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BMW Canā€™t Go Lower Than ā€œ0ā€ā€¦ Or Can It?

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Posted On: Oct 14, 2009 By: Category: MINI Cooper News

BMW is reportedly planning on building a “0” Series based upon the MINI platform in an effort to go ever more eco-friendly. Then there’s this trike thing…

Trike thing

Remember the good old days when the BMW 3 Series was the smallest car in the company's catalog, and if you wanted to go any smaller you’d have to opt for a BMW Motorcycle? Well, having just come back from Italy, I can report that cars over there have gotten so small you don’t so much fall into them as wear them. Interest in eco-friendliness – and saving on fuel costs - has grown tremendously over the past few years worldwide, so it’s not surprising that car makers are following suit. BMW is not immune, and has applied its engineering staff to the challenge. Reports are now swirling that BMW is preparing a new 0 Series to bridge the gap between the 1 Series and the MINI.

If true, there are two major take-aways from this project. One, that the new 0 Series will break with BMW’s convention and go front-wheel-drive, and two, that they're planning on developing the next MINI in-house, instead of co-developing it with another automaker. The idea is to help BMW bring down the company’s overall environmental impact, which will help it meet future governmental mandates.

But why stop there? If you can go even lower than “0” why not try? That’s where the SIMPLE concept comes in. SIMPLE - which stands for "Sustainable and Innovative Mobility Product for Low Energy consumption" – is a leaning trike that is geared toward the "professional commuter"; an urban dweller who travels alone. Think they worked a little too hard on that acronym?

From the start, it has been designed to minimize resources both in use and in production. It’s as tall as a BMW 5 Series, but is shorter than a Mini Cooper. It weighs around 450 kilograms so it only needs a small internal-combustion engine and an electric motor to power it. BMW says the SIMPLE is capable of hitting 100 km/h in under ten seconds and it tops out at over 200 km/h, yet needs just 2 liters of gas over 100 km.

There are no plans for production of the SIMPLE yet but BMW's expertise in motorcycles and the worldwide push for ever more eco-friendly vehicles clearly calls for something along these lines in the future. The question of cannibalization comes to mind, however, as the MINI already fills this niche to some extent and has a solid, premium brand image to protect. Appears that BMW is driving a very narrow lane here; a front-wheel drive eco-friendly commuter vehicle that is attractive and popular already exists. In fact, it’s already in their own arsenal! Maybe we should call someone…

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