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"Z" - THE WAY TO THE FUTURE

Established 15 years ago, the BMW Technology Center is less than five minutes from the Munich headquarters.

Alexey VOROBYEV-OBUKHOV

The fundamental idea was simple: to gather under one roof a team of the most talented engineers, physicists, mathematicians, designers, providing them with all the conditions for free, not limited to momentary plans for creativity.

The special team got down to business. Three years later, the first production Z1s left (8, 000 in total) out of the gates of the Munich plant with plastic bodies and double wishbones, which later took their place in the suspension of the rear axle of the "three rubles". Since then, the names of all the concepts of the company began with the last letter of the German alphabet “Z”: Zukunft - the future. The now popular motorcycle with a roof is known as C1, but it was born under the index Z14, and the electric car E1 - nee Z11.

Note that all Z-concepts were distinguished by bold and extraordinary solutions - technical and layout. The anniversary Z18 and Z22 were no exception. The first is a one-of-a-kind all-terrain roadster, but the second …

Outwardly, it is not much different from the Touring 528i station wagon. That's just under the hood, which is integral with the wings, instead of the engine … electric air conditioning. The motor lay down across the car under the rear seat right in front of the drive axle. This four-cylinder unit is made of magnesium alloy with an aluminum block head. In general, in Z22, magnesium alloys rule the ball, they are even used for body panels and doors.

Through the efforts of the linkers, the Z22 combined the wheelbase of the “seven”, the length of the “three rubles”, the spacious interior and the turning radius - the “five”. One can talk endlessly about truly revolutionary innovations in this universal (to be precise - there are 131 of them): all the latest technological and technical achievements are brought together here. Titanium suspension springs, magnesium hubs, plastic suspension arms, fiber optic data lines, triple - 200/42/14 - volt on-board network. Add a 5 kW starter-generator, a voice-controlled computer, camcorders instead of mirrors, a fingerprint sensor instead of the ignition key … But perhaps something else attracts attention most.

Of course, you noticed the rectangular steering wheel. Have you noticed that there is no steering column here? Instead of a shaft - the causes of headaches for linkers and passive safety experts - the steering wheel rotates an element of an electronic sensor and a rotor of a feedback motor that simulates resistance when turning. The wheels are controlled according to a special flexible program by independent, thrice-duplicated electric motors. At high speeds, the steering sensitivity is almost like on a normal car, and when parking or turning, it is enough to turn the steering wheel 160 ° so that the wheels take their extreme position. That did not need a round steering wheel.

Now - the brakes. There are also some sensors, computers and electric motors that move and slide pads. No hydraulics and no brakes. All kinds of active safety systems are easily interfaced with such actuators. There are four of them. The handbrake, also electric, is self-locking when stopping on the ascent or descent, and when starting off it is released.

Finally, the body. He is … two-frame. The first is horizontal - made of aluminum alloy. Wheel suspensions are attached to it without any dampers. The second, or rather, the second, is the power frame of the carbon fiber sidewalls. It weighs only 19 kg and is trimmed with panels cast (!) From combined light alloys.

Thin panels are usually stamped. A unique injection molding technology is also applied here. The unit performing this operation weighs 290 tons and withstands forces of 4400 tons when an alloy heated to 700 ° C is pumped into the mold at a pressure of 1000 atmospheres at a speed of 250 km / h. The machine allows casting such details as doors or wings 2.8 × 2.8 m in size with a wall thickness of less than 2 mm.

Along with the carbon frame, the floor, roof, trunk lid are made. The Z22 body is assembled from only 20 parts instead of the usual 80, and it does not take long to cure the molded carbon parts - it takes 20 minutes.

What happened in the end? A full-size station wagon weighing 1100 kg, accelerating to 180 km / h and consuming no more than 6 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers! And now, perhaps, the most important thing: BMW claims that the applied technologies will be implemented in a series (from 100 cars per day) already from 2005. Shall we wait?

The steering characteristics of the Z22 (at different speeds) and its nearest classmate.

The first-born of the “ideological tank” - Z1.