Two of the biggest rivals of the auto industry have joined forces in developing the technology of the future. While both have several pacts with private companies on developing future electric vehicles, BMW and Daimler have come to one at a project.
BMW is working towards development of hybrid power plants for compact cars with PSA-Peugeot Citroen, developing lithium-ion batteries for Toyota and co-engineering hydrogen fuel-cell fuel-efficient cars with GM. Daimler partner, Mercedes Benz on the other hand is working with Tesla on urban electric vehicles. The two German rivals will team up to develop the next urban electric vehicle, the Visio.M. This vehicle is claimed to feature spectacular efficiency while reducing the cost of production.
As two leading luxury carmakers, the Germans are unlikely to team up on an electric car, since they already have several individual projects lined up. BMW is planning to launch the long-waited battery electric, four-door i3 and is already working on the ActiveE for its future lineup. Mercedes-Benz on the other hand is working towards alternate fuels while working on diesels and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, but it also has its E-Cell models and the upcoming AMG E-Cell.
Despite the rivalry, BMW and Daimler are carving a new segment of cheap, efficient EVs. The scientists at Technical University of Munich (TUM) will contribute towards the development of small, urban EVS. The result, Visio.M is a cheaper, efficient, small vehicle designed to do rounds on the urban roads.
Contrasting to the current EV designs that are based on petrol-powered vehicles, the Visio.M is designed out of scratch with a very lightweight architecture, featuring curb weight of 420 kg (without batteries), and 477 kg (with batteries). In comparison, other EVs on sale in the market, The Smart Fortwo weighs 1025 kg, the Mitsubishi i weighs 1238 kg, and the most popular EV, the Nissan Leaf, weighs 1595 kg.
As a part of a new architecture, the Visio.M will also feature better range with reduced weight, while the power will be drawn from a 15 kW electric motor. However, there is no word on the design and styling of the Visio.M. As the project eyes on developing a cheap and efficient design, we cannot expect an out of the universe styling. It may be similar to TUM’s MUTE prototype (pictured).
As of now, the Visio.M is a prototype vehicle through which, the companies can explore innovations and new technologies for electric car safety, powering, battery requirements, and functionality for implementation under the framework requirements for a large-scale production model. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research is investing a sum of $14 million into the project, allowing the scientists to explore to the core into EV technology. Perhaps, it is a sensible approach at bringing the EV technology to a larger section of the society.