Here’s what Current EV knows about the BMW Vision M Next, being created and developed by its BMW Motorsport partner:
M stands for the well-known “Motorsport” subsidiary of BMW Group that manufactures high-performance cars. It was initially created to facilitate BMW’s racing program, which became very successful in the ‘60s and ‘70s. As time passed, M began to supplement BMW's vehicles with higher trim models using modified engines, transmissions, suspensions, interior trims, aerodynamics, and exterior modifications to set them apart from their counterparts. The M-badged cars are tested and tuned at BMW's private Nürburgring racing circuit facility in Germany. At present, M has offered modified versions of nearly every BMW nameplate, except for the Z1, 7 Series flagship luxury sedan and the X1 compact crossover SUVs.
By John Coulter, Current EV CMO
Anticipating a 30% year over year increase in EV sales, Bayerische Motoren Werke is investing billions in developing new electric vehicle models. They’re hoping to offer 25 different electrified models by 2023, two years earlier than planned. Electrified doesn’t always mean emissions free. BMW will release 12 plug-in hybrids with 13 pure electrics. These 25 vehicles will include the electric Mini and Rolls-Royce Phantom. Some of its electrified models will include: the iX3, iNext, i4, iX1, 2 Series Active Tourer, i7 and i5.
BMW says its Mini Electric will come out by the end of 2019. The BMW iX3, an all-electric SUV, is due to go on sale in 2020. The BMW i4, an all-electric sedan, and the BMW iNEXT, an all-electric crossover, will go on sale in 2021.
Separately from BMW, but with help from the parent company in many forms, the M subsidiary has been developing a plug-in hybrid high performance car of its own making. Considered a replacement for the i8, it was called the i12 for a while, but it’s been rebranded as the BMW Vision M Next.
BMW hasn’t announced when the Vision M Next will be coming to market. In the meantime, they’re posting lots of pictures on the internet to promote interest and have designed a special website offering 4 ways to get to know the BMW Vision M Next: https://www.bmw.com/en/innovation/bmw-vision-m-next.html
Following in the i8’s footsteps, the car is a plug-in hybrid that uses a gas/electric powertrain. Why BMW didn’t make it a fully electric car is a mystery to many in the automotive industry. The i8 has a 3-cylinder engine combined with an e-motor that creates 369 total horsepower and can drive 18 to 21 pure electric miles. The M Next will offer a combined output of 600hp and drive 62 pure electric miles. BMW obviously considers its first M iteration a stepping stone to full electrification. Not every e-Mobility car needs to be a pure electric. But this particular model has all the right ingredients to compete with the upcoming Tesla Roadster and reimagined Model S; it cries out for a pure electric identity. Perhaps the next M Next version will get one.
Quoting writer George Kacher of automobilemag.com: “The restyled but otherwise evolutionary mid-engined coupe remains loyal to the plug-in-hybrid layout, albeit with a stronger, 340-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a beefed up 150-kW (201-hp) electric motor. The suspension will be thoroughly revised for sportier handling. Ling-term, this flagship (or something like it) will almost certainly go fully electric. Those in the know claim that the M division is handling the project, with the ultimate result being a striking, low-drag AWD two-seater with a brawny 500-kW (671-hp) propulsion system and a 135-kWh battery pack that won’t contain any rare-earth metals.”
From front to back, the Vision M Next’s angular surfaces, forward-surging elements and Thrilling Orange accent colors catch the eye and won’t let go. The protruding kidney-shaped grille is flanked by two enormous intakes and small, slit headlights, which incorporate Laser Wire lighting technology for the first time on a BMW. Glass fibers coated with phosphorous cover the air blade intakes which sweep backwards creating a strong racing aesthetic.
From its side, the e-Mobility car’s wedge shape starts low and slants backwards and upwards. The car’s race-sharp lines are transected on its rear flank by an Orange color separator, which extends into the the rear wheel spokes for additional emphasis. Black sides skirts made of recycled carbon emphasize the car’s low-slung bottom, adding to its elongated appearance. An airflow vent in front of the rear wheels is carefully positioned to channel towards the car’s rear to improve aerodynamic performance.
The same Laser Wire technology used on the front lights is duplicated on the back lights, which BMW says are “fashioned to look like an abstract ECG trace of a heartbeat.” An apropos reminder that anyone driving this special vehicle will feel their ticker kick into fast gear.
Two gull wings open to reveal an interior finished in a dark shade of Midnight Blue. The dashboard has a minimalist design and incorporates BMW Vision M Next intelligent technologies that support the driver and display the right content at the right time. Says BMW: “The BMW Vision M NEXT shows the way ahead for BMW’s famed driver focus. In keeping with the motto “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” the cabin’s geometry and technology have been devised to help focus attention on the task of driving and prevent distractions. So that the driver’s concentration isn’t disturbed – and even increases at high speeds – the displayed information is adapted to the current speed, based on the principles of focus logic: as the vehicle speeds up, the information centers increasingly on driving-related data and progressively shifts up to the Head-Up Display so that it appears directly in the driver’s field of view.”
The car uses fingerprint and face detection sensors to recognize its driver, unlock the doors and start the drivetrain. Touching a BMW logo on the steering column automatically moves the seat into the position previously saved by the driver and activates the car for driving.
BMW’s extensive tease campaign reveals where the company wants to go with autonomous driving. The Vision M Next is a first step. Rather than embracing the latest automotive trend towards massive infotainment screens stretching across the front of the car, the M Next offers a more Spartan solution. Attached to the steering wheel, a curved glass display resembling a giant pair of sunglasses displays everything the driver needs to know. BMW explains the point is to have all info fall within the driver’s sight, so that eyesight isn’t distracted with display overload. Additional driving info is offered on a full-surface AR Heads-Up Display shown on the windscreen (windshield). Though BMW hasn’t said so, M’s less info approach signals a stepping stone to full autonomous driving. Whether consumers will be OK with this remains to be seen.
All aspects of the e-car, from its physical presence to its new driving experience are uniquely different and more advanced than anything prior. It’s BMW’s vision of where the Electric Vehicle Evolution/Revolution is headed – to a place far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.
No MSRP has been quoted yet, and as previously mentioned, no arrival date has been scheduled. Stay tuned.