BMW’s Sneak Peek at Driverless Strategy

BMW has proffered its own vision of a driverless future albeit one that envisages its customers will, at times, always want to take the controls.

Its BMW Vision M Next concept sees an electrified future and a focus on the actively engaged driver making use of intelligent technologies targeted on turning them into the ultimate driver. The carmaker has chosen its #Nextgen event concentrating on personal mobility solutions featuring advances in the fields of design, autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification and services to unveil its vision.

The BMW Vision M Next employs a PHEV drive system offering the choice between electric all-wheel drive and pure rear-wheel drive, with either all-electric propulsion or the power of a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. It boats 597bhp a top speed of 186 mph and a 0 to 62 mph in just three seconds. There is also a Boost+ mode that puts extra power on tap at the push of a button. The maximum range when driving in all-electric mode is a claimed 62 miles enabling the sports car to handle city center driving where zero-emissions zones may come into force in the future.

Domagoj Dukec, vice-president BMW Design, said: “The BMW Vision M Next draws its inspiration from the iconic BMW Turbo and groundbreaking BMW i8 plug-in hybrid and adopts a future-focused interpretation of design elements such as the low-slung, wedge-shaped silhouette, gullwing doors and striking color scheme.”

Waving the performance BEV banner at the event will be the Power BEV which claims a power output of 716bhp and a 0-62mph sprint time of under three seconds.

Key to its technical wizardry are two electric motors at the rear axle being controlled separately bringing e-torque vectoring into play and allowing maximum drive power to be translated into forward propulsion even in extreme cornering. It claims to be even more effective and precise than with a limited slip differential, because actively targeted inputs are possible in any driving situation while a limited mechanical slip differential always reacts to a difference in rotation speed between the driven wheels.

Its powertrain features three fifth-generation drive units, each of which brings together an electric motor and the associated power electronics and power take-off within a single housing. One is mounted at the front axle and two (a double drive unit) at the rear axle.

A more macro point of interest is that BMW claims the BEV is entirely free of rare earths – a move that would undercut China’s current dominance of the BEV scene being the owner of more than 95% of the world’s supply of this lithium-ion battery ingredient

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_






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