Unprecedented Hybrid Drive Global Alliance: Cooperation between BMW, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors
By Mike Hanlon
September 8, 2005
September 9, 2005 That’s not thunder you can hear in the distance, it’s just a few global automotive giants getting together in a spirit of cooperation that might have some far-reaching consequences beyond the far-reaching consequences being announced here. In a remarkable move, the BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors Corporation have signed a “memorandum of understanding” governing the formation of an alliance of equals for the joint development of automotive hybrid drive systems. The three global automakers are cooperating in order to pool their expertise to accelerate the development of efficient hybrid drive systems. The objective is to jointly develop a two-mode hybrid drive system that reduces fuel consumption while not compromising vehicle capability. While the base two-mode hybrid design will be common, each company will individually integrate the hybrid system into the design and manufacturing of vehicles in accordance with their brand specific requirements. BMW is effectively joining the GM-DaimlerChrysler alliance announced last December (story details two-mode hybrid with diagrams).
“The participation of the BMW Group has allowed us to gain another expert partner for the development of this advanced two-mode hybrid system,” says Tom Stephens, Group Vice President at GM Powertrain. “This cooperation paves the way for extensive hybrid collaboration among the three companies. We also continue to discuss additional partners for this alliance.”
“By pooling the development expertise of the three automakers — BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors — we are making it possible for all companies to bring to market appealing vehicles with convincing performance, comfort and environmental features for the benefit of our customers,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, DaimlerChrysler Board of Management member responsible for Research and Technology as well as for Development at the Mercedes Car Group.
“The creation of a shared technology platform for hybrid drives will allow us to more quickly integrate the best technologies on the market and will therefore exploit and strengthen the innovative potential of all participating companies,” explains Prof. Burkhard Göschel, Board of Management member for Development and Procurement at BMW AG. “Because the technologies will be adapted to the individual vehicle models, the participating brands will retain their distinctive characters.”
Joint Development Center
In Troy, Michigan, the new “GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW Hybrid Development Center” will develop the overall modular system and the individual components: electric motors, high-performance electronics, wiring, safety systems, energy management, and hybrid system control units. In addition, the Hybrid Development Center will be responsible for system integration and project management.
A key factor in ensuring optimum development is the focus on a high bandwidth architecture system that can be adapted to the needs of the various vehicle concepts and brands. The extensive sharing of components and production facilities, and the collaborative relationship with suppliers, will enable the alliance partners to achieve significant economies of scale and associated cost advantages, which will also benefit customers, thanks to an outstanding cost-to-performance ratio.
The Two-mode Concept Two-mode hybrid technology further enhances the performance, fuel efficiency and range of conventional hybrid drive vehicles. In city driving and in stop-and-go traffic, the vehicles can be powered either by two electric motors or by the combustion engine, or the two drive systems can be used simultaneously. Regardless of which type of operation is chosen, the drive system’s fuel saving potential is exploited to maximum effect.
When traveling at high speeds, for example on rural roads and highways, the two-mode system switches to a different driving mode. The two-mode system provides a number of benefits even when driving at such constant speeds. Because the hybrid drive’s full power is available when climbing steep inclines, passing other cars or hauling a trailer, fuel consumption can be reduced and performance increased even when operating in the second driving mode.
GM and DaimlerChrysler signed binding, definitive agreements on Aug. 22, 2005. BMW Group today signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the intent to enter into a definitive agreement with GM and DaimlerChrysler later this year.