Only outer space is the limit for BMW it seems. The Bavarian automaker has begun working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on its next-generation EfficientDynamics fuel and eco-saving technologies.
Speaking to the UK's CAR Online magazine, head of development Klaus Draeger said the tie-up would result in a saving of up to 5% in economy which is a larger saving than current EfficientDynamics technologies combined. These currently include features like brake energy regeneration and stop-start. EfficientDynamics meets 2012 and 2015 EU regulations.
Basically how the NASA system works is that thermoelectric generators or TEGs similar in principle to those that power satellites convert heat differences between radioactive metals to generate electricity. BMW has fitted a TEG to a prototype's exhaust system to make about 200kW of power. What that means is that some of the heat which is generated by combustion is converted to electric energy. This energy is then fed into the car's power supply for systems like climate control which swallow up good heaps of power.
Prototype equipment is already being out to the test. Series production cars will have the necessary equipment fitted within the next five years. To make the systems work even better BMW is including a new 8-speed automatic gearbox to volume cars instead of the new 7-speed double-clutch gearbox.