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Auto blogTue, 13 May 2014 08:01:00 EST
The immense amount of resources BMW has poured into its i brand program hasn't stopped, and recent developments indicate it's likely to pay off for BMW and BMW buyers outside the i brand. The i8 has already sold out its first year run, the i3 racked up 10,000 orders before it even went on sale and is already the subject of public discussion about being stretched into an i5, and a new investment in carbon fiber production has the automaker talking about CFRP use in non-i and non-M models.
BMW and SGL Group got together to form SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers (ACF), and the joint venture produces all of the CFRP for the i3 and i8 on two production lines at its plant in Moses Lake, Washington. After already investing $100 million to increase capacity, BMW has announced that another $200 million will add four more production lines, tripling production from 3,000 tons per year to 9,000 tons. When the expansion is complete in 2015, BMW says the Moses Lake facility will be the world's largest carbon fiber plant.
That's a lot of weave and the long view is that it will find its way into core models, with BMW exec Dr. Klaus Draeger saying, "As part of an intelligent mix of materials, we will apply carbon also beyond our BMW i and BMW M models in the future," and be able to do so "at competitive costs and in large quantities."
BMW has some considerable racing prowess to crow about, and draws on those credentials to create models like the new M4. But it's not about to rest on the laurels it's won at the end of innumerable races past and present. Mere months after the release of its latest performance coupe, BMW has already revealed a new M4 touring car for the DTM series, and has now unveiled its new M4 safety car for the MotoGP motorcycle championship.
Revealed on the BMW M Facebook page and set to debut at the front of the grid at the season opener in Qatar a couple weeks from now, the new M4 safety car is just the latest in a long string of official vehicles it has provided to the MotoGP series. Previous examples have included everything from the 1M Coupe to the M6 and the X6 M.
Like its predecessors, the M4 safety car features emergency lighting, special equipment and of course BMW's trademark white livery with red, navy and light blue stripes that, in this arrangement, give the new Williams Martini Racing livery a run for its money. Logos promote the BMW M Performance Parts you can buy to bring your own Bimmer up to spec, which on this car isn't likely have changed much from stock.
A BMW M2 is on the way, according to a sub-forum in the Bimmerpost empire. Of course, we're actively enjoying a few grains of salt, just to be safe, as the post doesn't mention explicit sources, saying only that "multiple inside sources (who have been accurate in the past)," have confirmed the car.
Provided the forum is correct, though, there's some juicy information here. Production is allegedly slated for late fall 2015, with deliveries likely starting in early 2016. The new sports coupe should arrive with 365 to 375 horsepower, courtesy of an upgraded version of BMW's N55 turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six.
The report claims BMW also considered a modified version of the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder found in the Mini Cooper S. That engine, known internally as the B48, would have been called the S48 for M2 duty, a significance that we're sure BMW purists would appreciate (the only BMW engine to wear an S designation was the four-cylinder from the legendary E30 M3).