“Can advanced technology bring forth more spirited driving?”
That was a question I was wrestling with in my mind after a media lunch party with Mr. Bobby Rosales, president of BMW’s distributor in the country, Asian Carmakers Corporation. I even asked Bobby if there was a chance that I, and the majority of interested buyer’s out there, could experience the latest BMW Efficient Dynamics technology firsthand. There was just a smile on his face and he said that cars were already available for us to use. At that, I figured I would just wait for a test unit to be scheduled.
After a few days, ACC’s Corporate Communications Pauline Gonzalez invited us to attend BMW’s Eco Drive in Bali, Indonesia. This gave us a chance to drive firsthand the BMW Efficient Dynamics cars that maximize fuel efficiency, decrease carbon footprint and bring back the joy in driving.
BMW has always amazed me with their technology – ever since I inherited my brother’s 1988 BMW M3 E30 model a long time ago. At that time, it was one of the best cars in handling ever made. Designed to do battle in the Group A DTM series. So you can imagine my excitement at just the thought of test-driving the latest BMW the market can offer.
My partner, DJ Lindy, was able to join us when someone in the media crew backed out. She was as excited to go as I was.
Over 100 journalists from all over the South East Asian region converged in Bali. Our group was one of the first batches to arrive. BMW had prepared the X1, X5, 3 series, 5 series and the latest 535i Gran Tourismo for our use. However, before we could get the keys, we had to “go back to school” and learn a few things about BMW from their German engineers. It was very enlightening. Allow me to share some of the things we learned.
First, BMW’s Efficient Dynamics is already in all of BMW’s model range, from the new sporty 1 Series to the luxurious 7 Series cars. The futuristic BMW Vision Concept Car, which is the most recent, is representative of where their technology is headed. The Vision combines supercar performance (356hp, 0-100kph in 4.8s) with surprisingly efficient mileage and emissions like that of a compact car (99 grams CO2/km vs an electric car at 50 grams CO2/km).
With BMW’s new engine designs for their petrol and diesel engines, the product range was able to drop their CO2 emissions by as much as 29% from 1995 to 2009, a percentage unmatched by any other carmaker without compromising performance. According to AAA in 2009, BMW consumed only 6L of fuel to produce 133kw of power throughout their whole line up compared to others that need a lot more fuel but produce much less power. BMW has taken numerous awards lately for their Twin Power Turbo petrol and diesel engines for being the best of the whole lot.
Second, BMW has achieved numerous innovations that have enhanced their car’s efficiency dynamics in their new fleet:
1) Auto Start/Stop Function-The engine turns off when the car comes to a standstill with BMW’s 4 cylinder engines and manual transmission;
2) Air Vent Control-The front grill vents are closed by the engine management system at high speeds keeping air drag to a minimum;
3) Intelligent Lightweight Construction-By using aluminum in the chassis and magnesium in their engines, BMW has decreased weight and improved driving dynamics;
4) Brake Energy Regeneration-Kinetic energy is released when applying the brakes consequently charging the battery and rendering the alternator redundant as it cuts its use and engine drag. Tires with less rolling resistance are also employed for added savings;
5) Optimum Shift Indicator-the best shift point is displayed on the dash either for slow or high speeds; and
6) Electric Power Steering-The BMW electric power steering system turns off when the wheel is not turning thereby reducing energy needed from the charging system.
Finally, BMW’s upcoming cars have incorporated many green developments. Apart from the driving pleasure one can expect from the BMW Active Hybrid, it delivers top fuel efficiency with its 2 electric motors and combustion engine – bringing together the best of both worlds. They are currently on the X6 and 7 Series luxury saloon.
The Concept Active E is a 100% emissions free vehicle as it is fully electric. Currently based on the 1 Series Coupe, it is powered by lithium cells and promises to have about 170hp on tap.
The high-performance BMW Hydrogen 7 Series car has been on the road since 2006. Its only exhaust emission is steam. There is a switch to go to the regular petrol combustion engine if so desired, making this the first production-ready hydrogen vehicle ever.
After learning these great revelations, we were now free to test-drive the right hand drive BMWs on the narrow streets of Bali. Having a temperamental GPS system (not from BMW), a lot of us got lost going around the island but luckily made it back in one piece. It would have been great if we were able to test all the cars but there were just too many of us and so little time.
Nevertheless, I realized the value of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics technology. As their slogan says “More Power, Less Fuel, Less Weight” – they promise that spirited motoring will never die with BMW around. The upcoming 2011 models will have more Efficient Dynamic Technology in them. I can’t wait to test one in Manila’s notorious traffic jam – where testing their power would almost be mute#@*! Godspeed to all!
BMW Eco Drive-BALI HIGH! By: Lindy E. Pellicer
Like Bloody Mary in the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical South Pacific, I found myself humming the same tune, “Bali Ha’i may call you, Any night, Any day, In your heart, You’ll hear it call you, Come away…Come away.” Well, for me it was more like swept away!
My partner, Mike Potenciano & I, along with other motoring media colleagues were sent on a mission to Bali, Indonesia to attend the BMW Efficient Dynamics programme around Denpasar Island in Bali.
We were met by BMW representatives who whisked us out of the airport and took us to a sumptuous dinner in Pasar Malam by the Nusa Dua coastline. It was a huge place. There were religious icons lining the long pathway and a massive garden where we were greeted by their cultural dance show and a local cockfight! On the menu were Bali’s best dishes-Beef, Pork & Chicken Satay and Chicken served with peanut sauce and green chili – all accompanied with Bintang Beer! For dessert, we had sticky rice made from coconut, banana leaves and milk! Yuumm!
Then off we went to The Conrad Bali Hotel, which exudes first class treatment all the way! Nestled in 6.8 acres of isolated tropical gardens and lagoons, is a swimming pool that surrounds the hotel like a mote. Within it are cascading waterfalls and open dining areas and an unspoiled (but not immaculate) 350-meter beachfront. There was no other place we would have rather been than in Bali. For the romantic couple, a non-ecumenical Eternity Chapel is right on the grounds ready for an impromptu date at the altar!
Our official eco-drive around the island took us to the Peak — one of the more popular surfing destinations with an exposed reef point only about 25kms away from the main town. Driving through the narrow roads with right hand drive BMWs did not suit me at all. I was grateful Mike was our designated driver. Phew!
Bali was a dream-come-true for many of us. I’ve always wanted to visit and there I was on an official trip. We had a great time. It was as if Bali was calling out to us to stay. The song I was singing at the beginning of the trip was now being sung by the rest of our team – the same ‘ol Bloody Mary tune, “Bali Ha’i will whisper in the wind of the sea, here am I, your special island! Come to me, come to me!” Can’t wait to go back for more of spectacular Bali!