At the Los Angeles auto show, like at most other auto shows around the world, Concept and Prototypes make a small, yet important part of what makes an Auto Show a platform for what car manufacturers have to offer, today and tomorrow.
As the full-on EV and plug-in hybrids become a reality, carmakers continue to explore the very near future with different, unique yet workable alternatives in which to incorporate this emerging technology. Here is my sampling of some of the concepts and prototypes that were on display at the show.
BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics
You may have noticed that some EVs have been introduced as green performance cars. This has rarely been the case for hybrids. BMW's concept is a total sports car that averages nearly 63 mpg (3.7 L/100 km). Conceived as a 2+2-seater with plug-in full-hybrid technology, this car is M3-fast. The sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) goes by in only 4.8 seconds. “How can this be?” you ask. Read on.
Weighing in at just over 3,075 lb (1,395 kg), the Vision
calls upon a turbocharged diesel 1.5L 3-cylinder engine (essentially ½ of BMW's 3.0L I-6 turbo diesel). This minute powerplant generates a prodigious 163 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque but that's not all. A 33 hp electric motor is wedged between the transmission (a 6-speed DCT) and the engine, all of it rear-mounted. Furthermore, a second electric motor, this time an 80 hp example, provides go for the front wheels.
Total output: 356 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque!
This is all nice but range is always the EV's / hybrid's Achilles heal. In pure electric-mode, the Vision will travel up to 31 miles (50 km). Once the lithium polymer battery pack draws on its last kilowatts, the 6.6 gallon tank of diesel, combined with the engine's efficiency, will propel the car an extra 400 miles (640 km). When all fails, the battery pack can be recharged in just 2.5 hours when plugged into a standard European 220 V / 16 A outlet.
To achieve such results, the Vision has a drag coefficient of 0.22 and has a full aluminum chassis and suspension along with a roof and much of the skin made of a light-sensitive polycarbonate.