BMW joined the ranks of automakers with a planned electric car release when it announced that the Megacity Vehicle (MCV) would be available in 2013. Although it won’t be the first mass-produced electric vehicle on the market, it will be the first mass-produced vehicle to use a passenger cell made from carbon, specifically carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Carbon is known for its light weight and its use will allow BMW to offset the additional weight that comes with an electric vehicle drive train—a lighter vehicle will likely lead to an extended driving range. With American consumers focused on a greater driving range, this could lead to more interest in the BMW MCV as the 2013 release date nears.
BMW is creating this vehicle from the ground up and completely in-house using what they call the LifeDrive concept. According to BMW, electrifying its vehicles requires a completely new approach to vehicle architecture and body construction in order to optimize the electric vehicle platform.
The LifeDrive concept consists of two horizontally separated, independent modules. The Drive module integrates the battery, drive system and structural and crash functions into a single construction within the chassis. Its partner, the Life module, consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP. Furthermore, the new vehicle architecture opens the door to totally new production processes which are both simpler and more flexible, and use less energy.
Although the success of future electric vehicles will depend on the consumer’s adoption of the technology, automakers like BMW are continuing with their plans to bring all-electric vehicles to market. As the technology improves we are likely to see longer driving ranges, which is one of the key factors that will influence American’s electric vehicle purchase decisions.
BMW does not yet have any specifications on the possible range of the Megacity Vehicle but with several years to fine tune this process we may very well see a vehicle with an all-electric range near the 200 mile mark, which is the sweet spot for American buyers.
Melissa Hincha-Ownby is a blogger for the Mother Nature Network.
Image courtesy of BMW via MNN.
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