BMW M CEO Discusses Electric Cars, Concerns On Weight For EVs – Video




As BMWBLOG explains:

“At the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, we sat down with Franciscus van Meel, BMW M CEO, to talk about the future of the M brand, including all-wheel drive M cars, manual transmission, electric drive M cars and much more.”

For the brief electric drive discussion, skip forward to the 5:20-mark in the video, at which point van Meel says that the future of M definitely is electrified, but adds in that he’s not sure at what time it will come.

The concern, it seems, is additional weight.

BMW X5 xDrive40e "M Sport" Adds Lots Of Exterior Tweaks

BMW X5 xDrive40e “M Sport” Adds Lots Of Exterior Tweaks

Separately, the new BMW x5 xDrive40e has just started deliveries in the US in the first week of October; of which, special “M” branding is available – for an extra $4,350.


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30 Comments on "BMW M CEO Discusses Electric Cars, Concerns On Weight For EVs – Video"

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He specifically mentions the power to weight ratio, and Tesla blows that out of the water.

There are also handling issues, where he sort of has a point. Not enough of one for me.

My Outlander PHEV weighs 4067 lbs and handles very well.

As most the weight would predominantly be in the bottom of the BEV’s giving them a lower centre of gravity, the need for more use of lighter materials at a lower cost would likely be where they should focus ? Carbon fibre bodies with Aluminium frames might work well, Smart Cars bodywork are made of plastic’s of some sort I think ?

Your Outlander PHEV handles well…well, that’s great – thanks for sharing that. Question for you: Have you ever driven an M3?

Ambulator said:

“There are also handling issues, where he sort of has a point. Not enough of one for me.”

The Tesla Model S has a very heavy battery pack; reportedly about 1200 lbs. But it also handles very well; nearly all driving reviews of the car praise its handling.

I think the real issue isn’t with PEVs inherently having poor handling, but rather with cars designed to be gasmobiles which have an electric powertrain shoehorned into it. Yeah, in that case, it shouldn’t be surprising if there were problems with the handling.

Compelling PEVs are designed from the ground up. Shoehorning an electric drivetrain into a car designed to be a gasmobile is at best a more-or-less awkward compromise.

It’s nothing I would likely notice, but I see mixed reviews. From

“But the steering is vague and the handling is numb when you really push it. Not that many Tesla drivers will. Instead, they’ll enjoy a high-tech daily driver that can smoke nearly anything in the next lane.”

I think the steering feel has more to do with the choice to go with electric instead of hydraulic steering.

Except virtually every car used electric steering now.

Piston aircraft in WWII used a mist injection system to increase engine performance similar to mentioned by Van Meel in the video and that BMW now uses in their M-series. Even so, Van Meel acknowledges that electric is coming.

Scott Collie has an interesting article about the BMW mist injection system in Gizmag from July of this year.

“Water and fuel aren’t usually a good mix, but BMW has turned to water injection technology in its ever-continuing quest for improved fuel economy and power. Its latest 1 Series prototype is fitted with such a system to help create lower combustion temperatures, which brings fuel economy benefits of up to 8 percent on the road.”……

There already several method injection 2015 3.0l Ms making over 700hp already.

There already several meth injected 2015 3.0l Ms making over 700hp already.

They could use that also in a rex, additionally to a transition to a direct free piston generator. It would reduce heat while at the same time allowing an even more compact system and 8% extra yield above the already much higher yield. Shoebox size rex is definitely possible.

BMW says they are for lightweight but how badly they screwed up the i3.
First the REX weighs 365lbs!! There is NO reason it should weigh over 130lbs or so. hardly lightweight or advanced.
Next the so called lightweight CF body when it weighs without the REX more than a steel subcompact of the same size at
A good CF design should weigh under 1200lbs in that size with the much smaller battery pack, etc needed it could have been affordable.
Or at 1450lbs with the same size battery pack, go 130-140 mile range.
But of going all CF body/chassis they put a heavy frame under it when any body that can pass crash testing is strong enough to use it as the frame/unibody.
On the M3, etc they could replace the starter, alternator, their drives, battery and flyheel with a flywheel motor/alternator and Li-ion 3kwhr battery in the same
Sorry but BMW isn’t very good at lightweighting in these examples.

Model S battery + electric motor weights about 700 kg. BMW M5 gasoline drivetrain weights about 400 kg. Granted, there is about 300 kg added weight, but this can be mostly compensated by aluminium chassis.

Of course BMW does not have proper high energy density battery technology, because they have invested exactly zero euros on EV battery R&D. Simply outsourced their battery cells from Samsung SDI.

And of course, weight is not even an issue, because it can be compensated by ideal weight distribution and ludicrous speed. As we get bigger battery packs for longer ranged cars, we are starting to see megawatt scale power output.

With electric cars only the size of battery pack limits the power output. Twice the sized battery can output twice as much power.

“With electric cars only the size of battery pack limits the power output”

I agree partially… 😉 and would put it like this:

In every drivetrain the “weakest” element limits the power output…

And I keep insisting, that more power output is already possible by eliminating a “frunk” and putting in a stupidly high amount of supercaps for a stupidly high price of 5000$ which would allow for ludicrous mode with a battery pack as low as 60 kWh.

With supercaps becoming cheaper and more energy dense, the correlation between battery pack size and power output will become less relevant in a not too distant future.

Furthermore “inner resistance” of the battery cells seems more important than battery capacity when it comes to max power.

Really? Is that what you believe? All car manufacturers outsource their cells. Period.

BMW can get high energy density batteries if they want, as well as every other car manufacturer. All manufacturers purchase their batteries from 3rd parties. No one car manufacturer has an advantage over another car manufacture because no battery cell supplier has one advantage over the other. They’re limited by the same physics. And yes, that includes Tesla. Aren’t you forgetting, they get their cells from Panasonic, and now LG.

It’s an engineering trade of cost vs energy density vs “robustness” vs mass vs. a crap load many other things.

BYD makes there own cells, at least I think so. Granted, they aren’t very good cells, but they’re cheap.

What are you basing either statement on?

Either? I made three statements.

BYD was known for making cells first. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to use their own cells.

BYD makes lithium iron phosphate cells, which have a relativity low energy density. I have not seen anything to suggest that this has changed.

The materials that go into a lithium iron phosphate cell are all cheaper than nickel or cobalt, which are used in the higher density cells. BYD has a lot of experience in making cells, so that should carry over into their production cost.

I did not count the first statement since BYD is a battery company first and foremost. 🙂 So it’s a given that they use their own batteries. They even bought a car company to be able to put batteries into them. 😛

They do lots of different batteries, among other things about half the worlds cell phone batteries (and all to Iphones and Ipads last time I checked). For the cars though I buy the lower energy density, but there are many more variables so I would hardly call them worse.

I also buy the reasoning behind why they would have a low material and production cost. It would be very interesting to get the cost of their batteries compared to other companies. I highly doubt they would ever give that information away though.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries may be fine for hybrids, but for what I care about, BEVs, they aren’t very good. Their attempt to conquer the USA with a lummox like the e6 has been laughable.

Meh said:

“…no battery cell supplier has one advantage over the other. They’re limited by the same physics.”

That is rather obviously not true. The same physics applied in, say, 1903 when Edison started selling the first commercial alkaline battery. But the energy density and power density of current batteries has improved quite a bit since then!

If no li-ion battery cell supplier has an advantage over any other, then why does LG Chem have so many customers clamoring for their new, cheaper cells?

Using hydrogen fuel to power a car runs into a hard limit with physics, because you can’t improve the characteristics of hydrogen. But batteries are a very long way from having reached the limits of possible improvement. If and when batteries begin to approach the energy density of gasoline, then it will be appropriate to talk about the limits imposed by the laws of physics.

If you completely burn Lithium you get less energy than when you completely burn gasoline. Since a battery is a chemical reactor in which you can only approach at best, a complete combustion, a Lithium battery will therefore never give the same energy as gasoline. It still has room for improvement, for sure but its maximum is already set and it is lower than gasoline.
On the other hand, capacitors depend on the surface of the electrodes, the dielectric and the insulation capacity of the dielectric. The value of surface can still be increased but mainly the insulation can be increased to allow higher voltages. There is a quest for superconductors at higher temperature but likewise there should be more of a quest for superinsulators. That would be materials that allow incredible high voltages between electrodes without arc formation. If this can be achieved capacitors will eventually be able to surpass batteries and gasoline as well.

Lithium is close to gasoline when burned. Convert it in a battery and you theoretically should get more. Of course, you could use the gasoline in a direct gasoline fuel cell and get still more. No one is close to doing either of these.

I’m not certain what constraints there are on capacitors, but I doubt they will ever be that good.

The additional weight may create a need for a stronger suspension in the car, but otherwise I don’t think it matters much. Sure, some manufacturers of PEVs go to great efforts to lighten their cars — Tesla uses an all-aluminum body, BMW uses a carbon fiber composite for the i3 — but frankly, that doesn’t make that much difference. Carrying more weight in your PEV doesn’t reduce the range much.

There are good reasons for designing a PEV from the ground up, rather than shoehorning an electric powertrain into a gasmobile’s body. But the weight is perhaps the least important of those reasons.

“The additional weight may create a need for a stronger suspension in the car, but otherwise I don’t think it matters much.” That is completely wrong in terms of performance category requirement. People who often use Model S as example missed the key point about handling and braking. Model S has tons of power to compensate in terms of acceleration by gearing the low end as much as it is possbile but it impacts high speed peformance where the power of Model S drops off sharply after about 70mph. With the low Cd of Model and amount of power that it has, it can easily get to 200 mph, but it can’t due to its extreme low gearing ratio. On the track, just about all the gain from low end power is negated by the weight which would impact handling and braking. It will also eat tires due to the higher temperature that tires would experience due to the weight. Of course, the lower center of gravity helps somewhat but physics wins out due to the amount of traction that tires would have to handle on the corners. Even if the lighter materials are used, the same type of light… Read more »

Meh said:

“All car manufacturers outsource their cells. Period.”

That’s certainly an overstatement. As Ambulator already pointed out, BYD makes their own batteries. And for the Leaf, Nissan has partnered with battery manufacturer NEC to create a daughter company, AESC. Whether this counts as “outsourcing” or not is at least debatable.

Likewise, with Gigafactory 1, Tesla is moving from being a customer of Panasonic to being a partner.

It is interesting to see BMW tout the advantages of water injection for their turbocharged engines. Great tech, but not for non-enthusiasts.

Like everything in the auto industry, it has been done before. Here is one example:


Water or water methanol was used in WWII airplane as supplemental take-off power or emergency power while dog fighting.
It isn’t new, it just got a fix with the present technology, but the principle is old enough.

Tesla is already making BMW M versions look quite like a non sense, but in the moment that they reveal the second generation of the i8 that should be faster than Model S90D, then the discussion will be over. If they put doble battery and double electric power with the same weight will smash any other car from the M family even in a circuit.