Article from Autocar on the next generation 3 series:
BMW is poised to completely reinvent the 3-series family for the low-carbon age.
Talking exclusively to Autocar, a senior BMW source revealed that a ground-up rethink of the company’s biggest-selling model will ensure that the next-generation 3-series will “remain relevant even when it goes off sale in 12 years’ time”.
The new 3-series is expected to make its public debut at the 2011 Paris motor show. In its first incarnation, the new model is expected to offer class-leading aerodynamics, with a Cd figure of 0.24, as well as pioneering the use of three-cylinder engines in premium vehicles.
The 3-series is part of a new BMW strategy in which ‘premium’ is defined in terms of environmental compatibility. It is this strategy that has prompted BMW to pull out of Formula One from the end of this year.
The reinvention will step up a gear in 2016 when the 3-series undergoes a mid-life revamp. This is expected to represent the biggest technological step-change in car design for decades.
Sources say much of the underskin technology — such as the climate control system — will be completely re-engineered. Many of today’s in-car systems have in principle remained unchanged for decades.
BMW engineers are already years into programmes that will extend the reach of the company’s successful Efficient Dynamics fuel-saving tech to make all aspects of the 3-series — not just the engines — as energy-efficient as possible.
To this end, BMW has fitted thousands of existing customers’ cars with sophisticated black boxes that record all aspects of their use, helping engineers to plan the shape of future models.
For example, the research shows that of all BMW’s models, the 320d is driven the fastest and over the greatest distances by owners. This information will directly influence work on replacements for the 320d to optimise fuel efficiency in the light of this model’s particular duty cycle.
Much of this engineering work is also aimed at the future ‘electrification’ of the car.
BMW’s product planners expect most future car families — especially those in the premium sector — to come in both hybrid and fully electric forms.
This means the design of the car’s electrical architecture and ancillaries will have to be completely rethought to deal with being powered purely by battery. Insiders say headlamps, for example, will have to become far more energy-efficient.