A senior BMW executive last week told Edmunds.com that its 356-horsepower plug-in hybrid 2+2 concept sports car is headed for production in 2013. Only time will tell if the comment is backed by a real commitment from BMW. Regardless, the vehicle follows an emerging trend that the world’s fastest, most exotic, and most expensive sports vehicles will utilize some form of efficient electric-drive technology. It also, once again, shatters the image of a hybrid as slow and dorky.
“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, described the “BMW Vision EfficientDynamics” two-door vehicle that was unveiled at last year’s Frankfurt Auto Show. 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 three-cylinder diesel engine and the mildest forms of hybrid technology. Then they add 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 car’s slippery design boasts a drag coefficient of 0.22—beating out the Toyota Prius’s 0.25. With great aerodynamics and a lightweight polycarbonate glass skin, the Vision’s 10.8 kWh battery provides enough grid-supplied energy storage to travel 30 miles purely on electricity.
The BMW executive told Edmunds that total volume could be between 5,000 and 10,000 units. No word yet on price, but the lithium ion batteries, diesel engine, exotic materials, and low-production numbers can’t be cheap. It will probably slot well above the BMW ActiveHybrid 7, the 4.4-liter V8 sedan offering around 20 mpg, which will sell for $103,000 when it debuts in mid-2010.