Last week, mysterious BMW design patents surfaced on the interwebs in China. According to PCauto.com.cn, these were believed to be official patent designs from a BMW filing with the Chinese trademark office. The assumption was that this is a future “i” vehicle, maybe even the i5, but it turns out that’s far from the truth.
A source in Munich says this is simply a research vehicle which will never see the production line. The car features the hydrogen fuel cell technology previewed earlier this year in Miramas.
Now new information surfaces. Autocar UK says the project is an answer to the Volkswagen XL1 using lightweight material for its primary structure, outer panels, various interior elements and wheels.
Sources involved in BMW’s research activities suggest the new car hits the scales at less than 1150kg, making it 135kg lighter than the existing i3 but 355kg heavier than the XL1. The biggest news come from the aerodynamic properties of the car which Autocar says are 0.18, compared to the VW XL1’s drag coefficient of 0.19.
The design forgoes the traditional side mirror, replaced by video cameras which are used to capture images that appear within a monitor mounted in the place of the traditional rear-view mirror. Tesla’s eccentric CEO – Elon Musk – has recently hinted at future models without side mirrors.
The prototype offers seating for up to four and a boot capacity of 348 liters.
Power for the research vehicle comes via a front-mounted turbocharged 1.0-litre twin-cylinder petrol engine based on the modular architecture of the company’s larger three, four and six-cylinder units, in combination with an electric motor sited at the rear. Energy for the electric motor is provided by new battery tech which offers faster charging, greater energy density and a longer zero-emissions range.
The BMW is claimed to hit 62mph in less than 7 seconds, hit a top speed of 112mph and return 706mpg on the combined fuel cycle, giving it average CO2 emissions of less than 10g/km.