A quarter century ago, BMW established a special research and development center under the BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH. As BMW Technik celebrates its silver anniversary, it has revealed the existence of hydrogen hybrid 1 series concept. BMW has been working on hydrogen-fueled vehicles since at least the mid-1990s, but most of that work has revolved around hydrogen internal combustion rather than fuel cell electric vehicles.
This new concept is a through-the-road hybrid that uses a both a small gasoline engine and a small five-kilowatt fuel cell. The fuel cell works in combination with a bank of super-capacitors for electrical energy storage. An inline-four gasoline engine is transversely mounted and drives the front wheels. The fuel cell, which is developed from one that BMW has been testing mainly as an auxiliary power unit to generate the electricity needed for the car, is mounted behind the engine. This fuel cell is used to charge the super-caps, which also store energy from regenerative braking. The super-caps drive an 82 kilowatt electric motor at the rear axle.
The electric drive can be used on its own for low-speed urban driving or combined with the engine for on-demand all-wheel drive and acceleration. At highway speeds, the engine provides primary drive. We don't know if this concept drivetrain will go anywhere or if BMW will persist with the super-caps or switch to lithium ion batteries. BMW hasn't revealed any details about electric driving range or performance.
Anniversary: Premiere for fascinating concept vehicles and pioneering technologies.
The history of BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH has been defined by a long track record of concept vehicles and technological innovations which generated pioneering impetus for the development of series vehicles, components and systems. The influence of research projects exerts varying effects on series development, depending on the subject focus and complexity. The scope ranges from direct implementation in the form of a concrete project to long-term development of technology competence. BMW Group Research and Technology is presenting a selection of projects to celebrate this landmark anniversary. The specialists working at the centre have developed these projects and some of them will be experienced for the first time outside the confines of the well-guarded laboratories and workshops.
One of the first projects to be launched by the fledgling subsidiary company was the prototype for a BMW Z1 Coupé developed in 1988. This vehicle was created within the framework of a concept development based on the very first project of the new subsidiary – the BMW Z1 roadster produced in a limited series. The development engineers were interested in methods and technologies to facilitate a maximally efficient extension of a vehicle concept to additional derivatives. The knowledge gained from this project was used for the BMW Z3 series model, which was produced as a roadster and coupé, and for the first generation of the BMW Z4, which was also manufactured in open- top and closed versions.
A fuel-cell hybrid vehicle based on the BMW 1 Series is another project being presented in the public domain for the first time. This project developed by BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH shows a highly innovative form of hybrid technology developed within the framework of Efficient Dynamics in conjunction with the use of hydrogen as a fuel. Alongside a four-cylinder petrol engine, the research vehicle has an electric power unit for city traffic. The electrical energy is generated by a small fuel cell in the form of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and stored temporarily in high-performance capacitors. These so-called super caps cover the performance peaks for acceleration and taking off at traffic lights, and store the electricity generated during braking. Using a comparatively small fuel cell to generate electricity from hydrogen achieves a high level of efficiency for city traffic, while the internal combustion engine is only used for high-speed journeys. This combination could have the capability to provide an emission-free range of several hundred kilometres in city traffic and facilitate "recharging" within the space of a few minutes – this is in addition to the mobility reserves provided by the internal combustion engine for long-distance travel.
BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH is also celebrating its anniversary by providing a unique insight into innovative projects in the area of intelligent networking between driver, vehicle and environment. BMW ConnectedDrive already delivers a package of driver-assisted systems and mobility services that is unique throughout the world. These systems enhance comfort and safety, as well as optimising infotainment functions in the vehicle. The current research projects in this area include the narrow-passage assistant, which assists drivers if they are driving along particularly narrow lanes, for example near building works, and the emergency stop assistant which brings the vehicle safely to a stop if there is a medical emergency.
The latest success of the joint venture between BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH and Munich Technical University (CAR@TUM) is also presented. The project "IT-Motive 2020" involves the researchers developing an innovative architecture for information and communication technology integrated within the vehicle that permits functions previously distributed over a large number of different control units to be pooled in a homogeneous communication network. The aim is to provide a consistent hardware platform for displaying the continually expanding number of vehicle, comfort and safety functions.