Malcolm Flynn | May 8, 2012

BMW and Daimler have partnered with other German industry groups to develop the ideal EV for mass appeal in large cities.

The project, titled ‘Visio.M’, was founded by the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and demonstrated its early efforts with the Mute concept car at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research has since injected €10.8 million (AU$13.8 million) into the project, drawing support from BMW, Daimler, Siemens and TUV SUD.

Visio.M’s focus is to develop a lighter, cheaper, more efficient, yet equally safe alternative to larger EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, and the already diminutive Mitsubishi i MiEV.

"More weight also means inferior dynamics for a given level of motor power. But what we are aiming at is an affordable car that is fun to drive," TUM's Markus Lienkamp said.

The project aims to explore options that fit within the European L7e category for ‘heavy quadricycles’ that weigh no more than 400kg with a power output within 15kW. By comparison, the i MiEV has a kerb weight of around 1000kg.

tum visio m mute electric vehicle concept 05

The relatively cheap and compact vehicles in the L7e class are exempt from many congestion charges and licensing requirements, and are often permitted to use bus lanes.

Heavy quadricycles are also exempt from many of the safety requirements placed on regular passenger vehicles, and generally use basic construction to fit within the 400kg weight limitation.

Whilst there are several similar options available on the European market, Visio.M aims to place a greater emphasis on passenger safety than found on existing models.

The Mute itself won't see production, but the concept marks a step forward in the hunt for the next "people's (electric) car".

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