According to a consortium of European automotive industry engineers, government officials and academics, the current crop of electric vehicles (EVs) now on the market could be better — a lot better. This generation of electric cars, they say, are either too heavy, too expensive or do not meet mass-market safety requirements. To respond to these objections, they’ve formed a working ground called Visio M to help make future EVs better in every way — cheaper, lighter and safer.
Initially envisioned by Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), the group is now headed by BMW and also includes the likes of Daimler, Intermap Technologies, Continental Automotive, Siemens and Texas Instruments Germany. With help from a $14.1 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the group has already produced a prototype model called the Visio.M MUTE — a tiny, city-oriented microcar.
Initially developed by TUM, the new EV prototype will serve as something of a guinea pig, playing host to the technology, equipment and innovations developed for the project. The group specifically wants to target areas such as crash safety, energy storage, propulsion and logistical requirements for large scale production. There’s another catch: They also want their future EV to have a curb weight below 882 pounds before the battery is added and a power output of at least 15 kW and 20 horsepower. That’s an extremely light vehicle (about 55 percent of the weight of a Smart ForTwo) and with the addition of an efficient battery, it will be interesting to see what sort of performance and range numbers engineers will be able to produce.
Obviously, the final iteration of this concept is a long way off and industry experts expect that the car’s final design will be significantly different both inside and out.