LifeDrive modular design
Two decisive factors determine the interior and exterior design of the BMW i3: its electric propulsion system and its LifeDrive architecture. The vehicle is structured around the LifeDrive modular concept; the central element being the Life module, which constitutes the carbon fibre reinforced polymer (carbon fibre reinforced plastic, CFRP) drivers compartment. Manufactured from the same synthetic materials, the sturdy exterior body panels operate in accordance with the cabin structure. And the Life module itself rests on the aluminium Drive module, which houses all the technical components of the drivetrain and chassis. Its thanks to the interior and exterior CFRP surfaces, which are inter-leaved and bonded rather than woven in order to maintain the strength of the materials, that the cars body weight is displaced and more than compensates for the weight of the lithium-ion batteries.
Its dimensions enhance agility, making for a very manoeuvrable automobile, while the large window surface area creates a sense of greater spaciousness to the BMW i3.
And getting into the passenger compartment is a singular experience; the centre door column has been removed, and front and rear coach-style doors open in opposite directions in order to provide easy access to the roomy four-seat interior. The seats, which are slightly elevated to allow greater road visibility, are also less bulky and assure more legroom, especially for passengers in the rear seats. This new electric car comes equipped with a standard interior called Atelier, and there are three available interior options: Loft, with modern and elegant design; Lodge, made with natural materials; and Suite, the interior package that redefines premium.
Lightweight and reusable materials
Lightening the weight of a vehicle and its component parts results in significant fuel consumption reduction and, as a consequence, engine emissions. As experts in manufacturing with carbon fibre, the BMW Group has constructed the BMW i3 with this ultra-light material that has the added benefits of strength and safety.
Additionally, all the materials used in the manufacture of the car are both sustainable and recyclable. Leather is dyed with ground-harvested olive tree leaves while fabric is made from hemp fibre and, remarkably, 25 recycled PET bottles. The dashboard, along with elements of the door panels, are made in part with kenaf, a natural fibre that is similar to hemp. The wood used in some interior options is FSC certified and treated with an ecologically friendly open-pore finish. Even the key fob is made from a polymer synthesised from castor beans. Further evidence of the BMW Groups commitment to sustainability and recycling is found in the aluminium cast for this model, for which 479 beverage cans are re-used.
The BMW EfficientDynamics strategy
The new BMW i3 is the result of consistent application of the EfficientDynamics strategy, a comprehensive concept of all-round vehicle efficiency. Experts on BMW Is development team have managed to achieve a perfect balance of weight, performance and driving range for the ideal car for urban driving. The outcome was a result of LifeDrive architecture and BMW eDrive technology.
The innovative BMW eDrive powertrain not only contributes to lower automotive emissions, it offers an exciting, yet almost silent, driving experience. As is usual with electric motors, torque is available even when the vehicle is at a standstill, and as a result its not necessary to reach a level of rpm as it is with combustion engines. This trait gives the BMW i3 special agility in all driving situations and provides excellent acceleration.
Designed specially for the BMW Group, the high-voltage ion-lithium battery that powers the motor is establishing new standards with regard to energy efficiency. The batterys intelligent heating and cooling system ensures that the vehicles energy supply or, therefore, its range will be affected by variations in temperature as would normally occur with standard batteries, which, in turn, contributes to greater efficiency and longer battery life.
Thanks to the application of BMW EfficientDynamics technology, the BMW i3 boasts greater driving ranges that vary according to driving mode. For instance, in Eco Pro and Eco Pro+ modes the vehicle can recover energy generated from braking. Driving range can also be extended to 130-160 km in Comfort mode simply selecting the controller setting, and up to 13 additional miles in the Eco Pro and Eco Pro+ settings. Additionally, a Range Extender option is available that incorporates a petrol engine as an electric generator and achieves a range of about 220 km.
The BMW i3 is easily recharged via a conventional household outlet in eight hours, or by using a WallBox, a special module that can be installed on an exterior wall or garage. There are two WallBox module versions: one reduce charges time to five hours, while the second, the WallBox Pure, can complete it in just three hours. And since BMW i is committed to consistent sustainability in e-mobility, you can also switch to BMW Green Energy, a green electricity supply offered via BMW i.
The number of public charging stations is greater than ever, and continues to increase. The availability of these charging stations, as well as WallBox modules, depends on the country or region, and BMW will be there for installation, maintenance and consulting.
The BMW i3 is the first model in the series to feature the Navigation system Professional integrated into the BMW ConnectedDrive network. The system includes a 10.25-inch high-definition display, a 20GB hard drive for music and other multimedia data, and navigation with 3D urban maps and satellite images. Also included are a double tuner radio, USB and Aux-In jacks, extended telephony connection (which includes Bluetooth connection for smartphones), four-speaker sound and a voice control system.
The Navigation system Professional is controlled by the iDrive Touch, located between the forward seating. The iDrive Touch Controller has a touch pad that allows alphanumeric entry for telephone numbers or addresses for the Navigation system, and also serves to activate various functions. The Controller simplifies managing the system functions with clear menus and an intelligent layout. The Controller is where vehicle information such as tyre pressure, oil and brake fluid levels can be monitored. And by accessing the eDrive menu, the driver is able to view graphic data relating to battery usage and access a guide for optimising efficiency.
One of the most interesting services integrated into the ConnectedDrive network is Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), which helps the driver to avoid any traffic hold-ups. The system displays the traffic situation ahead in different colours and allows the driver to select the best route. And with respect to safety, the emergency calling system is indispensable as it ensures immediate assistance for the driver and passengers in the event of an accident. The alert system automatically transmits the location of the vehicle and the severity of the damage. The system may also be activated manually for third-party assistance.