Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV completes Asia Cross Country Rally for second year

A Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid electric four-wheel drive SUV, entered and managed by the Two & Four Motor Sports rally team supported by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, successfully completed the FIA-certified Asia Cross Country Rally 2014 (AXCR) in its T1E class (electric vehicle class).

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The team completed the rally in 19 hours 17 minutes and 12 seconds for the total driving distance of 1986km over rough terrain, winning first place in the class and 14th place overall. The Outlander PHEV, completing the rally for the second year in a row, proved its reliability, durability and all-terrain ability. It also demonstrated the durability of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain even under severe road conditions.

Rally Car Overview

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV rally car used the competition-modified suspension from last year’s race car as well as raised ground clearance with the drive battery placed higher for improved off-road performance. The car’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) integrated vehicle dynamics control system was tuned for competition use to provide better traction. Other modifications included the fitting of a roll cage and underbody skid plate, the use of lighter bonnet, tailgate and interior parts, and additional sealing and a snorkel for water crossings. Apart from these changes, the car competed using the ‘almost’ the same Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain and mechanical parts as the standard production model.

Result Breakdown by Race Leg

The Outlander PHEV won its class for the second year in a row. Overall standing by leg:

Prologue Run (9 August): 11th place overall in the Prologue Run time trials from Pattaya, Thailand.

Leg One (10 August): First day of full competition, 13th place overall.

Leg Two (11 August): Battling Thailand’s deep ruts and muddy and boggy trails the Outlander PHEV finished 12th overall.

Leg Three (12 August): Race moves from Thailand to Cambodia, towards the Angkor Wat World Heritage site. This leg featured comparatively flatter terrain where the Outlander PHEV could take advantage of the high torque of its electric motors and S-AWC which led to a step up to 11th place overall.

Leg Four (13 August): Progress to 9th place overall in this leg which started from Angkor Wat.

Leg Five (14 August): This gruelling leg was the longest and featured deep ruts. Lack of high ground clearance forced the Outlander PHEV to avoid much of the second half of the course, falling to 15th place overall.

Leg Six (15 August): The last leg starting from Phnom Penh featured a flat high-speed course, finishing 2nd in the leg and recovering to finish 14th overall.

Audi celebrates 24-hour wins

Audi is celebrating a hat-trick of wins in 24-hour races in one year, for the second time.

Having scored a 13th Le Mans 24 Hour race victory with the hybrid diesel Audi R18 e-tron quattro, Audi has gone on to win the Nürburgring and Spa 24 Hour races with the Audi R8 LMS ultra GT3 this summer.

Audi R18 etron quattro

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

At Le Mans in June, Audi’s victorious hybrid sportscar used 22% less fuel per 100 kilometres than the winning 2013 R18 e-tron quattro. Since the TDI era began in racing in 2006 – when Audi became the first manufacturer to win at Le Mans with a diesel-engined sportscar – there has been a 38% reduction in fuel consumption.

In 2014, Audi also celebrates 25 years of TDI technology in its road cars. At the 1989 Frankfurt motor show, Audi presented its ground-breaking 100 TDI, the first ever direct injection turbo diesel with fully electronic management. The latest ‘ultra’ models champion efficiency in the A4, A5, A6 and newly-revised A7 Sportback model ranges with engines that all comply with EU6 emissions standards.

Up to 67.3mpg is achievable on a combined cycle in A4 and A5 TDI ultra versions, corresponding to CO2 output as low as 109g/km. Despite impressive thrift, performance is very much business as usual – 0-62mph is accounted for in 8.3 seconds in the 163PS A4 Saloon and A5 Coupe on the way to a 140mph top speed.

In the executive class, A6 Saloon and Avant models featuring the particularly frugal 64.2mpg 190PS TDI ultra unit can be ordered in any specification without restriction, from SE up to the extensively equipped Black Edition.

After LED headlights with matrix beam technology had made their way from the Audi R18 e-tron quattro into production cars a year ago, the new Audi laser light was the most recent innovation to be tested at Le Mans and is now initially available to customers as standard in a limited edition model – the new Audi R8 LMX. Notable as the fastest ever road-going R8, the 570PS V10 super sports car blasts past 62mph in just 3.4 seconds and on to a 198mph top speed.

With 13 victories in 16 events, Audi has increased its Le Mans success rate to 81 per cent. No other car manufacturer in the history of the race that has been held since 1923 has clinched such a large number of winners’ trophies in such a short time. With also a second place at Le Mans, Audi has now achieved 31 top-three finishes in the twice-around-the-clock French race since the Company’s 1999 debut.

Just a week after Le Mans, an R8 LMS ultra set a new distance record in the Nürburgring 24 Hours around the infamous 15.16-mile Nordschleife, otherwise known as the “Green Hell”. For the first time ever, the winning car covered more than 2,500-miles – the victorious Audi completing 2,507.3 miles in the German race. A further two of the V10 mid-engined GT3 class sportscars were placed in the top-10.

More recently, the German manufacturer repeated its 2012 domination of winning the three main 24 hour motor races in Europe when an Audi won the Spa 24 hours in Belgium. In a battle involving 11 marques and 60 participants, the R8 LMS ultra prevailed for the third time in four years in the classic race in the Ardennes that celebrated its 90th anniversary this year. A further two Audi sportscars finished inside the top-four.

Audi R8 LMS

Audi R8 LMS

The Audi R8 LMS race car’s current sporting record includes 23 international championship titles worldwide after only five years of competition. An impressive tally of seven overall wins in 24hr races (2 at the Nürburgring, 3 at Spa, 2 at Zolder), three overall wins in 12 hour races (2 at Bathurst, 1 in Hungary) and three Macau GT Cup wins have been achieved.

The next WEC race is at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas next month (20 September).

Tesla expands ‘supercharger’ network to UK

Tesla has opened new Supercharger locations in London and Birmingham — its first in Britain — part of a network expansion that will soon allow UK Model S owners to drive anywhere in the country and charge for free, for life.

The first new Supercharging site is located at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, on Portman Square. The Supercharger can be accessed in the hotel car park, which will be free to Model S owners for one hour while charging. With valet parking available, it is the first Supercharger in central London and represents the first step in Tesla’s inner-city charging strategy for the UK. Such centrally located Superchargers will allow customers who don’t have access to off-street parking or personal garages to easily find charging options close to home or work.

Tesla S at London Regency Hyatt

The second Supercharging site is at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham, on Bridge Street. As well as allowing Model S owners to charge upon arrival in Birmingham, the site enables electric travel to the Midlands and beyond.

“This Birmingham location signifies our first move out of London in recognition of the fantastic support in the area,” said Georg Ell, Tesla’s UK Country Director.

These new Supercharger locations not only energise an important route between the capital and the UK’s second city, but they also enable Model S drivers to travel long distances from the Midlands to Manchester and London, and across to France, Germany, and other European countries for free.

World’s largest fast-charging network

A Supercharger replenishes half a charge in about 20 minutes. Supercharger sites are strategically placed along well-travelled routes to allow Model S owners to drive long distances with minimal stops. They are located near amenities like motorway services, restaurants, cafes and shopping centres so drivers can stop for a quick meal and have their Model S charged by the time they’re done.

Tesla has energised 168 Superchargers worldwide, making it both the largest and the fastest-growing fast-charging network in the world.

New Supercharger Locations:

Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
30 Portman Square
London W1H 7BH,-0.157135,1356m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x48761accb64f84a9:0x7d829b39546d9a0d?hl=en

Hyatt Regency Birmingham
2 Bridge Street
Birmingham B1 2JZ,-1.909561&spn=0.105931,0.298004&sll=51.517716,-0.157135&sspn=0.00677,0.018625&t=h&hq=Hyatt+Regency+Birmingham&radius=15000&z=12&iwloc=A 

Mercedes S 500 Plug-In Hybrid now available

With immediate effect the Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid can be ordered for prices from 108,944.50 euros[1]. The S 500 Plug-In Hybrid blends an ultra-modern hybrid drive configuration with the unique innovations and the luxurious equipment and appointments of the S-Class. The luxury saloon with a long wheelbase impresses with unique dynamism and efficiency. Thanks to standard pre-entry climate control it also offers unique climate comfort. In September the first certified three-litre luxury saloon in the world will be arriving at the dealers – a further milestone on the road to emission-free mobility.
Mercedes S 500 Plug-in Hybrid
“The new S 500 Plug-In Hybrid offers our customers the entire range of innovations that make our new S-Class so successful, and thanks to its intelligent operating strategy ensures outstanding driving pleasure and dynamism combined with the highest efficiency. Moreover, it allows completely emission-free driving for up to 33 km,” says Ola Källenius, Executive Vice-President for Sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars.
“The S 500 Plug-In Hybrid is the first luxury saloon with the performance of a V8 and the fuel consumption of a compact model. The greatest challenge in this is to translate highest efficiency into superior performance. In this respect there is a highly interesting parallel with our successful Formula 1 racing car, which likewise has a turbocharged V6 engine and hybrid drive,” says  Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler AG Executive Board responsible for corporate research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid offers a system output of 325kW and 650Nm torque, and in just 5.2 seconds sprints from 0 to 100km/h and can drive up to 33km purely electrically. The certified consumption is 2.8 litres/100 km, which corresponds to 65g CO2/km emissions. Key elements of this impressive output are the V6 biturbo and the intelligent hybrid drive. Following the S 400 Hybrid and S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid is the third hybrid model in the new S-class. Its new high-voltage lithium-ion battery can be externally recharged via the charging socket in the right side of the rear bumper.
In order to strengthen the customers’ trust in the new, innovative Plug-In Hybrid drive system, for the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid Mercedes-Benz is for the first time issuing a certificate and thus a promise to perform for the high-voltage battery and Plug-In Hybrid components (e.g. e-machine and power electronics). This ensures that every technical malfunction within a period of six years after initial delivery or registration, or up to a mileage of 100,000 kilometres, is corrected by Mercedes-Benz.
Intelligent energy management system
Climb in, start, drive off and, as well as exemplary efficiency, on request experience via kickdown the special acceleration of the electric motor – this is how easy hybrid driving with the new S 500 Plug-In Hybrid is. For in everyday use it moves just as easily as any other automatic transmission car.
In the background the foresighted energy management system automatically selects the ideal combination of internal combustion engine and e-machine and in so doing not only adapts its strategy according to the load status of the battery; it also foresightedly adjusts it according to the traffic or route. But anyone wanting to can also intervene manually and with the aid of four operating modes and three transmission modes regulate the hybrid interplay themselves. Here, what is known as the haptic accelerator pedal supplies the driver with feedback on the switch-on point of the combustion engine or signals via a double impulse when they should take their foot off the accelerator for sailing and recuperating. The energy flow is shown in all operating states in the instrument cluster and in the central display.
The technical data at a glance:
Internal combustion engine:
Number of cylinders/arrangement
Mixture formation
High-pressure injection, 2 turbochargers
Displacement (cc)
Rated output (kW/PS at rpm)
245/333 at 5250-6000
Rated torque (Nm at rpm)
480 at 1600-4000
Electric motor:
Output (kW)
Torque (Nm)
System output (kW/PS)
System torque (Nm)1
Consumption combined from (l/100 km)2
CO2 emissions combined from (g/km)2
Efficiency class
Electric range (km)
Charge time 20%-100% (400 V/16 A – 230 V/8 A)3 (h)
2 – 4.1
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)
Top speed (km/h)1
Top speed electric (km/h)1
Price (euros)4
1 Electronically limited, 2 In accordance with NEDC, 3Charge time at 230 V/8 A e.g. at a commercially available socket. Through settings on the control element of the charging cable shorter charge times can be realised (standard setting: 8 A), provided that the power supply system is designed for this. Charge time at 400 V/16 A e.g. at a wallbox. The voltage and current ratings indicated refer to the power supply infrastructure and can be limited by the car. 4 Sales price in Germany, incl. 19 percent VAT
Extensive standard equipment, extended pre-entry climate control
The standard equipment in the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid is extensive and offers a world premiere: The extended pre-entry climate control. This is target value controlled. This means that at the start of the journey the S-Class is air conditioned to the preset temperature if the driver enters the departure time, via Mercedes connect me, for example. This is possible due to the electrically driven refrigerant compressor and electric heating elements for the heated air. In addition to this, when preheating it is not just the interior air but also the seats, steering wheel and armrests in the doors and centre console which are heated, and when cooling the seat ventilation is also activated if the respective optional extra is on board.
Also standard in the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid, which is only available with a long wheelbase, are for example LED High Performance headlamps and LED tail lights, leather upholstery, Comand Online, touchpad, Thermotronic automatic climate control plus seat heating also in the rear, Memory package for driver and front passenger, ambient lighting in seven colours and the air suspension Airmatic with continuously variable damping system. The basic safety equipment includes Pre-Safe, Collision Prevention Assist Plus (collision warning including Adaptive Brake Assist), Attention Assist, Pre-Safe impulse, Crosswind Assist and Traffic Sign Assist (Speed Limit Assist including wrong-way warning function and display of limit speeds in the instrument cluster).
Over and above this a multitude of unique optional extras is available, and here is an extract:
  • LED Intelligent Light System with variable light distribution for rural road and motorway, active light function, cornering light function, enhanced fog light function and Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus (1773.10 euros)
  • Head-up Display (1201.90 euros)
  • Driving Assistance package Plus including Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, Pre-Safe Brake, BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Pre-Safe Plus (2677.50 euros, only in conjunction with Active Parking Assist for 1344.70 euros)
  • Night View Assist Plus with early detection of people and large animals in the dark, including spotlight function (2427.60 euros)
  • Pre-Safe rear package with illuminated seat belt buckle extenders, Pre-Safe belt tensioners and beltbags for outer rear seats (1428 euros)
  • Seat Comfort package for driver and front passenger, comprising: active multicontour seats in the front with dynamic handling function (seat side bolsters are each adjusted via an air chamber) and with Energizing (sic) massage function (massage function via 14 air chambers in the seat backrest, massage heating panels in the spinal area), fast-acting seat heating Plus and adjustable lumbar support via three air chambers (2023 euros)
  • Rear seats electrically adjustable including Memory function comprising: three-seater bench seat with two electrically adjustable outer luxury seats, luxury head restraints with an additional cushion, front passenger seat operable from the rear, two Isofix child seat attachment points, two TopTether fastening points, armrest in the rear including double cup holder with wood trim and stowage space (1785 euros)
  • Air-Balance package, including ionisation, improved air filtering and fragrancing (440.30 euros)
  • Warmth Comfort package comprising: heated armrest in the driver’s and front-passenger door as well as in the centre console, heated armrest in the rear doors, heated armrest in the centre armrest in the rear in conjunction with electrically adjustable rear seats (optional extra), heated armrest in the business console in conjunction with First-Class rear suite (optional extra), buttons for heating the seats and armrests in the door control panels in the doors, heated steering wheel, (630.70 euros)
  • Panoramic sliding sunroof with convenience and automatic rain-sensor closing function, electric sunblind, obstruction sensor plus Pre-Safe closing function (1725.50 euros)
  • Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system with 24 loudspeakers, 24 amplifier channels and a total system output of 1540 W (7497 euros)
  • Individual Entertainment System in the rear including two 25.4 cm (10″) displays on the backrest of the driver’s and front passenger seat, DVD player, two radio headphones and Comand remote control (2856 euros)
  • TV receiver for digital television reception with support from, i.a., multichannel sound, EPG (electronic programme guide) and teletext (1285.20 euros)
[1]Sales price in Germany, incl. 19 percent VAT

Boris Johnson launches air quality manifesto for London

  • Mayor of London Boris Johnson calls on Government and European Commission to match the Capital’s ambitious plans to tackle air quality to help London meet EU limits for nitrogen oxide by 2020, rather than 2030
  • New diesel cars levy announced with drivers set to pay a further £10 to enter London Ultra Low Emission Zones from 2020
  • Boris meets Metrocab’s first London cabbie and describes the zero-emissions taxi as “a masterpiece of British engineering”

London Mayor Boris Johnson and Lord Mayor Alderman Fiona Woolf have hosted the Corporation of the City of London Air Quality reception at the Mansion House, where a new Air Quality Manifesto for London was launched.

Mayor Boris Johnson, who arrived emissions free on his bicycle, was also offered a zero-emissions journey home by the new Metrocab’s first cabbie Tony Norris.

Tony Norris with his electric Metrocab

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “In our Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) all taxis are to be zero-emissions capable, which means drivers must switch over to electric drive when in the ULEZ.  The aim is to have 7,000 zero-emissions-capable taxis on the streets of London by 2020, and now is the time to move forward with these remarkable technological developments I have seen outside.”

Commenting on the new zero-emissions capable Metrocab, Boris Johnson said: “It’s superb, an absolutely beautiful machine and a masterpiece of British engineering. Totally silent, it’s the Rolls Royce of taxis and can do 100mpg.”

Speaking at the event, Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, said: “We are a world away from the thick and filthy fogs of Victorian London – and even from the post war ‘pea soupers’.  But we have a long way to go before London’s air quality is at the levels we want to see.  Our capital is home to a unique concentration of expertise and initiative, and this is a London-wide challenge – but it is also a global challenge.  Our goals will be achieved through cooperation between the London boroughs, London Councils, the Government and the GLA – who I congratulate on showing such excellent leadership.”

British designed, engineered and built to help London meet its air quality targets, the Metrocab from Surrey-based Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive is a new generation zero-emissions capable range extended electric-powered taxi, and represents the cutting edge of green transport.

The Metrocab’s REE technology delivers a range of 560km, typically saving a London taxi driver £20-£40 per day based on the average day and night duty cycle in the capital.

Also showcased by Frazer-Nash at the Air Quality reception was a revolutionary new Solar Charging Station model, demonstrating the company’s Concentrated PhotoVoltaic Technology, which converts light energy into electrical energy for charging the Metrocab’s lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The company is trialling a full-size system at its Surrey headquarters and intends to roll out the charging stations in London and other key cities around the world.

New176mpg Audi A3 Sportback E-Tron goes ‘on grid’

  • Five-seat plug-in hybrid offers zero local emissions driving without sacrificing range or everyday usability
  • A3 Sportback e-tron available to order from early August priced at £34,950 OTR (excluding UK government incentives)– first UK customer deliveries from January 2015
  • Electric power makes 176.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 37g/km possible
  • Combined 204PS of system power and 350Nm of system torque – 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, 137mph top speed
  • Capable of travelling at up to 80mph for up to 31 miles under purely electric power – total range of up to 584 miles
  • Generous specification including LED headlights, HDD navigation and Audi connect Internet-based services

The 2014 World Car of the Year adds the potential for zero emissions motoring to its repertoire as the new A3 Sportback e-tron becomes the first plug-in hybrid to join the Audi range. Priced from £34,950 OTR (excluding any government incentives), the five-door compact hatchback combines a conventional 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver impressive performance, exceptional efficiency and, equally crucially, complete freedom from range limitation. UK ordering will be possible from early August, and the first e-trons will arrive with customers in early 2015.

The modified 1.4-litre TFSI unit, in this application featuring a peak power output of 150PS, is linked by a clutch to a 75kW electric motor, which is integrated into a specially developed six-speed S-tronic transmission sending power to the front wheels. Combined, the two power units generate 204PS of system power and 350Nm of system torque, good for a 0-62mph sprint of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 137mph.

Audi A3 e-tron

Equally importantly, according to the ECE standard for plug-in hybrid cars, the A3 Sportback-based e-tron is capable of covering up to 176.6mpg with CO2 emissions of just 37g/km. With the combination of electric motor and combustion engine, an overall operating range of up to 584 miles is possible.

The Audi A3 e-tron can run exclusively on electric power for up to 31 miles at speeds of up to 81mph, or can be powered by petrol combustion alone. Alternatively, the hybrid mode brings both units into play, and the driver can choose to run these simultaneously – a function known as ‘boosting’ – by initiating kickdown by the S tronic transmission. In this mode the full 350Nm torque output is deployed for the strongest possible acceleration, but when the driver stops accelerating both motors temporarily deactivate, eliminating motor braking torque and allowing the car to glide to conserve fuel and recuperate energy.

Audi A3 e-tron

Up to medium loads the motor can also function as an alternator, making a significant contribution to retardation and recovering energy which is fed into the traction battery. In this mode the wheel brakes only become active if the driver applies moderate force to the pedal.

Three hybrid modes or full EV

The driver has several ways of actively managing the vehicle’s response. Four key settings are available – the EV mode gives priority to electric drive, the hybrid auto mode is useful for long journeys as it engages the electric motor wherever possible, the hybrid hold mode preserves the electrical energy stored in the battery for later use and the hybrid charge mode uses the combustion engine as a generator to charge the battery.

The chosen mode is displayed by a powermeter in the instrument cluster, which also shows the system’s overall output and the battery charge. The monitor for the MMI navigation plus shows the energy flows in the hybrid system. In addition, the driver information system displays the operating ranges and consumption figures for electricity and petrol.

Thanks to the Audi ultra lightweight construction philosophy, the unladen five-door model complete with all electrical components weighs just 1,540 kilograms, with space for five occupants. It is quite literally an ‘everyday’ Audi, meaning that it demonstrates outstanding attention to design, engineering, ergonomics and quality, but most importantly demands no compromises for daily use.

Despite the fact that the smaller 12-volt battery powering the more ‘conventional’ in-car systems and the 40-litre fuel tank are located above the rear axle load space isn’t significantly impaired – in the standard configuration it measures 280 litres and 1,120 litres with the rear seat backs folded down.

Comprehensive additional equipment

The extensive equipment list for the A3 Sportback e-tron also reflects this uncompromising approach. In addition to the many items offered by the A3 Sport model on which the e-tron’s specification is based, standard trimmings include exclusive e-tron exterior styling, LED headlights and daytime running lights, special ‘turbine design’ 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, light and rain sensors, MMI navigation plus with hard drive-based mapping and Audi connect online services bringing in-car internet access.

The A3 Sportback e-tron is supplied with two charging leads as standard. One is specifically designed for use at public charging points and the other for domestic use. This lead also features interchangeable connectors which enable charging via higher voltage industrial sockets.

The charging lead supplies the car with alternating current from the grid via the charging connection, which is located in the single frame grille behind the fold-out four rings. As well as a status LED, the unit includes two pushbuttons allowing the user to choose between timer-controlled charging and immediate charging.

The charge status of the A3 Sportback e-tron can be monitored from a smartphone using the e-tron app, or via the e-tron web portal. It is also possible to use these to remotely start or stop charging or to set the charging timer and pre-set the climate control to reach a certain temperature at a pre-determined point. This means that the driver can specify in detail at what time and on what days he or she wants to drive away with the battery fully charged.

Charging times

Using a domestic socket it takes four hours to fully charge the battery. When a wallbox is connected or a public charge point is used this reduces to two hours and fifteen minutes.

Solutions for improved mileage of fully electric vehicles

At its final review in Vigo, Spain, on July 17 and 18, 2014, the European research project OpEneR presented collaboratively developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems that will significantly improve the efficiency and safety of both electric and hybrid vehicles in the future. This greater efficiency will help unlock the market for fully electric and hybrid vehicles: by increasing driving range without enlarging the battery. Engineers and researchers have worked to improve the electrical powertrain, the regenerative braking system, the navigation system, and the surround sensors, as well as on functions that connect these elements with each other. The two fully operational electric vehicles they have built have already demonstrated an impressive potential for making driving in real conditions more economical.

OpEneR, which stands for “optimal energy consumption and recovery based on a system network,” was launched in May 2011. The project partners are the Austrian powertrain development company AVL List GmbH, the Spanish research institute Centro Tecnológico de Automoción de Galicia (CTAG), the German research institute Forschungszentrum Informatik Karlsruhe (FZI), the second largest carmaker in Europe PSA Peugeot Citroën, and the German companies Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH. The project is a European research project under the Seventh Framework Program, co-funded by the European Commission – Directorate Communications Networks, Content and Technology. The total budget was 7.74 million euros, 4.4 million euros of this sum in the form of subsidies. The project was led by Bosch.

One task was the development of “eco routing”. This considers the specific needs of an electric vehicle when calculating the best route. The navigation system now continuously factors in the car’s real energy consumption behaviour. Test drives demonstrated energy consumption savings of up to 30 percent in return for a longer travel time of just 14 percent. Shortcuts in inner-city traffic proved to be a particularly effective way of increasing efficiency.

Various solutions increase driving efficiency
It has long been widely accepted that a proactive driving style is the most effective way to reduce fuel consumption. The behaviour of the ACC adaptive cruise control has therefore been especially adapted to an economical driving style. Additionally, enhanced map data also includes information on inclines, declines, and speed limits, while car-to-infrastructure communication provides information about traffic lights. These data create an electronic horizon that can be used to further optimize both the ACC function and the coasting function. This feature tells drivers when to lift the accelerator pedal as they approach city boundaries or speed limits. The transmission then switches to idle, making the most of the car’s momentum.

An intuitive HMI concept and an attractive cockpit based on a freely programmable TFT display also have been designed to make all the relevant information easy to read. In addition, the enhanced map data makes the calculation of the remaining mileage significantly more accurate and transparent to the driver.

A further major task was to find the ideal interaction between the electrical powertrain and the regenerative braking system. For the best possible recuperation, engineers equipped the two Peugeot 3008 e-4WD demo cars with the Bosch iBooster, an electromechanical brake booster, and an ESP® brake control system specifically adapted for electric vehicles. The powertrain concept comprises two electric motors – one per axle – that can both drive as well as recuperate. On that technical basis, the partners have developed innovative recuperation strategies, including a regenerative brake force distribution between front and rear, optimizing recuperation rates as well as vehicle stability.

To support the development process, the team used advanced co-simulation techniques, including realistic vehicle and environment interaction. A seamless approach was employed to enable fast migration of the developed functions and their simulated test cases for further development and validation on the AVL InMotion powertrain testbed.


Peugeot 3008s
As these features were incorporated into the two prototypes, numerous test drives were performed. To evaluate the efficiency gain, the simulation tools and testbeds developed by AVL, Bosch, and FZI were used, as well as the private test tracks belonging to Bosch and CTAG, and CTAG’s intelligent public road corridor. In comparison to a typical sporty driver, the operation strategies finally resulted in a reduced energy consumption of 27 to 36 percent, with an increase in travel time of between 8 to 21 percent – depending on the driver’s willingness to follow the recommendations. Approximately 5 percentage points of the energy consumption reduction are due to intelligent torque distribution between the front and rear electric motors, which has no influence on travel time at all.

UK power behind BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car

The first purpose-built, plug-in hybrid sports car from BMW has gone on sale powered by engines exclusively produced at BMW’s Hams Hall engine manufacturing facility, near Birmingham.

The BMW i8 is a brand-new contemporary, sustainability-focused sports car. It is the first BMW production vehicle to be powered by a three-cylinder engine and together with BMW eDrive technology is able to combine the dynamics of a high-performance sports car with the fuel efficiencies of a small car.  Demand in the UK is high and already the BMW i8 has sold out for more than a year.

BMW i8

A brand-new, unique production facility has been developed at the Hams Hall plant for the world-wide production of the new three-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo technology petrol engines – the first of a new generation of engines to be built at the plant.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “The British-made engine for this ground-breaking car demonstrates that the UK automotive industry is at the forefront of the production of high-quality, low emission car technology. As our recent commitment to invest £500m in ultra-low emission vehicle design, production and adoption shows, we want the UK to be a world leader in the global transition to ultra-low emission motoring.”

BMW i8 chassis & drivetrain

Plant director, Nick Spencer, said: “Our plant is going through a huge transformation, and we are excited to see the first of our brand-new engine assembly facilities ramping up production. The new three-cylinder petrol engines will enable the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car to set new standards for dynamic performance in combination with industry-leading fuel efficiency and low carbon emission levels.  With the exclusive supply of these engines coming from the Hams Hall plant, we are proud to be contributing to this innovative new sports car.”

Each engine is built by a small team of people, all of whom previously worked at the plant and have been specifically recruited and trained to work on the new engines. Two technical apprentices who spent the final year of their training programme working on the development of the new production area are now placed in full-time technical jobs within the new team having successfully completed their apprenticeships.

BMW i8 chassis & drivetrain: front

Front electric motor with battery pack in backbone

Former apprentice James Law said:  “My apprenticeship was an ideal combination of academic study, through which I achieved higher qualifications, along with practical, invaluable work placements.  It has been a fantastic opportunity to see this new engine manufacturing facility being installed and I’m thrilled to have successfully completed my apprenticeship and to be working in such an interesting, technical role within the new team.”

The Hams Hall plant already has a sustained 13-year history of manufacturing over 3.5 million small, fuel efficient and low emission engines since its official opening in 2001.  Over 400,000 engines were produced during 2013 representing around 16 per cent of all engine production in the UK. Ramping up production of this new facility forms the first part of an ongoing multi-million pound development programme at the Hams Hall site which will continue into next year.

BMW i8 chassis & drivetrain: rear

Rear-mid mounted three-cylinder petrol engine

BMW i8: Three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology combined with BMW eDrive technology in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor; engine with a displacement of 1.5 litres, output of 231PS and maximum torque of 320Nm; power sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox; electric motor with an output of 131PS and maximum torque of 250Nm; power channelled through the front wheels via a two-stage automatic transmission; lithium-ion high-voltage battery with direct refrigerant cooling and gross capacity of 7.1 kWh.

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The BMW i8 embodies a revolutionary, future-focused interpretation of the driving pleasure for which BMW is renowned. It was purpose-designed as a plug-in hybrid sports car offering agile performance and outstanding efficiency. An exceptionally lightweight and aerodynamically optimised body – including a passenger cell made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) – plus advanced BMW eDrive drive system technology, a compact, highly turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and intelligent energy management all come together to create an overall concept that represents a new landmark in the Efficient Dynamics development strategy. The BMW i8 blends the performance of a top-end sports car with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models. It is based, moreover, around a vehicle architecture that creates the perfect platform for thrillingly agile handling, thanks to an ultra-low centre of gravity and almost exactly 50:50 weight distribution. The BMW i8 boasts supremely precise driving dynamics and superb steering feel, giving the driver outstanding command of the vehicle even when exploring the limits of its performance.

The three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 develops 170kW/231PS and drives the rear wheels, while the 96kW/131PS electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery, which can be charged from a conventional domestic power socket, and sends its power to the front axle. This bespoke plug-in hybrid system, developed and produced by the BMW Group, enables a range of up to 37 kilometres (23 miles) in the EU test cycle and a top speed of 120km/h (75mph) on electric power alone, coupled with a “glued-to-the-road” all-wheel driving experience headlined by powerful acceleration and a dynamically-biased distribution of power through keenly taken corners. The more powerful of the two power sources drives the rear wheels and uses the electric boost from the hybrid system to deliver hallmark BMW driving pleasure while at the same time offering groundbreaking levels of efficiency. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes just 4.4 seconds, yet combined fuel consumption – as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles – stands at 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres (approx. 135 mpg imp) plus 11.9 kWh of electricity. This equates to CO2 emissions of 49 grams per kilometre.

The actual fuel economy in everyday driving provides further impressive proof of the BMW i8’s outstanding efficiency. Depending on the user’s charging habits and the distances driven, it is capable of returning fuel consumption figures that are almost unheard of for a sports car. The typical driving requirements of commuter traffic can be met with average fuel consumption of less than five litres per 100 kilometres (over 56.5 mpg imp) when utilising the two drive units. If the daily commute is combined with longer sections of motorway and country driving – on weekend trips for instance – the intelligent powertrain management in the BMW i8 is capable of keeping consumption below the seven litres per 100 kilometres mark (40.4 mpg imp). And even when it’s just being used for long-distance holiday driving, fuel consumption still averages below eight litres per 100 kilometres (35.3 mpg imp). Overall, the plug-in hybrid’s fuel consumption figures are around 50 per cent lower than conventionally powered models in the sports car segment under virtually all operating conditions.
For maximum driving pleasure and efficiency: BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and BMW eDrive.

The plug-in hybrid drive system of the BMW i8, which comprises a BMW TwinPower Turbo engine combined with BMW eDrive technology, offers the best of both worlds: excellent potential for improved efficiency and exciting, sporty driving characteristics. The BMW Group has developed not only the internal combustion engine and electric motor in-house but also the power electronics and the battery. This ensures that all these components offer high product and quality standards, underpinned by the outstanding capabilities of the BMW Group in the field of powertrain research and development.

The revolutionary character of the BMW i8 is emphasised by a further innovation: the use of an internal combustion engine which is making its debut in this model. The BMW i8 is the first BMW production model to be powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine. This highly turbocharged unit is equipped with latest-generation BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. It is exceptionally compact and extracts maximum power of 170 kW/231 hp from its 1.5-litre displacement. The resulting specific output of 113kW/154PS per litre of displacement is on a par with high-performance sports car engines and is the highest of any engine produced by the BMW Group.

The new three-cylinder engine derives its typical characteristics from BMW’s six-cylinder in-line engines, to which it is closely related and which are noted for their eager power delivery, revving ability and refinement. The three-cylinder’s BMW TwinPower Turbo technology comprises a high-performance turbocharging system and direct petrol injection with high-precision injectors positioned between the valves, along with VALVETRONIC throttle-less load control, which improves efficiency and response thanks to seamlessly variable valve lift control. Like a straight-six engine, the three-cylinder unit is free of first and second-order inertial forces. The low rolling moment, a typical feature of a three-cylinder design, is further reduced by a balancer shaft, while a multi-stage damper integrated in the automatic transmission ensures very smooth and refined running at low rpm. BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and low internal friction improve both fuel efficiency and torque characteristics. Accelerator response is sharp and the three-cylinder unit quickly reaches its maximum torque of 320Nm. It also makes its mark by producing a decidedly sporty soundtrack. Both this and the engine’s hearty appetite for revs stem from the design characteristics it shares in common with the six-cylinder in-line unit featuring BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

The car’s second power source is a hybrid synchronous electric motor specially developed and produced by the BMW Group for the BMW i8. The motor develops maximum power of 96kW/131PS and instantly produces its maximum torque of 250Nm from standstill. Besides the instantaneous response typically generated by electric motors when pulling away, power continues to be developed into the higher load ranges. Credit for the linear power delivery, which extends right up to the high end of the rpm range, goes to a special motor design developed exclusively for BMW i. BMW eDrive technology refines and improves on the principle of the permanently excited synchronous motor with a special arrangement and dimensions for the torque-producing components. This has the effect of generating a “reluctance torque” in addition to the drive torque from the permanent magnets resulting from the rotor’s magnetic asymmetry. The upshot of this is that the electric motor can continue to supply plenty of torque at high revs, unlike other motor designs. The hybrid synchronous motor owes its name to this blend of torque-producing properties stemming from two different types of motor.

As well as providing a power boost to assist the petrol engine during acceleration, the electric motor can also power the vehicle by itself. Top speed is then 120km/h (approx. 75mph). The BMW i8 has a maximum driving range in this emission-free, virtually soundless, all-electric mode of up to 37 kilometres (23 miles) as measured on the EU test cycle. The motor derives its energy from the lithium-ion battery which is centrally mounted underneath the floor of the vehicle. This model-specific version of the high-voltage battery was developed and produced by the BMW Group. It features an evaporative cooling system, offers a gross energy capacity of 7.1 kilowatt hours and can be recharged from a conventional household power socket, at a BMW i Wallbox or at a public charging station. The battery was designed by the BMW Group and built to last for the life of the car. Customers receive a warranty for the battery spanning eight years or 100,000 kilometres (approx. 62,000 miles).

Sports car also displays maximum efficiency when it comes to operating costs.
The vehicle concept and drive system technology of the BMW i8 help it earn top marks for efficiency. The low fuel consumption of the plug-in hybrid sports car brings with it not only impressively low emissions but also significantly reduced running costs.
The process for calculating the average fuel consumption of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the EU test cycle also takes into account the use of the available energy capacity in a fully charged battery. All of which allows the BMW i8 to boast unrivalled economy given its performance potential; the test cycle fuel consumption comes in at 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres (134.5 mpg imp). This figure is based on a driving profile where the high-voltage battery’s capacity is initially used for all-electric driving, before switching to hybrid mode when energy is recuperated to recharge the battery, allowing further sections of the journey to be covered solely on electric power. This profile uses up 11.9 kWh of electricity and 2.1 litres (0.5 gallons) of fuel to complete the 100 kilometres (62 miles). Assuming electricity charges of 0.25 euros per kWh and a fuel price of around 1.50 euros per litre, this results in energy costs of some 6.00 euros per 100 kilometres. This is equivalent to the price of around four litres (0.9 gallons) of premium unleaded petrol.

The pioneering powertrain technology at the heart of the BMW i8 allows customers to benefit from the tax incentives offered in many countries for ultra-low-emission vehicles, especially for electric and hybrid cars. The reliability of the electrical drive system components and their low maintenance requirements minimise the amount of servicing needed. The vehicle concept of the BMW i8 has a favourable impact on its insurance rating too. Any damage to the exterior bodyshell, such as occurs in around 90 per cent of all accidents, can be rectified with relatively little effort and expense by replacing plastic components. Overall, the repair costs following a collision are similar to those for conventional BMW models. This is reflected in the BMW i8’s German insurance group rating, which is low for a high-powered sports car in this segment (group 30 for fully comprehensive protection).

All-new sports car driving sensation rooted in hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and intelligent energy management.

The rear wheels of the BMW i8 are driven by the petrol engine via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the front wheels receive their power from the electric motor via a two-stage automatic transmission. This, together with the maximum output of 266kW/362PS and peak torque of 320Nm at the rear wheels and 250Nm at the front, provides all-wheel-drive performance which is as dynamic as it is efficient. The BMW i8’s intelligent powertrain control system ensures perfect coordination of both power sources. The variable power-sharing between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor makes the driver aware of the sporty temperament of the BMW i8 at all times, while at the same time maximising the energy efficiency of the overall system. Using the two power sources in unison enables the car to sprint to 100km/h (62mph) from stationary in 4.4 seconds. The BMW i8 has an electronically controlled top speed of 250km/h (155mph), which can be reached and maintained when the vehicle operates solely on the petrol engine.

Variable front-rear power splitting in line with changing driving conditions makes for excitingly dynamic cornering. On entering the corner, the power split is biased towards the rear wheels to improve turning precision. For more vigorous acceleration out of the corner, the powertrain controller returns to the default split as soon as the steering angle becomes smaller again.

The BMW i8’s vehicle concept and powertrain control system mark it out as a progressive, revolutionary sports car. It always achieves the optimal balance between dynamic performance and efficiency, whatever the driving situation. In order to do this, the interaction between combustion engine and electric motor is governed by the intelligent energy management system aboard the BMW i8. A bespoke display and control concept and the link-up between the driver, car and outside world provided by BMW ConnectedDrive bolster the efficiency-enhancing effect of the energy management system. At the same time, they make the targeted management of energy flows in the BMW i8 something the driver can experience in considerable depth.

The high-voltage battery can be recharged via the electric motor with energy recuperated on the overrun. Recovery of energy during braking and overrun phases takes place particularly frequently while driving in SPORT mode. The high-voltage starter-generator, responsible for starting the combustion engine, can also be used as a generator to charge the battery, the necessary power being provided by the BMW TwinPower Turbo engine. These various processes help to ensure that the BMW i8 always has sufficient energy on board to power the electric drive system. The all-electric driving range is sufficient to cover most urban driving requirements. Out of town, the BMW i8 delivers impressively sporty performance extremely efficiently, thanks to the electric motor’s power-boosting support for the petrol engine. With such versatility, the BMW i8 belongs to a new generation of sports car which unites sensational performance with cutting-edge efficiency – to enhance both driving pleasure and the sense for sustainability.

The standard-fitted Navigation System Professional links up with a version of the proactive drivetrain management system likewise specially developed for the BMW i8. When the route guidance function is activated, the drivetrain management is configured to ensure the electric motor is employed as extensively as possible and as wisely as possible from an efficiency point of view. The system analyses the route in full and sets up the drivetrain management to run on purely electric power over low-speed sections of the journey in particular. In so doing it also ensures, for example, that the battery has sufficient capacity for driving in all-electric mode when approaching the journey’s end.

Five driving modes allow drivers to adjust efficiency and dynamic performance as desired – at the touch of a button.

The BMW i8 affords the driver unusually wide scope for adjusting the drive settings and vehicle setup in order to adapt the driving experience to his or her individual preferences. As well as the electronic gear selector for the automatic transmission, the driver can also use the Driving Experience Control switch – a familiar feature of the latest BMW models – for this purpose. This gives the driver a total of five operating modes to choose from: COMFORT mode, SPORT mode and ECO PRO mode, with the additional option of switching to all-electric driving in COMFORT and ECO PRO mode by pressing the eDrive button. The Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console gives drivers a choice of two vehicle setups. On starting, COMFORT mode is activated, which offers a balance between sporty performance and fuel efficiency, with unrestricted access to all convenience functions. The everyday driving range of the BMW i8 on a full fuel tank and with a fully charged battery in COMFORT mode is up to 600 kilometres (approx. 375 miles), as measured in the EU test cycle. Alternatively, at the touch of a button, ECO PRO mode can be engaged, which, on the BMW i8 as on other models, fosters an efficiency-optimised driving style. The powertrain controller coordinates the cooperation between the petrol engine and the electric motor for maximum fuel economy. At the same time, ECO PRO mode also programs electrical convenience functions such as the air conditioning, seat heating and heated mirrors to operate at minimum power consumption – but without compromising safety.

SPORT mode offers sequential manual gear selection and at the same time switches to a very sporty vehicle setup. With the SPORT setting activated, the engine and electric motor deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximised. And to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation during overrun and braking, ensuring that the BMW i8 is able to perform to the very best of its sporting abilities at all times. If the battery is being recharged using the car’s kinetic energy, the electric motor’s generator function switches to a more powerful setting. At the same time, gear change times are shortened and an extra-sporty setting is selected for the standard-fitted Dynamic Damper Control and the Electric Power Steering.

When the eDrive button is pressed, the vehicle will switch to the electric motor as its sole power source. Only if the battery charge drops below a given level or the driver suddenly wishes to drive at full throttle (kickdown) does the internal combustion engine cut in automatically.

A bespoke display and control concept that further intensifies the driving experience brings the sporty and progressive character of the BMW i8 even further to the fore. The iDrive Controller, gear selector and driving function buttons on the centre console are all positioned in the classic BMW arrangement. The instrument cluster in the BMW i8 takes the form of a fully digital multifunctional instrument display. Three-dimensional graphics are used to present the current road speed in digital form, information on the vehicle and powertrain status, as well as feedback from the driver assistance systems, Check Control messages and detailed route instructions from the navigation system. The electric range is permanently displayed too, along with the fuel gauge for the petrol engine.

The specially adapted version of the fully digital instrument display fitted in the BMW i8 shows the car’s speed and driving status information in a format and colour selected to suit the driving mode currently engaged. Traditional, orange-coloured circular dials are used for the speed and rpm readouts in SPORT mode. In COMFORT mode a blue “powermeter” display replaces the rev counter to keep the driver up to speed on what the electric motor is up to, while ECO PRO mode adds an efficiency display, which encourages drivers to maximise fuel efficiency through their use of the accelerator.

The high-end chassis and suspension technology of the BMW i8 is based on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, whose aluminium components have been specially designed and manufactured in order to optimise both their weight and strength. Not only does the double-wishbone axle with split lower link level enable high levels of lateral acceleration and ensure excellent straight-line stability, this design principle also has the effect of minimising transmission of any bumps in the road to the steering. The kinematics of both the front wheel suspension and the five-link axle at the rear have been geared to superb handling dynamics. What’s more, the elastokinematics have been precision-tuned for the vehicle to strike an ideal balance between insulation from tyre roar and satisfying the high demands placed on its dynamic performance abilities.

The Electric Power Steering offers easy manoeuvring in town and typical sports car-style high-speed steering precision. Another distinguishing feature is that it requires remarkably little energy too. The steering wheel developed especially for the BMW i8 bears the hallmark BMW i design traits, such as the coloured rim inlay and the BMW emblem encircled by a blue ring. It is furthermore the lightest steering wheel available in any BMW Group model and includes both multifunction buttons and shift paddles for changing gear manually as standard, thereby capturing the sporty and sustainable character of the BMW i8 to perfection.

Also standard is Dynamic Damper Control: the electronically controlled dampers endow the vehicle with sharper agility without any loss of ride comfort. The dampers’ characteristics change according to the selected driving mode to deliver the desired vehicle dynamics.

The DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system includes the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Brake Assist, Brake Standby, Brake Drying function, Start-Off Assistant, Fading Compensation, Active Differential Brake (ADB-x), Driving dynamic impellent torque pre-control, E-Traction, as well as the push button-activated Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) mode.

The brake system on the BMW i8 was purpose developed for the road-hugging hybrid powertrain and delivers superlative performance with outstanding stopping abilities. The perforated brake discs and black painted brake callipers, meanwhile, simply ooze quality and sporty flair.

The car’s standard-fit 20-inch forged aluminium wheels sport a bi-colour finish, along with an aerodynamically optimised, lightweight design, plus mixed-sized tyres measuring 195/50 R20 at the front and 215/45 R20 at the rear. Two further light-alloy wheel designs are available as alternatives to the standard specification, both shod with mixed-sized tyres measuring 215/45 R20 for the front and 245/40 R20 for the rear wheels. The slender profile of both wheels and tyres together with their large diameter helps to further hone the aerodynamic properties at the same time as ensuring great cornering dynamics and supreme traction. Finally, the tyres’ low rolling resistance further reduces the BMW i8’s power consumption.

Lightweight design, maximised occupant protection: Body and safety

The BMW i8 has its own version of the LifeDrive architecture developed for BMW i that gives it a unique range of tools for combining intelligent lightweight design and safety – to the highest standard in each case. The horizontally split LifeDrive architecture consists of two separate, independent modules. The combustion engine and electric motor, battery pack, power electronics, chassis components, and structure and crash functions are arranged together in the aluminium Drive module, while the central element of the Life module is the 2+2-seater’s carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The vehicle structure and materials employed in the i8 represent a pioneering example of automotive construction and reinforce the position of the BMW i8 as an exceptionally progressive model in the sports car segment.

CFRP is the lightest available material that can be used in the construction of a car body without compromising on safety. One of the stand-out characteristics of this high-tech material is its hugely impressive torsional rigidity, yet it also carries 50 per cent less weight than steel and is 30 per cent lighter than aluminium. The LifeDrive architecture and high proportion of CFRP and aluminium in the car’s construction allow a previously unprecedented degree of weight saving. The intelligent lightweight design is therefore able to compensate for the additional weight of the plug-in hybrid drive system and the high-voltage battery. The kerb weight of the BMW i8 stands at 1,485 kilograms, and the LifeDrive architecture also has a positive effect on how this weight is distributed. The battery unit is positioned low down in a central position, helping to give the car a low centre of gravity and enhance safety accordingly. Indeed, the centre of gravity of the BMW i8 is less than 460 millimetres from the ground, making it lower than any other current BMW Group model. And this, like the car’s almost exact 50:50 weight distribution, ensures excellent handling properties.

The principle of intelligent lightweight design was applied to the rest of the car’s components, too. The intelligent construction of the magnesium instrument panel support brings a weight saving of around 30 per cent compared with the BMW 6 Series, for example. In addition, the high structural rigidity of the magnesium support structure gives it a strengthening effect which allows the number of components to be reduced, thereby lowering weight by a further 10 per cent. Innovative foam plastic technology used in the air conditioning ducts cuts their weight by 60 per cent compared with a conventional solution, while also improving acoustics thanks to its sound-absorbing properties. The fact that the power electronics and electric motor are directly connected reduces the amount of wiring required, while partial use of aluminium wiring enables a further reduction in weight.

The BMW i8 is also the world’s first volume-produced vehicle to be equipped with chemically hardened thin glass. This innovative technology, so far used mainly in smartphone manufacturing, lends the material impressive strength. The partition between the passenger compartment and boot of the BMW i8 consists of two layers of chemically hardened glass, each of which is just 0.7 millimetres thick, with acoustic sheeting sandwiched in between. In addition to excellent acoustic properties, a further advantage of this solution is a weight saving of around 50 per cent compared with conventional laminated glass.

The outer skin of the BMW i8 is made of thermoplastic polymers and is likewise manufactured at BMW Plant Leipzig. Apart from being half the weight of sheet steel, the plastic material provides corrosion-free surface protection that is produced using a low-energy process and is resistant to minor damage, too.

The LifeDrive architecture allows exceptional levels of freedom when it comes to body design. In the case of the BMW i8, the result is an appearance that faithfully reflects the car’s sporting characteristics, its innovative premium character and its ground-breaking technology. The impressive structural strength of the CFRP passenger cell allows particularly large door apertures, which in turn ensure comfortable access, even to the rear seats of the BMW i8. The distinctive doors, which open forwards and upwards like wings, are composed of a CFRP inner structure and an aluminium outer skin. This construction is 50 per cent lighter than a conventional door design.

In its dry, resin-free state, CFRP can be worked almost like a textile, and as such allows a high degree of flexibility in how it is shaped. The composite only gains its rigid, final form after the resin injected into the lattice has hardened. This makes it at least as durable as steel, but it is much more lightweight. The high tear resistance along the length of the fibres also allows CFRP components to be given a high-strength design by following their direction of loading. To this end, the fibres are arranged within the component according to the load processes it is subject to. By overlaying the fibre arrangements, components can also be strengthened against load in several different directions. In this way, the component design can be made significantly more efficient and effective than is possible with any other material that is equally durable in all directions – such as metal. This, in turn, allows further reductions in terms of both material use and weight, leading to another new wave of savings potential. The lower accelerated mass in the event of a crash means that energy-absorbing structures can be scaled back, cutting the weight of the vehicle.

The development of the LifeDrive architecture and the version of it used for the BMW i8 incorporated the latest findings from safety and accident research and the requirements of international crash test procedures. The high-strength passenger compartment teams up with the intelligent distribution of forces within the LifeDrive module to provide the cornerstones for optimum occupant protection. The extremely rigid material used for the passenger cell and the crash-activated aluminium structures at the front and rear end of the Drive module maintain an intact survival space for passengers even in a structurally debilitating offset front crash.

Impressive rigidity, combined with its ability to absorb an enormous amount of energy, makes CFRP extremely damage-tolerant. Even at high impact speeds it displays barely any deformation. As in a Formula One cockpit, this exceptionally stiff material provides an extremely strong survival space. Less body deformation occurs compared with comparable steel bodies. Furthermore, the doors can be opened without any problem and the interior remains largely free of intrusions. Rescue scenarios were worked through and checked as part of the development process. In standard cutting tests, the process of rescuing occupants from a BMW i8 involved in an accident was, in various scenarios, even more straightforward than that for conventional vehicles. That is because body components made from CFRP are lighter and can be more easily cut than high-strength steels, for example.

The impressive safety characteristics of CFRP also come to the fore in side impact scenarios. Despite the heavy, in some cases concentrated forces, the material barely sustains a dent, and passengers enjoy unbeatable protection. All of which makes CFRP perfectly suited for use in a vehicle’s flanks, where every centimetre of undamaged interior is invaluable. However, there are limits to what CFRP can endure. If the forces applied go beyond the limits of the material’s strength, the composite of fibres breaks up into its individual components in a controlled process, absorbing energy as it does so.

The occupant protection concept is rounded off by standard safety equipment – including electronically controlled restraint systems – of the same high standard in terms of scope and effectiveness as that featured in vehicles from all the BMW Group’s brands. Front airbags and side airbags integrated into the seat backrests, plus head/curtain airbags for both rows of seats, are all fitted as standard, as are three-point inertia-reel seatbelts including belt tensioners and belt force limiters for all seats.

BMW i8 interior

The crash-activated aluminium structures in the front and rear sections of the vehicle provide unbeatable safety for the Drive module. In a front or rear-end collision, these absorb a large proportion of the energy generated. The battery, meanwhile, is mounted centrally in the underbody section of the car to give it the best possible degree of protection. Statistically, this is the area that absorbs the least energy in the event of a crash, and the vehicle is subject to barely any deformation here as a result.

The high-voltage system is designed to cope with accidents beyond the legal requirements and includes safeguards with a multi-redundant design to ensure the high-voltage battery’s safe reaction even in situations such as these. A series of tests conducted by the renowned DEKRA E-Mobility Competence Center were extremely extensive – ranging from how a car might catch fire, how the flames might spread and what would be required to extinguish the fire, to the pollution caused by run-off of the water used for fighting the fire. The experts concluded that electric and hybrid cars with lithium-ion drive system batteries are just as safe as vehicles with conventional drive systems. To ensure maximum safety in such a crash scenario, the high-voltage battery is disconnected from the high-voltage system and the connected components discharged as soon as the passenger restraint systems are triggered.

Tests by vehicle insurers and BMW Accident Research show that accidents primarily result in minor damage. In around 90 per cent of all recorded accidents involving conventional vehicles, the damage sustained is to the outer skin. The BMW i8 takes account of this and is equipped with screw-on/clip-on plastic panelling all around. Minor bumps are absorbed without leaving dents, as usually occurs with metal parts, and damage to the paint does not lead to corrosion. If a section of the external skin needs to be replaced, this can be carried out quickly and economically.

Thanks to innovative repair methods, which also encompass the CFRP components, the sum total of the accident repair costs for all the different cases of damage is similar to that for conventionally powered BMW models.

As a result, the BMW i8 has a comparatively low insurance rating in Germany (group 30 for fully comprehensive).

The slim headlights of the BMW i8 team up with the BMW kidney grille to form a horizontal unit emphasising the car’s width. The plug-in hybrid sports car is fitted as standard with powerful and energy-efficient full-LED headlights. In their lower section, the light sources are framed by a U-shaped bar into which are integrated the daytime driving lights, sidelights and direction indicators. The intricately designed rear light clusters also feature the U-shape typical of BMW i cars. All of the lights on the BMW i8 are LEDs as standard. The optional LED headlights with extended features also include a specific light distribution mode for a notably improved light range when driving on motorways and cross-country routes at speeds over 120km/h (75mph).

Before the end of 2014, the BMW i8 will become the world’s first series-produced vehicle to be made available with innovative laser headlights as an option. These generate a pure-white, extremely bright light that is pleasant to the eye by carefully converting the beams emitted by tiny laser diodes using a fluorescent phosphorous material inside the headlight. The laser diodes are ten times smaller than conventional light-emitting diodes, helping to save space in the headlight unit and also reduce weight. What’s more, the reflector’s surface area can be made far smaller compared to LED headlights, and measures less than 3 centimetres in height compared to 9 centimetres previously.

Laser light is monochromatic, which means that the light waves all have the same length (colour). They also have a constant phase difference. As a result, laser lighting can produce a near-parallel beam with impressive luminance, which gives it an intensity ten times brighter than that of conventional light sources. The beam can also be adjusted extremely precisely. The optional laser boost light furthermore produces a high-beam range of up to 600 metres, thereby doubling the already impressive range of the sophisticated LED high-beam headlight. The camera-based, digital High Beam Assistant reliably prevents both oncoming traffic and vehicles travelling ahead from being dazzled. Apart from all this, the laser lighting system is even more efficient too, meaning that energy consumption can be reduced by more than a third even compared to LED headlights, which are already very efficient themselves; laser light generates approximately 170 lumens (photometric unit of light output) per watt, whereas LED lighting produces around 100 lumens per watt.

The pedestrian alert sound that has previously been required by law for electrically powered vehicles in certain markets will be offered as an option worldwide. To ensure that pedestrians are able to detect the vehicle’s presence more easily when driving at low speeds purely on electric power, a distinctive sound is generated that mimics the noise made by a turbine. This pedestrian alert sound is active at speeds of up to 30 km/h (approx. 18 mph) in order to amplify the vehicle’s barely audible road/tyre and wind noise when travelling at this speed.

BMW Group and Samsung SDI expand partnership

The BMW Group and Samsung SDI plan to expand their supply relationship for battery cells for electro-mobility. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect today in Seoul. Samsung SDI will supply the BMW Group with battery cells for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and additional hybrid models over the coming years. The most important elements of the agreement are the increase in quantities delivered over the medium term, in response to growing demand for electro-mobility, and further technological development of battery cells.

Dr. Klaus Draeger, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network: “Our partnership with Samsung SDI is a good example of successful Korean-German cooperation on innovative technologies. The battery is a key component in every electric vehicle – since it basically determines the range and performance capabilities of the car. In Samsung SDI, we have chosen a supplier that offers us the best-available technology with future-oriented Korean battery expertise.”

BMW i3 charging

Sang-Jin Park, CEO of Samsung SDI: “I am very proud that Samsung SDI supports the success of the BMW i3 and i8. The decision taken in 2009 to choose lithium-ion battery cells from Samsung SDI for the BMW i models was the right one for both companies. Additional BMW vehicles will also be equipped with Samsung SDI’s leading lithium-ion technology. This MoU with the BMW Group demonstrates the trust in Samsung SDI’s future technology and efficient mass production capabilities. Both companies are confident that this extended partnership will secure their leadership in future technologies.”

The partnership with Samsung SDI since 2009 provides the BMW Group with access to state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology. Another important factor in the choice of Samsung SDI was that the company considers the suitability of lithium-ion battery cells for environmentally-friendly production and subsequent recovery of materials during product development.

BMW i3

Complete high-voltage batteries for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and other future hybrid vehicles are built on an ultra-modern assembly line at BMW Plant Dingolfing. The only supplied parts are the cells – otherwise the high-voltage batteries are developed and produced completely in-house, building on experience with earlier batteries developed in-house for models, such as the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 and 5 and the BMW ActiveE, with further optimisation.

The extension of the collaboration with Samsung SDI underscores the BMW Group’s strategy of further electrification. Continuation of the partnership also confirms the success of BMW i. Customer demand for the BMW i3 remains high. In addition, in the first half of 2014 the BMW Group has already sold around 5,400 BMW i3 cars.

Deliveries of the BMW i8 got underway in the main international markets in June. Demand is already significantly higher than the planned production volume for the ramp-up phase.

South Korea is also an important supplier market for the BMW Group, beyond the partnership with Samsung SDI. For this reason, the company opened a local purchasing office in 2009. In 2014, the purchasing volume in this market will exceed 300 million euros – a significant increase over the previous year, with sourcing volumes continuing to climb over the coming years. The BMW Group relies on a total of 20 South Korean suppliers. South Korea will be one of the key purchasing markets for the BMW Group in the future, especially for innovative IT technologies.

The BMW Group has operated its own subsidiary in South Korea since 1995. This commitment was expanded in 1998 with the opening of a logistics and training centre. BMW Financial Services has also been active in South Korea since 2001. On 14 July 2014, the BMW Group opened its only combined brand and driving experience centre worldwide currently, in the vicinity of Seoul airport. In 2013, the BMW Group was market leader in South Korea’s premium segment for the sixth consecutive year, with the sale of 39,367 BMW and MINI vehicles – an increase of 13.4% from 2012. A total of 1,328 BMW motorcycles (+27.6%) were also delivered to customers. In the first half of 2014, sales reached 21,972 units (+19,3% compared to prev. yr.). BMW South Korea employs a total workforce of 230 people.

26/1/14: Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. has signed a preliminary agreement to build an electric car battery factory in China by next year.

Samsung SDI signed a memorandum of understanding with Anqing Ring New Group and Shanxi province in northern China to open a joint-venture by April, which will together invest a combined US$600 million over the next five years.

Samsung SDI

Battery lease scheme for used E.V.s “will boost new E.V. car sales” — auction company

  • Car makers who introduce a battery lease scheme for used EVs will see a dramatic sales uplift
  • Dealers will avoid stocking used EVs until a battery lease option is available
  • Leasing companies adopting stronger EV residuals will help reduce monthly lease costs

Sales of new electric cars are up 246 per cent. compared to this time last year, helped by improved charging infrastructure, the continued offer of £5,000 government contributions and a noted change in the public’s approach to range anxiety and environmental protection.

Large corporates, particularly the energy providers, are now looking at embracing EVs as they provide an immediate answer to reducing running costs and emissions on a section of their fleet.

What’s more, if the popularity of electric vehicles continues to grow, it will provide a solution to the age-old problem of utilising excess night time electricity in power stations as people will charge their electric vehicles overnight to take advantage of cheaper tariffs.

However, despite the growing feel-good factor in the new market, a lack of information released by manufacturers about electric vehicles in the used market is having an effect on resale values and dealers’ confidence in stocking used EVs.

Early adopters selling their cars are experiencing low residual values when selling or trading in their electric cars. Leasing companies who rely on residual value predictions to help them calculate a monthly contract hire rate are writing down EVs to zero at the end of a three or four year contract because of the second hand uncertainties.

The main reason for this low resale value and dealer anxiety is lack of information released by manufacturers about the cost of maintaining or replacing batteries when a car hits the market at between four and 10 years of age. Currently buying new replacement batteries could cost £8,000- £10,000, a figure far in excess of the likely value of a used electric car.

With no specific short term battery loans or warranties available and manufacturers citing only “the battery will last the life of the car”, dealers are concerned they may injure relationships and reputations with customers should something go wrong. Why would they sell a four-year-old EV to a driver for £8,000 in the knowledge that after 12 months they will have to spend another £8,000 on new batteries?

Although the EV’s build quality isn’t in question, like any battery, over time their charge storage capacity lessens through erratic use and fast charging, which results in a shorter possible range for cars. Manufacturers must launch a flexible leasing and warranty scheme for when batteries reach the end of their optimal life. Offering a scheme where batteries can be replaced and leased for £40-100 a month would immediately give drivers peace of mind and boost new and used sales. Reconditioned batteries in line with the demand for older and cheaper used EVs should also be a consideration. However these won’t be available until market growth creates a demand for them.

Alex Wright, Managing Director of Shoreham Vehicle Auctions, said:

“Residual Values are based on market confidence and by introducing flexible and affordable battery lease schemes in line with the price bracket of the vehicle on the forecourt, we believe manufacturers will protect residual values and gain the final thread of confidence to make EVs a long-term success in this country.

“Manufacturers must remember the importance of sustaining strong older RVs , because RVs are built from the ground.  By looking after your 10 year RVs they will look after your eight to six and four to two. Shoreham Vehicle Auctions witness performances of used vehicles under the hammer on a daily bases and as such knows what buttons to press in order to keep RVs high and maintain a strong demand for specific vehicles.

“The new electric car market is growing, but manufacturers must look to when these cars move into the second hand market and if they look after the needs of the used car buyer of seven to 10 year old models, then the longer term needs of buyers of three to five year old cars will look after themselves.

“Ensuring used buyers are given enough information and support will ensure the market continues to grow. The benefits of electric vehicles are plentiful and with customer perceptions changing for the good, manufacturers need to act quickly to ensure this level of positivity continues,” he added.