Supercar concept becomes reality

BMW's Vision Efficient Dynamics is the basis for the new plug-in hybrid.
BMW's Vision Efficient Dynamics is the basis for the new plug-in hybrid. Drive

BMW'S vision is about to become reality, with the luxury brand confirming a plug-in hybrid supercar is destined for production.

The company says the first production versions based on its Vision EfficientDynamics concept unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show last year will roll out from late 2013.

Also believed to be "a strong likelihood" is an unconfirmed M version of the low-slung 2+2 coupe, powered by a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged petrol V8 boasting a larger engine and even more performance than the forthcoming M5's 408kW/680Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8.

The production and M versions are also likely to adopt the prototype's extensive use of carbon-fibre body panels to save weight and for crash-impact absorption. BMW has invested $US100 million recently in a carbon-fibre-making joint venture to produce lightweight components.

Australia has the largest percentage uptake of M-badged cars, which almost guarantees the arrival of the high-po version if it is ever built in right-hand-drive.

The Vision EfficientDynamics follows suit with a rash of other German supercars with an environmental slant, including the upcoming Porsche 918 RS Spyder, Audi e-Tron and Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell.

According to BMW, the unnamed production version is said to be "accurate" and "very close" to the concept's aerodynamic exterior design, though the car's outward-opening gullwing-style doors remain an uncertainty.

Rather than relying solely on electric power, the Vision ED prototype uses a 120kW/290Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel engine mated with two electric motors. A bank of 10kW lithium-polymer batteries is wedged in between the occupants for optimum weight distribution.

The three-cylinder diesel engine will appear first in the next-generation 1-Series hatch, due in the third quarter of next year, before filtering to the 3-Series range in late 2012.

For Vision ED, an 82kW electric motor drives the front wheels, while a smaller 39kW motor assists the rear-mounted diesel engine. Both drive the rear wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

With a combined power output of 241kW, the 1500-kilogram prototype propels from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds. Importantly, though, BMW claims it is more frugal than a Toyota Prius, using just 3.76 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel and emitting 99 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

The power pack is said to be fully charged in 2½ hours using an ordinary household power socket.

BMW also says it has "more radical concepts to wear the X6 badge", including a targa-style body with a retracting glass roof that is likely to debut at either January's Detroit motor show or April's New York event.

Catering to the US market's appetite for soft-roaders — the US accounts for about half of all X6 production — an open-topped version would be built alongside the all-new X3 and current X5 and X6 models at BMW's Spartanburg plant in South Carolina.

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