All New BMW i3: Concept To Reality

Woodcliff Lake NJ, Oct 10 2013 - The born electric BMW i3 represents a new era of electromobility. It is like no other car the world has ever seen. It offers visionary design, a ground-breaking vehicle architecture, dynamic performance and innovative connectivity. No other car represents such a holistic approach to sustainability throughout the value chain. The BMW i3 will go on sale in the US market in the second quarter of 2014. The battery electric model will have a base MSRP of $41,350, before any federal or state incentives, and before Destination & Handling fee (currently $925).  The range-extender model will have a starting MSRP of $45,300. Again, this is before any federal or state incentives, and before Destination & Handling fee.

The BMW i3

Highlights: The All-New BMW i3:
The new all-electric BMW i3 is a landmark in BMW’s mission to provide a completely sustainable, electric vehicle that still stays true to the Ultimate Driving Machine moniker. The BMW i3 is the first product of the new BMW i sub-brand, and is a truly purpose built electric car. It’s a new era for electro mobility at BMW.

The BMW i3

The vehicle concept behind the BMW i3 was designed from the outset to incorporate an all-electric drive system. This has numerous advantages over “conversion” vehicles, in which the original combustion engine is swapped for an electric motor. The engineers can design whatever works best, in terms of construction, dimensions and configuration of the electric drive system’s components. The car’s development is dictated by the characteristics designed into the car by the development team and not by the constraints imposed by a pre-existing vehicle design. For example, the space in a conversion vehicle set aside for the fuel tank or exhaust system cannot be used. In the BMW i3 there is no need for this kind of compromise.

The BMW i3

This leads to the LifeDrive architecture concept, which was purpose-built specifically for the BMW i3. It is comprised of two modules; the Life Module, and the Drive Module. Think of the Life Module as the passenger cabin, or greenhouse. It is the first-ever mass produced Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) passenger cell in the automotive business, and is a big factor in the cars efficiency. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic is equally as strong as steel, while being 50% lighter, and 30% lighter than aluminum. The result is an electric car that weighs about 2,700 lbs (preliminary US figures).

Due to the lightweight, high tensile strength of CFRP, the passenger cell has added protection, and the battery has less work to do, which allows for the use of a smaller, lighter battery that saves even more weight, reduces charging time and increases range. The light weight design of the Life Module also lowers the BMW i3’s center of gravity, making it a more engaging and dynamic car to drive.

The BMW i3

The Drive Module, which is constructed out of 100% aluminum, consists of the 22-kWh, 450 lb. lithium-ion battery, electric drive train, MacPherson strut and 5-link rear  suspension system and structural and crash components. The battery mounted in the rear, close to the drive wheels, gives impressive performance characteristics while also providing better traction.

Another benefit of the LifeDrive architecture concept is that there is no space-consuming transmission tunnel running through the center of the car, like in most internal combustion powered cars, because of the separate Drive Module. This gives the BMW i3 the interior space of the BMW 3 Series, while only having the footprint of the much smaller BMW 1 Series.

The BMW i3

Even the vehicle’s key is sustainably manufactured. The source material of the new bio-polymer key is based on castor oil pressed from castor seeds. The owner’s manual is also made from renewable resources.

The interior is made using high quality renewable sources and recycled materials. The BMW i3 has the Next Premium interior, which blends sustainable resources with a premium feel for the same interior quality as the BMW 5 Series Sedan. 25% of the plastics in the interior and 25% of the thermoplastic parts on the exterior are made from either recycled materials or renewable sources.

The BMW i3

According to studies carried out as part of BMW’s Project i, involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 12.5 million miles, it was revealed that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles. The BMW i3 will be able to travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge. This can be increased by up to approximately 12% in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount again in ECO PRO+ mode. It is able to recharge in only 3 hours with the use of a 220V Level 2, 32-amp J1772 charger.  The SAE DC Combo Fast Charging, which charges the BMW i3 up to 80% in 20 minutes, and 100% in 30, can be had as an option.

In order to reduce range anxiety, a rear-mounted 650cc, 34 hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle’s range. When the battery gets to a certain level, the Range Extender starts and maintains the battery’s current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle’s wheels. The Range Extender adds roughly 330 lbs. to the vehicle curb weight and has a fuel capacity of 2.4 gallons.

Since 1999 according to the DOE, average gasoline prices in America have increased from approximately $1.136 to $3.618, or about a 218%. In the same time, the pricing of electricity has increased from 6.6 cents to 9.9 cents, a change of only 50%, making electricity a far more attractive commodity from a pricing standpoint.

The BMW i3

The Ultimate Drive Machine®:
BMW makes the Ultimate Driving Machine, and that holds true for the BMW i3. The hybrid synchronous electric motor, which weighs only 110 lbs., is developed and produced specially by the BMW Group for use in the BMW i3, with maximum revs of 11,400 rpm, generates an output of 170 hp and outputs maximum torque of 184 lb-ft on tap from the moment the car pulls away. That’s propels the 2,700 lb car from 0-30mph in 3.5 seconds, 0-60mph in approximately 7.2 seconds, and to an electronically limited top speed of 93 mph (preliminary USA figures). Much like engine braking with a manual transmission, but even more effective, the accelerator pedal also acts as a brake when the driver lifts off the accelerator.

The BMW i3

The BMW i3 features Brake Energy Regeneration, which, when the driver lifts off, the motor acts as a generator and converts the kinetic energy into electricity, which is fed back into the battery for a range gain. This Regeneration is speed-sensitive, which means that the car “coasts” for added efficiency at high speeds, and generates the strong braking effect at lower speeds.

The BMW i3’s accelerator pedal has a distinct “neutral” position. Rather than switching straight to energy Regeneration when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to separate from the drivetrain and deploy only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 cruises using virtually no energy at all. This is another way anticipatory driving can preserve energy and increase the car’s range.

The BMW i3

The impressive electric motor, small turning circle of 32.3 feet, – a major benefit to driving in the city – BMW’s near-perfect 50-50 weight distribution, precise electric power steering and the stable suspension set-up help to make the i3 as satisfying to drive as every other BMW.

The BMW i3’s tires are a unique 155/70/19 size on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, but the contact patch is the same of that of a more conventional 16-inch tire. To improve efficiency, they have low rolling resistance, and the narrow section width is a key factor in the BMW i3’s super-tight turning radius.

The BMW i3

The BMW i3 uses the BMW eDrive rear-wheel drive powertrain previously found on the BMW ActiveE. eDrive offers driving dynamics worthy of the Ultimate Driving Machine name and offers zero tailpipe emission driving. Beyond the traditional immediacy of response offered by electric motors when pulling away, power development in the BMW i3 also remains unbroken through higher speeds. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission, allowing the BMW i3 to accelerate with an uninterrupted flow of power up to its top speed.

The all-new BMW i3 will be featured at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November, 2013 and will arrive at BMW i centers in the US beginning in the second quarter of 2014.

Information about BMW Group products is available to consumers via the Internet at:  www.bmwgroupna.com

Picture below by Randy Berg: BMW i3 Concept - LA Auto Show 2012

 

All New BMW i3: Concept To Reality

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