BMW seeks design flexibility through tri-motor concept

May 12, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Hybrid drivetrains, while established in today’s automotive landscape, are still evolving. At the Vienna Motor Symposium, BMW provided a glimpse to its vision of the next generation’s hybrid drive.

What can drivers expect from future hybrid drives? A more dynamic driving experience, said BMW board member Klaus Fröhlich. Both electric and conventional traction will be tweaked towards longer range, in particular the electric part of the system. “In the future, we will have a range of different drive types that meet the variety of customer demand”, Fröhlich said during his presentation.

The positive reception of BMW’s battery-electric model i3 shows that a purely battery-powered powertrain will find its market in urban mobility with typical drive cycles of 100 kilometres and even somewhat beyond this mark. For customers who need a longer driving range, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) will be BMW’s solution of choice as implemented in the i8 sports car and the X5 SUV. This concept, baptised Power eDrive by the Bavarian carmaker, will be further developed with emphasis on the electric section of the powertrain. Fröhlich estimates that in average 80 percent of everyday mobility demand can be completed electrically; at the same time this concept offers a driving range with conventional combustion engine of some 600 kilometres. With this profile, BMW addresses commuters with occasional long-range travel requirements – probably the largest portion of today’s market.

The concept also is designed to meet the demand of the somewhat sporty driver: Two electric motors, one each at the front and rear axle, will provide what BMW uses to call driving pleasure, an indispensible ingredient to the company’s brand identity. The two electric motors will be designed to provide particularly high acceleration from a standing start and for short bursts of speed. At high speeds, the combustion engine can be used as an additional source of power, Fröhlich said – which hints at a shift of emphasis from conventional to electric drive.

Fröhlich added that this concept enables the manufacturer to optimise vehicle characteristics according to the specific model – more efficiency and fuel economy for some models