Tesla's Plaid has three motors, but BMW M will have four, meaning it can do some crazy stuff!
BMW M's Franciscus van Meel recently expressed interest in creating all-electric M cars. That may sound like heresy to the average BMW fan, but the CEO has promised future high-performance BMWs will always feel like true M cars. "They will be groundbreaking."
He's clearly speaking from experience, as BMW M has announced it's already testing "hardware and software solutions" for upcoming electric performance cars. Seen below is an unnamed concept test vehicle clearly based on the BMW i4 with M4 cues, which serves as the foundation for exciting developments. Engineers are using this experimental vehicle to study a four-wheel drive system with four electric motors and an integrated driving dynamics control system. This provides "an unprecedented level of performance," says BMW.
It also features an adapted body strut from the standard coupe, providing high levels of torsional rigidity during particularly spirited stints of driving, but blends other elements of its construction with those of the i4 M50.
In the blurry teaser image provided, it's clear to see the bodywork has been tampered with somewhat. BMW M notes the wheel arches have been widened to allow for the newly-designed, high-performance front and rear axles. The big news here is the electric M xDrive system with quad-electric motors.
As you'd expect, each wheel is powered by its own motor, which BMW says opens up new possibilities in terms of performance. One such possibility was demonstrated by the brand in the video below, where the prototype lights up its tires in a four-wheel burnout before doing a donut on the spot. Sure, it looks like it's CGI, but we don't think BMW would showcase this if it weren't actually possible.
With this setup, torque is not only distributed between the wheels faster but with more precision too. BMW notes the power and torque gleaned from the electric motors can be fed so meticulously that the "load demand signaled via the accelerator pedal can be realized at a level of dynamics that is unattainable using conventional drive systems."
All four motors are linked to the aforementioned control unit, which constantly monitors the driving conditions.
Within milliseconds of prodding the go-faster pedal, the electric M car knows exactly how much power to send to the wheels but also considers steering angle, wheel speeds, and pedal position.
In the electric era, the howl of an M-powered straight-six may disappear, but the performance subsidiary is ensuring the unmistakable driving feel remains. The i4 M50 and models such as the iX M60 and the upcoming i7 M70 show great promise for what's to come. This development work is crucial to the enjoyment of future models, notes the manufacturer.
BMW says driver engagement should be enhanced by the clever new system. BMW M's head of development, Dirk Hacker, remarked that "electrification opens up completely new degrees of freedom for us to create M-typical dynamics ... we can already see that we can exploit this potential to the maximum so that our high-performance sports cars will continue to offer the M-typical and incomparable combination of dynamics, agility, and precision in the locally emission-free future."
Moreover, the four motors can act like a generator and allow them to recuperate braking energy. This may come as a shock to BMW M fans but, truth be told, the switch to electricity was inevitable. As the brand celebrates its 50th anniversary, van Meel notes now is the perfect time to look to the future.
"On our anniversary, we are not only looking back but, above all, also looking forward." The company has already begun assessing the benefits of electric assistance and is preparing to launch the controversial XM SUV, a bespoke M car with a hybrid V8 engine. Elsewhere, the company's newly launched M Hybrid V8 racecar will also employ electric trickery on various circuits in 2023.
On the BMW M front, we have plenty to look forward to, even if it will be uncharacteristically silent. Until then, we can revel in the joy-filled lineup and future products such as the new BMW M2 and all-new 3.0 CSL Homage.