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商业 - 汽车

宝马:震撼现在,放眼未来

Alex Taylor III 2011年11月29日

今年第三季度,宝马在中国的销量跃升了21%,尽管中国经济正在降温,但宝马仍有信心在中国保持强劲的增长势头。

    未来宝马汽车还会变得更轻。上周,宝马宣布它已经购入西格里碳素集团(SGL Carbon SE)5%的股权。这家公司主要生产碳纤维。这是一种先进的轻量材料,已经用到了波音(Boeing)898梦想客机的身上。这标志着宝马做出了战略性的变革,因为宝马过去一向避免与供应商通过财务关系捆绑在一起,同时说明宝马未来会加大对碳纤维的使用。由于碳纤维的高成本和复杂性,因此宝马对它的使用还比较谨慎,但它未来必然会在宝马汽车上扮演更大的角色。

    那么碳纤维究竟会扮演多大的角色?我们可以在本月初的洛杉矶车展上一窥全豹。首先宝马在这次车展上推出了i3这款电池动力轿车,它使用了铝合金框架和碳纤维车身,重量只相当于一台普通宝马3系轿车的80%。在全电动模式下,i3每次充满电可续航80英里,对于大多数用户都应该够用了。不放心的车主还可以选择另一款车型,它的殷勤稍小。宝马i3是作为城市通勤车来设计的,而且它的车门设计最大化地方便了用户进出后排座位。而且它的动力也无愧于宝马的蓝白车标:它从静止到时速60公里只需不到8秒钟。这款车将在2013年上市,售价约在4万美元左右。

    除了电池动力的i3,宝马还推出了一款更洋气的插电式混合动力轿车——宝马i8。这也是一款采用了碳纤维车身的运动轿车。它的性能令人大开眼界。它只需4.5秒便能狂飙至时速60英里,最高时速可达每小时155英里。更体贴的是,i8可以在纯电动模式下续航20英里左右,然后换至汽油动力。I8也采取了和i3一样的2+2设计,车展上展出的i8概念车安装了中看但不实用的蝴蝶式车门,不过这种车门估计不会出现在量产版上。I8量产车定于2014年上市,价格可能将超过10万美元。

    宝马一直是电动车领域的先行者,只是很少有人注意到这一点。就在通用(GM)和日产(Nissan)大打口水仗,争论谁的电动车更强悍时,宝马已经在对500台Mini Cooper进行路试,它们的后座都被锂离子电池取代了。据说在理想情况下,Mini E的续航里程可达156英里。

    宝马的测试还发现了一些有价值的结果。2011年5月,位于加州大学戴维斯分校(at the University of California, Davis)的插电式混合动力汽车与电动汽车研究中心(Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center)针对美国Mini E的路试进行一项消费者研究。结果显示,老百姓会根据电动车的功能来调整驾驶习惯;受访者同时表示,Mini E能满足他们90%的日常驾驶需求。另一份英国的研究显示,消费者要想适应纯电动汽车的特点和种种新奇的驾驶要求,比如充电、续航里程、再生制动和低噪音等,只需要短短一星期时间即可适应。

    不论Mini E这样的电动汽车最终是否能够实现量产,毋庸置疑的是,宝马显然着眼未来,而且正在勾画稳步前进的蓝图。宝马一向以生产严谨的高性能汽车出名。许多分析师认为,这有可能成为宝马增长的拖累。然而,现在的事实证明,这其实是一项宝贵的资产,能够帮助宝马公司更好地迎接后石油时代的21世纪。

    译者:朴成奎

    BMW cars will be getting even lighter in the future. Last week, the company announced it has bought a 5% stake in SGL Carbon SE, a company that makes carbon fiber -- the advanced lightweight material used in building the Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) 787 Dreamliner. The purchase represents a change in strategy for BMW, which heretofore has shunned financial ties with suppliers and points to its increased use in future BMWs. But carbon fiber, which is used only sparingly now because of its cost and complexity, is understudying for a larger role.

    BMW demonstrated just how large a role at the Los Angeles auto show earlier this month. For starters, it unveiled the i3, a battery-powered car with a carbon fiber body affixed to an aluminum frame that weighs just 80% as much as a typical 3-series. In all-electric mode, the i3 is designed to achieve a range of 80 miles per charge, which should be enough for most uses. For those who feel nervous, a second model will be available with a smaller engine. The i3 is designed as a commuter car and features carriage doors that maximize access to the rear seat. It can wear the BMW blue-and-white spinning propeller with pride: It scoots to 60 miles per hour in less than eight seconds. Models go on sale in 2013; figure on a price around $40,000.

    Far more exotic is a carbon fiber sports car, the i8 plug-in hybrid. Performance is eye-popping: The i8 screams to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and is capable of getting to a top speed of 155 mph. More pertinently, the i8 can travel around 20 miles on pure electric power before switching over to gasoline. Another 2+2 like the i3, the i8 concept was equipped with impractical butterfly doors for the show that are unlikely to show up on the production version. It is due to go on sale in 2014, and you can expect to pay in excess of $100,000.

    BMW has been an unheralded pioneer in electric cars. While General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) and Nissan have been jousting over bagging rights, BMW has been field-testing 500 Mini Coopers whose back seats have been replaced by a pack of lithium ion batteries. Under idea conditions, the Mini E is said to be capable of a range of 156 miles.

    The tests have produced some valuable findings. In May 2011 the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center at the University of California, Davis published the results of a consumer study of the U.S. Mini E field trial. The study showed that households adapted their driving around the capabilities of the electric car, and respondents said the Mini E met 90% of their daily driving needs. Another study in the U.K. found that one week was all that was needed for customers to adapt to the characteristics and peculiarities of driving an EV, such as charging, range, regenerative braking, and low noise.

    Whether or not a car like the Mini E ever makes it into production, BMW clearly has its eye on the future -- and is developing a coherent storyline about how to get there. It has found that its highly-focused reputation for producing driving machines, which many analysts believed would be a drag, is actually turning out to be an asset in getting ready for the post-oil 21st century.

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