In a groundbreaking announcement, BMW’s development chief, Frank Weber, has unveiled plans for the next generation of the iconic M3 sedan – it’s going electric! This bold move represents BMW’s commitment to the electric vehicle (EV) revolution and will see the legendary M3 joining the ranks of emission-free vehicles. The electric M3, often referred to as the M3 EV, will be a pivotal addition to BMW’s EV lineup and is expected to hit the market as early as 2027. This decision aligns with BMW’s overarching strategy, emphasizing sustainability, performance, and innovation.
The Foundation: BMW’s Neue Klasse Platform
At the core of this electrifying transformation lies BMW’s innovative Neue Klasse platform. This groundbreaking platform will provide the foundation for the M3 EV, leveraging cutting-edge technology to create a high-performance electric sedan. The decision to build the M3 EV on this platform underscores BMW’s commitment to ensuring that the transition to electric power is not merely an adaptation but a complete reimagining of their iconic M3.
“The Heart of Joy”: Revolutionizing Electric Control Units
One of the most exciting developments accompanying the M3 EV is the introduction of the “heart of joy,” referring to a groundbreaking Electronic Control Unit (ECU) package. This advanced ECU is designed to manage four independently operating electric motors, capable of delivering a staggering one megawatt of power, equivalent to 1,341 horsepower. This level of power will redefine what is possible in electric vehicles, propelling the M3 EV into the realm of supercar performance.
Frank Weber, BMW’s development chief, emphasizes the significance of this ECU, noting, “This ECU control unit was designed for four independently operating electric motors up to one megawatt and therefore yes, it needs a lighthouse project.” The integration of this ECU marks a pivotal moment in BMW’s history, representing a substantial investment in the Neue Klasse platform.
“Hand of God”: Unleashing New Dynamic Capabilities
The new ECU is not merely a technical marvel; it promises to unlock new dynamic capabilities that will redefine the driving experience. Frank van Meel, the head of BMW’s M division, aptly dubs it the “hand of god,” drawing parallels to the M5’s M xDrive system. This technological leap ensures that the M3 EV can deliver not just the lateral and longitudinal dynamics but also the engine performance required for high-performance driving on the track.
Van Meel elaborates, “It doesn’t matter if I do ABS braking or brake with the motors because the motors are faster than the hydraulics anyway, but it is a prerequisite for going into a new era with M and electric high-performance vehicles. It means you can drive this car in a way you never have before.” This shift in thinking underscores BMW’s commitment to not only electrification but also redefining the boundaries of electric vehicle performance.
Power Beyond Measure: Megawatt Capabilities
While the M3 EV’s platform boasts the capability to handle up to one megawatt of power, it’s important to note that this level of power may not be immediately featured in the next M3 model. Van Meel emphasizes that power, while important, is not the sole focus. Instead, BMW aims to prioritize vehicle dynamics, setting the stage for how electric M cars will drive in the future. This strategic approach distinguishes BMW’s products from competitors and ensures a unique driving experience.
Van Meel explains, “We don’t need a megawatt of power, but of course, we are installing this because we don’t only think about the M3. We will go up to maybe XM or X5 M, and if those cars have some weight, we need that power for the typical M driving feel. But it is all about vehicle dynamics, the overall vehicle concept.” This emphasis on vehicle dynamics highlights BMW’s commitment to delivering a balanced and exhilarating driving experience in electric M cars.
Driver Interaction: Creating an Engaging Experience
Beyond sheer power and performance, BMW recognizes the importance of driver interaction in electric M division vehicles. The absence of traditional gear changes in electric vehicles has led to innovative solutions to enhance driver engagement. Van Meel envisions solutions that simulate gear changes to provide drivers with crucial feedback on speed and performance.
He explains, “If you have just one gear and you have no feedback at all, you don’t know how fast you are… It’s a little bit like a motorcycle, third gear, and you hear the revs. So actually, you do know if you’re doing one hundred and thirty, a hundred thirty-five, and then you have the shifting lights that you can see from the corner of your eye. So you don’t need to look down. You always know how fast you are, and that’s missing if you have no acoustic feedback, also no haptic feedback. We are looking into different ways of giving you that feedback.” This dedication to enhancing driver involvement ensures that BMW’s electric M cars will not only be powerful but also immersive and engaging.
Coexistence of Tradition and Innovation
As BMW boldly strides into the electric future with the M3 EV, it’s important to note that the iconic M3 will continue to coexist with its electrified counterpart. The current petrol-powered M3, featuring a potent 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six engine, has been adapted to comply with stringent Euro 7 emissions regulations. This adaptation ensures the combustion-engined M3’s longevity, allowing it to continue thrilling performance enthusiasts for years to come.
Weber confirms this coexistence, stating, “The petrol-powered M3’s lifespan will likely overlap with the all-electric model coming from 2027.” This dual approach underscores BMW’s commitment to offering choices to its customers, catering to both traditional performance enthusiasts and those embracing the electrified future.
The announcement of the BMW M3 EV represents a significant milestone in the automotive industry’s shift towards electrification. BMW’s commitment to delivering an electric M3 that retains the heart and soul of the legendary performance sedan is commendable. With groundbreaking technology like the “heart of joy” ECU, an emphasis on dynamic capabilities, and innovative driver interaction features, the M3 EV is poised to redefine electric performance.
Furthermore, BMW’s strategy of coexistence, allowing the petrol-powered M3 to share the spotlight with its electric sibling, demonstrates a forward-thinking approach that caters to a diverse range of enthusiasts. As 2027 approaches, all eyes will be on BMW as they prepare to unleash the electrified M3 and shape the future of high-performance electric vehicles.
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