The BMW M division is driving electrification like any other industry. M’s plans for the model include building hybrids and pure EVs, and this is what BMW wants to highlight today. The M Division has announced that it has started testing its new drive and chassis control system on the modified i4, which includes a quad-motor powertrain.
Each motor drives a wheel, giving the i4 test vehicle all-wheel drive and precise control over torque delivery. According to the automaker, the M xDrive quad-motor powertrain will allow drivers to experience “completely new performance characteristics.” A short teaser video shows the test vehicle performing a (looking fake) tank change, possibly teasing the car’s future capabilities.
The drive and chassis control system calculates the required power using inputs such as accelerator pedal position, steering angle, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, wheel speed, and other parameters. This ensures that the right amount of torque reaches each wheel for optimal performance. The BMW M found one of the powertrain’s advantages in the first few kilometers of road testing, finding that the car can achieve much higher cornering speeds.
BMW began development of a virtual powertrain before moving to the test bench. Now, the company is ready for real-world hardware and software testing. The goal was to ensure that these models had the characteristics that have made the BMW M so iconic for the last 50 years – “linear increase in propulsion and lateral dynamics that allows controlled handling to the limit.”
BMW based the test vehicle on the i4 M50, but did receive some modifications. The automaker expanded the fenders in the traditional M style. We didn’t get to see the interior, but BMW says it packed it with measurement technology to capture every bit of driving data.
BMW has not said when the powertrain will enter production as the company is working to ensure its EV feels like an M car. The brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the electric i7 M70 could follow as early as next year. However, we will wait for the first fully-electric M cars to arrive.