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      08-16-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Horsepower wars coming to a close, weight wars begin. BMW fires first salvo

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With the artificial restrictions being placed on auto manufacturers we may be witnessing the peak of horsepower in cars in the next few years. But I wouldn't cry too much because the answer to performance cars of the future could be in losing weight.

If you had the choice, would you choose an M3 with the current 414hp rating but be 300lbs lighter, or a different M3 with 450hp and the current 3700lb weight? The thrust to weight would be exactly the same at 8.2lph. I think just about everyone here would take the lighter car with less horsepower.

As we transition from the age of horsepower to the age of light weight material, I'll make a prediction that a new number will begin to dominate the discussion. Pounds per horsepower.

With BMW investing in lightweight carbon construction techniques (see article "BMW creating new highs for carbon fiber") I believe they have taken a critical leap forward in future performance. The beautiful thing is that since it will become part of the core construction of vehicles, all will benefit. We could be only a generation away from a 500lb lighter 3 series.

The strategy is a good one. The Corvette with antiquated engine technology gets very good mileage based on its light weight and tall final gear. Rumor is the next Corvette will debut direct injection (as well as other tech) in a smaller engine gaining higher efficiency and retaining high horsepower. But that is mostly possible because of the light weight of car. Imagine shaving 400-500lbs off of a vette with its current horsepower. It would gain in mileage and performance.

With this large investment by BMW into light weight construction, BMW will likely be the leader in its segment for both performance and efficiency with smaller engines and minimal horsepower increases.

As M3 fans, this news makes one wonder if it's timing with the soon to be released 3 series at the Frankfurt auto show is a coincidence or a teaser. Could the next 3 series be significantly lighter than the current version? At the very least I think we can count on a lighter M3. It's likely that much more than the roof and interior trim will be carbon fibre.
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      08-16-2011, 12:02 PM   #2
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Same weight and more horsepower would make it go faster, less weight and horsepower would make it handle better.
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      08-16-2011, 12:03 PM   #3
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Interesting thread. I don't think the next gen will be lighter than the current, and the following gen won't be lighter than the E46, but you are right, the future will be about shedding pounds, and not about adding more power.

And yes, I would take a 414 HP M3 with less weight over the alternative you mentioned.
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      08-16-2011, 12:10 PM   #4
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Same weight and more horsepower would make it go faster, less weight and horsepower would make it handle better.
Actually less weight same horsepower, or same weight more horsepower.

Accelleration would be the same (pounds per horsepower). The lighter weight would handle better, thus we would mostly choose less weight same horsepower.
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      08-16-2011, 12:16 PM   #5
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Good thread.

I'll take more power and less weight thank-you very much.

It's very interesting to see where technology is taking us in composite materials and their applications related to performance.
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      08-16-2011, 12:18 PM   #6
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with less weight you dont need more horsepower.

that being said id love the current m3 with 300-400 pounds less junky in the trunk.
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      08-16-2011, 12:33 PM   #7
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i won't hold me breath on this one. bmw isn't exactly known for making new models lighter than the previous even with all the new lightweight tech they have. the cars keep getting bigger and bigger.
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      08-16-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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Interesting thread indeed ... history is so fascinating. If we think about it how fortunate we are to drive the kind of car we are driving today with the changes in technology over the past 50 years ... and where it all began ...

Like .... BMW .... Here

Like .... Mercedes .... Here

Yes as the Chinese say ... May you live in "Interesting Times" and we sure are
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      08-16-2011, 12:42 PM   #9
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i won't hold me breath on this one. bmw isn't exactly known for making new models lighter than the previous even with all the new lightweight tech they have. the cars keep getting bigger and bigger.
I don't disagree with past trends, but something has got to give somewhere. High Strength Steel, Carbon Fiber and Carbon Plastics will become mainstream materials sooner or later. They have the potential to shave 300-700lbs off of current cars. It has always been a cost issue.

You bring up a good point though. How long before the government, who's demands already account for significant weight in cars, adds even more requirements that weigh down cars. We may just see cars maintain their weight instead of lose weight as these materials are introduced.
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      08-16-2011, 12:45 PM   #10
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This definitely makes sense. Definitely puts things in perspective about how high horsepower numbers are going to reach considering the high numbers some cars are coming with already.


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      08-16-2011, 12:54 PM   #11
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At the rate things are progressing, a good deal of the CFRP savings will be offset by batteries and other equipment associated with the slow but sure transition from combustion engines to electric motors. i3 and i8 will bear this out.
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      08-16-2011, 01:09 PM   #12
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At the rate things are progressing, a good deal of the CFRP savings will be offset by batteries and other equipment associated with the slow but sure transition from combustion engines to electric motors. i3 and i8 will bear this out.
I was talking with an electrical engineer here at my work. He brought up a good point when it comes to this electric craze. Now I'm no engineer so take this at a loose translation. He basically said that the problem with electric drivetrains is the amount of BTUs of energy used to move an object with drag and weight. That is a constant. More weight and drag, more BTU's etc. In his argument, gasoline is by far the most efficient fuel source. It takes far less material (gasoline) to produce a BTU of energy than it does for electric drivetrains. It's a physics problem. Electricity has to be stored, more BTU's means more storage. More storage is more weight, thus requiring more BTU's. The sweet spot is tied to the weight and that won't change.

His point was that an electric vehicle will never be as efficient as a gasoline vehicle in true terms of efficiency. He said efficiency is the wrong word to use. It is material savings meaning, saving gas. Electric cars save gasoline, but they are not more efficient. In fact they are far less efficient and far less flexible to be efficient.

Hybrids on the other hand are a better option for real efficiency. Storage (and weight) can be limited because regneration of electric BTU's can be siphoned from the BTUs produced by the gas engine. Funny though he comments that the gas engine in a hybrid can not only propel the car, but also recharge the electric drive. Jokingly saying you need a gas engine for an electric car to make an electric powertrain efficient.
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      08-16-2011, 01:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoobe View Post
I don't disagree with past trends, but something has got to give somewhere. High Strength Steel, Carbon Fiber and Carbon Plastics will become mainstream materials sooner or later. They have the potential to shave 300-700lbs off of current cars. It has always been a cost issue.

You bring up a good point though. How long before the government, who's demands already account for significant weight in cars, adds even more requirements that weigh down cars. We may just see cars maintain their weight instead of lose weight as these materials are introduced.
Would vastly prefer a lighter car with the same output (or even less, depending on many othher factors.) Your estimated weight savings above seems very optimistic (and support for it?) but regardless of the actual numbers we are finally getting to a point where mass manufacturing of these materials will provide the scale to make them economically viable. Until the gov't/safety regs are modified to add even more weight...
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      08-16-2011, 01:23 PM   #14
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More horsepower only helps acceleration. Less weight helps acceleration, braking, cornering and gas mileage.
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      08-16-2011, 01:39 PM   #15
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In this day and age where increasing regulation means more speed cameras/traps and speed limits. Is more power really the answer to having a blast in our cars?
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      08-16-2011, 02:23 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by signes View Post
Would vastly prefer a lighter car with the same output (or even less, depending on many othher factors.) Your estimated weight savings above seems very optimistic (and support for it?) but regardless of the actual numbers we are finally getting to a point where mass manufacturing of these materials will provide the scale to make them economically viable. Until the gov't/safety regs are modified to add even more weight...
The 300-700lbs is from the article link in the top post, quoted from BMW in that they save that much weight from conventional materials.
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      08-16-2011, 03:11 PM   #17
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Some may be interested to know the USA is highly involved with making BMW's Carbon Fiber.

The raw chemical fibers are sourced from Japan
They are then "cooked" into carbon fibers in Moses lake USA
Then they are sent so Germany where they are "weaved" into fabric
Finally the fabric goes to BMW Landshut that makes the parts
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      08-16-2011, 03:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jworms View Post
i won't hold me breath on this one. bmw isn't exactly known for making new models lighter than the previous even with all the new lightweight tech they have. the cars keep getting bigger and bigger.
Currently, if there is anything BMW is known for it's inconsistency in past ideas and beliefs, breaking tradition, and change. Big change.

BMW condemned Audi for using Turbos... they now depend on turbos.

BMW condemned Benz for putting the same engine in lot of performance cars... we will soon see BMW do the same. Maybe not exact engines but variations.

BMW M believed and preached in all-natural, high-revving engines in M cars... 80% of current M cars on the market are twin turbos with average redlines. When the F3X M3 comes out, 100% of M cars will be forced induction.

BMW never believed in front wheel drive vehicles... BMWi will be manufacturing front wheel drive vehicles.

BMW preached hydrogen technology while everyone was working out hybrids/electrics... now BMWi will make hybrid/electric vehicles instead of hydrogen which they wasted years on developing.

They have reason for doing everything they have done, but it does blur the lines of what we know about BMW and M.



If there is anything you can depend on, it is that you can not rely on BMWs tradition or past trends to predict anything they will do. Shaving weight off of future vehicles is no different. Just because the weight has done nothing but go up, does not mean it will always do so and not reverse and start going down.

I dont know this for sure of course, but I do know we can not rely on BMWs past or traditions to determine the direction of the current BMW. So if something seems logical, with enough supported evidence, I will believe in that before I believe in tradition, past values, and past trends.
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      08-16-2011, 03:47 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoobe View Post
http://www.plasticsnews.com/headline...58&channel=317

With the artificial restrictions being placed on auto manufacturers we may be witnessing the peak of horsepower in cars in the next few years. But I wouldn't cry too much because the answer to performance cars of the future could be in losing weight.

If you had the choice, would you choose an M3 with the current 414hp rating but be 300lbs lighter, or a different M3 with 450hp and the current 3700lb weight? The thrust to weight would be exactly the same at 8.2lph. I think just about everyone here would take the lighter car with less horsepower.

As we transition from the age of horsepower to the age of light weight material, I'll make a prediction that a new number will begin to dominate the discussion. Pounds per horsepower.

With BMW investing in lightweight carbon construction techniques I believe they have taken a critical leap forward in future performance. The beautiful thing is that since it will become part of the core construction of vehicles, all will benefit. We could be only a generation away from a 500lb lighter 3 series.

The strategy is a good one. The Corvette with antiquated engine technology gets very good mileage based on its light weight and tall final gear. Rumor is the next Corvette will debut direct injection (as well as other tech) in a smaller engine gaining higher efficiency and retaining high horsepower. But that is mostly possible because of the light weight of car. Imagine shaving 400-500lbs off of a vette with its current horsepower. It would gain in mileage and performance.

With this large investment by BMW into light weight construction, BMW will likely be the leader in its segment for both performance and efficiency with smaller engines and minimal horsepower increases.

As M3 fans, this news makes one wonder if it's timing with the soon to be released 3 series at the Frankfurt auto show is a coincidence or a teaser. Could the next 3 series be significantly lighter than the current version? At the very least I think we can count on a lighter M3. It's likely that much more than the roof and interior trim will be carbon fibre.
I hope they don't plan on shedding weight by using the same materials as on the Vette. The Vette is made of paper. I wouldn't want to be in an accident in one of them.
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      08-16-2011, 04:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3XTR3M3 View Post
Currently, if there is anything BMW is known for it's inconsistency in past ideas and beliefs, breaking tradition, and change. Big change.

BMW condemned Audi for using Turbos... they now depend on turbos.

BMW condemned Benz for putting the same engine in lot of performance cars... we will soon see BMW do the same. Maybe not exact engines but variations.

BMW M believed and preached in all-natural, high-revving engines in M cars... 80% of current M cars on the market are twin turbos with average redlines. When the F3X M3 comes out, 100% of M cars will be forced induction.

BMW never believed in front wheel drive vehicles... BMWi will be manufacturing front wheel drive vehicles.

BMW preached hydrogen technology while everyone was working out hybrids/electrics... now BMWi will make hybrid/electric vehicles instead of hydrogen which they wasted years on developing.

They have reason for doing everything they have done, but it does blur the lines of what we know about BMW and M.



If there is anything you can depend on, it is that you can not rely on BMWs tradition or past trends to predict anything they will do. Shaving weight off of future vehicles is no different. Just because the weight has done nothing but go up, does not mean it will always do so and not reverse and start going down.

I dont know this for sure of course, but I do know we can not rely on BMWs past or traditions to determine the direction of the current BMW. So if something seems logical, with enough supported evidence, I will believe in that before I believe in tradition, past values, and past trends.
i understand what you're saying, but at this point i think it's kind of naive to believe that cars will get lighter. the spy shots of the next 3 series are out and it's just as big as the last 5 series.

i guess it's feasible for me to say that once the 3 series gets to 4000lbs it might be able to sustain that weight for the next model, maybe even drop some of it (would you be excited if they drop 50lbs from a 4000lbs car?). however, i do believe that there is a "weight ceiling" and, unfortunately, i don't think we've hit it yet.

i guess i'm jaded a bit by my E36 M3 with its stock weight of 3175lbs. i would be willing to place a decent wager on the fact that bmw will never make an M3 that weighs so little again. if for nothing else consider that their primary market is more interested in luxury and tech gimics. the fact that bmw felt it couldn't sell the CSL, GTS, etc. in america (their biggest market) is pretty telling on what is preferred and, at the end of the day, bmw is in the business of making money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RevFreak14 View Post
I hope they don't plan on shedding weight by using the same materials as on the Vette. The Vette is made of paper. I wouldn't want to be in an accident in one of them.
here's a perfect example of what i was talking about.
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      08-16-2011, 04:23 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoobe View Post
I don't disagree with past trends, but something has got to give somewhere. High Strength Steel, Carbon Fiber and Carbon Plastics will become mainstream materials sooner or later. They have the potential to shave 300-700lbs off of current cars. It has always been a cost issue.

You bring up a good point though. How long before the government, who's demands already account for significant weight in cars, adds even more requirements that weigh down cars. We may just see cars maintain their weight instead of lose weight as these materials are introduced.
It's very frustrating what the US government has done to cars. I can't remember the quote or who said it, but I once heard that the US is the only government that is hell bent on protecting people from themselves. It's evidenced by all the rules that are designed to protect drivers and passengers that don't wear their seat belts. It's really frustrating here in Canada, because we basically get no say. Since we are a smaller market and live right next door, we basically get all the same safety equipment as the US. It would be really interesting to see a figure that shows how much weight is added by the various safety regulations. Even better if it also documented just how much safer it makes the cars, and the total cost of that safety improvement in extra manufacturing costs and extra energy expenditure. I think the results would be eye-popping.
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      08-16-2011, 04:31 PM   #22
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all these threads that are being started all turn out to be the same thing...
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