Tim's Zukunft Gallery  •  Concept cars, Rumours and Upcoming Models
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BMW Technik's Z codes vs BMW AG's Z codes
Zukunft is German for 'future'. Just to make things confusing, BMW uses Z codes in three different ways:
  - Z codes used for prototypes (e.g. Z11),
  - Z codes used for concept cars (e.g. Z9), and
  - Z codes used for production models (e.g. Z3)

The research group BMW Technik GmbH uses 'Z' plus an ongoing number as an internal engineering code for new products or prototypes. Normally the ZT projects are top secret--current projects are in the range Z22 and Z30. If a car is shown to the public the internal ZT (Zukunft Technik) code is used externally. The ZT codes started in 1985 with the Z1 and that is the only case to date where the internal code was also used as the sales name.

BMW AG projects also have internal codes called "E" Numbers, like E38 for the current 7 Series. They are not used externally for marketing--the cars have concrete marketing codes, like 3 series, X5 and so on. However, since the introduction of the Z1 BMW AG has used 'Z' as the code for special cars like Z3, Z8, Z6 and Z9 even if they aren't products from Technik GmbH. They are BMW AG products (z3, Z8) or prototypes (Z6, Z9).

Zukunft Technik (Futures Team)
BMW has various sources for research and product development. The main location is FIZ (Forshungs-und Ingenieur Zentrum), the Engineering Center in Munich which brings together on one site some 5,000 people concerned with product development process, including researchers, engineers and technicians, as well as external suppliers.

BMW Technik GmbH was founded 15 years ago as a Product and Technology Innovation Centre. The team's organisation is project-oriented and detached from current product restraints. Although a much smaller organisation with about 100 staff, it is self-contained with its own design department and model construction, development department for packaging, body, engine, technical physics, computation, propulsion and frame, electric and electronics, as well as its own prototype construction and acoustic wind tunnel.

Another part of the Product and Technology Innovation Centre is the BMW Technology Office in Palo Alto, California which was opened in 1998. Co-operating closely with BMW's Designworks studio near Las Vegas and with BMW Technik in Munich, the Technology Office will create innovative products in partnership with other organisations in Silicon Valley--the birthplace of many innovative technologies which will be indispensable to a leading car maker.

Finally, a project team in Japan, serves as an antenna in Japanese technical developments.

Dr. Burkhard Göschel heads all research and development functions.

ZT projects
Naturally most of what happens behind the unimposing brick walls of 'Technik GmbH' is strictly confidential. Therefore there are large gaping arithmetic and time lapses between the serially numbered Z projects which reach the public’s eye.

Z1 Roadster (1985)
Back in 1985 the team were investigating innovations in construction and the Z1 Roadster was a pilot project--three years later the first production version of the Z1 rolled out of the Munich factory. All told, 8,000 units were produced.

Z2 Coupé version of the Z1 (1988-89)
A shortlived project for a four/six cylinder coupé based on the Z1.

Z10 roadster (1991)
Project culminated in the Z3 roadster.

Z11 (E1) Electric Car (1991)
The Z11 was the first pure-bred electric car, and under the name 'E1' was the star of the Frankfurt International Automobile Exhibition in 1991. Everyone who was able to drive it agreed on the unexpected performance and viability for daily use.

Z12 Super Car (1992)
12-cylinder super coupé/roadster. Project stopped.

Z13 Three-Seater Compact (1993)
The Z13 which was displayed at the Spring 1993 Geneva Salon combined the benefits of a large comfortable sedan with the dimensions of a compact car. There is room for two more passengers, one to the right and one to the left, seated halfway behind the driver’s seat.

Z14 (C1) Two Wheeler
The C1, which combined the advantages of a motorized two-wheeler with numerous safety elements of an automobile.

Z15 Hybrid engine E1/1 (1993)
3.4-metre version of E1 (Z11).

Z15/2 Electric motor E2 (1993)
Larger US-variant.

Z18 Off-Road Roadster (1995)
The X5-based Z18 combines the roadster drive with the robustness and high seat position of an all-terrain vehicle. The variable concept allows the Z18 to be used as a two-seater, a two-seater pickup or a 2+2 with trunk space.

Z21 'Just 4/2' (1995)
The Z21 was displayed at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show. Just as the name says, (just four two) it is a motorcycle on four wheels: a two-seater with open wheels, without a roof or windscreen, powered by the BMW K1100 motorcycle engine.

Z22 Advanced Mechatronics (1999)
For its 15th anniversary, Technik GmbH is presenting the Z22, the lightest and most advanced mechatronic car which has ever been presented to the public. Mechatronic is the generic term for “mechanical system with electronic control” and together with lightweight construction will revolutionize automobile technology in the years to come.

Z29 V8 coupe (1999)
Challenger to Jaguar XKR. Dropped.

AG concepts

Z6 Luxury Sports
The E63 revives the Spirit of the 6 Series.

Z9 Gran Tourismo (AG)
The dramatically styled Z9 Gran Turismo sports coupé, first exhibited at the Frankfurt Motorshow in September 1999, featured gullwing doors, carbon fibre bodywork and the world's first V8 diesel engine.

AG products

Z1 Roadster
Back in 1985 the team were investigating innovations in construction and the Z1 Roadster was a pilot project--three years later the first production version of the Z1 rolled out of the Munich factory. All told, 8,000 units were produced.

1996 prototype with six-cylinder engine, no other details known.

Z5 Sports Coupé
1996 Z3-based sports coupé, subsequentially introduced as the Z3 coupé.

Z8 Roadster
To be completed.