11/13/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

BMW Prototype Plugs into Lightweight, Aerodynamic Fuel Efficiency

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BMW AG is testing a new plug-in hybrid research vehicle that could provide the basis for future models marketed under the company's fuel-efficient "i" sub-brand, Autocarreports.

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BMW AG is testing a new plug-in hybrid research vehicle that could provide the basis for future models marketed under the company's fuel-efficient "i" sub-brand, Autocarreports. The British enthusiast magazine says BMW recently submitted patent applications and photos of the vehicle in China.

The compact research vehicle is powered by a front-mounted turbocharged 1.0-liter 2-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor and advanced battery, according to the report. It says the battery features a new chemistry with greater energy density that enables a longer driving range and faster charging.

The car's lightweight construction is said to make extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, allowing the vehicle to tip the scales at just over 2,500 lbs, an unnamed BMW source tells Autocar. This would make it nearly 300 lbs lighter BMW's current i3 plug-in hybrid.

The source likens the four-seater to Volkswagen AG's limited-edition XL1 diesel-hybrid car. The BMW research car is heavier than that vehicle but is more aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.18 the XL1 has a 0.19 cd and has three times as much trunk capacity, according to Autocar. The Bimmer's aerodynamics benefit from replacing exterior rearview mirrors with rear cameras that stream video images onto the interior rearview mirror.