The BMW hybrid is an “emotionally powerful statement beyond all norms and conventions”
BMW introduced a new hybrid car, the BMW XM, at Art Basel 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida. The car will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the US market, which is “the most important sales market for the new high-performance car.”
It’s a hybrid, pairing a V8 gasoline engine with a high-performance electric motor, a combo that will deliver 750 horsepower and 1,000 newton meters (737 pound-feet) of torque. The electric powertrain has an all-electric range of 50 miles, but hey, as BMW CEO Franciscus van Meel says in the press release, “This underscores BMW M GmbH’s ability to break with established conventions and to push the boundaries in order to provide fans of the brand with the ultimate driving experience.” And as the head of design puts it: “It has a unique identity and embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW range. .”
The front, the part of the car that meets and greets pedestrians, is quite spectacular.
“The boldly sculpted hood continues the contours of the grille in the form of two power domes. A pair of air intakes in the hood [hood] mimic the appearance of LED spotlights in the roof and add an extra dynamic touch. Framing the sculptural body at its lower edge are the stark black surfaces of the front apron. Body-coloured triangular fins on the outer edges accentuate the vertical air intakes while emphasizing the sporty and robust appearance of the BMW Concept XM. »
The interior is also interesting:
“Inside the cockpit area, a decorative surface in carbon fiber with interwoven copper wires creates a sporty and exclusive basis for the displays, air vents and control/control elements. The new BMW Curved Display cluster placed above creates the perfect balance between driver focus and modern digitality.”
The whole car is designed to be an emotionally powerful statement.
“The impactful exterior design forms a visually expressive silhouette that exudes presence. The strikingly sculpted surfaces and extravagant lines create a unique design language. The vehicle’s design is described as “Bold, robust and new – the expressive design of the BMW Concept XM represents an emotionally powerful statement beyond all norms and conventions.”
So let’s talk about power, standards and conventions. BMWs attract a certain type of driver: A Finnish study whose title we cannot print in Treehugger and which we reported on a few years ago found that “egocentric men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and not very empathetic are much more likely to own a prestige car such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes.” In another study, “Higher social class predicts an increase in unethical behavior,” the researcher noted:
“You see this huge increase in the likelihood of a driver committing violations in more expensive cars. In our study of crosswalks, none of the cars in the swing car category crossed the crosswalk. They always stopped for pedestrians… One of the biggest trends was that luxury cars were less likely to stop,” Mr Piff said, adding that “BMW drivers were the worst .
We discussed that black cars are inherently more dangerous, that studies show that dark car paint colors are associated with a 10% higher relative risk of a crash.
More recently, we discussed how all cars should have geolocation and cruise control after the driver of a BMW killed two elderly people a few blocks from my house. As mobility expert Kevin McLaughlin told Treehugger, “New cars are full of screens, GPS, maps, Google and Apple login. Cars know where they are, how fast they are going – and what is the speed limit. All. The. Time. TODAY. No new technology is needed.”
Should cars like this be allowed on the roads?
When the Dodge Demon came out a few years ago, Automotive News wrote that the 840 horsepower car was “so inherently dangerous to the common safety of motorists that its registration as a roadworthy automobile should be prohibited.” When I wrote about it, I concluded:
“At some point we have to realize that there is such a disconnect between big cars and small cars, walkers and cyclists. Cars have no constitutional protections and are tightly regulated; there’s no reason not to have limits on power and acceleration.”
The 233 comments are still there on this post, most of which are pretty negative about me and my masculinity, but not as bad as what I got on Twitter after writing about the new GMC Denali.
I may be a glutton for punishment, but this BMW XM is designed to intimidate, to be “an emotionally powerful statement beyond all norms and conventions.” It’s quick. He wants to go fast. Its front part is high. It is potentially dangerous. Its electric range is a joke – these motors are there for the torque, the acceleration kick that electric motors are so good at.
I’m not going to come out and say it should be illegal to build cars like this and have everyone yell at me. But surely nowadays the new standards and conventions should be that any new range of cars should be fully electric. And given its speed and power, it definitely should be geo-fenced and speed-restricted like those dangerous e-bikes and e-scooters are. And they should be smaller, lighter, use fewer materials with less embodied carbon, and should be designed with the people around them in mind, with softer, lower and less aggressive designs. Not that.