The New York Times has reported that BMW’s electric car will be aimed at more affluent, urban drivers. With the new car, BMW hopes to gain traction in China which is encouraging emission-free transportation and large major metropolitan areas like New York City and Los Angeles.
BMW’s electric car chassis has already been crash tested by the company and this month BMW is scheduled to break down a manufacturing facility in Moses Lake, Washington state in order to produce a lightweight carbon fiber for the passenger compartment. "Carbon fiber construction is one of the enablers of electric mobility," said Jochen Töpker, a BMW engineer who manages the company's joint venture with SGL, which is based in Wiesbaden, Germany.
BMW’s electric car will be battery powered. Other battery powered electric cars and hybrids have proven to be especially effective in urban areas, allowing commuters to drive between 150-200 miles before needing to recharge. In addition, BMW’s design will also convert kinetic energy into electricity as the car’s battery will gain a boost once a driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator, causing the car to slow down. As the car loses momentum, it will take the energy from the lost momentum and use it to charge the battery.
BMW’s electric car will be more expensive than a conventional gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. However, drivers who buy the electric car will recoup some of that money by not having to consistently refill the car with a fossil based fuel or maintain it with frequent oil changes.
BMW’s electric car will be exclusively electric, as other electric cars are based off conventional models that use fossil based fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The automaker has not stated what the car will look like but released a composite sketch to journalists at a car show in Munich, Germany. BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk told reporters that the design would be sporty and stylish, keeping it aligned with other BMW models and not looking like a boxy Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius.
BMW’s electric car will face competition when it is released on the market. Daimler is planning to release its Smart car in 2012, which will be a 2-seater electric car. When BMW’s electric car gets released in 2013, it is expected to seat 4 people according to the composite sketches released by the company.
BMW’s electric car is just the latest attempt by automakers to transition away from fossil fuel transportation. Many analysts inside and outside the auto industry are predicting conventional car sales to start declining in 2020.
Written by Jonathan Trent