MUNICH, GERMANY - The BMW Group said its Megacity electric vehicle, due to come onto the market in 2013, will be the first volume-produced vehicle with a passenger cell made from carbon.

"Our LifeDrive architecture is helping us to open a new chapter in automotive lightweight design," said Klaus Draeger, member of the board of management for development. "Indeed, this concept allows us to practically offset the extra 250 to 350 kilograms of weight typically found in electrically powered vehicles."

With the LifeDrive concept, BMW Group engineers are developing the car's architecture from scratch and adapting it to the demands of future mobility, BMW said. The goal is to offset the additional weight of an electric vehicle. To this end, the BMW Group is focusing on the use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). 

The LifeDrive concept consists of two horizontally separated, independent modules. The Drive module integrates the battery, drive system and structural and crash functions into a single construction within the chassis. Its partner, the Life module, consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP.

Furthermore, the new vehicle architecture opens the door to new production processes that are both simpler and more flexible, and use less energy, BMW said.