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BMW reveals an upcoming Hybrid Sports Car

There are still a few weeks before the 2009 Frankfort Auto Show opens but BMW released images of a new concept car it will feature over the weekend. The Vision EfficientDynamics is a plug-in hybrid sports car with a new dynamic exterior and interior design language. But underneath the eye catching design is a smaller and more efficient engine BMW is exploring for possible future use.

BMW were aiming for the Vision concept to have the performance characteristics of their M3 but also achieve a very low level of fuel consumption. Engineers fitted the Vision with a new three-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that BMW claims has a 0-62 mph time of 4.8 seconds while scoring 62.6 mpg (U.S.). The Vision debuts a new hybrid drive system that uses a 33-hp electric motor between the engine and transmission and a second 80-hp electric motor driving the front axle. The total output of the drive system is surprisingly near 400 hp.

The architecture of hybrid cars seems to be starting to find commonalities. The way the battery pack runs down the center tunnel of the car resembles the layout of the Chevy Volt. BMW is claiming it has a system that can extract 80 percent of the battery’s capacity over the Volt’s capability to only use 50 percent. While the Volt delivers all of its power from the electric drive system, the Vision is powered by a blend of the electric motors and the diesel. The car can run on electricity alone for 31 miles and the added 6.6 gallon diesel tank gives the car another 400 miles in range.

Layering technology developed by the BMW Group Design Division acts as the fundamental guideline in designing the exterior and interior. Applied for the first time in exterior design, this technology layers one surface on top of the other, creating very smooth seams and joints to reduce the number of components and, accordingly, the weight of the car. Lightweight aluminum makes up the chassis, suspension and roof of the car.

New LED lighting technology has also been integrated into the Visions exterior and interior illumination. The aerodynamic taillights in particular are all red with not lit but have integrated LED chambers that alter certain portions to change to yellow for turn signals.

Last week, we mentioned the driving technology that had filtered down into more mainstream vehicles like the Ford Taurus. The Vision’s on-board technology gives a glimpse of next generation features. The car has a central computer that has the ability through the use of sensors to look-forward and forecast driving conditions on the stretch of road immediately ahead to benefit the car’s efficiency. Should the computer establish, for example, that the driver is about to get on the freeway, the power used for running the cooling system is reduced for a certain period in advance, on the assumption that the short increase in coolant temperature resulting from such an energy-saving measure will quickly be set off by the higher speed of the car on the motorway.

The drivers interface with the computer is through the interior Head-Up Display. The display can project information on the windshield in 3D with superimposed layers. The system can show gauge graphics in the background while the latest information on route guidance or warning signals from BMW Night Vision, for example, are shown in the foreground.


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