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BMW Megacity Vehicle (MCV)

Thu, 05 Aug 2010

BMW's Project i – an internal codename for a possible sub-brand dedicated to green urban driving – has been in the works for some time. The Vision EfficientDynamics concept, unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Show, showcased some of the lightweight technological advances and design thinking behind the forthcoming zero-emission cars.

Recently the firm held a Project i event, where it released teaser sketches of the first vehicle to result from the project, the Megacity Vehicle (MCV) – a four-seater electric car with a rear-mounted engine and rear wheel drive. It also showcased the lightweight carbonfiber-reinforced plastics the company intends to utilize in the form of the central crash structure – as this will be the marque's first volume production car to feature the materials extensively in the structure and body panels.

CDN caught up with Design Director Adrian Van Hooydonk at the event, to get a view on the project's progress:

Car Design News: What is your design strategy with the upcoming MCV?

Adrian Van Hooydonk: You have to mix exciting with clean. Therefore the car will be attractive but not controversial and it will need to express cleanliness combined with premium and efficient dynamics. Some of the design quality and detailing will be traced back to BMW cars but as a sub-brand we can dial in some new elements. We want to give our customers a small island of wellbeing, an island of silence, for their mobility.

CDN: You say the car has been designed for the growing number of mega cities. How did you address this through design?

AVH: We did intensive international market and trend research, which showed us exactly what the target group needs and what added values the car must have in terms of size, load capacity, drive concept, sustainability as well as interior design and user interface. We discovered that customers didn't want a micro car, but instead attached importance to having four seats. Of course the car should also show its new attributes through the design, including being lightweight, safe and the driving fun that you can have with an electrically powered car.

CDN: How much does designing a zero-emission car challenge your creativity?

AVH: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a designer. It is a great challenge for us because we are creating the whole DNA of a sub-brand that goes far beyond creating one car. We have established a complete new design team headed by Benoît Jacob in order to develop this new DNA. The complete new package due to the electric powertrain and also the use of new materials like carbon gives designers much more creative freedom – the freedom to give the customers of the future totally new features and impressions. And of course, the know-how of this project, the new ideas that we have, will also have an impact on the core BMW brand.

CDN: Are you planning an entire range for this sub-brand?

AVH: At the moment we are focusing on the MCV, although it would be relatively straightforward to create derivatives based on its architecture. So in theory, we have the possibility of producing several models.

Related Articles:
Adrian van Hooydonk named Director of BMW Group Design
Interview: Adrian van Hooydonk, Director Design, BMW Cars

By Nargess Shahmanesh Banks