BMW: World’s Mega-Cities Need a Mega-Fast Car

How perfect is this. The Granite concept car, the Chevy Aveo with a miniaturized SUV snout touted by GMC as a "tool for urban living," has taken top honors in its design category at the Detroit Auto Show.

bmw.jpgThe foundation for BMW’s urban vehicle of the future. Photo: Wheels

Alas, while the Granite will probably never see the light of day, engineers at the BMW stall are hard at work developing their own entry for emerging urban markets. Wheels reports:

There are more than 20 megacities with populations of more than 10 million around the world (with Tokyo the most populous). Asia has more than any other region, but New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Lagos and London are also megacities. According to a BMW news release, Project i set out to "research and develop transportation strategies and new types of vehicles specifically to meet the needs of the world’s growing megacities."

To get real-world information, [project head Ulrich] Kranz said, "We went out and talked to city planners. And we visited potential customers living in megacities such as Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Shanghai. We lived a couple of days with them. We wanted to see not only what they said about their driving habits, but also what they actually did when they drove to work."

Other than its electric engine (it’s green!), it’s unclear how a private vehicle with "a trunk and four seats" will be all that different from
your average congestion-causing, pedestrian-endangering, space-hogging BMW. Based on promotional copy, the lighter weight of the ActiveE concept is intended to improve "performance" and speed — BMW boasts of its ability to "accelerate from 0-60 in under 9 seconds." What urban motorist doesn’t need that?

If nothing else, the company says its "Project i" research could "be useful for future sales and marketing campaigns." So maybe at an upcoming auto show BMW will unveil its own GMC Granite, an ordinary car with a few bells and whistles and a meaningless slogan designed to make city drivers feel good about shunning public transit and other urban-friendly modes. While peeling out at the light whenever possible.

  • Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Mexico City have nothing in common!

  • Omri

    BMW knows profit where it sees it. A lot of these new megacities are run by kleptocratic elites, and catering to them is a lucrative income stream. Just ask their colleagues in Benz Daimler: the African term for an elite official is Wa-Benzi (“Benz owner.)

    BMW wants a piece of that, and the reptilian grille on this will get it for them.

  • When are they coming out with a folding automobile that you can carry into your office and leave under your desk?

  • Grinner


    isn’t that foldable automobile the tandem recumbent?

  • No need for a folding automobile that you can carry into your office. Now that they are adding the internet to cars, you don’t have to go to the office: you can work remotely while you drive.

  • Grinner

    Well, you can work remotely while you drive if the car is also equipped with an eyecam, or some other means by which Management can verify that you are actually “at work.” That has been the primary obstacle to telecommuting, followed distantly by the impediment to collaboration that telecommuting imposes.

    In my experience, you don’t want to be working remotely, anyway, even when doing something as fun as sitting in traffic on the FDR.

    The fast, folding, ‘net connected electric car for the mega cities is only a lead-in for the flying car that folds into a briefcase. Which, you know, would be good because the problem has never been cars; the problem has been drivers. Obviously, the flying briefcase car is self-driving, which removes the whole concern about distraction… until the car spots the billboard for the newest Apple iCar, anyway.

  • I guarantee that BMW doesn’t do this silly marketing campaign in Germany but only elsewhere where people are too stupid to realize that cars have no-place in a Mega-city.

    The German people know better and take transit and ride there bikes. City dwellers there tend to keep the cars in garage for use on the weekends.

  • Thanks for continuing to expose the myth that so-called “green” cars are good for the environment. What’s needed in response to global population growth and limited environmental resources is dense, smart urban planning to check the growth of sprawl, which is incomparably resource-intensive (not to mention destructive of nature).

  • Emily Litella

    Right on Omri, this car isn’t for us and it certainly has nothing to do with improving life in cities. The status of rich and wannabe rich is momentarily improved, then as the car dealer’s curb cut is left behind its back to the old suckers grind of ‘fighting traffic’.

  • What’s needed in response to global population growth and limited environmental resources is dense, smart urban planning to check the growth of sprawl.

  • Allcitygsparks


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