Vi­sion for the fu­ture

BMW gives the green light to its hy­brid coupe, writes Neil Dowl­ing

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

AN EX­PLO­SION this year of elec­tric sports coupes has hatched an­other s i l e n t su­per­car.

Con­firmed for pro­duc­tion is BMW’s Vi­sion Ef­fi­cien­tDy­nam­ics hy­brid coupe which, when it hits the road in three years, prom­ises to match the M3 in per­for­mance to be­come one of the com­pany’s quick­est cars.

Un­til this week, Vi­sion was an 18-month-old con­cept hy­brid first shown at last year’s Frank­furt mo­tor show.

Now, de­spite a long-lead pre­pro­duc­tion sched­ule to 2013, it’s the hottest eco-friendly project on the mar­ket and one that BMW Aus­tralia is try­ing to bring Down Un­der.

It’s early days, says BMW Aus­tralia’s Piers Scott, but the lo­cal com­pany’s hand is up.

‘‘There is no spe­cific word yet on pro­duc­tion for­mat, or mar­ket avail­abil­ity, but it is a car we would be ex­cited to bring to this mar­ket.’’

The car­bon-fi­bre Vi­sion was shown at Frank­furt with a 1.5-litre, three­cylin­der diesel en­gine with an elec­tric mo­tor driv­ing the rear wheels, aided by a sec­ond mo­tor driv­ing the front wheels. It can op­er­ate as a rear, front or all-wheel drive.

It is a plug-in hy­brid with the en­gine be­ing a range ex­ten­der by charg­ing the lithium bat­ter­ies.

The re­sult is a to­tal power out­put of about 240kW and 600Nm of torque for a 0-100km/h time of less than five sec­onds.

BMW claims fuel econ­omy of 3.76 litres/100km and a CO emis­sion of 99g/km.

The two-door, four-seater Vi­sion is in­tended to demon­strate BMW’s fu­ture in hy­brid and elec­tric technology, and show­case its in­volve­ment in car­bon-fi­bre as a light­weight con­struc­tion al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional met­als.

It will go on sale in Europe and the US in Oc­to­ber 2013 and ri­val elec­tric and hy­brid su­per­cars such as the Audi E-tron, the Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Drive and the Porsche 918 RS Spy­der.

The Vi­sion is the third ve­hi­cle un­der BMW’s Project ‘‘i’’ um­brella. The oth­ers are the car­bon-fi­bre all-elec­tric city car, the MegaC­ity (ex­pected in early 2013), and the elec­tric Ac­tiveE (early 2011) that is based on the 1-Se­ries Coupe.

BMW plans to lease the MegaC­ity and Ac­tiveE but may put the Vi­sion up for sale. If so, it won’t be cheap. BMW head of re­search and devel­op­ment Klaus Draeger in­di­cates that Vi­sion will be the com­pany’s most ex­pen­sive car.

In Aus­tralia, that means it will ex­ceed the 760Li’s $386,000 en­try price.

‘‘Technology doesn’t come cheap, and this car is packed with ev­ery­thing we know about al­ter­na­tive drive sys­tems,’’ Draeger says.

BMW’s Piers Scott says it’s to early to talk price or leas­ing op­tions in Aus­tralia.

‘‘It will po­ten­tially in­volve a new re­tail ap­proach with more flex­i­ble own­er­ship ar­range­ments to suit these next-gen­er­a­tion ve­hi­cles,’’ he says.

The Vi­sion will be built at BMW’s Leipzig fac­tory with car­bon-fi­bre body parts com­ing from its plant in Seat­tle in the US state of Washington.

Top dol­lar: the Vi­sion Ef­fi­cien­tDy­nam­ics hy­brid could be BMW’s most ex­pen­sive car.

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