BMW's new experimental vehicle may get 63 miles on a gallon of diesel and can travel 31 miles in all-electric mode, but it also scores in the performance realm -- with a zero-to-60-mph time in the de rigueur modern sports-car range of under five seconds.
Fans of progressive auto design will likely cock an eye at its posturing curves and layered surfaces, but the big story is the Vision's plug-in hybrid drive system, which pairs two electric motors with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbodiesel engine, together producing 356 horsepower.
The 3,000-pound Vision showcases BMW's latest high-profile R&D efforts -- including its ActiveHybrid drive technology set to arrive in its 7-Series sedan this year and its EfficientDynamics tech by which the company says it aims to cut fuel consumption without sacrificing driving dynamics. This by now-common features like automatic start-stop and brake energy regeneration. One notable example on the new concept of what BMW is calling EfficientDynamics is a new thermo-electric generator that can convert heat energy from the car's exhaust into 200 watts of electric power. The Vision also employs BMW's Formula 1 aerodynamics developments, by which engineers achieved a slippery drag coefficient of 0.22 (the Toyota Prius's is 0.25).
BMW plans to unveil the Vision EfficientDynamics concept at the Frankfurt motor show in early September.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.