BMW and Daimler collaborating on electric car research project


May 8, 2012

The Mute concept will serve as a starting point for Visio.M

The Mute concept will serve as a starting point for Visio.M

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Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler and BMW are typically seen facing off against each other to win the hearts, minds and wallets of luxury car buyers. However, the challenges of developing a mass-produced electric car have inspired the two pillars of German luxury to put aside their rivalry and team up on a city car project.

To be fair, the Visio.M project goes well beyond BMW and Daimler. It's a team-up between more than a dozen players. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research is providing nearly 11 million euros (US$14 million) in funding, while the Technical University of Munich (TUM), technology companies and other automakers will also be participating in the work.

You might think that a collaboration between those types of industry heavyweights was aimed at something super-ambitious like a 500-mile EV, but the Visio.M has its sights a little closer to Earth. The aim of the project is to develop a car that combines the light weight necessary for ample city driving capabilities with appropriate safety equipment.

"On the way to mass production of electric vehicles, there are still significant technological hurdles to overcome, " a press release announcing the project explains. "Previous small electric vehicles offer only a minimum level of vehicle safety and therefore are not mass-marketable. Electric cars that were derived from gasoline-powered models are usually too heavy and require large and expensive batteries."

The parties aim to make a vehicle with 15 kW (20 hp) of power and no more than 400 kg (880 lbs) of bulk at the curb. The car will also provide protection and safety features comparable to current gas vehicles. The project will use the TUM-developed Mute concept as its starting point, experimenting with new forms of mechanics, safety equipment and energy storage.

When we last saw it in the fall, the Mute concept used a 10 kWh lithium ion battery powering a 15 kW motor to up to 62 miles (100 km) of range and 74.5 mph (120 km/h) of speed. It weighed in at 1,102 lbs. (500 kg) and used a variety of innovative equipment, including a zinc-air range-extending system and a carbon-neutral ethanol radiator.

In addition to this joint project, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz are working on their own internal electric car programs. In 2013, BMW will debut the first models of its i line, and Mercedes plans to launch the SLS AMG E-Cell.

Source: Autoblog Green

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Now this is a project with some merit.

The vehicle they strive to produce will use less energy because it is lighter. Too bad the wind resistance will be about the same. Still, for low speed driving, their goal reflects reality much more than almost every other EV concept.

Robert DeDomenico

64 mile range.pathetic,its not going to happen for the electric car(except as a coin operated SHORT JOURNEY city car) until the battery technology is significantly improved,all our technology has so far not got even close.battery technology has not (SIGNIFICANTLY)IMPROVED SINCE THE 1920,S WHEN MOST VEHICLES OF THE TIME WERE ELECTRIC,(not a lot of people are aware of that.then came the internal combustion engine and cheap gasoline,so electric vehicles faded into the background for the same reasons they are unsuccessful today,heavy,large,expensive battery's with a short life ie discharge,long recharge time,as for longevity,how long they last till they have to be replaced,who knows,it varies,then you have two technologies to go wrong on your modern unnecessarily overcomplicated car,electrical and mechanical combination,what will be the value after a 100,000miles with everything going wrong,nightmare,the modern car is bad enough expense wise when it goes wrong/if they want to invest in something that is going to work, develope the hydrogen fuel cell,electric is a big NO NO,just to please the greens with their mad global warming for hybrids, Lexus have made them viable but look at the price,seriously look at the price and even then it only works by switching between the two technologies, hideously expensive when they go wrong coming complete with a boot full of battery..

Chris Keane
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