Although still just an illustrative sketch, BMW has offered a bit closer look at its upcoming Megacity Vehicle (MCV). The automaker plans to bring this all-electric urbo-runner to market by 2013 and sell it under a sub-brand similar to its "M" line of performance cars. In April, Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG, told reporters at the Beijing Motor Show the MCV would use revolutionary design and construction techniques to "create new benchmarks for the industry." This most recent "Mobility of the Future" update, presented as part of the BMW Group Innovation Days 2010 forum in Munich, added more technical information as well as the first official exterior graphic of the automaker's groundbreaking four-passenger EV.

Motoring in the LifeDrive lane

The heart of the new MCV will be its unique LifeDrive architecture, a design that separates the package into two distinct but fully-integrated elements, each created to help minimize unnecessary weight while still maintaining all of the requisite structure. The Drive Module -- which weighs about 550 pounds -- consists of an aluminum chassis that contains the electric drive system, a sub-floor mounted battery and the MCV's basic crash/safety systems while the Life Module comprises its ultralight but amazingly strong passenger cell that's made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP).

BMW says the MCV's CFRP structure weighs less than half of what a steel alternative would. More importantly, it's also far stronger and more rigid, giving the car superior impact resistance capability in high-energy crashes as well as making it nearly impervious to low-speed ding-type damage. This minimal-mass upper structure also helps lower the MCV's center of gravity, which will contribute to its BMW-pedigree sporty handling characteristics.

BMW indicated that motivation for its new Megacity Vehicle will come from an aft-mounted motor/generator that's expected to produce around 135 horsepower and drive the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. It will be teamed with an advanced liquid-cooled Samsung-Bosch LiMotive Lithium-ion battery pack that consists of 96 interconnected cells. A computerized intelligent controller will allow up to an 85-percent usage of the pack's total stored energy content.

To enhance the MCV's range -- currently projected in the 100-150 mile arena -- BMW will limit its top speed to about 95 mph and employ an aggressive regenerative braking system that will permit recycling of up to 20 percent of the battery energy expended. The setup also is designed to allow roughly 75 percent of all in-town deceleration to be accomplished without the driver ever having to touch the MCV's brake pedal.

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