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Beijing show: BMW Megacity from 2013

Jump start: BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer announces a 2013 production start for the electric Megacity – two years earlier than expected.

BMW locks in a 2013 on-sale date for its ground-breaking new Megacity micro-EV

23 Apr 2010

BMW has revealed its mould-breaking ‘Megacity’ all-electric car will be released globally in 2013 – up to two years earlier than previously advised.

The news was announced by BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer on the eve of today’s Beijing motor show, where the Bavarian luxury car-maker unveiled long-wheelbase and electric versions of its new 5 Series for the Chinese market.

We’ve covered the production 5 Series LWB previously, while the EV concept – also based on the stretched 5 Series – is dubbed the Echo. Built at BMW's Shanyang facility in China, it was developed jointly by BMW and the government-backed Tongji University to test the viability of EV technology in China.

BMW’s biggest news at Beijing, however, surrounds the Megacity, which will be produced at Leipzig in Germany in addition to the next-generation rear-drive 1 Series due the same year and an all-new front-drive compact BMW model – possibly badged as the 0 Series – that should share its underpinnings with BMW’s next-generation Mini from 2014.

BMW has already confirmed the Megacity, which will feature a lightweight carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, will hit the market under a new sub-brand separate to both BMW and Mini, with an entire new model family also expected to comprise a sports derivative.

14 center imageLeft: Mini Cooper E. Below: BMW 1 Series Coupe-based Active E hybrid.

Latest reports now insist it will be a full five-seat small-car as large as VW’s Golf, with a rear-mounted electric motor driving the rear wheels and combining with cutting-edge aerodynamics and a low kerb weight to deliver brisk acceleration and a driving range of up to 250km.

Autocar reports that an enhanced version of the regenerative braking system fitted to the Mini E will contribute to a city driving range improvement of up to 20 per cent, while the Megacity’s powertrain itself will be closely based on the second-generation electric drive system used in the BMW 1 Series Coupe-based Active E hybrid.

Meantime, earlier this month BMW also unveiled a new hydrogen-hybrid drivetrain that could be employed by its next Mini and front-drive ‘0 Series’. It combines a conventional front-drive powertrain with a hydrogen fuel cell, power-storing supercapacitors and an electrically driven rear axle.

BMW has justified plans to produce its first front-drive model by citing research that shows 80 per cent of 1 Series hatchback owners either don’t know which wheels are driven in their cars or thought their car was front-drive.

According to recent reports, BMW has filed trademark registrations for a series of new car names, either for use on the Megacity or its first front-drive model, or to prevent other car-makers from using them.

They include i1, i2, i3, i4, i5, i6, i7, i8, i9 and E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E7, E8, E9, as well as the M50d, Urbanic, Gran Coupe, Compactive and Compactive Tourer names.

While the Megacity could emerge under either the i or E namplates – for combustion engine and electric versions respectively – reports suggest the M50d is a tri-turbo diesel, the Urbanic is a trim level for the Megacity project, the Gran Coupe is a four-door coupe version of the 6 Series and the Compactive name will be applied to sports-crossovers based on the 1 and 3 Series.

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