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      11-12-2010, 01:38 PM   #1
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Post Insideline: BMW EfficientDynamics Concept First Ride

Insideline has posted its first ride impressions of the BMW Vision EfficientyDynamics hybrid concept, saying that it is destined to be a BMW halo car and that it's set to blow customers away.

Official Vision Efficientdynamics announcement, info, and specs:

BMW EfficientDynamics Concept First Ride

The Diesel-Electric Hybrid Sports Car

By Matt Davis, European Correspondent | Published Nov 12, 2010

When BMW takes the plunge into new waters, it doesn't do things by halves. We saw the original Vision EfficientDynamics two-door supersport silently speed onto the company stand at last September's Frankfurt motor show, and the effect left the crowd suitably stunned.

We've just made it to the former East Germany for a special ride in the carbon-fiber showstopper that is the crowning jewel for BMW's new future mobility think-tank department called project i, for "innovation." How the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics feels while it hurtles itself along is a familiar sensation in electric hybrids — all that torque from the moment you start etc., etc. But there is more going on here than in the typical alternative-propulsion supercar.

All the Right Hybrid Boxes Checked

We ride in the car under three different drive modes: front-axle all-electric mode at calmer start-off speeds, in all-wheel full-electric mode at middle-range steady highway speeds, and then with the two electric motors and 161-horsepower 1.5-liter three-cylinder prototype diesel engine fully engaged at rocket-launch speeds. Granted, this is a full-time employed project i test mule in the truest sense, and there are still many things to refine and decide prior to the proposed 2013 market launch, but the stage is certainly set to blow customers away.

Strapping in to the carbon-fiber shelled seats, we felt all of the remarkable forward thrust during four straight-line dashes through the Leipzig darkness. The feel during quick sprints on the narrow 21-inch aero wheels and low-resistance tires is of a very produce-able super GT that can hold its own into and out of serious curves as well. The powertrain can be programmed into Normal or Sport mode, so we requested to keep the S lit up on the blue screen instrument panel. The aim is to not have the range extender ignite until things reach at least 31 mph (i.e., 50 km/h).

The transmission is a six-speed, dual-clutch Tiptronic system with paddles, but whether it stays this way remains to be seen. "Some automatics," said BMW Vice President for Total Vehicle Architecture and Vehicle Concepts Philip Koehn, "are now so technologically advanced that we could conceivably simplify matters in this way without losing sportiness." He also went on to add that the cachet for "dual-clutch sportiness" cannot, however, be denied.

Quick One

But this vision of BMW's strategy goes way beyond the current mild hybrids it already produces. In this application, the front electric motor provides 80 hp, the rear 51 hp, and then there's the three-cylinder common-rail 161-hp diesel in back, all swapping responsibilities forward and rearward as needed. That's 292 hp to go along with the 590 pound-feet of torque, most of which is catapulting things right off idle.

There's also 30 seconds of electric overboost time available when and if you need it, taking total available power to 323 horses. Thus pushed, the 3,200-pound BMW Vision EfficientDynamics accelerates to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, according to BMW.

The number of lithium-ion cells has dropped from 96 in Frankfurt to now 91 here since the electronics running the rear engines' management (ICE and electric) operates optimally on 388 volts. This according to the car's project leader Jürgen Greil. The supplier is Korean lithium-ion manufacturer Kokam.

The actual production version will most likely use a gas power plant to act as range extender for the 91 lithium-ion battery cells now packed into where the propeller shaft would be. So yes, there's some Chevrolet in this exotic-looking BMW prototype. There's also the possibility of using just a single electric motor to help minimize weight.

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