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BMW Z22 Concept

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Introduced at the 2000 Frankfurt Auto Show, the BMW Z22 concept was coonsidered to be the lightest and most advanced "mechatronic" car ever been presented to the public. What does "mechatronic" stand for? Merge the words mechanics together with electronics and you end up with "mechatronic". This concept car focuses on the use of lightweight construction materials and the application of the latest in electronic control systems for steering, acceleration and braking.

The BMW Z22 concept also introduces a new command centre concept for the operation of all of the integrated driver information and assistance technologies. The concept car weighs in at under 1,100kgs, yet provides the same internal space as the 528i touring. It achieves this up to 33% weight saving over current technologies by the innovative use of new carbon fibre technology and the separation of the body into cells using that new technology in the most effective manner.

The operating concept

The Z22 is equipped with a whole range of functions conceived as an interface between the driver and the vehicle:

  • Fingerprint instead of keys
  • Electronically controlled cornering and junction light
  • Cameras replace mirrors, three individual pictures are combined to form a panorama image on a display instead of the interior mirror
  • Head Up Display – A standard instrument for every pilot, which will in future project all the important information onto the windscreen in the car, too
  • MMI – Man-machine Interface. Presented in the Z9 at the IAA 1999, this has been continued and improved in the Z22

By Wire – The end of mechanics

The electronic control systems include an electronic throttle regulator and for the first time steering and braking also controlled electronically. Although the driver will notice no functional difference in the operation of the vehicle, the new systems do away with any mechanical connection and also provide additional flexibility in the provision of safety and internal design due to the lack of requirement for a steering column.


Conventional mechanical steering has been replaced by an electro-mechanical system which is infinitely adjustable, thereby providing a broader range of assistance where and when required, given the vehicle’s speed. The new system is also capable of translating driver input into reaction at the wheels with greater speed, thus also improving the agility of the vehicle.


In addition to the full range of driver assistance systems provided by BMW such as DSCIII, ASC+T, CBC (Cornering Brake Control), and the latest ABS systems, the Z22 introduces electrically operated braking. Although providing the same driver feel, the new system is far more capable of processing driver input with greater speed and efficiency than has previously been the case. The braking system’s central control unit continually calculates the optimal application of brake pressure and then distributes that brake pressure to each wheel as best required to ensure the greatest vehicle stability. Replacing conventional brake shoes, electro-mechanical actuators press the brake pads against the disks.

The parking brake is provided by an additional brake device integrated into these actuators and is controlled by a separate electronic push button. The Z22 also uses CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) which has a number of programs that can be selected by the driver dependant on requirements & conditions.


The interior of the Z22 features not only the latest in command centre design from BMW Technik, but also the application of cutting edge vehicle technology, including: finger print identification entry and key operation; the use of cameras instead of rear vision mirrors, providing a panoramic image, completely eliminating any blind spots; heads up display providing all primary driver information projected onto the windscreen at the ideal focal point for the driver; a central monitor which displays all vehicle functions controlled by a multi function steering wheel and a central control element known as the MMI (Man Machine Interface). This latter technology having already been presented as part of the Z9 Grand Turismo concept car shown at the Frankfurt International Motorshow in 1999.

MMI – Man-machine Interface

The Z22 also does without a traditional gear shift, with the MMI providing program selection for the CVT where necessary. The central MMI is composed of a six position rotary switch and a key pad. To start the motor, the driver must place his or her finger on the rotary switch which determines authority to drive.

The MMI in conjunction with the central monitor, can then act as the navigator and controller of all other vehicle functions and in a series of tests recently conducted, it was established that use of the MMI was far more operator-friendly and intuitive than any previous systems.

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