“We’re at the very beginning of development and are still establishing how to move forward, like what sort of driveline system would be suitable for all the markets we intend to sell the car,” says Draeger. “You could, for example, see the current diesel engine make way for a petrol unit.
“On top of this are new construction processes that need time to be put in place and develop. The styling will also be overhauled to make it compatible for all the various safety standards.”
Read more on BMW's teaser campaign for the Vision ED
The first running prototype of BMW’s future range-topping model remains true to the earlier concept car by using a combination of diesel and electric power.
At the heart of the system's mule, pictured here, is a mid-mounted 1.5-litre three-cylinder common-rail diesel engine producing 161bhp – essentially the same unit earmarked for the German car maker’s future front-wheel drive 115d due out in 2014.
The compact aluminium block engine, which acts as a generator in range-extender mode and is also capable of providing direct drive to the rear wheels via a six-speed double-clutch gearbox, is supported by two brushless electric motors – a 110bhp unit mounted up front providing drive to the two front wheels and a smaller 52bhp unit mounted next to the diesel engine that also acts on the rear wheels.
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Linked by a complex in-house developed electronics package, all three power sources can be operated either independently or, for maximum performance, in combination, at which the 1500kg Vision EfficientDynamics develops a total of 323bhp.
Depending on the mode choosen by the driver, and the state of charge of the 10kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted down the centre line, power is placed to the road either through the front wheels, the rear wheels or via all four wheels.
Emphasising the earlier nature of development, Draeger hints the diesel engine could be supplanted by a more powerful petrol unit in a move that would make the new BMW more attractive to North American and Asian market customers.
Speaking exclusively to Autocar, he did, however, rule out the possibility of the Vision EfficientDynamics receiving a conventional engine without hybrid capability, in the process nixing rumours of a possible resurrection of the legendary M1 running a turbocharged version of BMW’s classic 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder.
Read Autocar's scoop on the BMW Mega City Vehicle
Set to challenge the upcoming Audi e-tron, Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Drive and Porsche 918 RS Spyder, the production version of Vision EfficentDynamics is planned to head an extended range of advanced new alternative drive models being conceived under BMW’s heavily cloaked Project I initiative, also responsible for the all-electric Mega City Vehicle.
Setting itself an ambitious 36 months for the complete development program, BMW says the production version of the Vision EfficientDynamics will be sold directly to customers, rather than being offered through a lease scheme.
Pricing is yet to be set, but Draeger hints the first production-based, mid-engined BMW since the M1 will be pitched at more than ₤100,000. “Technology doesn’t come cheap, and this car is packed with everything we know about alternative drive systems,” he says.