2014 BMW i3

Cutaway View
Beijing World Premiere

(from BMW Press Release) The BMW i3

The world, and with it the sphere of personal mobility, is in a state of ecological, economic and social upheaval. Global developments such as climate change, dwindling resources and increasing urbanisation call for fresh solutions. BMW i is finding those solutions. The brand stands for visionary vehicle concepts, inspiring design and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability.

In the BMW i3 – the first series-produced model by BMW i – zero-emission mobility in a premium car package proves to be a recipe for pure driving pleasure. The first BMW Group model running on electric power alone offers customers totally new and groundbreaking ways to experience driving pleasure, sustainability and connectivity on city roads. The visionary design of the BMW i3 showcases both BMW’s customary sporting capability and the efficiency of a four-seater with authentic clarity. Its innovative vehicle concept, including a passenger compartment made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), combines lightness, stability and safety with extraordinary spaciousness. Meanwhile, the driver assistance systems and mobility services from BMW Connected Drive and the 360° ELECTRIC services – all developed specially for BMW i – turn zero-emission urban mobility into a compelling everyday driving experience.

The electric motor powering the BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft). Its instantaneous power flows to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The motor sources its energy from lithium-ion storage cells integrated into the car’s underfloor section. The significantly lower centre of gravity of the i3 – the result of the low, central placement of the battery units – and even weight distribution make an additional contribution to the car’s agile handling. The battery gives the car a range in everyday conditions of 130 – 160 kilometres (81 – 99 miles) when fully charged from a conventional domestic power socket, BMW i Wallbox or public charging station.

Already a globally successful manufacturer of premium vehicles, the BMW Group is also set to play a leading and groundbreaking role in shaping the face of personal mobility in the future. The research and development work carried out since 2007 as part of project i has laid the foundations for sustainable mobility solutions influenced by environmental, economic and social change around the world. The BMW Group is pursuing an integrated approach, as embodied by the new BMW i brand, in its drive to achieve the necessary balance between individual needs and the global mobility requirements of the future. BMW i is committed to creating innovative vehicles and mobility services with a premium character that is defined squarely in terms of sustainability. This vision is about to become reality: the BMW i3, the first series-produced model from the new brand, offers customers emission-free mobility in a premium car package.

The BMW i3 is the world’s first premium car designed from the ground up to be powered by an electric drive system. The result is hallmark BMW driving pleasure, delivered with zero emissions and an engaging intensity unmatched by any other electrically powered vehicle. Like the i3’s unique vehicle architecture – based around the LifeDrive structure, with its CFRP passenger cell and aluminium module encompassing the powertrain, battery and chassis – the electric motor, power electronics and high-voltage lithium-ion battery have been developed independently by the BMW Group under its BMW eDrive programme. This ensures that BMW’s time-honoured Sheer Driving Pleasure is also a central feature of the BMW i3.

The use of lightweight, durable and crash-safe CFRP on this scale is unique in volume car production. And thanks to its weight-reducing properties, the BMW i3 is no heavier than a comparable vehicle with a conventional drive system and full fuel tank. Its DIN kerb weight stands at 1,195 kilograms – including a high-voltage battery that allows the driver to enjoy both sporting performance attributes and an operating range sufficient for everyday use.

Visionary design as an expression of agility, innovation and sustainability.

The LifeDrive architecture and BMW eDrive drive technology allow an exceptional degree of freedom in terms of design. Indeed, the appearance of the BMW i3 is as memorable as the feeling of space and driving experience on board. A body measuring 3,999 millimetres in length, 1,775 mm wide and 1,578 mm in height gives the BMW i3 distinctive proportions whose dynamism and compactness underline the car’s agility in urban use. The short overhangs of the BMW i3 are also a clear pointer to its nimble driving characteristics. Large glass surfaces imbue the i3 with a compelling lightness and, together with its visible carbon structures, provide a window into the car’s low-weight design.

The use of the light yet extremely rigid material CFRP in the construction of the passenger compartment allows it to dispense with B-pillars, making access to the two rows of seats extremely easy. One of the signature features of BMW i models is their “black belt”, which extends from the bonnet over the roof and into the rear of the car. Another product of the stand-alone BMW i design language is the “stream flow” sweep of the side contours, which allows larger side window surfaces at the rear and thereby magnifies the generous feeling of space inside the car.

The front-end design of the BMW i3 is defined by a powerfully contoured apron, by the distinctive interpretation of the BMW kidney grille as an enclosed element, and by headlights bordered with U-shaped LED light units. The likewise U-shaped LED rear lights are integrated as “floating” elements into the large, fully glazed tailgate.

Opposing “coach” doors, coupled with the absence of B-pillars and the centre tunnel normally found in conventional vehicles, form the basis for the unusually high degree of spaciousness and freedom of movement inside the BMW i3 (given its compact exterior dimensions). The lines and surface sculpting of the cockpit and door trim accentuate the impression of lightness and contemporary functionality. The mixture of naturally treated leather, wood, wool and other renewable and recycled raw materials ensures that the premium character of the BMW i3 – complemented by the extra allure of impressive sustainability – is something you can both see and feel.

The BMW i3 is fitted with lightweight seats featuring extremely slim backrests. A slightly raised seating position optimises the driver’s view over city traffic. The gear selector and start/stop switch share a control element projecting from the steering column. Both the instrument cluster and the iDrive operating system’s Control Display (6.5 inch or 8.8 inch) come in free-standing display form.

The BMW i3 can be ordered with exterior paintwork in a choice of two non-metallic and four metallic colours, all of which present an eye-catching contrast to the black belt. The interior can be tailored to the customer’s personal style with the Loft, Lodge and Suite equipment lines available as alternatives to the standard Atelier trim. Standard equipment for the BMW i3 includes the iDrive system and Radio Professional, telephone hands-free facility, air conditioning, Park Distance Control with rear-mounted sensors, stationary climate control and a variable luggage compartment. Also standard are onboard connectivity via an integrated SIM card and extensive Smartphone integration via USB and Bluetooth, including the BMW i Remote App. Additional options include a choice of navigation systems, Adaptive LED Headlights, an electrically operated glass roof, automatic climate control, heated seats, Comfort Access and a host of BMW ConnectedDrive features.

Also available as options are a range extender and driver assistance systems such as Driving Assistant Plus, Parking Assistant, a rear view camera and Speed Limit Info.

LifeDrive architecture and BMW eDrive: a commitment to electric driving pleasure.

The familiar sense of driving pleasure embodied by the BMW i3 is the result of a rigorously implemented overall concept, part of which has involved creating the optimum balance of weight, performance and range for urban mobility. The key elements here are the LifeDrive architecture and BMW eDrive technology. The use of lightweight CFRP for the passenger cell cancels out the extra weight contributed by the lithium-ion battery, while the low, central positioning of the battery pack enhances the car’s agility thanks to perfectly balanced 50 : 50 weight distribution. Additionally, the electric motor mounted in close proximity to the driven rear axle offers unique performance characteristics for this type of drive system as well as providing unbeatable traction. The standard 19-inch forged light-alloy wheels of the BMW i3 are ultra-lightweight yet also boast outstanding torsional stiffness. The wheels are fitted with low rolling resistance tyres in 155/70 R19 format, their bespoke, relatively narrow dimensions providing an ideal combination of lower drag and a contact area designed for dynamic cornering. Customers can order 20-inch light-alloy wheels as an option.

The driving characteristics of the BMW i3 are dominated by its manoeuvrability – a direct response to the demands of city driving. The instantaneous power delivery of the electric motor, allied to the car’s stiff suspension set-up, precise steering and impressively small turning circle (9.86 metres), produces a typically BMW take on electric mobility. The electric motor generates output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft), which is on tap from the word go. The motor weighs just 50 kilograms and boasts power density and responsiveness unprecedented in the world of electric mobility. The specific construction of the hybrid synchronous electric motor, developed exclusively for the BMW i3, maintains a linear flow of power into the higher reaches of the rev range. The BMW i3 sprints from 0 to 60 km/h (37 mph) in a mere 3.7 seconds and 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.2 seconds.

The single-pedal control concept in the BMW i3 – configured by the BMW Group’s drive system development engineers – also contributes to the engaging driving experience. Recuperation mode is activated the moment the driver takes his foot off the accelerator. The electric motor switches from drive to generator mode, feeding power into the lithium-ion battery. At the same time, it generates a precisely controllable braking effect. This recuperation is speed-sensitive, which means the car “coasts” with maximum efficiency at high speeds and generates a strong braking effect at low speeds.

The lithium-ion battery enables the BMW i3 to achieve a range of 130 to 160 kilometres (81 – 99 miles) in everyday driving. This rises by around 20 kilometres (12 miles) in ECO PRO mode and by the same distance again in ECO PRO+ mode. If desired, the BMW i3 is also available with a range-extender engine, which maintains the charge of the lithium-ion battery at a constant level while on the move as soon as it dips below a specified value. This role is performed by a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine developing 25 kW/34 hp and mounted immediately adjacent to the electric motor above the rear axle. The range extender increases the car’s maximum range in day-to-day driving to around 300 kilometres (approx. 180 miles).

Optimal safety: protection in all situations. The horizontally split LifeDrive architecture, consisting of two separate, independent modules, is similar in principle to a body-on-frame design. While the aluminium Drive module – the chassis – provides the vehicle’s sturdy foundation, and incorporates the battery, the drive system and the basic structural and crash functions, the Life module consists mainly of a high-strength, ultra-lightweight CFRP passenger cell.

The high-strength passenger cell, in conjunction with intelligent distribution and absorption of impact forces, provide optimal standards of occupant protection. Even in a 64 km/h (40 mph) offset frontal impact, the extremely rigid material of the passenger cell ensures that the occupant survival space is not compromised, while aluminium crash structures in the front and rear of the Drive module provide additional protection. As a result, deformation of the body in an impact is actually less than for a comparable sheet-steel body. In a pole impact and side impact, the CFRP body demonstrates exceptional energy-absorbing capabilities. Despite the high impact forces and the fact that they are concentrated in relatively small areas, the material suffers only minor deformation. These outstanding qualities provide optimal protection not only for passengers but also for the high-voltage battery. In the side impact test, pole penetration does not extend as far as the battery.

The world’s first fully networked electrically powered car, courtesy of BMW ConnectedDrive.

The BMW i3 is the world’s first fully networked electrically powered car. No other model boasts such far-reaching exchange of information between the vehicle, its driver and the outside world. A SIM card fitted as standard in the BMW i3 is the key that unlocks the BMW ConnectedDrive services – in their recalibrated 2013 guise – available to the new electric model. For example, it introduces navigation services specially developed to enhance electric mobility alongside familiar features including the Concierge Services information facility and the Intelligent Emergency Call function. Moreover, drivers can use the BMW i Remote app to share information with their car at any time using their smartphone. The pedestrian navigation function guides the driver from parking place to final destination and back, while BMW ConnectedDrive also offers unique intermodal route guidance as a world first, which incorporates local public transport connections into journey planning. The aim of this intelligent networking is to enable maximum driving pleasure in a car emitting zero local emissions.

The BMW ConnectedDrive services specifically designed for BMW i focus on the areas of navigation and energy management. The Range Assistant is engaged both for route planning and during journeys already under way. If the destination programmed into the navigation system is beyond the car’s range, the system suggests switching to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode and calculates a more efficient route. If the driver needs to charge the battery at a public charging station, a list of available stations in the area is displayed. The navigation system of the BMW i3 also comes with a dynamic range display, which supplies drivers with exceptionally precise, up-to-date and reliable information on whether there is sufficient charge to reach their destination and, if so, how much power will remain at the end of the journey. All the factors affecting range are considered in the calculation process, which is carried out on a BMW server and sent to the navigation system via the SIM card installed in the car. The range readout, presented in the form of a spidergram on the navigation map in the central information display, is extremely clear.

The link-up between driver and car also enters a new dimension in the BMW i3. The BMW ConnectedDrive Remote app for BMW i enables smartphone access to useful vehicle data for journey planning. If the BMW i3 is hooked up to a charging station or the BMW i Wallbox, the supply of energy can be controlled via smartphone, while the air conditioning and heating function for the high-voltage battery pack can also be activated remotely. In addition, customers can use their smartphone to send destinations to their car’s navigation system. The app also shows the driver charging stations (both available and in use) and can establish if the car has sufficient power remaining to reach them. The car’s range limit display on the smartphone screen replicates that provided by the car’s navigation system. The BMW i3 is also available with an array of other innovative BMW ConnectedDrive driver assistance systems developed specifically to enhance convenience and safety in urban conditions.

The Driving Assistant Plus option comprises Collision Warning with braking function (which responds to both moving and stationary vehicles ahead as well as to pedestrians) and Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function. In addition to giving visual and audible warnings, the system is also able to brake the vehicle automatically if required, with up to maximum stopping power. The Parking Assistant – a further option – performs steering manoeuvres at the same time as controlling the accelerator, brake and gear selection, enabling fully automatic parking of the BMW i3 in a space parallel to the road. To supplement the standard Park Distance Control (PDC) with rear-mounted sensors, a rear view camera is also available for the BMW i3. Further driver assistance systems are the Traffic Jam Assistant and Speed Limit Info.

Integrated approach: 360° ELECTRIC provides an all-encompassing energy supply and mobility solution.

The aim in determining the range of the BMW i3 was to ensure that customers could cover their typical energy needs by charging the car twice or three times per week. The studies carried out as part of project i – involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 20 million kilometres (approx. 12.5 million miles) – revealed that the average daily distance covered was around 45 kilometres (28 miles). Customers can charge their cars using either the wallbox supplied by BMW i or a conventional domestic power socket. BMW i offers an extensive range of products and services in its 360° ELECTRIC package designed to meet all individual customer needs for energy supply and journey planning. The spectrum of services ranges from the installation of the BMW i Wallbox in the customer’s garage and special renewable energy supply offers, to the charging card for user-friendly access to the public charging infrastructure and additional assistance services from BMW ConnectedDrive. If the BMW i3 concept fails to meet mobility requirements in a specific situation, 360° ELECTRIC provides flexible mobility solutions including alternative vehicles from the BMW and DriveNow ranges.

New sales models in the personal mobility sector.

BMW i stands for a new approach to personal mobility. In selected markets, sales of BMW i products and services will be handled via an innovative multi-channel sales model. In addition to dealerships, this model will also comprise a mobile sales team, a Customer Interaction Centre (CIC) and Internet sales. All the new platforms are fully interlinked. Whichever sales channel a customer chooses, and regardless of whether they buy or lease the vehicle, their contract is always with BMW AG and not with the dealer, as would normally be the case. At launch, it is expected that more than 10 per cent of European BMW dealers will also be handling sales of BMW i models.

Sustainability throughout the value chain.

The revolutionary character of the BMW i3 is based on an overall concept which has been systematically designed from the ground up to provide sustainable mobility, and incorporates an unusually large number of technical features geared towards maximum efficiency. The new concept in premium mobility embodied by BMW i – “next premium” – is, however, not just focused on the vehicle itself. When it comes to the choice of materials, the production process, the supply chain and recycling, the BMW i3 likewise sets unrivalled standards for sustainability in the automotive industry.

The BMW Group production network also builds the BMW i3’s electric motor and battery. At its Dingolfing and Landshut plants in Lower Bavaria, the BMW Group has created a “competence network” for electric mobility. The BMW plant in Dingolfing produces the battery, the transmission and the aluminium Drive module structure, while the BMW Landshut plant produces CFRP components for the Life module, plastic exterior parts, castings and the cockpit of the BMW i3.

The lightweight design strategy specially developed for BMW i models makes extensive use of the lightweight, corrosion-proof and crash-resistant high-tech material CFRP. CFRP components are around 50 per cent lighter than corresponding steel components with comparable properties. in this field, too, the BMW Group is breaking new ground – both in the use of this innovative material and in its manufacture and processing.

Sustainability at every stage – including production.

The production of the BMW i3 sets new standards in environmental protection and consumes around 50 per cent less energy and around 70 per cent less water in comparison with the current average figures for production in the BMW Group, which are already extremely efficient. All the electricity used to produce the BMW i models at the Leipzig plant is wind-generated and therefore 100 per cent renewable. This is the first time an automobile manufacturing plant in Germany has installed wind turbines on site to directly power production. Likewise, all of the energy used in carbon fibre production in Moses Lake is entirely derived from renewable, locally generated hydroelectric power and is therefore completely carbon-free. BMW i is thus achieving the goal it envisaged at the outset: compared to the World Green Car of the Year 2008 – the BMW 118d – the BMW i3’s carbon footprint is around a third smaller. And if the customer runs the BMW i3 on power generated from renewable sources, its performance is 50 per cent better again.

The BMW i3 is the first premium-segment model conceived to run purely on electric power. And the car’s innovative vehicle concept also shines through in its design. The exterior and interior design of the i3 are heavily influenced by its LifeDrive architecture and pioneering drive system. Indeed, not content with conjuring up an unmistakable feeling of space and extraordinary driving experience, these two elements also have a significant stylistic impact.

The origins, identity and individuality of the BMW i3 share equal prominence in its design. The fresh interpretation of established design features offers a nod to the car’s BMW family ties. Its standalone design language, which will also mark out future BMW i models, embodies lightness, safety, efficiency and driving pleasure, underlining the particular skill-set of the BMW i3. The appearance of the BMW Group’s first all-electric model reflects the extra focus on sustainability within its premium character, the role of the LifeDrive architecture in optimising the car’s functionality, and the i3’s innovative expression of emission-free driving pleasure in urban areas.

LifeDrive architecture forms the basis for innovative design.

The structure of the LifeDrive architecture represents the basic construction of the BMW i3. The central element of the Life module is the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger compartment. A robust plastic outer skin is attached onto this compartment, allowing extensive freedom in design. The Life module is fixed to the aluminium Drive module, which houses all the drive and chassis technology. This distinctive two-way split is reflected in the design of the BMW i3. Indeed, both the exterior and interior make a feature of this structural characteristic through the visible layering and intertwining of different surfaces.

The use of lightweight, yet extremely rigid, CFRP for the passenger compartment allows the car to dispense with B-pillars, making access to the two rows of seats even more comfortable. The carbon frame, part of which is visible when the doors are opened, serves as a connecting element between the exterior and interior. The exposed structure of the two-dimensional carbon matting gives this section of the CFRP construction an extremely functional look.

Serious Wheels