BMW previously confirmed the electric M concept is in its early stages
Revered performance division is developing a new four-wheel drive system with an electric motor fitted to each wheel
A quad-motor, fully electric BMW M car is officially in the works, with the German firm testing a concept – recently spotted in public for the first time – that will form the basis of its next generation of performance EVs.
Captured by Autocar’s spy photographers, new images reveal the extent to which the prototype’s BMW i4 M50 underpinnings have been adapted, with significantly widened wheel arches.
This change accommodates the electric motors fitted to each wheel, feeding power through a brand new xDrive four-wheel drive system designed to recoup energy under braking.
BMW said this new drive system “opens up completely new possibilities”, with “extremely precise” torque and power delivered to each wheel “within milliseconds”.
It added: “The power and torque of the spontaneously reacting electric motors can be dosed so precisely that the load demand signalled via the accelerator pedal can be realised at a level of dynamics that is unattainable using conventional drive systems.”
This means that the driver is able to experience “entirely new performance characteristics” never before felt in an M car.
The new images also reveal bespoke M-badging on the front grille – with what appears to be a hand-written model designation – hinting at the prototype’s experimental nature.
Autocar previously detailed the BMW performance arm’s electrification plan – which includes an electric BMW M3 and hybridised BMW M5.
“Electrification opens up completely new degrees of freedom for us to create M-typical dynamics,” said Dirk Häcker, head of development at BMW M. “And we can already see that we can exploit this potential to the maximum, so that our high-performance sports cars will continue to offer the M-typical and incomparable combination of dynamics, agility and precision in the locally emissions-free future.”
As well as this, the M EV concept is testing a new highly integrated control, which has been built to allow the driver to access the new levels of power in a controlled way.
The control permanently monitors the driving condition, as well as taking in the “driver’s wishes” to determine the ideal power transmission to each wheel, BMW said.
It also allows BMW to develop new features: the manufacturer teased its ability to perform a standing donut in a promotional video entitled ‘Ready for the next chapter. We are M.’ The Mercedes-Benz EQG – also featuring a quad-motor powertrain – has a similar function, dubbed the ‘G-turn’.
BMW added: “This detailed work is crucial to ensure that future high-performance models will also be characterised by exactly what has rendered BMW M automobiles unmistakable for the last 50 years: a linear build-up of drive power and lateral dynamics that permits controllable handling right up to the limits.”