BMW's striking Vision EfficientDynamics concept, which debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show, is headed for production as the 300-hp halo car for the company's Project i lineup. And then there's the M version.
Theoretically at least, the production car, which may be called the i100 Active Hybrid, has what it takes to eclipse its most serious rivals. Extensive computer simulation suggests that in top-of-the-line M-form (likely to be badged M100), the sports car from Munich will outpace such serious challengers as the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the Audi R8 V10 and the Porsche 911 Turbo. But the real baptism by fire is still almost three years away. The more immediate step is the 2011 Frankfurt Show where an evolution of the 2009 concept is due to appear. In late 2012 or early 2013, low-volume production is due to start. The assembly of the carbon-fiber modules will take place in Landshut, Bavaria. Even though the base model is expected to cost in excess of $130,000, BMW is reportedly planning to build 35,000 units over the car's five-year life span.
Even with the high price tag, one wonders how BMW can expect to make a profit on such a high-tech piece of kit. The answer is that it's part of Project i, BMW's upcoming lineup of green minicars. No, not only as a marketing spin-off, but also genetically, in terms of vehicle concept, drivetrain and material mix. In fact, the i100 is one of the reasons why the Project i switched dangerously late in the game from front- to rear-wheel drive. The i100 will also share the mircocars' rear-engine layout . By moving the motor as close as possible to the rear wheels, the Munich packaging wizards created something the i100's sports car competitors cannot offer: two usable, if not quite commodious rear seats. Access to the second row should not be a major issue, as the production will feature the gullwing doors from the original design exercise. To stow away a limited quantity of luggage, the top-hinged rear window lifts up. A second cargo receptacle can be found in the nose of the vehicle.
Like all other Project i variants, the sports car consists of two horizontally connected elements known as Life Module (vehicle upper made primarily of carbon fiber) and Drive Module (running chassis fabricated from aluminum). Integrated in the Drive Module are the suspension, engine, electric motors, transmission, tank and batteries. While the i100 boasts a mix of four electric motors (one for each wheel) plus a conventional pairing of gas engine and dual-clutch transmission. The M100 will be rear-wheel drive only.