BMW may lease, not sell, its Megacity EV
Retails sales may not be enough to recoup high development costs
"We're looking for an alternative to traditional purchase or leasing of a vehicle," sales chief Ian Robertson said. ''We don't want to sell the car, but rather the use of the car," he said. The 'Car to Go' concept "is an interesting approach," Robertson told Automobilwoche, the sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
"More and more people in large cities are looking for an alternative to the ownership of a vehicle," Robertson said. Car-sharing concepts are considered one way to keep these people mobile and avoid the restrictions associated with car ownership.
Daimler AG currently runs the 'Car2Go' scheme in Ulm, Germany, and in Austin, Texas, leasing out Smart cars on a short-term basis.
BMW would find it hard to recoup the high development and production costs of the Megacity Vehicle through sales. The final cost of the vehicle could prove too expensive for buyers. Falling residual values may also prove a problem to sales as the cost of battery capacity dropping over time is difficult to calculate.
BMW is expected to test the short-term leasing concept later this year using the ActiveE model based on the BMW 1 series.
The Megacity Vehicle is the result of BMW's project i, a six-year rethinking of all aspects of the automobile and is the first high-volume car with electric drive and a passenger compartment made of super light carbon fiber.
In its development BMW re-examined vehicle structure, materials, manufacturing and recyclability.
BMW development chief Klaus Draeger said the scope of the project has been challenging. "This is not like a normal car project," he said in an interview last year. "Every day you experience something new.'' Unlike most other small cars, the Megacity Vehicle will not be a unibody vehicle. Its structure will resemble that of a body-on-frame vehicle. BMW describes the design as "two horizontally separated independent modules."The lower half is the "drive" module -- an aluminum chassis that holds the battery, electric drive system and crash structure. A high-strength, lightweight, carbon fiber passenger compartment is attached on top.
The key benefit is weight reduction, a prime consideration in reducing the weight and cost of the battery, while providing sufficient range, Draeger said.
He added that the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic parts will be impregnated with color to remove the need for a paint shop and reduce energy use and emissions.
The car's exact model name is expected to be announced by BMW on Feb. 21.
Guido Reinking contributed to this report
You can reach David Jolley at email@example.com.