While it seems as if BMW has been in the dark, in terms of electric vehicle development, the Bavarians have been working quietly, behind the scenes on some very exciting projects. One of which we just saw, the BMW Vision M NEXT, which is essentially the brand’s first realistic supercar concept since the M1. At the #NEXTGen19 event, the Bavarians just showed off another project car that could be the future of performance for the brand — the BMW “Power BEV”.
Based on a current-generation BMW 5 Series, the Power BEV is designed to showcase what BMW can do with its new fifth-gen electric powertrain. As you may already know, BMW has been developing its own in-house electric drive unit, which consists of an electric motor, all of the associated power electronics and a power take-off all within a single housing. Best of all, the entire drive unit is made without any rare-Earth materials, making them more environmentally-friendly and more sustainable than the average electric motor. The BMW Power BEV has three of these drive units. Two at the rear, powering each wheel independently, and one at the front, powering both front wheels.
According to BMW, this setup provides a total power output of around 720 hp (530kW) and allows the Power BEV to accelerate from 0-62 mph in under three seconds. But straight-line acceleration wasn’t the only goal during development. The chassis engineers behind the Power BEV worked alongside the powertrain engineers, designing a car that impressed laterally as well. Having two electric drive units at the rear axle allows for real-time torque vectoring that can react far faster and provide far more accurate traction than any mechanical differential. So, in theory, it should be able to do big, smoky skids or carve neat, tidy driving lines, depending on what the driver prefers.
Being all-wheel drive, thanks to two driven axles, it will also provide real-time torque vectoring between both axles. So it will have a far superior all-wheel drive system to any conventional performance car. This isn’t anything new, as all dual-axle electric cars do that. BMW reckons that it can be used for either performance or for the added safety of extra traction.
What’s interesting about the Power BEV project and its many drive units is that BMW seems to be looking at how it can offer them to customers. So customers might be able to choose whether they want one, two or even three drive units in the same car, depending on their usage, climate or desires.
This is a very exciting new concept for BMW, as it shows us that the brand is more serious about making performance EVs than a lot of us thought. While BMW was putting out concept cars like the iNEXT, other brands were showing off high-performance and sexy EVs; such as the Tesla Model 3 Performance and Jaguar I-Pace, respectively. Now, the BMW Power BEV shows that the brand can make a Tesla-fighting electric sedan and it can do it right now.