Photos of a BMW patent application filed in Shanghai, China earlier this year surfaced on the internet recently, with most industry observers suggesting the car was intended to help BMW research fuel cell powertrains. But now, Autocar claims that a source within BMW with knowledge of the program has revealed that the car is actually a plug-in hybrid concept designed to challenge Volkswagen’s ultra-high MPG car, the XL1.
If that source is accurate, the prototype was built at BMW’s test facility in Munich, Germany and is currently undergoing an extensive development program. It is said to be a plug-in hybrid, whereas the XL1 is a “conventional” hybrid. It’s also believed that the BMW concept will weigh more than the XL1, being a full four seat sedan as opposed to the XL1, only has room for two tandem passengers.
In order to steal headlines from the 260 MPG Volkswagen XL1, however, the BMW will have to post some pretty impressive fuel economy figures. To that end, the BMW experimental car is said to be capable of more than 700 mpg, although that would be measured by the (rather generous) European standard
The prototype is rumored to make extensive use of the carbon fiber technology BMW has pioneered for its i3 and i8 cars. While weighing almost 800 lbs more, it will have a much larger passenger cabin and more cargo carrying capacity than the Volkswagen, making it a more practical car for daily driving chores. Power is said to come from a front mounted 1.0 liter turbocharged two-cylinder engine working in conjunction with a rear mounted electric motor. According to Green Car Reports, the car’s battery weight will help to keep weight down by using a “newly-developed chemical process” that allows for greater energy density and faster charging.
No doubt, such a battery is much too expensive for a regular production car, but cost is no object when it comes to research vehicles and concept cars like this. A car such as this is probably 10 years or more away from production, but it is encouraging that BMW is striving to create cars that comply with ever-tightening emissions regulations that can still accelerate faster than a 1962 Plymouth Valiant.
Perhaps the future of motoring is not quite so bleak after all!
BMW High MPG Concept Car
Photo credit: Car News China/PC Auto.