In 1993, the engineers at BMW Technik GmbH were given a new and exciting mission: the search was on for a contemporary compact vehicle with mould-breaking active and passive safety, enhanced comfort, impressive performance, and realistic economic and environmental credentials.
The brief also included driving pleasure and understated elegance to embody the inimitable values of the brand. The specialists developed the BMW Z13 on the basis of this specification.
The fully functional prototype combines the advantages of a comfortable touring saloon with the dimensions of a compact car. The engineers involved in this project took an exceptionally unusual route to achieve their goal.
The BMW Z13 was given the title of Personal Car and designed principally as a single seater.
The driver’s seat positioned in the middle allows all the control elements to be positioned with ergonomic perfection, while also offering advantages if the car is involved in a side crash and when entering and leaving the vehicle parked at the kerbside.
The left-hand or right-hand door can be used to match the particular traffic situation.
The variable baggage space is located directly behind the driver’s seat, and it can even accommodate skis up to two metres in length.
Alternatively, two additional seats can be folded down, which are positioned obliquely behind the driver’s seat.
This unconventional configuration offers unparalleled legroom with an enhanced level of comfort for passengers seated in the rear of the car.
The supporting structure of the BMW Z13 consists of a lightweight chassis made from aluminium extrusions (space frame). The 60 kW/82 hp petrol engine is rear mounted. The low vehicle weight of only 830 kilograms contributed towards achieving average fuel-efficiency values between five and six litres for every 100 kilometres travelled.
The highly unusual vehicle concept is packaged in an extravagant design that outperformed the conventional benchmarks for an automobile at that time. Moreover, the BMW Z13 gave a very concrete perspective onto the future of mobile communications. A satellite navigation system was installed on the instrument panel alongside a telephone and fax.