BMW's Megacity, due in 2013, will be sold under a sub brand and meet the issue of sustainability head-on. BMW admits that it will have a much longer service life than a typical modern car. It is a radical design based on a corrosion-proof aluminium chassis and carbon passenger cell, as well as a robust electric motor and single-speed gearbox.
Only the Megacity’s battery pack has a fixed life. It also benefits from half the number of parts of a conventional car, making it easier and quicker to build. A typical Megacity could stay in service for decades with relatively little expense.
Research and development
The huge research and development programme that led to the Megacity began late in 2007. BMW staff were deployed to London, Los Angeles, Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo, Mexico City, Shanghai and the Ruhr Valley in Germany.
“We carried out interviews in these mega cities and talked to mayors and city planners. We even lived in customers’ houses and drove with them on their commutes,” explained a BMW boss. “All the cities had their own particular characteristics. We saw LA as being ‘car affinitive’ and Tokyo as ‘car averse’. For example, young people between 18 and 22 in Tokyo don’t have driving licences. In Barcelona the streets are narrow and the authorities have special lanes for one-track vehicles. In Mexico pollution and safety were the big issues and people see their cars as a safe environment.
“Drivers appreciate personal transport but city planners are going to use emissions legislation to control access. That meant the first product from Project i had to be zero emission. And the production process also has to be low emission,” the source revealed.