Along with a hybrid 7 Series and a hybrid X6, BMW will use the LA Auto Show as the venue to introduce North America to its Vision EfficientDynamics Concept. Built as a show-piece to display BMW's fuel-efficiency expertise, the Vision ED Concept is also a true BMW, offering impressive fuel economy while not sacrificing performance.
A mean-looking 2+2 sports car, this concept uses both a turbo-diesel three-cylinder engine, as well as two electric motors in a full plug-in hybrid layout. BMW says the goal of the project was to build a vehicle that has the performance of one of its M cars, while delivering fuel-economy that is superior to current small cars. This they most certainly achieved with a 0-62 mph time of 4.8 seconds and a claimed fuel economy figure of 62.6 mpg.
The diesel engine used is essentially half of that found in the current BMW 335d, displacing 1.5-liters. On its own the diesel makes 163hp and 214 ft-lbs of torque. The car also gets BMW's impressive six-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Two electric motors are paired to this engine, which is located in a mid-rear configuration. A 33hp motor sits between the engine and transmission while a second 80-hp motor delivers power to the front axle. The result it a total of 356hp and 590 ft-lbs of torque. Storing that energy is a lithium-polymer battery pack that runs down the center of the car for optimum weight distribution.
BMW says the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept can be plugging in a charged at a conventional outlet in just 2.5 hours and can travel up to 31 miles on pure electric power. A 6.6 gallon diesel tank will then allow an extended range of 400 miles.
To keep the weight of the vehicle to a minimum, BMW engineers build the chassis and suspension entirely out of aluminum, meaning the car weights just 3,076 lbs. Engineers also worked hand-in-hand with the designers to create the body of the concept, with a light weight polycarbonate body that boasts a aerodynamic drag coefficient of just 0.22 cd. BMW says part of the reason for the impressive aerodynamics is due to their ability to work on the front end of the car, made possible by moving the engine to the rear. New thermostatically controlled slats in front of the radiator can also close at speed to redirect air around the car when cooling isn't a top priority.
In addition, one of the vehicle's most progressive technologies is what BMW calls "Forward looking energy management." BMW hopes that by using technology to foresee what is coming on the road ahead it can save energy by shutting down or powering up other systems. An example would be using the radar system built into the active cruise control to see when traffic is slowing down ahead, and then shut of the car's engine while activating the regenerative braking ahead of time.
While some have speculated that the Vision ED Concept will make its way into production as a future BMW exotic car, it's more likely that the vehicle was built to showcase new technologies that will eventually make their way into BMW products in the future.
More: Report: BMW's Wild Turbo-Diesel Plug-In Hybrid Concept Car Headed to LA Auto Show