BMW: From F1 to the Future

By Bill Moore

Posted: 08 Sep 2009

BMW prides itself on building performance-oriented vehicles, be they gasoline, diesel and, yes -- in the case of the Mini-E experiment -- electricity. While coming a bit late to the hybrid-electric car race, it appears to be working overtime to come up to speed with the technology and improve on it while still maintaining BMW's penchant for performance.

In keeping with that philosophy, it decided to pull out of Formula One racing to focus its attention on sustainability and the first futuristic expression of this new direction is the four passenger, gull-wing plug-in diesel-electric hybrid called the Vision Efficientdynamics Concept (VEC), pictured above. Low-slung and built from the same carbon fiber composites that went into the F1 cars, the VEC is reported to have the same acceleration as a BMW M3, meaning zero-to-60 is somewhere under five seconds.

Its rear-mounted, 1.5 liter, three cylinder diesel engine consumes just 3.7L/100 km (63.57 mpge) and together with its front and rear electric drive motors gives the car a equivalence of 356 hp and can propel it to a top speed of 250 km/hr (155 mph). The 10.8 kWh lithium ion battery pack sits, Volt-like, between the passengers in the centerline keel of the car. In electric-only mode the car is said to have a range of up to 50 km (31 miles), utilizing an estimated 8.6 kWh of energy (277 watt hours/mi), suggesting that BMW is comfortable pressing the outer edges of the pack's depth of discharge. The pack weighs a mere 84kg (187 lbs). Range in hybrid-mode depends on the size of the fuel tank.

According to comments in the below corporate video, car utilizes a charge sustaining, parallel hybrid architecture, as opposed to the Chevy Volt's series (serial) drive. The VEC can operate in electric-only, blended and engine-only modes with the engine being able to recharge the battery pack.

As with any concept car, it is meant more to demonstrate technical prowess and vision and not necessarily a commitment to production. But it also strongly suggests that future BMW vehicles are likely to begin to incorporate features from the VEC.

Now the one important question not answered is will it run on algae-based biodiesel?

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