BMW to lead Visio.M low cost electric vehicle research project

Programme will trial low power, lightweight EV technology

By Farah Alkhalisi on May 9, 2012 5:37 PM

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is working with BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Continental Automotive and several other German firms in a research consortium to produce a new safe, lightweight, low-cost EV for mass-market introduction.

BMW is to lead the Visio.M project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research to the tune of €10.8million.

The targets set for the vehicle include a kerbweight of just 400kg (minus battery), 15kW (20hp) of power and the ability to meet the European L7e-class (heavy quadricycle) requirements, though it is intended that its crash safety performance will be similar to that of an equivalently-sized ‘conventional’ car.

The initial test ‘mule’ will be based on TUM’s MUTE prototype (pictured) and will be used to trial technology concepts including energy storage, the powertrain and operational software.

MUTE (the university name backwards, plus E for electromobility) was presented at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and was developed by more than 200 staff and students from 20 departments in TUM’s Science Centre for Electromobility. 

It is an all-electric roomy two-seater with luggage space; last year’s prototype weighed only 500kg. Its 15kW motor takes it to 120kph, and it combines a lithium-ion battery (giving a range of at least 100km) with a zinc-air ‘reserve’ battery extending the range further.

TUM says that, with its sporty suspension and active torque-vectoring differential, MUTE gives “good cornering stability and excellent driving performance". It has stability control and is developed to be both crash-safe and comfy. With a view to further weight- and cost-saving, all non-essential user interfaces (i.e. audio, navigation) are controlled via a central touchpad, and functions such as charging and communications can be operated via smartphone.