $50,000+). All of these cars are on the right track, but the costs are only going to come down the more companies that jump onboard.

    I am a big fan of Tesla motors and am stoked that their next offering will be their all electric sedan in 2011, it’ll come in at less than half what the roadster is currently being offered for and offer seating for 5 and no internal combustion engine to boot. It’s still up there in price, but if you see that they’re able to take what they’ve already learned and cut the price by half in less than 4 years, imagine what might be on the roads by 2015 ;)

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Old Man Crowder, I agree with you on this one. I do not mind that they make a car for people that have money. I just do not understand why they would not want a car for the masses. I do not think that it is because they cannot; I think it is because they chose not. Personally, after producing a similar sleek BMW, with killer looks and mileage at a completive price to the Prius or Volt, it would be fun telling the press that BMW thought the masses should have a car that is just one step down from their upper end luxury.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    J-Bob, I do have a clue. I like what Tesla is doing, but even at $50K+ it will not be a car for the masses. You intimate that they might get the price down to $25K or $30K by 2015, but I seriously doubt that they will be able to do that.

    And the Tesla is a great short range car. But it still will not solve the problem of a trip of over 250 to 350 miles. Our last vacation would have required at least three extra days for recharging between destinations. Those would have been three extra days that I did not have. And that is assuming that one can charge at each destination. Right now, practical and affordable electric cars are for commuting, not for traveling. This is why vehicles like the plug-in Prius and Volt will make more sense for the next 10 or 15 years until battery and electric car technology matures a lot more.

  • DC

    Is it not somewhat amuseing that Auto-makers have been produceing these stylistic concept cars since..well..forever, yet in the past, they were always powered by get ready for it…. gasoline. Of course, none ever made it too market, nor will they ever if the past is any guide. This looks slick for sure, but so has every other concept car I have ever seen going back several decades. Only thing different now the “New Improved Concept Car with a splash of Greenwash”(tm) at no extra charge.

  • mls21

    Engineers will easily solve the charge time issue when it is cost effective to do so. The technology already exists to charge these batteries in around 10 minutes. Existing filling stations could easily install such a high speed charge station when it makes economic sense to do so. That will take consumers purchasing electric cars at high enough quantities.

    Here’s an article on a Nissan capability intended for the US launch of their electric cars:
    http://gas2.org/2009/03/10/nissan-to-trial-fast-charge-electric-car-network-in-arizona/

  • ck

    For those of you wishing bmw would come out with a “hybrid for the people that doesn’t cost a lot”:

    THIS IS BMW. Most people can’t afford a gasoline BMW. BMW is not in the business of making $15,000 cars! If you want a hybrid car “of the people”. You should look at Honda, Toyota, or Volkswagon (People’s Car literally).

    And for those that say concept cars never make it to the streets. Some of the most interesting cars that you see on the road now are pretty close, at least on the outside, to their concept. Ex. Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Tesla.

  • Phillip U.

    I can’t believe how many people that read this site are actually against companies developing alternative power trains unless they’re all electric.

    First, they’re super expensive. And, as I understand it, current electric cars will suffer from performance issues for anyone who lives in an area where it drops below freezing for days at a time. And what about the lack of infrastructure to power these things? I think that anyone who thinks that filling stations can and will quickly adapt to provide rapid charging stations is overestimating the capacity and reliability of our power grid. California sometimes can’t even create enough energy to run everyone’s A/C in the summer. A smarter and more powerful grid is needed before electric cars can reach mass adoption. Solar and wind power are probably decades away from being effective contributions to the grid. More nuclear power would be a solution. That’s what France uses. I’ve even read reports that rare metals necessary to Lithium-Ion batteries are already in short supply for the near-term and long-term availability is still in the air. All the while we are being preached to as needing a solution to oil dependence and carbon emissions today.

    I think that automobile manufacturers would be doing a disservice to society to not explore alternative means of powering their vehicles that lower oil consumption and carbon emissions in whatever practical ways can be found.

  • RKRB

    mls21: Nice comments, but if recharging these batteries is like recharging existing car batteries, a 10-minute charge time is likely to waste a lot of electric power resources providing the amperage, risk overheating the batteries, and lower battery life (that’s why home car battery trickle chargers warn you against using the ten-minute higher power feature very often).

    The front view endearingly reminds me of Bucky Beaver, and I can’t help seeing some orthodontic brackets as an optional extra on the car — instead of bumpers, perhaps it needs a mouthguard!

  • veek

    I agree with Philip U. and all the previous contributors who support BMW’s alternatives to pure electric. Diesel seems viable, and too bad if you have an important date right after a power outage has left your electric car undercharged (especially in a North Dakota winter!). Sudden charging means more reserve power plant capacity to handle sudden loads. Diversity can improve strength.

  • BMW Fan

    Because BMW chooses to keep their brand up-market (i.e. luxurious, powerful and expensive) in the United States, they are probably one of only a handful of car manufacturers who could reasonably offer a diesel-hybrid powertrain and sell it within their normal vehicle price range. Even the smallest US BMW, with reasonable options added, starts in the mid 30s. Start talking about the 7 series and M versions of the X5 and X6 and these are $75K – $100K. The situation is different for BMW in Europe and Canada though.

    So if BMW makes a diesel hybrid that is reasonably fast, they could price it anywhere between $50K – $100K and the price would not be out of place, at least in the US BMW lineup. A car maker like VW, Volvo, etc. simply could not charge that much for a car even if the powertrain is that complicated – folks just wouldn’t spring for it.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with BMW. They seem to be mirroring some of the steps of Mercedes, just with about a 1-2 year delay. I honestly was expecting them to leapfrog hybrids and make a flamboyant move all-electric with a small, fast and expensive offering.

    Cheers!

  • mls21

    Hopefully folks would opt for the trickle charge option when charging overnight at home. I’m sure the power bill would influence that choice :) If you have the time, it would be smarter to use it. My feeling on the rapid charge option was it would be equivalent to what you would use during a highway trip across country. Any filling station could add in a these rapid chargers and charge a fee for use. I’m sure that fee will be well above the local utility rate, but hopefully still cheaper than a tank of gas.

    Most folks spend about 10 minutes or more at a filling station to gas up on the road for bathroom or food breaks. I would definitely be in an out faster than that if my wife wasn’t with me though…

  • BMW Green

    Come on you guys, there are already plenty of hybrids out there and coming that are for the masses. With sedans, trucks, mini vans and even vans coming out there should be something there for you.

    I think the BMW is an awesome looking car that Toyota or Honda sure wouldn’t come up with. Sure if it went into production is would be costly but guess what it’s a BMW, you expect that.

    I also like what Tesla motors is doing and I’m really looking forward to the future with them but, until other companies catch on and we have a system set for charging and or battery swaps they are only practical for in town or short distance trips you won’t be traveling across america in a Tesla or Nissan that’s all electric anytime soon. The new diesel engines are way more fuel efficient than what they were with a small turbo diesel pumping out up to 52mpg combine that with plug in hybrid and you got yourself a winner there. Give it time, it will happen but you can’t build rome in a day or switch a country from gas to electric overnight.

  • cindy kellervelle

    HAHA

    OK BMW

    LETS copy the Chevy Volt

    and put a Crazy exterior on it.

    HA HA

  • nazrebecca

    i think this kind of car is for me there just so cool

  • Jason

    lol to all you haters. BMW does not target poor people. There traget market are people who make alot of money. The people BMW markets to spending 100k on a car is like a middle class getting a haircut. 100k is nothing.

  • Kosova

    I like this car,it’s very good……..

  • New Sports Cars

    Nice concept of two-door.Really awesome car I had ever seen..

  • data recovery

    It’s the best hybrid car I have ever seen ! Great, awsome !! I love it !!

  • kaone

    the true defination of fantasy car, no words can full explain this car coz is beyond our vacabolary. I wounder how it feel like to rid that machine.well done BMW

  • Dumas RA

    All of the commenters have valid points. Gas or Diesel (both are petro products) hybrids have a way to go to be extremely viable and only time will bring this about. Probably when only a quarter of the country is able to drive due to lack of fuels.

    There are some new battery technologies which could make an extreme difference very quickly. The first is a modification of the Lithium battery and is in experimentation right now. The capacity is claimed to be 10 times as great (yeah right) but even four times would be good.

    The second is the paper battery technoliogy. Yes PAPER. much more expensive to produce but could be done in bulk if it ever gets into experimental stages. Capacity for size and weight is VERY high. enough so that the concept is being considered for use in backup for peak power grid load periods having charged during off peak.

    The problems the US is facing are the increases in demand which are allowing less and less off peak time and as much as a 30 to 40 percent overload duirng on-peak time. OUCH.

    I myself am looking for a 5 person family hybrid which will allow for a range of 1000 miles on a charge and “in the field” recharge overnight. I don’t expect to see this any time soon, unless the atomic battery concept becomes viable. This was ‘proven’ in California in the early 60′s with an electric car driving from San Diego to Sacrament and back one and a half times before the petrolium industry got the politicians to ban nuclear powered cars in California.

    OH, heavens…. It might explode in LA and doom everybody… despite their forgetting to mention the was insufficient material to be a nuclear hazard much less detonate. OH well. That brings us back to the REAL problem. The petrochemical companies (ie. gasoline/diesel providers) who if they were smart would be developing the electric technology because it could be used not only in our cars but in our power grid. This could help us as much as it would help those companies images and bottom lines.

    Renae

  • Anonymous

    awesome

  • jerosh

    u know i don’t why but i but that car doesn’t fascinate me because old conventional method’s don’t actually help with designing cars nor ether are using computer’s to design car’s so i say try some thing new like think fresh and green in car design and some how u will get there like for a car’s engine instead of a greasy gas guzzler engine put something both the environment and the company that’s satisfied with it pretty soon all that gas is bound to go so if continue to use this stuff it’s u human’s that are in for a world’s end ha ha loll i said u human’s”"]

  • Alvinsolar

    Hi,
    Fantastic model… To my concern, BMW has coming up with a brilliant thought….

    being eco-friendly can save up our planet too

    solar panels house

  • Colin

    I think the BMW Vision is out of this world, very low and very aerodynamic, will this every come into mass production because this is the car i need.

  • Shahram

    Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Don davey

    Come off the grass !
    B.M.W most obviously haven’t seen G.M’s ” Hy- wire” whose technology leaves this thing in the dark ages.

    Don Davey

    Tasmania.

  • DC

    Its already coming!!
    Too bad its so expensive I thought it was going to be 80k-120kUS. :<

  • rk.singh

    woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • sabtiawan

    mewah banget

  • ehsan

    goooooooooh to BMW !!!!!
    دمتون گرم

    بسیاز زیبا بود

  • Anonymous

    chimgooon

  • Anonymous

    a la verga cabron

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  • CHRIS JONES

    I LOVE THIS CAR I WILL BUY THIS WHEN IT CIOMES OUT. IT’S SICK