Carscoops.com: BMW is getting ready to re-engineer the way they build cars, focusing on developing all-wheel drive plug-in hybrids and possibly electric vehicles for their entire range in the future.
In a sense, this would mean that the good old internal combustion engine will be out of a job unless it settles for basically becoming a generator for the car's battery pack - which indeed, seems to be where we're heading. The new cars will look to reduce air and rolling resistance, will use 3D sat-nav in order to anticipate road conditions and will be built out of lightweight materials in order to offset the extra weight of the batteries.
According to a report from Autocar magazine, we might have to wait for yet another generation of the 3 Series in order for BMW to fully switch from their traditional methods to using composites in strategic structural areas and rethinking their hybrid powertrains - which might be scalable starting with the 3 Series and all the way up to future Rolls-Royce models.
Allegedly, BMW engineers have said that in this new hybrid format, the combustion engine will probably be driving the front wheels only about 10% of the time, meaning that the engine itself will stop needing any sort of enrichment from the fuel injection system, resulting in a very low fuel consumption.
The 2016 BMW 3 Series F30 (facelift) plug-in hybrid could represent the first stage of the electric revolution. It will use a traditional 180 HP turbocharged 2.0 litre petrol engine, connected to their excellent 8-speed automatic transmission - which is already excelling in both economic and performance oriented models. A 7.6kWh battery will be placed over the rear axle, giving the car an EV range of 22 miles (35km).
Furthermore, if a potential 2022 BMW 3 Series Hybrid is to see the light of day as per these rumors, it could use twin electric motors in order to provide it with plenty of torque from a low range, pretty much eliminating the need for a turbocharger or a valvetronic system.
Eliminating the turbocharger would have major implications, especially since BMW purists have just recently gotten used to the idea of their beloved M cars having ditched the traditional naturally aspirated engine. The massive low-range torque provided by the electric motors will however help you say goodbye to the turbocharger without any lingering. And we did just witness the i8 whoop the M4 in a straight line last week.
For a future 3 Series, a composite material body will be around 100kg / 220 pounds lighter than today's model (maybe even more), and will offset the weight of the battery while making the car even better balanced, having a much better mass distribution. We could also see BMW drop their traditional badges in favor of new ones that reflect torque output. So a BMW 345 could indeed be a 3 Series with 450Nm of torque. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Now, since we don't have an official source for the Autocar story, we're just going to 'pop the trunk' on this and share our own take on the story with the help of our own sources.
The fact is that, more and more car makers are looking to hybrid and eventually EV cars in order to solve their CO2 emission problems, especially since they have to comply with the EU's fuel consumption regulations where there is currently a 2021 target for an average of 95g/km of CO2 and various brands will have to manage between 85g/km and 110g/km of CO2.
These numbers will apparently change again in 2025 and will become even harder to meet, especially if you're a car manufacturer that isn't planning to completely change the way they make cars. Standing still will certainly not help you get in front of the issues.
However, for the past decade, BMW has been at the forefront of automotive innovation, and if you're looking for a way into the future as a car manufacturer, then you better keep an eye on them.
First of all, we know for a fact that the BMW X5 eDrive will be the first ever model to mix a TwinPower Turbo petrol engine with a plug-in hybrid system and BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system. So basically, thanks to the i8, this entire technology will be easily transferred from the BMW 'i' brand to the core models. This is where BMW is probably taking their range in the next 10 years. In addition, according to our own source, BMW will also continue to develop their hydrogen fuel cell technology, where they might show us something by 2020.
But what about further down the road? Will BMW's Plug-in Hybrid models actually help start this so called "EV revolution"? The long term implications are fascinating, because a plug-in hybrid can't and won't be the ultimate goal. Our planet won't allow it. So it will most likely take a very long time until you'll be able to buy a fully electric 3 Series, instead of your run of the mill 320d or 335i. It's an exciting yet comforting thought, but logistically speaking, you would need a re-engineered power grid within your city in order to sustain a large number of electric vehicles. Just imagine if everybody was to charge their cars at night at the same time. From the get-go, you'd already have trouble selling these cars world-wide if there are so many markets which aren't ready to receive them.
And then you have to improve the autonomy, because even the extremely efficient PHEVs of today don't do well on very long journeys. So would you really need a plug-in hybrid car if most of your daily commute is done on the highway over long distances? Probably not. But if you mostly drive your car over short distances, then you can turn the whole conversation around. A PHEV with an electric range of about 30-40km currently needs something like a 5-10 kWh battery, and if you live in the US for example and you drive around 40 miles per day, then at around 11 cents per kWh (national average), you'd end up spending around $594 annually to juice up your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle.
We're definitely looking forward to BMW's solutions in this department. Losing weight and lowering the center of mass will only help improve the dynamics on their models, which is what BMW drivers want as far as performance. As of right now, the 'Ultimate Driving Machine' seems like it has the jump on most, if not all of its rivals.