BMW Green Machines WEC

BMW to bring hydrogen-power to Le Mans?


BMW is reportedly considering a return to Le Mans. And it won’t be conventional if they do, with word that BMW plans to power its car with hydrogen fuel cells.

It’s believed the project has moved someway down the internal approval chain inside BMW, with an entry into the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans the most likely.

If BMW does sign-off on a return to Le Mans they may consider applying for a Garage 56 entry, which is non-competitive and affords marketing and research opportunities. The recent Nissan DeltaWing and ZEOD racecars were Garage 56 entries.

A full LMP1 program appears unlikely at this stage after Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport boss, told Autosport, “LMP1 is, at the moment, the big hybrid thing, and in there we wouldn’t be the leader.

“We wouldn’t even be the fast follower, we would be a slow follower now, as the fifth [after Audi, Toyota, Porsche and Nissan] manufacturer joining in.”

BMW has a single Le Mans victory when the V12 LMR, built in partnership with Williams F1, won the 1999 race. We’ve added a few extra pics of the V12 LMR for you after the break.

[Source: Autocar]

BMW Green Machines Video

VIDEO: BMW 1602e

1972 BMW 1602e

Today it’s the i Series range that is forging the way with electric power for BMW. The i3 and i8 look futuristic and modern. Even better they’re pretty good cars to drive as well, by all accounts.

However, it’s this beautiful 1602e that was BMW’s first attempt at an all-electric powered vehicle. Only two were made and they saw active service during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This short video is a great intro to the car. And that ’02 body shape is just so gorgeous to look at.

Wouldn’t it be seriously cool if you could drive the streets in this 197os beauty with an i3 drivetrain!

BMW Green Machines

BMW i3 wins 2014 Wheels COTY

BMW i3

The BMW i3 has been named the 2014 Wheels Car of the Year. This, we think, is a pretty cool thing.

Yes, it’s expensive for a city runabout. Yes, that makes it out of reach of most people. But, the i3 represents a step forward. It’s not just that it’s not a Prius, but that electric powered cars are still maturing and the technology developed for products like the i3 will benefit all of us as the years go by.

Glenn Butler, Wheels Editor, called the i3 “courageous and convincing,” before adding: “Other brands surely possess the know-how to have created something equally visionary. BMW had the bravery.

“This innovative and compact electric car combines expressive design, impressive engineering, exceptional efficiency and persuasive practicality with a good deal of driver appeal.”

The BMW i3 is the first electric car to win the Wheels COTY and the first BMW to claim the honour.

Also in the top five finalists were the Mazda 2, the Mercedes-Benz C Class, the Peugeot 308 and fellow electric car the Tesla Model S.

Green Machines Porsche Video

Porsche 918 drives Manhattan, doesn’t catch fire

Porsche 918 Spyder

Let’s state right off the bat that this clip from Drive, with Mike Spinelli as host, isn’t going to be the most exciting video featuring the Porsche 918 Spyder you will ever see. But at least the hyper hybrid doesn’t catch fire.

Spinelli puts Porsche’s claim that the 918 can do 12 miles (around 20km) in all-electric mode to the test, by driving from the top of Manhattan to the bottom.

[Thanks to John for the tip]

BMW Green Machines Motor Shows Video

BMW i8 tackles Goodwood FoS hillclimb

BMW i8

Now that the BMW i8 is on sale in Australia this video from the car’s first “dynamic” UK appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed takes on new meaning.

So what is this three-cylinder jobbie with electric sparkles really like? Watch this video to find out. It won’t give you a definitive answer, but it’s still worth watching, even if just to see the impressive line up of supercars the i8 followed up the hill.

BMW Green Machines

BMW i8 touring Australia

BMW i8 in Canberra

A couple of weeks ago BMW Australia announced pricing for the very cool looking and very green i8 hybrid sportscar. It’s three hundred grand if you’re wondering. To promote the Australian sales launch the BMWi “supercar” is touring across the six dealerships in six states who have been nominated as official selling dealers.

Luckily for us here at AUSmotive Rolfe Classic BMW in Canberra made the cut. We received an email last week inviting us along to inspect the car later this week. However, a scheduling bonus meant the Canberra dealer could get the car last Friday and it has been on display since. Word filtered our way quickly, Canberra is a small town after all, and we went along last Saturday for a sticky beak.

The i8 was officially unveiled in Frankfurt late last year and the likes of Chris Harris have described it as “mighty, mighty achievement”.

It’s a plug-in hybrid which sends 170kW/320Nm to the rear wheels, thanks to a fearsome 1.5 litre three cylinder petrol turbo, while the front axle is powered by a 96kW/250Nm electric motor. The total combined output of the i8 is 266kW/570Nm, enough to get the car to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds.

Play nicely and you can almost drive to the moon and back, such is the frugal nature of its fuel consumption (2.1l/100km according to the spec sheet beside the car).

Of course, it’s the flowing lines and dramatic nature of the i8 which hold as much appeal to any petrolhead (or should that be volthead now) as the car’s technical specifications. There’s cleverly crafted nooks and crannies wherever you look and the aesthetic results are plain to see.

The drama only increases when the winged doors open and invite you into the cabin. There’s raw carbon fibre reinforced plastic hinting at the car’s lightweight underbelly before a typically teutonic interior greets you with a few more flashes of personality than you usually see inside a BMW these days.

Although, it’s a shame in a way that much of the car’s futuristic styling is lost with the black Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect paintwork. That said, the i8 is a beautiful object to admire and we only hope it does good things for BMW on the sales front so that Munich’s bold foray into hybrid sportscars is both encouraged and sustainable.

The i8 is in Canberra until next Tuesday (8 July) and will also visit Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth (it may have visited some or all of those locations already, check with the dealer list below to confirm).

We reckon you should make the effort to check out the i8. For one thing it looks fantastic, but, as a means of providing a long-term solution for the sportcar genre, it’s probably a lot more important than we realise right now.

BMW Green Machines Video

“This is a mighty, mighty achievement this car”

Chris Harris drives the BMW i8

With LaFerrari reviews hitting the internet on the same day as this BMW i8 review Chris Harris himself described it as, “Like selling ice-cream in the Antarctic.”

However, this video is Harris in some of his best form. And there’s not one single power slide! He did try, he says.

What makes this review so good is his ability to describe the car in a way that almost makes you feel like you’re there with him. Nothing can replace the seat of the pants feel for yourself, of course, but Harris does a pretty good job.

The BMW i8 is powered by a 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor. It weighs almost 1500kg, yet can still reach 100km/h in less than five seconds. And, according to Harris, it can easily dust a WRX on twisty roads. It looks like the future and sounds a bit like a 911, apparently.

It’s not perfect, yet, but what car is?

Green Machines Porsche

Porsche Museum goes back to the future with “P1”

1898 Porsche P1

It only seems like yesterday Porsche opened its dedicated museum in Stuttgart and yet it’s about to celebrate its fifth anniversary.

With the current 918 hybrid serving as the current Porsche hero model, a piece of automotive serendipity has served to provide the perfect exhibit for the museum’s celebrations, in the form of a once lost 116-year-old creation called the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model.

Known as P1 for short—Porsche number 1—it is the first automotive creation of Ferdinand Porsche and dates back to June 1898. The car was one of the first registered in Austria and had its first real test in September 1899 when it was entered in a 40km race for electric vehicles held in Berlin.

It’s no surprise to learn that Ferdinand Porsche, at the wheel of his creation, won the race with a handsome 18 minute cushion back to second place.

The car was recently found in an unrestored condition and returned to Porsche. How the whereabouts of the P1 became unknown is a mystery, it would appear, but all that matters is the P1 is about to take place in its rightful home.

The P1 will be presented at a special invite-only event tomorrow night before being on show for the public this weekend as the Porsche Museum birthday celebrations commence.

You can learn more about the P1 after the break.

BMW Green Machines Safety Issues

Stars fail to align for BMW i3

BMW i3 Euro NCAP crash test

As an all-electric city car the BMW i3 is going to have to deal with its fair share of naysayers and detractors. So word from Euro NCAP saying the i3 failed to achieve a maximum five-star safety rating will come as a blow.

Ever since the Renault Laguna was the first car to score a five-star rating for occupant protection in 2001 such results have become rich marketing fodder for car makers. BMW would have loved to follow Renault’s lead, but these days four stars doesn’t cut the mustard.

According to the Euro NCAP results the i3 rated quite well for occupant protection, scoring 86% and 81% for adult and child protection respectively. Where the electric city car was let down was in pedestrian and safety assist ratings, achieving scores of only 57% and 55%.

In contrast, other cars tested in the “Small family” segment, the Mazda3 and Peugeot 308 both recorded five-star results.

[Source: Euro NCAP]

BMW Green Machines

BMW i3 touring Australia

BMW i3

Early last month BMW Australia took delivery of a pre-production all-electric i3 city car. It’s been touring the country since and was in Canberra this week so I went along to take a look. Unfortunately there was no opportunity to drive the car, or be taken for a drive, so I had to make do with poking and prodding BMW’s first e-car.

The first thing you notice is that the i3 is much bigger than you might expect it to be. This is obvious when you’re alongside it, but also clear when parked in a showroom next to a 4 Series Coupe and an X6, with 3 Series models close by as well.

The i3 is quite tall, thanks mostly to its batteries sitting beneath the cabin floor. This also means the seating position is quite high and you need to step into the cabin with more thought than you would when climbing into a 1 Series or 3 Series, for example.

Inside the i3 you’re greeted at first by a light and pleasant cabin. There’s an immediate premium feel and the timber paneling actually works quite well. On closer inspection, though, there’s quite a lot of sub-premium plastic and felted paneling used (mostly around the doors and behind the dash). From a purely visual point of view these materials don’t stand out, but looking at the scuff marks on the driver’s door sill it doesn’t look as though they will wear well over long-term ownership.

Outside, the i3 does well to look like a BMW, while at the same time looking like nothing else in the model range. There’s a few oddities, like suicide rear doors and the boot is quite small. It is a city runabout, after all. The tyres are sure to be expensive to replace; I can’t imagine 175/60/19s to be very popular at your local tyre outlet.

We’re still around 12 months away from seeing the i3 offered for sale in Australia and you’ll need to be prepared for a price range that won’t be scared of giving $70K a nudge; or beyond if you’re keen with the options.

All in all, though, it’s great to see a company like BMW bringing all-electric vehicles to the premium segment. In real terms such models are still some way from making a significant market impact, but you have to start somewhere and on this inspection the i3 looks to be a pretty good starting point.

Green Machines Renault

Driving a Renault Twizy is very serious business

Mark Webber at the wheel of a Renault Twizy

Mark Webber and Caterham driver Charles Pic were given a Renault Twizy each and told to terrorise Dubai. This video is the result.

Renault says driving the 100% electric Twizy city car is 100% fun, but looking at Mark Webber’s face it looks to us like it’s very serious business.

BMW Green Machines

BMW i8 unofficial preview

BMW i8

Harry Metcalfe from Evo gives us a very interesting look at the innovative BMW i8 hybrid sportscar with this early drive. Who knew a three cylinder turbo would sound so good inside the cabin!

[Thanks to Tiaan for the tip]