A pair of classic Isetta mini-carsEnlarge Photo
BMW's Megacity Vehicle, which will be launched under a sub-brand during the first half of the next decade, will employ a vast array of lightweight composite materials to enable its super-low emissions goals. To that end, BMW today announced a joint venture with carbon fiber and composites experts the SGL Group.
Both the technology and the materials developed by the SGL Group will feed into the Megacity Vehicle. Ultra light yet still structurally very strong materials will be key to meeting both environmental and safety goals for the car.
The Megacity Vehicle is expected to come under a BMW sub-brand, possibly the Isetta brand, with the first car under the sub-brand arriving as early as 2012. Talk of collaboration with Toyota on the project, leveraging the iQ city car platform, has also emerged, which would help BMW meet the tight timeline.
Project i is the over-arching project that will spawn the Megacity Vehicle, however, meaning that not all cars built under the BMW sub-brand will necessarily share the Megacity's super-high-tech goals. Some may be simpler, cheaper, and more readily available. The Megacity Vehicle is also likely to take several years more development, with the outside window of 2014 or 2015 being more likely for retail release. The Mini E electric vehicle prototype, for example, was the first vehicle to come out of the Project i works.
Still, the joint venture with the SGL Group will help BMW reach the economies of scale necessary to produce carbon fiber and carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) at volumes and prices realistic for mass production.
BMW is, of course, no stranger to carbon fiber, having employed its use extensively in motorsports as well as the CSL versions of its M Division vehicles over the years.