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BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept at 2009 Frankfurt motor show

By Tim Swietochowski

First Official Pictures

29 August 2009 23:01

Thought sports cars had no future? BMW disagrees. Its new Vision EfficientDynamics concept car is a high-performance 2+2 mixing supercar performance with the emissions of a small hatchback. It's the frontispiece of the Germans' stand at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show and a major eco landmark for the Bavarians.

The new BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept uses a titchy 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel mated to two electric motors – one up front and one at the rear axle – to yield a total output of 351bhp and 590lb ft of torque. This might be a green show car, but it'll hit 62mph in just 4.8sec and top out at a limited 155mph.

But here's the good bit. Despite these supercar-nibbling performance figures, the Vision EfficientDynamics achieves remarkable CO2 emissions and fuel economy of just 99g/km and 75.1mpg. Or so BMW claims (this is a concept car, after all...)

2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car: the tech

The combustion engine uses common-rail direct injection and a variable intake turbocharger to put out 161bhp and 214lb ft of torque; BMW claims the power is a record diesel specific output of 108bhp per litre.

Mated to the engine is a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, tuned to achieve maximum efficiency by changing up early. The tiny 25-litre fuel tank allows for a 400-mile range solely under diesel power, but this concept car can run in full EV mode too – bumping the overall range up to around 435 miles.

A BMW that'll drive on full Electric Vehicle (EV) mode?

You bet. The Vision EfficientDynamics can operate as a full plug-in hybrid and in this mode its CO2 emissions are almost halved to 50g/km. The electric motor on the rear axle, which produces 34bhp, collects energy on the overrun and during braking before sending it to the car’s lithium-ion battery. The motor at the front, meanwhile, produces 79bhp (or up to 137bhp in electric overboost mode).

When plugged into domestic power mains the car takes two and a half hours to recharge, reducing to less than 45 minutes with higher voltage power points.

What does BMW's Vision EfficientDynamics boast besides an efficient drivetrain?

BMW's thrown everything at this tech showcase. The Vision EfficientDynamics is beset with economy-enhancing technical innovations such as a water-cooled Thermo-Electrical Generator. Sounds like something Marty McFly might use in Back to the Future – it's spacecraft technology to capture heat and convert it into electrical power.

The ECU monitors road data and sat-nav info to determine the likely road conditions ahead, setting up the car to suit. Approach the motorway, and the Vision EfficientDynamics will reduce power to the cooling system since it'll anticipate high-speed driving will provide added air cooling.

Formula One-inspired aerodynamics for a slippery silhouette

BMW claims that its F1 exploits have influenced the aerodynamic properties of the Vision EfficientDynamics, which has a wedgy drag coefficient of 0.22. The car features air deflectors and guide vanes in addition to a flat undertray and the A-pillars use a wing-profile to channel air effectively. It's mid-engined, giving a low front end and there are active louvres in the radiator that close off when air cooling is not required.

It's lightweight, too. The chassis and suspension are made entirely from aluminium, helping trim unladen weight to 1395kg. Not sports car low, but handy for an electric car lugging around a small Caterham's worth of batteries and control systems.

It's been de-Bangled! Is this BMW's latest design language?

The Vision EfficientDynamics certainly looks radical, its most striking visual feature perhaps being the doors and roof, which are made from a polycarbonate glass that darkens according to the outside light. The gullwing doors are massive and there's effectively no B-pillar, making it a cinch to climb in and out of the back seats, says BMW.

The layering theme carries over to the inside, where a 3D head-up display displays information and signals in its foreground or background depending on their importance in any moment. The interior is characterised by contoured front seats that are attached to the centre console to create what BMW describes as a ‘landscape’ effect. There are rear seats, too, that appear to float above the car’s floor.

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