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With BMW set to launch its revolutionary Megacity electric mini car in the next few years, there’s now word that the new sub-brand could include more models – like an electric sports car. In an interview with AutoCar, BMW’s sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson admitted to as much, commenting that the Megacity brand won’t be limited to, “just one format.”
At last year’s Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW unveiled its Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, a plug-in hybrid diesel. This model is intended to show BMW’s focus on emerging green technologies as well as its emphasis on light weight – something the Megacity will also do with its carbon fiber construction.
When the first Megacity car does launch (in 2013) it will wear a BMW badge, but the German automaker is still finalizing the vehicles name and is looking to expand the Megacity lineup with a new environmentally-focused brand-within-a-brand, similar to BMW’s current performance-oriented M sub-brand.
Milestone brings brands total sales volume to 6.8 million units
The MINI brand continues to be a huge success for BMW and just yesterday the sporty small car maker celebrated its 1.5 millionth vehicle. The car is a Chili red Clubman built for the U.K. market.
The milestone comes at an important time for MINI as this year it is celebrating 50 years as an automaker. The 1.5 million new MINI models have all been built at the company’s plant in Oxford since 2001. The new MINI still has a long way to go, however, to catch up with the original, which sold 5.3 million units between 1959 and 2000.
In total MINI has built 6.8 million cars. And when it comes to the new MINI, the standard hard top is the people’s choice, accounting for 1.24 million of the 1.5 million sold.
“This is a great day for the plant and a wonderful milestone to reach in the 50th birthday year of MINI,” said BMW Sales and Marketing boss Ian Robertson. “This is a tough time for the car industry and no business is immune from its challenges, but MINI is an extremely resilient brand with huge customer appeal and we have seen a strengthening order bank in recent months. We will launch a wealth of new models in the coming years and the future is looking extremely bright.”
MINI hasn’t said much officially, but the future product lineup is expected to include a crossover model and possibly a speedster. As a brand, MINI has also expanded its global reach and is now sold in 80 countries.
555 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs of torque
BMW Board Member Ian Robertson stands with BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Nick Heidfeld at the Shanghai Auto Show during the BMW press conference.
We had expected that BMW would premiere its new X5 M alongisde the X6 M at the New York Auto Show and so we were surprised when only the X6 M took the stage in the Big Apple.
BMW apparently decided to get all the publicity it could out of the mostly-similar SUVs, making the choice to save the X5 M for the Shanghai Auto Show. And so yesterday BMW drew back the covers on the 555hp monster.
The X5 M makes all that power through the use of a twin-turbo direct-injection 4.4-liter V8 engine. As for torque, that number is 500 ft-lbs from 1500 to 5650 rpm.
BMW says it has all but eliminated pesky turbo-lag through a new invention it calls CCM (which stands for Cylinder-bank Comprehensive Manifold). This new manifold is a one-piece unit and has been designed with every cylinder working together to minimize “charge cycles.”
The X5 M features BMW’s M Sports Automatic transmission, which BMW claims is much faster than previous unit – although no shift times are available. Gear changes can be made by using the automatic stick shift, the paddle shifters on the steering wheel or automatically in the default setting.
The X5 M model will continue to use BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, making it (and the X6 M) the first AWD M models. Also standard is the Dynamic Performance Control system that first made its debut on the X6. It allows for power to not only be distributed between the front and rear wheels, but between the left and right rear wheels.
As a result of all this power and grip the X5 M can hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
That speedy sprint is achieved in the Power mode (and likely with the Launch Control on), which can be activated by hitting the M button on the steering wheel. The M button can not only activate the “Sport” program for the engine and transmission, but also an “Efficiency” program, allowing for earlier upshifts and improved fuel-economy.
In terms of the look of the SUV, it stays mostly similar up front but features special front fenders and a distinctive rear diffuser with quad tailpipes. A set of 20-inch wheels is also standard with 275/40/20 front tires and massive 315/35/20 rear tires.
As braking is always an important part of every M-car, and this bruiser no doubt weighs triple what some of the original Ms did, the X5 M gets four-piston calipers with 15.6-inch front rotors and 15.2-inch rear rotors.
And as for Launch Control, it’s sure to be used, and abused by many owners. Here’s how it works:
To activate Launch Control, the driver stops the vehicle, moves the gear selector into the M/S position and activates the Sports Power mode, as well as the M Dynamic mode, or respectively, the DSC-Off mode. Then, with the transmission in stage M1, the driver presses down the brake pedal and moves the accelerator to at least 60% throttle, setting Launch Control to standby. Standby status is confirmed by “starter’s flag” symbol in the instrument cluster. As soon as the driver releases the brake pedal, the vehicle will accelerate with full power in “genuine racing style.” In the process, the M Sports Automatic transmission automatically upshifts at the ideal points, with the fastest possible shifts and optimum wheelspin control. The driver may terminate the Launch Control process at any time by reducing the throttle position.
GALLERY: BMW X5 M
More on the BMW X5 M and X6 M after the jump:
As we previously reported, Rolls-Royce did in fact bring it’s EX200 design study to the Geneva Auto Show. The company didn’t have much to say other than what it had already distributed in its press release – which included one of the most basic lists of specifications we’ve seen since the Aston One-77 teaser.
The baby Rolls, code named the RR4, is a four door (duh!) and seats five (double duh!). It is 212.6-inches long, 76.7-inches wide and 61-inches high. The wheelbase is listed as 129.7-inches. The platform for the car is the same used by the new BMW 7 Series.
It sits on a set of typically-dull 20-inch rims with 255/45/20 tires up front an 285/40/20 tires in the rear.
Rolls has confirmed that the luxury saloon will be powered by a new V12 engine, which one can assume with be rather torquey.
One interesting bit of information that did come up during the press conference, however, was that Rolls is working on a thermo-electric generator for future use in the company’s cars. CEO Ian Robertson stated that this new technology (currently in development and not scheduled for any road car for at least five years) would generate energy from the excess heat from the exhaust system and then use that electricity to power certain things on the car. Ideally this would represent a reduction in emissions by roughly five percent.
As for the EX200, it is scheduled to go on sale in 2010 and so we should expect to see a production model in the near future – possibly as early as at Frankfurt in the fall.
GALLERY: Rolls-Royce EX200
More on the Rolls-Royce EX200 after the jump: