When it comes to electric motors there isn’t a lot to say about their character. Their construction and intricate simplicity makes any moment behind the wheel of an EV a smooth, sometimes ludicrously fast experience. It’s their instant torque and fast accelerating character that could persuade car guys to change teams but can you actually feel a difference between different motors? BMW certainly thinks so, even if the differences might be extremely small and sometimes barely noticeable.
Internal combustion engines have a different feel, depending on their architecture or maker. A V8 is definitely different from a 4-cylinder engine, both in sound and feel, and a lot of times a 6-cylinder will feel better or worse depending on how the cylinders are aligned and, most importantly, who made it. BMW has been setting itself apart from the competition through its engines for decades, with jewels like the S62 V8, S85 V10 or even the M88 6-cylinder of the M1. Engines are, therefore, an essential part of what makes the BMW brand as successful as it is today.
But now that we’re slowly entering the era of electric cars, will that remain the case? BMW’s Vice President of electric drivetrain development, Stefan Juraschek, seems to think so, saying “the customer may not be able to identify every characteristic of an electric motor, but a significant difference does become apparent in head-to-head comparisons. Probably the most obvious thing that the customer will notice is the speed up to which the motor can sustain its performance.”
And that’s true, as electric motors do tent to accelerate fast at first and then, as they reach their RPM limit, slow down reaching a flat torque plateau. However, as engineers spend more time developing these drivetrains, they can make adjustments and set each motor apart with intelligent tweaks. Furthermore, “a more indirect effect is that the vehicle’s range will drop faster if the electric motor operates less efficiently” as Juraschek points out, leading to a shorter range and more recharging cycles for the battery. Whether the vast majority of clients will notice these small differences remains to be seen but it’s pretty obvious to us that BMW is trying hard not to ignore its pedigree even as it enters this new ‘electric age’.