BMW EV Patent Makes Us F1 Engineers

Sun 7th May 2023

BMW is creating a technology that will let users to customise their EV driving experiences by allowing them tweak their engine settings to give them more control and engagement with their vehicle.

Although these same factors can be changed by the drive modes currently used in all types of automobiles, the degree of flexibility is normally specified by the programming of each mode. For instance, Comfort mode will reduce the throttle response while Sport mode would increase it in a way that has been predetermined by the automaker. However, there is no adjustment between the two preset settings.

However, the proposed BMW system effectively transforms the driver into an F1 style engineer by enabling fine modifications to each component regardless of the selected drive mode. Only electric motors allow for this level of customization because they allow for "much finer and in particular much more flexible power development than in the case of internal combustion engines," as BMW says in the patent filing.

The speed curve and acceleration curve are two movable graphs that serve as the foundation for the customised propulsion settings. The former enables direct mapping of the throttle position to speed.

For instance, the driver might set the vehicle to travel at 40 mph while only using 30 percent of the throttle. On the other hand, the acceleration curve equates the throttle input to the torque output. In this situation, a driver may set the throttle so that 50% throttle would result in 50% acceleration, thereby altering how aggressively the automobile reacts to inputs to control how sensitive the throttle pedal is.

According to the patent, BMW would provide pre-made graphs with linear or exponential curves as well as the option to adjust the curves by moving certain points up and down. Throttle inputs would govern both the vehicle's overall speed and how quickly it accelerates. The two curves would combine to provide a wide range of distinct behaviours.

This system seems to be how BMW wants to increase the appeal of high-performance EVs. According to the patent, the adaptable graphs "can have an emotional character and delight the vehicle user," calling the system "a fun interactive option" that "technology-minded vehicle users will especially enjoy this."

The technology would provide an alternative to the linear and immediate torque and power delivery experienced by many EVs today. The method would allow for a progressive increase in speed and acceleration, and the cars' changeable curves might even let drivers set them up to mimic the gas-powered cars' acceleration curves.The challenge of how to maintain the joy of driving when an engine is no longer present within the car has long plagued automakers.

One strategy is to improve the electric motor's sound to produce a more distinctive and pleasurable auditory experience. Another approach is to use haptic feedback devices, which give the driver physical sensations that mimic engine vibrations or gear changes. The use of augmented reality displays and other technologies that can improve driving by giving the driver information and feedback in real-time are also being investigated by several manufacturers. In order to cater to customers who value speed and handling, some manufacturers are also creating electric sports vehicles with strong performance characteristics.

"To make electric vehicles more attractive, manufacturers have to shift from marketing eco-friendliness to designing the cars for the emotions and aesthetics of driving,” said Tim Leberecht of consulting firm The Business Romantic Society.