BMW is making good on its commitment to building an electric car for the urban environment.
The German automaker has announced that it plans to invest $744 million to move ahead with production of the all-electric Megacity at its assembly plant in Leipzig in old East Germany. As part of the project, BMW also planning to build a carbon fiber plant in the U.S. probably in the State of Washington.
The announcement coincides with word BMW will put its striking Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept vehicle into production. The high-performance plug-in hybrid will be capable of launching from 0 to 60 in just 4.8 seconds while still getting about 31 miles on battery power before its diesel engine fires up. Unlike the relatively mainstream Megacity, the Vision will be priced at somewhere around $200,000 (Click Here for more.)
The Megacity, which is designed strictly as an urban vehicle, is BMW’s first battery-powered auto, and it will be sold under a new sub-brand when it reaches showrooms in 2013. Passengers in the four-seat car will be protected by a carbon-fiber safety cell, similar to a Formula 1 race car.
BMW first announced Megacity last winter but is now taking preliminary steps to implement the project, which company officials say is a direct response to the steady growth in urban areas around the globe.
The Leipzig plant was chosen for production of the Megacity car because it is one of BMW’s newest factories and also one of the most efficient.
As for the the Vision Efficient Dynamics model, its ability to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases is in line with the European Union’s tough new standards. Significantly, it will be one of the first hybrids to use a diesel rather than a gasoline engine.
The new hybrid model is anticipated to go on sale in 2013, and while the Munich-based BMW didn’t provide complete details, it’s expected Vision will be priced below the company’s Rolls-Royce models, development chief Klaus Draeger said.
BMW’s hybrid sports car will have a similar acceleration rate to BMW’s M6 supercar, while emitting just 30 percent of the M6 coupe’s CO2 per kilometer, according to BMW’s Web site. The M6’s starting price in the U.S. is $102,350.
The carmaker targets significant sales volumes for the Vision Efficient Dynamics and will make it available in all major markets around the globe as BMW aims to steal customers from competitors’ models, Draeger said.
BMW isn’t the only maker looking at hybrid technology for a high-performance sports car. Porsche plans to produce a 918 Spyder hybrid sports car, which features carbon fiber-reinforced plastics to reduce weight and emissions. Ferrari and Lotus are also turning to electric propulsion, as much due to the technology’s off-the-line torque as its ability to reduce emissions.
The Vision Efficient Dynamics also will be made in Germany, Reithofer said. BMW may use a gasoline engine in markets like China and the U.S., where diesel engines aren’t popular, Draeger said.