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New iCar From Apple? – No BMW!

August 17, 2010

BMW Thinks Big City Drivers Should have Cool EVs

BMW positions its new MegaCityVehicle (MCV) as a pure electric car with the practicality of the Nissan LEAF and the sex appeal of the Telsa Roadster. It’s a couple of years away but BMW is now releasing preliminary info and drawings. We present a sample of what’s been released and written about the BMW MCV.

BMW Mega City Vehicle Promises Performance for 2013

"The rendering shown here is of the first all-electric vehicle that we should get in 2013. It should be able to seat four people and will use a massive array of lightweight voodoo to boost the car’s overall efficiency. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic will play a huge role in the construction of the car and it will most likely be built in BMW’s Leipzig plant. The carbon fiber will be sourced from the good old United States." Source: Andrei Avarvarii for Top Speed.

From Autoweek’s coverage :

Scheduled for launch in 2013, the new four-seater has been conceived under a sustainable mobility program at BMW’s R&D center in Munich with the working title of “project-i”–a name that alludes to the possible resurrection of the historic Isetta nameplate.

The MegaCity Vehicle brings together a series of innovative technologies that provide it with simple construction, low weight and zero emissions in a car BMW says will carry a price premium over similarly sized small cars. But BMW is adamant the car will still be affordable enough to hit an annual production target of 50,000 units at its Leipzig, Germany, factory by the middle of the decade…

BMW would not comment on pricing of the MegaCity, which is some three years from launch. However, officials hint that the business case for the car is based on sales of 50,000 per year at a base price of 20,000 euros, or about $25,000 at current exchange rates–a little less than double that of the entry-level Ford Fiesta in Europe. See full article…

In case you are not familiar with the history of the Isetta brand that a  number of writers think the BMW “Project i” is named for, here’s a bit of history.

Cary’s Cool BMW Isetta

Photo credit: Green Mileage Blog

The past and future of the iCar

History of the Isetta

The egg-shaped Isetta can be said to be the very best microcar of its time. Certainly it is the archetypal “bubble car”, and is today recognized and loved worldwide.

The car’s origins were in Milan, Italy at the scooter and refrigerator company of Iso SpA, run by Renzo Rivolta. Called Isetta, or “little Iso”, the car was a startling, totally unconventional design that caused a furor at its introduction in Turin in November 1953. From this influential debut grew a number of licensed branches worldwide, the main one being BMW in Germany.

It was seen by BMW as filling a gap between their motorcycle range and the luxury 501 models. The car was redesigned to take the 250cc 4-stroke engine from the R-25 motorcycle, and the front suspension was changed. The finished car was announced in April 1955 and went into production shortly after. The quirky little Motocoupe as it was called by BMW, became the dream of the workingman, and by November 1955, ten thousand had been built. In February 1956, came a 300cc motor. In September of that year the redesigned “sliding-window” model made its debut, looking altogether more harmonious. 22,543 examples of the “egg” rolled off the line in this, its biggest year ever. Microcar Museum…

“We would like to honor one of the most important top-sellers of the post-war period: it´s a car that has become the symbol of an entire generation: the BMW Isetta.” BMWwebTV | January 23, 2008

But This isn’t Your Dad’s MCV

In depth: BMW Megacity Vehicle and Project I

by Sebastian Blanco for AutoBlog Green

More people in bigger cities leads to transportation problems like congestion and less incentive to drive a car. People want public transportation options to be expanded, and more car sharing services. But the automakers are very keen to keep selling personal mobility vehicles to people no matter where they live and, since electric cars a good fit for urban environments, it makes sense that this new breed of city cars have a zero-emission powertrain. For BMW, this all comes together in Project I, the Megacity Vehicle (MCV, above) and, maybe, a new Megacity sub-brand.

That BMW has been working on something called the Megacity Vehicle is no secret, the company officially announced the car over a year ago and, earlier this year, confirmed that it would release the car in 2013. Still, there was a lot we didn’t know about the car and the project. This week, near Munich, with vehicles like the E1 (an early BMW electric vehicle), a carbon-fiber X5 and the Isetta on hand, BMW revealed an overwhelming amount of information about just what we can expect from the MCV and Project I. See full article on BWW EV plans…

Composites Add Strength and Safety at a Price

The car will be the world’s first volume-produced vehicle with a passenger cell made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). Source:

This new vehicle architecture is called LifeDrive and is aimed at significantly reducing the vehicle weight, by adopting lightweght materials and effective engineering solutions.

“The LifeDrive concept consists of two horizontally separated, independent modules. The Drive module integrates the battery, drive system and structural and crash functions into a single construction within the chassis.

“Its partner, the Life module, consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP. Furthermore, the new vehicle architecture opens the door to totally new production processes which are both simpler and more flexible, and use less energy.” Said BMW as reported by Car Body Design…

Innovational Musings covered  Advanced Composites For Future Cars back on 12/09 and we discussed the advantages that composites bring to small car safety and performance. CFRP is a composite material made of carbon fiber and plastic matrix. CFRP is strong and 30 percent lighter than aluminum, 50 percent lighter than steel. But, composites parts are difficult to work and expensive to make.

I wonder if mega city drivers will pay a premium for BMW performance in a place where parking and traffic are more pressing problems than speed off the line and high-speed cornering. And since mega city drivers are often garageless apartment dwellers who work downtown, where plug-in power is going to be hard to find, where will MCVs recharge?

It’s good that the market will have many cool high-tech EVs to choose from. Now if Apple was to make an iCar what would it sound like…


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