The Bayerische Motoren Werke Group said its newest vehicle will break new ground for pioneering a lightweight design that will offset the additional weight of electric vehicles through the use of high-tech carbon fiber reinforced plastic.
BWM’s battery-powered Megacity vehicle will be the world’s first volume-produced with a passenger cell made from carbon, which will reduce the extra 250 kilograms to 350 kilograms of weight typically found in electric cars.
The Megacity vehicle will be designed according BMW’s LifeDrive concept, which consists of two separate modules. The Life module features a durable and lightweight passenger cell made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic while the Drive module combines the electric battery, drive system and structural and crash functions in a unified structure within the chassis of the vehicle.
The zero-emission electric motor will be placed at the back of the vehicle because it does not need a transmission, exhaust or muffler. The batteries, which are the heaviest and bulkiest components of the drivetrain, will go under the floor in the aluminium chassis.
BMW said this architecture will pave the way for simpler and more flexible production processes that will require less energy overall. It will also give vehicle designers more leeway to create a new aesthetic for sustainable urban transportation solutions.
“The drive system remains the heartbeat of a car, and that also applies to electric vehicles. Powertrains also remain a core area of expertise of Bayerische Motoren Werke,” said Klaus Draeger, a member of the company’s board of management for development.
“For this reason we are developing the powertrain for the Megacity vehicle in-house – that includes the electric motor, the power electronics and the battery system,” he continued
SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers L.L.C., a joint venture between BMW and SGL Group, will use hydropower to power the plant in Moses Lake, Washington that will manufacture carbon fiber parts for the Megacity.
The Megacity vehicle’s carbon fiber passenger cell already passed crash test qualifications, the New York Times reported.
BMW is still keeping mum on the appearance and cost of the Megacity vehicle, but the New York Times said it will be for the upper class market and will cost more than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. However, owners will supposedly gain back some of the extra investment in lower fuel and maintenance costs.
Engineers from BMW said that the shift to battery-powered vehicles is necessary for the company’s long-term survival. The company, which manufactures automobiles and motorcycles under the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands, expects sales of gasoline and diesel-powered cars to decline in 2020.