In the belly of BMW

Munich, December 5, 2016

"Sometimes BMW chief Harald Krüger descend into the belly of BMW", said group spokesman Maximilian Schöberl. And the boss was also once in the Taunus Street 41, where future research for two years. It is only a modest basement in a side street, but it is a highly important address. Because here are the prototypes of the electrified drives by BMW. Therefore, Krüger of believes that you would have to take journalists there was. So we were on the ground and have let explain us what the Munich plan, not only in terms of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but also for autonomous driving.

20 percent electric cars in the year 2025

The electric drive is further high priority at BMW. Although expect Munich for the year 2025 only a share of 20 percent for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, the rest is accounted for by diesel and gasoline. But BMW wants to pass gas in the E drive. 100,000 cars with electric drive have been sold since the launch of the i3 in 2013 (including 60,000 i3, 30,000 plug-in hybrid and 10,000 i8). It wants to sell as many electrified cars in the past three years now in the year 2017. "And you can be sure I'm going to count the individually", says Krüger.

In the future flexible platforms

Since but the BMW glass ball shows still not sure how much will be the electric demand, BMW is on vehicle platforms, where both conventional drives, and electric drive or a plug-in system are possible. To do this, it is necessary to make the components as small as possible. Who is responsible for all of these components is Stefan Juraschek. He shows how this can look: power electronics, electric motor and gearbox are packaged in a common housing. An electrical package weighs about 100 kilograms and is expected to eliminate two is two laid side by side DIN-A4-Blättern. You can grab it on an axis or two. Then a battery electric car is pure and ready.

BMW builds most of the components themselves

It is not that easy of course. One must understand the technology well to mix with in electric cars, BMW believes. Simply Asia E-motors and batteries buy up is not enough, therefore the Munich even have built up expertise and build most of the parts himself, including the electric motors and the batteries. Only the individual battery cells are bought at Samsung, but also because you know in Munich well. "Because 50 men working on it", says Mona. Finally, it is not cell equal to cell. There's what, which can quickly absorb energy and release again. Such power cells are ideal for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles). And there are those, which can store energy very much important for pure electric vehicles (BEVs, battery electric vehicles).

Interchangeable modules

Several cells together result in a module, and only these can be exchanged if one should even break down. The costs then on a few hundred euros, instead of equal to a few thousand, if the whole battery should be replaced. The latter is usually only necessary, when the batteries are too aged the capacity decreases by one percent per year, in addition the aging by the number of up - and discharge cycles. BMW takes back old battery packs and sells them along with charging electronics to a manufacturer of power save for households or businesses.

Don't overdo this fast-loading

There are what is quick loading, according to Mona limits otherwise the battery ages prematurely. At BEVs there should be maximum of 2C, for PHEVs maybe 4 c. Where is C for the capacity of the battery in kilowatt hours, while the i3 with the new battery for example about 30 kilowatt hours. After the 2C-Daumenregel you should charge him with a maximum of 60 kilowatts. Thus the fastest loading option provides a charge rate of 50 kilowatts for the i3. After 40 minutes, then again are 80 percent of capacity available. The charge rate is however not with how much Volt, the electric car internally works, Mona explained. BMW opts for 400 Volt, that is enough. The components are then conveniently.

The plans by 2021

And what's next for the electric vehicles from BMW? BMW boss Krüger calls a few stations: 2017 is a plug-in version of the mini countryman, 2018 of the i8 Roadster. For 2019 launches the mini with pure electric drive in large series, followed a year later by the electric-X 3. Again a year later, so 2021, is the successor of the i3, the BMW called iNext.

Autonomous driving

The iNext is also winner of the second future theme, which represents BMW in Munich "Technology cellar": the autonomous driving. The competent BMW expert Thomas Büttner first explains the different stages of autonomous driving. Level 1 means "Feet off", so feet away. We know this from the Abstandstempomaten, the throttle and brake takes over an old hat. Level 2 is currently State of the art: "Hands off", so hands off. The car takes over also is driving, at least temporarily. The iNext to reach level 3. Also gone so eyes do not fully autonomous driving, but only "eyes off". The driver must assume only the tax it, if it tells him the car. Level 4 is "Mind off", i.e. "Attention away". Only level 5 "Without driver", i.e. without driver and thus is fully autonomous.

The police are different from the pedestrian

The eyes of the (partially) autonomous vehicle are video cameras, laser scanners and radar sensors, the brain is a calculator that fills up on the last cubic centimeter currently still the trunk of a 7. What must afford the computer, Büttner makes clear with a few examples. "It is no longer enough to realize you must recognize also the head rotation pedestrian." These can indicate that the passer-by saw the car. At BMW, there's also a dedicated team, which deals with the recognition of police officers. Finally, it would be fatal if the car simply passes a civil servant, which is the intersection with outstretched arms in the middle. At crosswalks, the car must make a forecast, whether the pedestrian only accidentally there, or whether he will run in the next moment on the road.

Is the computer the better driver?

Still, not all car owners of the need of autonomous driving are convinced. Is not a concentrated person always better than a computer? Büttner counters with two simple statements: firstly, so many people on the road, as will fit in a jumbo jet in the United States die every day. And secondly, driving errors are the cause of 90 percent of the accidents. That is to say: the man is not as good as some believe. The car can do better. It must be able to better it. "We launch not, before we are better than man", so Badboy.

Fatal alternatives

And what does the autonomous car, if it chose, to go together as a pedestrian on the road or driving down a slope? "It takes the energy out of the system," says Badenhorst. In other words: it slows down as well. Because: "it is simply not predictable, what happens when we down rushing the embankment. Maybe running down watching a football game, and the car captures where 40 people."

The future of the automobile is digital

So, how will the future of the car look like? Jens Monsees, BMW responsible for the issue of digitisation explains his vision: you click on the car on the phone that you want to go, for example a X 5 for the trip to the IKEA. There independently of your own home, you get the shelf and then moves the X 5 to the next customer. This solves the problem that in many inner cities, two of four lanes by parking cars are occupied. There will be first own tracks for autonomous vehicles in the city, believes Majeed. There, the traffic will flow better than on the other, where still human driver at the wheel sit. The "congestion zone" of London becomes the autonomous zone.

Ride only on weekends?

And where does the "sheer driving pleasure" in all this? Not even is the creates off BMW with autonomous driving? "Some people say, go to the race track," comes as a response. So far, the BMW researchers would not go but. "But people in cities like Berlin not use their car during the week anyway, experts say, that move the car only weekends." Sometimes one has the impression that the age of the car, as we know it, comes to an end. At least, many classic "petrol head" will need to rethink. (sl)