BMW and Daimler have traditionally been rivals in the automotive world, but last week we learned that engineers from the two rival German companies have been working together on a joint project to design and test a safer, more affordable, more efficient electric car. 

The Visio.M project, funded to the tune of €10.8 million by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), is being coordinated by BMW, but includes participants from Daimler, Continental, Siemens, Texas instruments, the German TÜV, and the Technical University of Munich. 

Using the MUTE electric vehicle prototype previously designed by the Technical University of Munich, the consortium aims to produce a small electric car powered by a motor no bigger than 15 kilowatts. 

This, along with a curb weight of less than 880 pounds without batteries, and a top speed of less than 50 mph means that the vehicle would fit into European regulatory category L7e -- otherwise known as heavy quadricycles.

Essentially smaller than a highway-capable cars but more powerful than most neighborhood electric vehicles, heavy quadricycles can be driven in some European countries without a drivers’ license, and can be driven on all roads but the fastest freeways. 

Heavy quadricycles are not required to undergo the same rigorous crash-testing that full-size cars are, but BMW has said that it expects Visio.M to deliver the same level of passenger safety offered by conventional combustion-engined cars. 

At this stage, the car produced in the Visio.M project is not expected to enter into production. 

However, the research and construction techniques used in its development should enable BMW, Daimler and fellow consortium partners to further develop each company’s independent electric vehicle program with the application of lighter chassis designs, more efficient drivetrains and better overall understanding of electric vehicles. 


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