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BMW innovations: Everything on the 3 Series

Christian Schulte
BMW innovations
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W what would you do if you were BMW boss? You have a successful design language, you are technically at eye level everywhere, and your sales people keep telling you: 'Don't change anything, we sell great.' Would you really keep surfing the wave? Your head spontaneously says yes, you want to play it safe On the other hand, you know that every wave hits the beach once. And before that happens you have to ride the next wave again. The problem? With model cycles of around six years, it is difficult to estimate when the wave will roll.

At BMW, they believe the current wave of success will last a few more years, because at new 5 series , which will be launched on the market at the beginning of 2017, there is no noticeable change in design. But don't worry: The A turning point, it will come with the next 3.

OLED technology enables new luminaire design

The g It starts with the design. From the outside, the genes of the 3 Series are still clearly recognizable, but the larger, downwardly drawn three-dimensional kidney clearly changes the face of the car. There are also new slotted headlights with a combination of OLED technology and laser light.

OLED? These are organic light-emitting diodes with which, in contrast to classic LEDs, large areas can be homogeneously illuminated. These thin-film elements, which are also used in modern screens, are not only flat, but also flexible. They enable completely new lighting designs. BMW combines them with the laser high beam used in the 7 Series.

Curved display for the first time

Unlike Mercedes in the E -Class BMW is also relying on an optionally available large display for the next 3 Series. It will be bent towards the driver for the first time. Also subject to a surcharge: a digital instrument cluster. How to imagine all that, BMW showed with the Study i Vision Future at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. 'There's a lot of the next 3 Series in there,' reveals a BMW insider. But the end of the head-up display is not in sight:It will still take a generation of vehicles before information is displayed on the entire windscreen. The basic 3 series gets analog instruments and a small touchscreen in the middle.

Operation? BMW is continuing on the path taken with the 7 Series. The number of fixed buttons is reduced, voice and gesture control expanded. Don't worry, dear BMW fans, if you don't want to wiggle around or chat in the car, you can still use the iDrive system, the well-known rotary push button.

While the cockpit design is becoming revolutionary, changes practically nothing in the external dimensions. 'The 3 Series has the perfect format,' says BMW. However, the wheelbase will increase a bit and the car is losing around 80 kilos. This should help improve the handling of the 3 Series again.

More options

In future, BMW 3 Series owners will be able to influence the design of their car more than ever before during the configuration In addition to the somewhat more comfortable standard seat and a sports seat, a comfort armchair will be added in the future. The spread of the adaptive chassis will also be significantly greater. Objective: more comfort on long motorway journeys, more agility for driving fun in fast bends. In contrast, nothing fundamental changes in the engine range of the 3 Series . Although the six-cylinder engines in particular will be thoroughly revised by then, the output levels will remain the same except for a few kW. BMW is also sticking to the eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF 18 a six-speed manual switch.

With the top model M3, BMW will not take part in the horsepower arms race and will remain well below 500 hp. Instead, BMW M GmbH relies on lightweight construction and an electric boost function. The next M3 will get more parts made of carbon and magnesium and an electric motor between the engine and the transmission, which provides extra power in special driving situations.

For such functions it needs the 48-volt electrical system, which should be kept at the latest with the model update in 2021 with the 3 series. It enables the intermediate storage of energy. This allows the 3 Series to park autonomously and electrically and save fuel.

The i5 will be a crossover

And what happens next with the i models? The i8 is also getting a new expansion stage like the i3. The term 'facelift' does not fit in this context, because it is less about the appearance than the improvement of the electric drive. The i3 changes from 64 ampere hours to 93 and should increase its range to over 200 km in everyday life (currently around 120 km).

Discussions are still going on about the i5, a more spacious e-car. Up until mid-2015, the idea of ​​a coupé-like four-door sedan was very popular with the board. That changed. In December In 2015, BMW boss Harald Krüger and his colleagues on the Board of Management examined three designs.One went in the direction of a 3 Series GT, it was quickly discarded. Since that date, the top candidate has been an attractive crossover model into which the battery technology can be better integrated. Market launch currently targeted: early 2021.

The Urban Cross are coming, a four-meter-long city SUV based on the front-wheel drive platform. The design has been approved and it should go on sale at the end of 2017. The naming causes problems because the terms 'Urban' and 'Cross' have been protected by other companies in some markets around the world. 'X2' is still available, but does not work because the car is smaller than the X1.

The successor to the Z4 is coming in 2017

In the same year, sales of the jointly with Toyota will start developed Z4 successor. The Japanese bring a closed sports car, BMW a roadster with a soft top. The axles of the current M3 are supposed to provide improved driving dynamics and a further reduction in weight.

The four-door 2 Series is also a done deal But rear-wheel drive for this car is off the table. 'It shouldn't be a cheap 3-series opponent,' says BMW. So that the experience is still top-notch, there is discussion about only offering it with all-wheel drive.

BMW's niche policy remains smart and efficient, but the music plays in the high-volume segments. In other words: The new 3 Series has to arrive, the rest is just the freestyle.

Technology - BMW is working on the Internet of Things

BMW has always been a trendsetter in operation. In future, the driver will point to menus that are displayed via tiles and confirm the selection using the touchpad on the steering wheel. The topic of “Internet of Things” is also being promoted: The next evolutionary stage of Connected Drive includes the “Open Mobility Cloud”, which connects the house and car. For example, the mirror in the dressing room at home could report via Real Time Traffic Information that there is a traffic jam on the route previously entered in the navigation system. The planned route is displayed with the traffic obstructions. The other way around, shutters or the stove can be checked from the car.

Conclusion - finally brave again!

BMW is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a ceremony on March 7, 2016. Recently, however, the trade fair appearances and vehicle presentations often felt as if something familiar was being sold as new. With the next 3 Series, BMW is once again driving noticeably innovative ways into the Future. And that is important: The brand has often set standards in the automotive industry. That is what made it so strong and attractive. Attention: Try to operate and connectivity en other manufacturers like Audi to overtake BMW. And the i5 comes after the electric cars from Audi and Porsche.

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