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BMW Megacity Vehicle | News | Design sketch

Published: 02 July 2010

BMW has issued this first design sketch of its innovative new Multicity Vehicle. The BMW MCV won't be launched until 2013 and this is our first look at the new electric city car.

The Multicity Vehicle is designed for the growing number of 'megacities', that is metropolitan areas of 10 million or more. Big conurbations like London, Los Angeles and Tokyo are being joined by more and more sprawling cities in China – and BMW is confident they will change the way urbanites drive around.

BMW Multicity Vehicle: the details

This design sketch of the BMW MCV shows a compact city car, not dissimilar to a Smart in spirit. Be sure to expect some kidney grilles and kinked C-pillars in the mix though, for some Munich character.

The MCV will be electric only and features a carbonfibre chassis, which is claimed to be exceptionally strong (see first crash test photo in our gallery – this was the third crash test on this tub!) and also remarkably cheap to mass manufacture.

As we all know, light weight is the key to good efficiency, performance and handling – and BMW points out that it's especially important in an electric vehicle, as it counters the extra 100kg weight of the batteries and motors. BMW's Project i is the company's major focus on developing electric vehicles, and the Mini E trials in the US and Europe are a testbed for understanding how batteries, cars and people behave using EVs.

So no more screaming flat sixes and M division cars?

Hardly. The MCV is still a twinkle in its designers' eyes at present, so you can expect plenty more stock BMWs for years, or even decades to come. But make no mistake: Munich is convinced that the world is changing.

It has struck major partnerships with companies such as SB LiMotive to develop the batteries and SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to work on the composite chassis. Using carbonfibre saves 50% of the mass of a conventional steel bodied car, says BMW; building the MCV out of aluminium would save just 30%.

The electric drive system in the MCV develops more than 100kW. But BMW says it is also developing experimental range-extenders, where a small-capacity internal combustion engine is added to the EV purely to recharge the battery via a generator.

Ian Robertson, sales and marketing boss on the MCV

As reported last month, CAR was given the inside line on the MCV by the global marketing chief. 'It will be badged as a BMW sub brand – with a propeller badge and a separate name,' he told us. 'We are in the final stages of deciding what that name will be and there are some exciting options. It'll be like our M badge, there will be a proper sub brand on it.'

The MCV city car you see here will be one of a family of electric vehicles. Robertson hinted that there could even be BMW sports car EVs – based on the Efficient Dynamics concept. Exciting times at Munich.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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