Two years ago BMW, Daimler and scientists at the Technical University Munich (TUM) announced that they had joined forces to create an everyday, affordable and safe electric car, called the Visio.M. It’s been over two years since we last heard about the Visio.M, but now it’s being unveiled to the public this week for the first time ever.
The small, two-seater Visio.M is incredibly light at around only 900 pounds, which is half the weight of the Smart ForTwo electric car. One the reasons the Visio.M is so light is because the TUM team used lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum for the passenger compartment. Its windows are also made of polycarbonate instead of glass, since polycarbonate weighs only half as much as glass.
“Light weight is essential for an electric vehicle,” says Professor Markus Lienkamp, Chair of the TUM Institute of Automotive Technology, “because more weight requires more battery performance for the same range and thus generates higher costs. More weight also means poorer driving dynamics at the same performance. But we want a car that is affordable and fun to drive.”
Since the Visio.M weighs a lot less than the average electric car, it only needs a 20 horsepower electric motor to get it moving. With a top speed of 75 mph and a driving range of around 99 miles, the Visio.M is the perfect small electric city car. Given its small size, TUM also placed an emphasis on safety. A 360-degree radar and camera-based system monitors the environment around the Visio.M and can identify a possibly collision before it happens. The information is not only used for the driver assistance and warning systems, but also activates built-in occupant protection systems before the actual crash.
TUM has not announced any production plans, but the Visio.M is on display from 21 to 23 October, 2014, at the eCarTec trade show in Munich.