BMW\’s Project-i

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Information on future BMW models continues to slowly leak to us from all corners of the globe. While we are still a ways away from any official confirmation of any of these future models, certain things are beginning to take shape. The recent Huckfeldt rendition of the Z2 also included an image of the BMW Project-i Megacity car. On many occasions we have been led to believe that Autobild and Huckfeldt are given information well in advanceof launches (based on design concepts) to gain the feel of the general public. That is why more often than not the cars depicted in these images are so close to the eventually released products.

We recently have heard from sources that the Project-i city car would be a revolutionary design and it was not necessarily going to be designed in house as BMW looks to cut its investment into R&D. That leaves start ups, or companies well invested in building a “green ” car to fill this need of an alternative powered vehicle BMW apparently has. We have also learned (from reliable sources) that this model has not been given a marquee at this time due to the fact its current design form is neither MINI nor BMW. While it has some design elements (borrowed) from MINI (headlights and steering wheel) this car does not necessarily look like a regularly fueled car, because it is not and that is the main problem in adding it to a current brand. Testing has been successful thus far and the car has hit many of its goals, though our sources have said the design is so different and polarizing it may not initially be accepted in the market place.

The car you see here is the Mindset prototype, from the Swiss corporation Spirt Avert AG/Mindset AG. This project was co-initiated by Murat Günak, previously vice-president and responsible for the overall design for VW, SEAT, Skoda and Bentley at Volkswagen Group and has been in the making since 2006. The drivable prototype was built by the French Heuliez Group which is also planning on coming to market with their own electric vehicle the “Friendly “.

Is it a coincidence (or not) that the Project-i mantra of “Herausforderndes Coventional Denken ” (Defying Conventional Thinking) can also be stated as: a new “Mindset “? In current form the Mindset is a 2+2 weighing under 2000 lbs with an onboard range extending combustion engine (removable and used solely as an electric generator) thanks in part to the use of composites and a light weight space frame. Top speed is limited to 70 mph and it will achieve 0-62 in under 7 seconds. Depending on driving conditions, the car will be able to go 60-90 miles on a single charge of the lithium ion batteries or up to 500 miles with the support of the range extender.

The real question is whether this model (or similar) will become a MINI, a BMW or a Triumph once the design language has been officially chosen. Any way you slice it, this is going to be a huge departure for the BMW Group.With rumors of future green house gas emission regulations manufacturers are doing whatever they can to prepare. Is electric the best way to go? We are not sure but at least it is a step in a direction away from traditional means, so in the future we will have enough oil to drive our high revving performance models on the weekends at the track!

Photos: Flickr

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