Adrian van Hooydonk on BMW Megacity Vehicle

‘The Megacity Vehicle will be attractive but not controversial, and it will need to express cleanliness combined with premium and efficient, efficient dynamics,’ says Adrian Van Hooydonk.

The BMW design director is referring to the first product to be released – albeit only two teaser sketches – from Project-I, an internal research unit which has been studying the best possible mode of personal transport for urban driving for some time. The Mini E was part of this as was the 2008 Vision EfficientDynamics concept that hinted at some of the lightweight technological advances and design thinking behind these zero-emission cars. The truth is the world is moving towards mass urbanisation with a recent UN report suggesting that by 2050 over 70% of the world’s population will be urban dwellers – and companies like BMW know they need to address this in order to survive.

BMW Megacity Vehicle first sketch

The two and four door versions shown in the renditions say little about what we should expect from the MCV when production begins in 2013. All we know is that it will be a rear-wheel four-seater electric car that will be priced at a premium. It will also be BMW’s first volume production car to use lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) extensively in the structure and body panels.

Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP

The MCV has been designed specifically for mega cities. The Project-I team, therefore, carried out extensive international market and trend research to discover exactly what this target group needs in terms of size, loading capacity, drive concept, sustainability as well as interior design and user interface. Interestingly enough, they discovered that customers didn’t want a micro car, that they attached importance to having four seats.

Van Hooydonk notes that his main task with this car was to mix exciting with clean. He admits that even though some of the design quality and detailing will be traced back to BMW cars, as a sub-brand he can introduce new elements, most crucially figure out an appropriate design DNA for the zero-emission brand.

BMW design director Adrian Van Hooydonk presenting Project-I

In-house designer Benoît Jacob will head the new design team for the sub-brand. BMW refuses to reveal any information on future models but Van Hooydonk admits it would be relatively straightforward to create derivatives based on its architecture.

‘The complete new package due to the electric powertrain and also the use of new materials like carbon fibre gives us designers much more freedom for our creativity – the freedom to give the customers of the future totally new features and impressions,’ enthuses Van Hooydonk, adding: ‘And of course, the know-how of this project, the new ideas that we have, will also have an impact on the core brand BMW.’

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read more in my report published in Wallpaper* and read our full interview with Adrian Van Hooydonk in Car Design News.

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