Ahead of the 2010 Beijing Auto Show BMW has announced that the company’s first mass-produced electric car will be released in 2013. Having just completed a year’s worth of electric vehicle testing with the Mini E, the BMW group now feels it has collected enough data to go full steam ahead with battery-powered cars.
Although it is likely a bit of a bummer to Mini fans, as BMW has previously stated, the Mini E (shown above) is not slated for production. Instead, BMW will start a completely new sub-brand to sell EVs dubbed ‘Megacity.’ Reportedly, the first Megacity will be a 5-seater in the size class of a VW Golf and will have a rear-mounted motor as well as rear wheel drive.
BMW’s approach to electric cars is markedly different than that announced by other auto manufacturers. Although they will be coming a bit late to the EV parade, BMW plans on using extensive amounts of high tech carbon fiber to make their Megacity EVs stronger, safer, lighter and faster than any other electric cars on the road. The light weight is key, allowing BMW to claim that the first Megacity EV will have a 160 mile range. At 160 miles, the “short range” argument begins to get seriously muted.
And are you kidding me? A super lightweight electric car with rear wheel drive? That thing is going to be sickly fun to drive. Unfortunately there are no pictures yet, but BMW says the Megacity will be of a groundbreaking design.
Having just announced a joint venture between themselves and SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to open a carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, Washington, BMW says they have come up with a groundbreaking method for mass manufacturing carbon fiber that will make it “affordable” for use in automobiles. “This vehicle will radically alter the motor industry as we know it,” said Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “The BMW Group is currently the only company that will be launching a volume-production vehicle on the market that features carbon fibre-reinforced material.”
It should be noted that a large part of the location of the carbon fiber venture in central Washington state stems from the fact that electricity is incredibly cheap here — I live here too — and comes from clean hydro power. So if you’re an EV manufacturer, what better way to claim that not only is your car clean, but so is your manufacturing process? Also, the cheap electricity certainly helps the bottom line.
Other auto manufacturers: Are you taking notes?
Source: Autocar UK