BMW Comes Closer To Luxury Electric Market With Project i

Concepts | October 27th, 2009 by 0
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Lexus is doing it, Infiniti has plans to bring a few to fruition and now German automaker BMW wants a piece of the action. Electric cars …

Lexus is doing it, Infiniti has plans to bring a few to fruition and now German automaker BMW wants a piece of the action. Electric cars have been all the rage as of late (and the craze may be here to stay), so it’s only fitting that along with BMW’s excellent line up of petrol cars, comes a best in class electric car.

As many of you already know, BMW’s electric/city friendly line up of cars, better known as Project i, has been in debate for some time over whether they are going to offer the cars as a part of the BMW core line up or a subdivision of the BMW brand, much like MINI. Recent reports published by auto publications mention that the Project i vehicles will be offered as a “top tier” electric vehicle in the emerging EV sector of the automotive market.

According to Autocar UK, designers have been hard at work in BMW’s Technik and FIZ technical centers in Munich. They are formulating new design themes for the Project i line up. Project i vehicles will be offered in three different variants, including two wheeled, three wheeled and four wheeled vehicles.

bmw simple concept 3 655x4361

Although the newly revealed Simple concept provides a vision for where Project i is headed, it doesn’t speak to the final design language that Project i is going towards. It merely serves as an engineering direction rather than a styling blueprint. This is true to German automotive engineering; make sure it works first then worry about styling. But successes from both the Simple and it’s sister car, the Clever, will be worked into the final Project i design. The Clever was a design exercise to explore how small designers could make a vehicle while maintaining the utmost safety. Depending upon the outcome and successes of Project i, I would also bet that many of the ground breaking, energy efficient, technologies used will find their way into the BMW, MINI and Roll Royce vehicles as well.

BMW, if successful with their Project i offering, is positioned to throw a curve ball into the EV market. Nothing from any other automaker has ever looked like or driven like the Project i vehicles. Today’s electric vehicles are essentially based off of existing automotive platforms. The Project i vehicles are built from the ground up and are made specific to accommodate the engineering of the electric vehicles of tomorrow.

An important debate still ensues within BMW as to how and where exactly they are going to position the Project i vehicles. Also, another factor that BMW must consider is the radical styling the Project i may take on. Are true BMW diehard buyers ready for this type of vehicle? What market is this specifically going to appeal to? Most of us almost had a heart attack when Christopher Bangle’s designs took shape. I could only imagine the horror Project i would inflict if their designs took a similar direction or steered away from traditional BMW design language. Given that, yes, this is a new market and yes, the “bylaws” are still unwritten, I’d say there is less of a chance of this occurring, but it is still a very sensitive subject and must be executed properly.

BMW’s interior designers are constructing Project i’s interiors to be an onslaught of technology and innovation. It is said the new EV vehicles will boast technology such as a head-up display and a multi-function TFT screen which were both seen on the ED concept. The head-up display will use a laser projector that bounces the laser light onto a horizontally mounted TFT to give the driver superb graphics quality. All of the technology used in the Project i cars are intended to save weight and power, which is vital in an EV vehicle.

In the coming months it should be interesting to see Project i come into reality. The EV/Hybrid market is still young and undeveloped, therefore many people are not impressed with the driving experience, that genuine “Joy” seems to be missing. Hopefully BMW can change all of that with Project i and bring performance and fun, all the while remaining efficient, to the EV market.

[Source: Autocar ]