More Than 2,000 Stationary Fuel Cell Systems in Service Worldwide
GM Offers Downsized Aveo for Euro Introduction

BMW to Show SuperCap Hybrid Concept at Frankfurt

BMW’s hybrid prototype in 2003 delivered strong low-end performance.

BMW apparently is ready to show the supercapacitor-based gasoline hybrid it had discussed earlier in the year. (Earlier post.)

According to a report in Automotive News Europe, BMW will bring the hybrid concept car to the IAA show in Frankfurt in September. (IAA is going to prove to be the venue for a number of new “power” hybrid concepts, such as one expected from Porsche.)

BMW built a predecessor of this concept in 2003 when it integrated an electric motor between the engine and transmission to create a hybrid for acceleration assistance in a BMW X5 Experimental Vehicle.

The use of high-performance capacitors rather than batteries enables a more powerful, short discharge for the electric motor that can significantly add to the performance of an engine at low revs.

BMW found that the Experimental X5 “showed a standard of response never seen before” as well as an increase in torque to 1,000 Nm (737 lb-ft) at low speeds. The chart above plots the results. (Click to enlarge.)

The vehicle also reduced its fuel consumption by up to 15% in the usual test drive cycle.

As a result of those trials, BMW began exploring the creation of a compact “active transmission” integrating both the electric motor and the power electronics into the transmission—significantly reducing both the additional weight and the space required for the system. High-performance capacitors in the door-sills would provide the desired higher charge and discharge rates than a battery system.

That is likely what BMW will show in Frankfurt—built, perhaps, into an X3.



From a driver safety point of view, placing the capacitors in the door panels-sills is wrong.
*caps could explode, due to internal short.
*in an accident, release capacitor chemicals into the passinger compartment.

Maybe they are placed in the panels because the caps operate best in the limited temperature of the passinger compartment.
They really should be placed under the steel floor.


1) The explosion danger of the capacitors is dependent on the capacitor chemistry, and that has not yet been revealed. They may or may not be potentially explosive.

2) The article says that the capacitors will be mounted in the door sills. A door sill is the area that you step on below the door. It is NOT the door itself. It would be a fairly easy area to make safe. Placing the caps in the door itself would create all sorts of design headaches even if the caps were non-explosive.


The door sill is a strong structural part of the car under where the door is and its just the right size to stuff these puppies.

Gilbert Godin

Looks like electronics and electrics are moving further and furthur inside the car. Why not a just a straight gas powered PMDC generator, Variable Frequency drive and 4 hub AC motors (full drive by wire system). Add batteries or capacitors if you like.


I really think this is the way to go. With a strong commitment by the feds, we could grow and process all the biodiesel we need from algae grown around the Salton Sea.

This is what we should be building right now. In my opinion Ford and GM will go bankrupt before they even begin to catch on.

For about the past year I have offered anyone who would listen the following info: None of the American automobile companies have even responded. I have had some positive response from several educational institutions but - as far as I know - none have done any experimental work to verify my claims.

Here is what I have been proposing:

In one scale or another everyone of these systems have been proven.

Like to produce a vehicle that can burn rubber on takeoff on all four wheels and get 90+ mpg?

What I would like to see the automakers working on would have:

A turbocharged, two cylinder opposed, 2-cycle, air-cooled diesel directly
driving a generator. (It would not be running most of the time.) A 111 volt Lithium-Ion Polymer battery pack. Nothing but wires going from the controller to every wheel, except for the necessary additional friction
brakes (of course). An added advantage of this would be the ability to recharge from the electrical grid while at home, saving even more on fuel.

Each wheel, depending on the feedback to the controller from wheel speed sensors would drive with just the right power depending on the accelerator position. You would get recharging from deceleration just as you do in today's hybrids. You would also use this feedback to stop the wheel from skidding.

Each wheel would have a stationary stator and a series of fixed magnets closely adjacent all around the inside of the wheel. In a sense it would operate each wheel in a very similar fashion that the mag-lev trains use,
except the motion would be circular, of course. Something very different about this type of motor is that the stators are fixed to the axles and the magnets are driven around them. This gives a significant increase in
mechanical advantage. That's like turning an ordinary electric motor inside out.

There would be no need for ordinary electric motor brushes. In fact, many electric motors operating today are brushless.

Such motors already exist in the model airplane field and their efficiently
is amazing - approaching 90%. I've got a couple and doubt that I would ever buy any other type.

It's possible to hang the model on the prop right out in front of you and
accelerate straight up, like a rocket, with this type motor

In the vehicle the motor/generator would not turn on to recharge the
batteries until they needed it. There are already experimental Lithium-Ion
driven cars that can get in excess of 200 miles before they have to be
recharged by plugging them in. You would top off your batteries overnight by plugging them in. Some cutting edge research by Toshiba - employing nano-technology - indicates that recharging can be done so fast that you could top off while eating lunch.

Lithium -Ion battery technology is so new that I doubt that very many
automotive engineers have even heard of them, much less thought to use them in this manner. Their energy density exceeds that of any other form of rechargeable energy storage.

The Lithium Ion battery is the most efficient battery available right now. So is the outer rotor electric motor the most efficient motor.

Build an Automobile right and it will weight less and have simpler, easier to repair/replace modules.

Lets see what we can eliminate while improving performance and efficiency.

Transmission - None

Ignition system - None

Liquid cooling - None

Valves and valve train - None

Use bio-oil/fuels for both fuel and lubrication.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know in the Transportation business.

I bought a Honda Civic Hybrid last summer. I enjoy it more than any vehicle I've ever owned. I will Never buy another vehicle that isn't a Hybrid and doesn't get at least 50 mpg.

As far as I can tell, Detroit isn't even thinking the same way I and the vast majority of it's potential customers are.

I spend a lot of time at various websites that provide information about future vehicles and alternative fuels. I guess it was inevitable that I would run into you. Dr. Tinker pointed out how related your approach was to mine. (Better!) Perhaps you can use some of this info. I have no plans to profit from it in any way. Just would like to see some improvements in personal transportation at long last.

William Lucas Jones
490 Mauldin Rd.
Sautee, GA 30571-3159

(706) 219-3333


We should be skeptical of 'in-wheel' electric motors. They have no shock absorption. They're exposed to cold and heat, dust, water and mud. They have potential wear from these and the odd torque of cornering. A frame-mounted electric motor is the most reliable configuration.

We should be skeptical of drive-by-wire technology as well. The driver should always have direct control over propulsion, steering and braking. The car that drives itself is a dorky idea.

The 'assist only' Hybrid configuration is obsolete. 15% fuel economy improvement? Big frickin deal. Whoopdeedo!


Note: the Plug-in Hybrid, and those that can be converted to Plug-in, is the only Hybrid that deserves kudos. The Plug-in Pruis is achieving over 100 mpg. There's talk of reaching 500mpg. Honda, this BMW rust bucket, GM Silverado hybrids will never get that good.

And don't forget, the Hybrogen fuel cell car is a frickin hoax.


Hey now, no need to be putting down Honda! :) They have the next generation civic hybrid coming out, and it's way more efficient again, while being 5% more compact. It should, unless I am wrong, get somewhere around 70 miles to the gallon (on paper). Not sure what it would be in real driving conditions. IT also has drive by motor alone option for a bit like the prius does. About time.

The biggest disappointment I have with the Honda (and I don't have many, except some of their cars can look weird at times) is their corporate pride: they don't want to relinquish the priority of the four stroke gas engine in their cars, because their four-stroke engines are what made Honda so famous originally. Their engineers could and still can work magic with engines! When they start making the motors the primary means, and make them plug in's, and add an efficient diesel generator under the hood to boost range, we're talking! I plan to do so with my own 98 Honda Odyssey in a couple years or so, wish me luck!

Mitsubushi is on to something very good here, for the most part. Add a plug and a small generator and we're cooking with gas!


whoops! make that "BMW" is onto something good here, for the most part. Wrong post! (But Mitsubishi is too, with their electric eclipse).

Louis Loizides

Electric motors are good for torque, but they're not as good as ICE engines at higher speeds. That said, I'm sure that at one point in the future we'll find a way to design an electric motor that's good for both. BMW is on the right track for a solution in the immediate future. It's cheap and effective. As far as fuel cells, am I the only one that has noticed that battery technology is progressing much faster than fuel cell technology? In the 20-30 years it'll take to get a fuel cell off the ground, I'll be able to get a small carbon nanotube cupercap that can hold enough energy to get me hundreds of miles.

Mati Arulepp

I am sure that the point of future is Ultracapacitor for good acceleration. There is practically very little chance that the EDLC will be explode. E.g Honda use in her ultracapacitors the organic solution, which is widely used in the fire-protection systems in electric shield. I am workind in the field ultracaps many years. The capacitor development reaches allready today the power requirements of car application. The problem is the cost which seems to be too high today. I'm sure that in near future, the price goes down as has been happend with Li-ion batteries.
For more capacitor information visit They are in the nice level of the EDLC development using SkeletonC carbon.
Batteries will never reach the power level of ultracapacitors, at least with same lifetime!


I recommend to never ever use a plane again, since they use the same x-by-wire technology BMW plans to put into it's hybrid.
BTW. The Prius is driven completly by wire. Doesn't seem to have problems.

It's just a psychological problem...

Seems like you only care for improvements that are above 15%, huh? If you give all those gas guzzlers an improvement of 15%, how much would they save? Do you really think that's obsolete???


i like this stuff but can they pack it to small one like 120iD(cabri0), or new M3 coupe, esp. to backup the 4.0L V8 that's only 1:8 mpg(touring spec),in my country i can only see std spec for X5 and 3,5,7 series w/o any rare spec such as 535iD,or 645Ci,i'm a BMW fan so it's good to see a SE for Z9 w/the supercap from X5 hybrid( ultimate dream car for me, beside 535iD).Thnx!!

The comments to this entry are closed.