New environmental sub-brand will appear in 2013 with the promise of improved range from its batteries.
The new Megacity Vehicle will have a 134bhp, all-electric driveline with a single-speed electric motor revving up to 12,000rpm. It will also feature an aluminium chassis containing the wheels, suspension, battery and electric motor, and a separately-formed carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic passenger cell.
The new brand and car is born out of BMW’s “Project i” research scheme launched in 2007, which has examined the consumer feedback from the 2008 electric MINI E and the 2009 Active E vehicles. Feedback shows that as usage patterns for the MINI E were not significantly different from that of a normal car, the most effective area of improvement would to be its 93-mile range.
To that end, BMW is working with partner SB LiMotive on more energy-dense batteries and with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers on lightweight body materials. The company has not ruled out using a small 40bhp petrol engine as a range extender, in the mannr of the petrol engine fitted to the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt/Vauxhall Ampera hatchback. It has also admitted that there will be larger versions of the Megacity Vehicle.
The Megacity project is designed to provide environmental transport for the growing number of urban conurbations with 10 million-plus populations, of which there were 83 in 1950 and 468 in 2007.
The United Nations estimates that the 2010 urban population of 3.2 billion will have grown to 5 billion by 2030, when three in five people will be city dwellers. Problems associated with such urban pressure includes: air pollution, traffic congestion, urban sprawl, slums and huge pressure on resources.