The BMW M division has begun road tests of an EV concept with four electric motors. The latest M car concept is based on the BMW i4 M50 and features an adapted body strut concept taken from the M3 and M4. But the conventional inline-six cylinder engines of the iconic M cars and dual electric motors of the i4 M50 EV have been replaced with four electric motors that send power to each individual wheel.
The four electric motors are managed by a new integrated control system, but BMW is still referring to the configuration as the M xDrive system. That makes sense, given that this is, essentially, just a purer form of four-wheel drive; that’s why BMW thinks the future of the M division and M cars, overall, will rely on new high-performance electric motor arrays.
But it’s not just about putting more power down as crudely as possible. BMW says it’s paying just as much attention to handling, too. With the new control system, the four motor M EV concept can deliver torque to each wheel faster and more precisely than M cars with conventional drivetrains. BMW says the advantage of having one electric motor per wheel is infinitely variable torque, adding that:
The ideal power transmission to the road is calculated within milliseconds from the values for the accelerator pedal position, steering angle, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, wheel speeds and other parameters. The signals for this are transmitted just as quickly and directly via a multi-plate clutch and differentials to the four motors, which are able to implement them immediately and precisely.
Current EV motors and four-wheel drive systems do much of what BMW is describing, but with four electric motors rather than one or two, control over each driven wheel is that much better. And BMW says the system is just as well-suited for performance driving as for handling adverse road conditions.
BMW also says the four motor EV concept can corner faster even in rain and snow, and that it steers effortlessly while also being less prone to understeer. The concept is equipped with the radiator arrangement of the M3 and M4, but in order to fit the four motors over the front and rear axles, the M division had to widen the wheel arches.
For the most part, this quad-motor configuration is the logical evolution of both fully-electric drivetrains and four-wheel drive systems. This latest M EV is still just a concept for now, but if its wide wheel arches make it to production and BMW can manage to balance that big grille with a wide stance, then the fully-electric future of the M division is bright, indeed.