Would the new BMW Z4 be perfect as an electric roadster?

BMW Z4 | October 17th, 2018 by 20
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Our own Horatiu was recently in Portugal to drive the new BMW Z4 roadster, the first fruits from the BMW/Toyota partnership. Though, driving impressions are …

Our own Horatiu was recently in Portugal to drive the new BMW Z4 roadster, the first fruits from the BMW/Toyota partnership. Though, driving impressions are still under embargo, so we’ll have to wait a little while longer to see what he thought about the drive. However, it did get us thinking about the future of the roadster, not just the Z4. Would this new BMW Z4 actually be the perfect platform on which to build an all-electric roadster?

The new BMW Z4 is a sharp handling car, we don’t need driving impressions from this recent press drive to know that. Prototype drives revealed that it’s a genuinely good driving sports car. So it would be a shame to waste such a good chassis even once roadsters become superfluous, in a time of electrification and increased environmental responsibility.

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Now that we must worry more than ever about melting icebergs and homeless polar bears, something like a BMW Z4, typically a second or third car, seems unnecessary. So why not make it electric and keep it going?

Such an electric BMW Z4 would actually be a very cool car. Batteries could be fitted to the floor of the chassis, like every other EV, which would give it an even lower center of gravity. Helpful for a car with a folding roof. An electric motor would replace the limited-slip differential at the rear axle and the engine at the front could be replaced by another trunk, which is also helpful in a convertible.

Even further, an electric BMW Z4 wouldn’t need a huge battery pack, helping to keep weight down, as it would be a second or third car anyway, so range wouldn’t be a huge issue. That would allow it to be a fun, short-range sports car with an all-electric powertrain, thus reducing the guilt of owning a car purely for fun.

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Plus, I’ve personally recently been seduced by the charms of open-top EVs. Having recently driven the i8 Roadster, I had the chance to drive it with the top down and in pure electric mode and I genuinely enjoyed it. It was actually a ton of fun to drive around in the open air with no engine noise at all. Just the futuristic EV whir of the electric motor and the wind in my face. So the idea of an electric BMW Z4 actually sounds really exciting. And if that keeps roadsters around in the future, bring it on.

20 responses to “Would the new BMW Z4 be perfect as an electric roadster?”

  1. bogger says:

    I’m not sold on that idea. My Z4 is not a 2nd or 3rd car. I don’t need huge distances, but still batteries are not the solution. Batteries are heavy and don’t support continues driving. What is needed is hydrogen as fuel to produce electricity to power the car directly. Decentralized electricity is the key. Less weight and fast refuel where needed. Carrying heavy batteries that charge slow, are expensive and dangerous to handle are definitely not the right thing. A i8 is probably nice to drive, but carrying those batteries for the weak capacity and then continue with the rubbish 3 cylinder engine moving the batteries is not much of a sports car, sorry. And th price tag is ridiculous.
    A German fire department set an Model S on fire by sticking a iron rod from below, something that is realistic in an accident. They were not able to control the fire for three days. And none was allowed to tough the body because of the hazardous high voltage. Yes right, the soft top would be helpful.

    • CDspeed says:

      You need more experience with electric cars…….

      • disqus_N2EdJql2v3 says:

        Not if he enjoys his Z4. And if you think top down driving is silent, you need more experience with roadsters……

        • CDspeed says:

          I’ve owned a Porsche 911(996) Targa, 911 (997) Carrrera 4S Cabriolet, and a BMW E92 M3 convertible. I know what open top driving is like…..

          • disqus_N2EdJql2v3 says:

            If you”ve driven air-cooled flat 6 behind your ears & history’s only M3 V8 ahead of them & want silence? Stop driving.

    • Hinu says:

      I agree that it’s not necessarily a 2nd or 3rd car. It would work well as a 1st car even if electric (different size packs to choose from).

      Batteries are the solution. They aren’t light, but the weight isn’t really that important anymore. The weight has come down a lot and it sits as far down as you get it – meaning it has little affect on handling and actually lowers the centre of gravity. Regarding continuous driving, do you mean driving without charging or driving without gett power reduction. The latter is not a problem.

      A fuel cell range extender wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s a good compromise to get the advantages of an EV and eliminating an important disadvantage.

      A fuel cell powertrain will not be the way to go, though (as opposed to a small range extender). It’s inefficient and space-consuming, it can’t generate enough power for a car to be very fast. Definitely not something you’d want in a car like this.

      A battery doesn’t have to charge slow just because past cars have. This car would easily get support of 200 kW or more. This is far faster than any Tesla and would make long-distance driving a blast.

      Batteries aren’t really unsafe. Fossil cars are, according to studies, more dangerous. This is a myth and EV batteries has nothing to do with phone batteries etc. They cannot compare. Not he chemistry, not the packs, and EV batteries are fused, monitored, thermally managed, encased and protected.

      Tesla reinforced the packs. In practice, it takes time for this to happen and you have a lot of time to get away. It’s simply a fact that risk of fire is not higher in EVs.

      An electric Z4 would be perfect.

  2. disqus_N2EdJql2v3 says:

    If BMW want an electric roadster they should produce the MINI Superleggera Concept from a few years back, Z4 is perfect as ICE.

  3. CDspeed says:

    It would be nice, go out for a cruise and enjoy the silence.

  4. Joshua Stein says:

    Nope, the inline 6 on the new Z4 should sound similar to the X3/4 M40i which sounds amazing, so that paired with a top down experience should make the car even more enjoyable. It would just be weird to drive a convertible and hear zero engine noise with the top down.

    • disqus_N2EdJql2v3 says:

      Drove a Z4 M Roadster once – OMG, sound alone! But I can scrape by with a new M40i almost 400 hp Z4 if I have to… If someone else will pay.

  5. Distiller says:

    No need for electrification. But a need for a stick and classic dials!

    • Central Lifestyle says:

      Move on from those mate. What’re you going to request next, steam engines? Or perhaps real horses in place of mechanical horsepower? Listen, gear paddles are perfect, haven’t missed stick shifts at all, and digital dials are configurable to a point with more info available to display. Embrace them, you’ll love it.

  6. Central Lifestyle says:

    Can’t see why not. Tested the latest i8 coupe along with previous gen i8. And just as Nico advised, had it on eDrive for some time (no drop top though). It was a superb cruise on both cars. Understeer was evident on previous gen but i8 Coupe seems to have reduced/eliminated that. It drives great, got more quick in it than actually credited for, plus its toll charge exempt in London. Picked it in grey with black wheels but looking to change those wheels to wider ones when it delivers.

  7. Ofentse Letsholo says:

    Give it 15yrs when their solid state batteries are on point, that’s when I see an electrical version. But I think the next generation z4 will most definitely bring an electric version, plus with the EU on their neck with emissions they’ll have to do something.

  8. Hinu says:

    Agree 100 %. This should be electric. At least have an electric version. It would clear up a lot of space and like you said lower the centre of mass. A powerful rear motor for pure RWD drifting fun with a frunk in addition to the rear trunk that actually make it semi-practical.

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