Welcome to the future - at least the way BMW sees it. This is the VisionED, shorthand for Vision EfficientDynamics, a hand-built diesel-electric plug-in the luxury German carmaker says represents a $2 billion investment in the future of personal mobility.
It is the only one of its kind on the planet and on show at the Auckland Museum this weekend. BMW flew it in from the Melbourne motor show and will fly it back to Germany after the weekend.
"The VisionED is a significant indicator as to what motorists can expect from BMW in years to come," said BMW Group NZ managing director, Mark Gilbert.
VisionED was built in 2008-09 largely from carbon-fibre and is the basis for the carmaker's next-generation supercar, the i8, due for launch in 2013 and expected to cost upwards of $350,000.
BMW has said that the i8 would remain "99 per cent" faithful to the VisionED concept.
"The glass doors and things like that will remain - 99 per cent of it will remain," BMW told reporters at the Melbourne show.
VisionED is a plug-in hybrid powered by a combination of three-cylinder diesel engine with hybrid drive and an electric motor on the front axle, delivering overall power of 241kW and a whopping 800Nm of torque.
BMW claims the concept can sprint to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds yet record town-and-around fuel consumption of 3.76 litres/100km (75mpg), thanks to its 1395kg weight and drag coefficient of 0.22.
The car's CO2 exhaust emissions rating is 99 grams a kilometre.
It has a claimed fuel range of 700km under diesel-electric power but is able to travel 50km on its 364-volt lithium-polymer battery pack alone.
A full charge takes 2 hours; a fast charge 44 minutes.
The company's Australian marketing manager Tom Noble told reporters that carmakers and repairers have to prepare for a future in which carbon-fibre, electric and hybrid drivetrains will become a growing trend.
He said new smash repair centres would have to be created, specialising in the replacement or repair of high-tech vehicle chassis and body parts.
"You have to train the technicians because otherwise you can imagine people getting themselves killed if they don't really know what they're doing," he said. "There is a lot of aftersales work to go into."
Noble said one of the reasons carbon-fibre construction was a cost-effective proposition for electrified vehicles was that the weight savings lead to fewer expensive batteries being required to provide sufficient propulsion.
"Because batteries are so heavy and so costly we save more money by making a lighter car."