BMW’s new Vision M Next concept vehicle offers a hint at how the automaker plans to slash vehicle emissions while retaining the sporty performance it has become to be known for.
A complement to the all-electric Vision iNext prototype revealed last autumn, the M Next opts for a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that could have broader appeal in a world still lacking a viable charging network, the automaker explained during an event in Frankfurt on Tuesday. But, with a range of about 62 miles in all-electric mode, officials added, the prototypes gas engine would seldom need to fire up.
In fact, the vehicle’s navigation system would be able to trigger the concept vehicle to switch to all-electric mode as it enters urban areas where the use of an internal engine might be banned. That is something BMW expects to build into future plug-in hybrids.
“The BMW Vision M Next provides a glimpse into the future of sporty driving,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president, BMW Group Design. “M Next demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging.”
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The iNext and M Next serve, in a sense, as a look at the future of BMW’s first electrified offerings, the all-electric i3 city car, and the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car.
Going forward, the automaker will develop new platforms that will allow all of its products, not just those specialty models, to use some form of electrified technology, including more conventional hybrid power.
During a presentation in Palm Springs earlier this year, company officials revealed details of its the battery-electric technology that will power future products. These include models that will use front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive layouts, for one thing.
And their modular design will allow the use of motors that can deliver more than 700 horsepower, challenging the performance of even its most exotic “M” performance models, like the iconic M3.
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The plug-in hybrid drivetrain underlying the M Next concept produces a combined output of about 600 horsepower, enough to hit 100 kmh, or 62 mph, in about three seconds, BMW said, with a top speed of 300 kmh, or 186 mph. There is also a “Boost” button that will increase performance for a few seconds.
While BMW has said it will be adding new all-electric models to its line-up, the M Next reflects the company’s concern about just how much demand there will be for such products. A key issue is consumer skepticism, fueled by the lack of a robust charging network in key markets such as the U.S. and Europe.
While the M Next puts more of an emphasis on sporty driving than the Vision iNext, they do have some things in common, notably the ability to switch to autonomous driving, or what BMW has dubbed the
“Here,” it explains, “the vehicle is transformed into a living space on four wheels, where the passengers can feel safe and secure. From rest and relaxation, via talking, interacting and enjoying in-car entertainment, all the way to maximum concentration – the experiences on offer with the Ease concept are as varied as the occupants’ needs.”
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Many of the features designed into the M Next and iNext concepts are expected to start coming to market next year as BMW begins rolling out its next wave of electrified vehicles.