BMW unveils CLEVER Concept

Concepts | October 9th, 2009 by 16
bmw clever concept 2 750x500

Along with the SIMPLE Concept revealed minutes ago, BMW sends another concept to the Museum. BMW CLEVER, short for Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban …

Along with the SIMPLE Concept revealed minutes ago, BMW sends another concept to the Museum. BMW CLEVER, short for Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport is part of the Project i program to produce practical, low-emission city vehicles.

It’s a three-wheeled vehicle powered by a natural gas engine and measure 3 meters long, 1 meter wide and 1.4 meters tall, weighs in at under 400 kilograms.

BMW CLEVER Concept accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in around 7 seconds, going on to a top speed of approx. 100 km/h. The two gas cylinders each contain 1.7 kilograms of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) to provide a range of about 200 kilometers.

More information and photos in the press release below.

bmw clever concept 2 655x436CLEVER – cooperative driving pleasure

CLEVER is the acronym for “Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport” and refers to a research project aimed at producing a low-emission, practical city vehicle. The CLEVER project was launched in 2002 as an initiative of Berlin’s Technical University, sponsored by the 5th Framework Programme of the EU Commission. Further research partners were the University of Bath, England, the Institut Français du Pétrole and the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna. Involvement on the industry side came from Cooper-Avon Tyres Ltd., the ARC Light Metal Competence Centre Ranshofen GmbH, TAKATA-PETRI AG and WEH GmbH. The BMW Group took over the technological management and the construction of the chassis, interior and exterior. The design and the prototypes likewise came under the aegis of the BMW Group.

Being CLEVER means sitting one behind the other in a three-wheeled vehicle driven by a low-emission natural gas engine. And that adds up to low aerodynamic drag, minimal weight and a small road footprint: the research vehicle is around 3 metres long, 1 metre wide and 1.4 metres tall, weighs in at under 400 kilograms and offers no more than a square metre of frontal area to the airstream. But being CLEVER also means enjoying the riding fun of a motorcycle coupled with the safety of a passenger car. To this end, the driver and passenger sit in a crash-optimised aluminium space frame with computer-controlled tilting during cornering, offering occupants a typical two-wheeler ride experience.

Focusing on the essentials of motorised travel in city traffic thus paved the way for new technologies and innovative solutions. The tilting technology, in particular, was then a novelty in this form: the single-cylinder engine along with the seamless CVT transmission are mounted in a subframe to which both rear wheels – controlled by swing arms – are attached. The connection to the front main frame is by a central pin with two hydraulic actuators. Depending on the driving situation, these ensure that the driver and passenger lean into corners by up to 45 degrees. It makes for driving that is free of transverse forces and, for the first time, is entirely computer-controlled.

The research engineers came up with a similarly unusual solution for the front steering, which is controlled by an H-shaped swing arm. To save space and weight on the one hand, while on the other creating a secure connection to absorb energy in a frontal collision, they developed a new kind of wheel hub steering. The pivot pin around which the wheel turns during steering is located inside the wheel hub, allowing the front axle to be attached to the swing arm flanges on both sides. When the driver turns the steering wheel – which, incidentally, comes from the BMW Z4 – a steering transmission with lever arm control transmits the steering commands. This not only prompts the wheel to turn but, depending on speed, also tilts the entire passenger cell into the corner.

A paramount aim of the CLEVER was to use a drive system with minimal emissions. The stipulation of low CO2 emissions in the region of 60 grams per 100 kilometres was thus part of the brief from the start. The researchers opted for a fully developed single-cylinder engine with 230 cc displacement and output of 12.5 kW, powered by natural gas from two compressed-gas cylinders. The research vehicle accelerates from standstill to 60 km/h in around 7 seconds, going on to a top speed of approx. 100 km/h. The two gas cylinders each contain 1.7 kilograms of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) to provide a range of about 200 kilometres. That means it costs two people 1 euro to travel around 100 kilometres. The cylinders are also designed to be easily refilled at gas filling stations as well as at home.

On a par with eco-friendliness and energy efficiency, a high level of passive safety was among the principal requirements in the brief. As in a Formula One racing car, the main frame – weighing just over 60 kg – constitutes the survival cell, while the front wheel and steering ensure a deformation path of some 35 centimetres to absorb sufficient energy in an impact. Thanks to special seat belts and a specially developed driver airbag, the research vehicle complied with the Euro NCAP crash test requirements for small cars at the time: even in a frontal collision at 56 km/h, the three-wheeled prototype offered a secure survival cell.

16 responses to “BMW unveils CLEVER Concept”

  1. Lance says:

    They tried so hard to come up with a name that they can abbreviate to I would not purchase a three wheel car at all – let alone travelling at 100km/h with it! The design is so boring!

  2. The Lee says:


    You can’t create an acronym that not only uses the second letter of one of the words but completely ignores a word as well… Should be CLEVUT. Not exactly catchy, though.

    Congrats, BMW, on reintroducing the Carver. Kudos. You’ve found something that already existed, slapped your brand on it and called it your own. Good show, GM… I mean BMW.

  3. Matt Stokes says:

    Horatiu, that picture of the interior of the CLEVER is actually the interior of the SIMPLE. Just thought I’d point it out.

    • thomas lewis says:

      yes ,I noticed that too,I like the Simple a lot more,do to its 0.18 drag coefficient,and it’s comfort which they claim is as good as their sedans.

  4. Tom Buglia says:

    I would buy one tomorrow.

  5. openeyes says:

    If they can really hit the under $12k price point in the US I’d happily get it, particularly if it can be made to have a cruise speed of at least 60 mph for highway travel.

  6. figtree86 says:

    I would buy one in a second if it could go at highway speeds.

  7. もし、¥1020000ーなら 買うかも 楽しそう

  8. Andrew says:

    make it & I’ll buy it if reasonable priced (under $15k)

  9. thomas lewis says:

    this is where we could save millions and help clean up the air,we don’t need big cars for commuting,enclose streamlined 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles fit the bill and their fun to drive.I’m still waiting for a affordable vehicle,Honda,BMW,GM ?

  10. If it is really going to cost less than $12 000 I’d love to buy one for me.
    It looks amazingly futuristic and at the same time really cool.

    Typing speed test

  11. thomas lewis says:

    Aerodynamic vehicles can generate big returns when your talking fuel mileage and or range of a electric.I would love to see a vehicle like the BMW Simple,Clever,or a 2 wheeled enclosed motorcycle like Lit Motors or a cheaper more ergonomic Monotracer enter production in a affordable package.I really think commuters will run with a low emissions high mileage and or electric,even a oil burner may work in a lower emissions package.Whether its a tilting 3 wheeler or a enclosed 2 wheeler,once consumer’s take a test ride and see the comfort and the fun that can be had while saving money ,helping the environment,etc,most everyone with a heart beat will want one.Anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle,or similar vehicle will attest to the fact,you will never see a motorcycle at a physiatrist office.

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