The aerial cars that we were promised way aback aback we were so abundant adolescent aren’t actuality yet, but now that anybody has sobered up to the achievability that flight isn’t activity to be a approach of claimed biking in the a future, time to attending at added astute possibilities.
The BMW i3 is the affectionate of car that BMW thinks our approaching bearing will be driving, and the actualization arrangement was accomplished accompanying above three altered continents by three beautiful little kids, whom BMW calls the approaching drivers of these cars.
After EV trials with the MINI E and BMW ActiveE, BMW absitively that converting a approved agitation agent car action to anatomy an EV wasn’t the adapted way to go about it. So it went out and absolutely overhauled the process. BMW has never done article like this afore in the past. The BMW i3 has adapted complete revamps to how the aggregation approaches architectonics a car, and abounding casework that never existed afore had to be created to abutment the car’s ambition customer.
Yes, the brand BMW architectonics appearance such as the U-shaped daytime active lights in the headlamps and the branch grilles are there, but the BMW i3 doesn’t absolutely attending like a BMW, does it? Readers commented in the antecedent alive arcade cavalcade that it looks rather like a “big Myvi.” The i3’s looks were advisedly advised that way because it was advised to attending like a car from the future.
The architectonics action of the BMW i3 was altered from the way a archetypal BMW is designed. The architectonics aggregation started off designing the autogenous aboriginal – autogenous ambit were set, and afresh the exoteric was advised about it. The i3 had to be a accurate four-seater, but it couldn’t abound too ample either as there were weight targets to be met.
The versatility of the LifeDrive architectonics that the BMW i3 is congenital on has accustomed absolute bunched exoteric dimensions, with absolute abbreviate overhangs, compared to the bulk of autogenous amplitude offered. We will go into added accommodation on the LifeDrive architectonics later. The anatomy measures abandoned 3,999 mm in length, which is about abbreviate for a car that has the autogenous amplitude of I’d say somewhat amid a 1-Series and a 3-Series. The i3 is 1,775 mm advanced and 1,578 mm tall.
Look at the advanced of the i3 and you’ll anon apprehension the branch grilles that yze it as a BMW. This is a authentic architectonics affection as the i3 doesn’t accept annihilation that needs cooling abaft the grille, so there are no absolute openings at the front. Next, you’ll apprehension that the headlamps anniversary accept abandoned a distinct ‘lens’, compared to the archetypal BMW bifold lens headlamp configuration. They are belted with U-shaped LED ablaze units.
On the rear, a anesthetized amplitude of atramentous covers the bear of the BMW i3, no amount what colour you pick, with U-shaped LED rear lights chip into them actualization like ‘floating’ elements. The ancillary contour is alike added absorbing – there’s no B-pillar, and the belt band dips to actualize a above ancillary window contour for the rear suicide doors. BMW says this is to accomplish the car attending added activating as able-bodied as actualize an airier appearance for the rear occupants, to accomplish up for the actuality that the rear windows cannot be anguish down.
Those tyres are almighty narrow, which makes for an odd contour aback you attending at the i3 from dead-on advanced and rear. The low-rolling attrition tyres are sized 155/70R19, and are army on forged-alloy failing auto that counterbalance about seven kilograms a piece.
Six colours are accessible – two non-metallic and four metallic. The best arresting is of advance Solar Orange Metallic, which is the adumbration of the orange car that we’ve apparent before. The hero colour acclimated in best of the business brochures seems to be Ionic Silver Metallic. The of the colours are Capparis White, Arravani Grey, Andesite Silver Brownish and Laurel Blah Metallic.
On the inside, four altered colour schemes are accessible – Atelier as standard, which can be upgraded to Loft, Lodge or Suite. The attic architectonics arrangement combines ablaze blah colours with ablaze accessible pored eucalyptus wood. The copse is agilely treated, and as a aftereffect it’s one of the best wood-based shades I’ve anytime apparent acclimated as a car autogenous trim. We were apparent a photo of a attic with blah adhering walls and a board admission as afflatus for the autogenous colour scheme. The apartment autogenous is sportier, with its atramentous colour scheme.
The BMW i3’s autogenous architectonics is additionally clashing any added BMW. Because there is no allegation for a prop shaft, there is no centre adit required. The aftereffect is the i3 doesn’t accept that feel that the commuter areas are abnormally broken assimilate four zones like in a approved BMW. Alike for the advanced passenger, the animate amid the two advanced seats breadth the accumulator and cupholder are doesn’t accompany up with the dashboard, so as continued as you cast up the armrest, you can allegedly cantankerous calmly amid the advanced disciplinarian and commuter seats.
There are no alternation metres in this car – there’s a baby LCD awning in advanced of the disciplinarian which shows speedo functions, and accession archetypal iDrive awning army in the centre of the dash. It appears two-spoke council auto are fashionable again. Adapted afterwards we saw the W222 S-Class admission with a two-spoke council wheel, we see one afresh on the new i3.
As there’s no about-face batten in the archetypal breadth aing to the iDrive controller, you may be apprehensive how to about-face apparatus in this car. Well, aback the car doesn’t accept a acceptable multi-gear transmission, there are no apparatus to bandy between, so a archetypal axis with plus/minus about-face ascendancy or alike paddle shifters are not necessary. The BMW i3 uses a single-speed transmission, so all that’s bare is a absolute simple shifter that BMW has army on the adapted top ancillary of the council column.
The cavalcade shifter’s operation and architectonics isn’t like the archetypal indicator axis abstraction that best manufacturers use for their cavalcade shifters – it’s a big beefy activity that you aberration according to R, N or D modes. A esplanade on and the agent alpha on are additionally chip assimilate the shifter.
As for storage, there’s a distinct cupholder, some added accumulator beneath the flip-up armrest and some applique in the breadth beneath the air-conditioning controls breadth the car’s beefy centre adit would about be.
Here are photos of me in the disciplinarian bench as able-bodied as in the commuter bench abaft me, taken during the Beijing allotment of the all-around launch. The disciplinarian bench position is absolutely adequate as the car is appealing wide, so accept and bend allowance won’t be a attempt if you’re accustomed a advanced passenger. It was a bit of a attempt accepting into the rear bench from the disciplinarian ancillary with the disciplinarian bench set at my active position (I’m 181 cm tall), but you can consistently get in from the commuter side.
I accept if you are big-sized, I’d accede the car about amid a able four-door and a auto in agreement of affluence of admission and egress. Accepting into the rear seats, I anon noticed how attenuate the advanced bench backs are, which contributes to maximising autogenous allowance afterwards accretion the absolute brand of the car. It absolutely gets thinner from the basal to the top.
While the appearance from the advanced is advantageous with a aerial bench position, the appearance at the rear can feel a little claustrophobic. My arch acquainted appealing aing to the roof and attractive left, all I could see was the colonnade of the car. The alpine advanced seats booty up best of the advanced view. On top of that, you can’t wind bottomward the rear door’s window, which is why as a alleviation BMW added the acme of the rear windows in an accomplishment to accomplish up for that.
If you’ve looked at the high-res versions of the autogenous photos, you ability be apprehensive what’s that coarse arrangement that a lot of the autogenous seems to be fabricated off. It’s the best acutely apparent on this photo abaft the iDrive screen.
These are fibres from the kenaf plant, additionally accepted as hemp. Kenaf is a able and ablaze able crop which is now accepting acceptance as an automotive trim and bonanza material. It’s not the aboriginal time it’s acclimated in a BMW – alike the F10 5-Series uses it axial the doors, but in the i3 the apparent weave’s accustomed attending is a architectonics element.
In addition, 25% (by weight) of the artificial acclimated in the autogenous is fabricated with recycled abstracts or renewable raw materials. Alike the accoutrement in advised abandoned with accustomed substances, like olive timberline blade extract. The seats accept a “climate active” absolute aggregate apparent – absolute is said to accept a heating aftereffect in the algid and a cooling aftereffect in summer, acceptable in bargain acceptance of the air conditioning or heating, acceptance array ability to be conserved.
The BMW i3 is congenital on a belvedere that BMW calls the LifeDrive architecture. First, we’ll attending at the Drive allotment of LifeDrive and what’s beneath the hood. Yup, nothing. You can’t absolutely use this byword with the BMW i3 anymore, as the agnate of the agent is amid axial the anatomy at the rear axle. It’s basically beneath the baggage floor.
Unlike a ‘conversion’ car, which uses a accustomed car’s belvedere and is adapted to fit electric car apparatus (like the BMW ActiveE based on the 1-Series), there are a lot of bequest designs in a accustomed car anatomy that cannot be put to acceptable use in an electric car, such as the amplitude aloof for the ammunition catchbasin or the bankrupt system.
BMW brand to alarm the LifeDrive belvedere an ‘architecture advised for electric car components’. The Drive bore is at the basal and contains all the apparatus all-important to move the car.
The electric motor is positioned at the rear axle, and anon drives the rear wheels, so no prop shaft is necessary. The breadth amid the advanced and rear axles is active by the lithium-ion battery. It’s built-in in a low and axial position, acceptance the 1,195 kg car to accomplish a 50:50 weight distribution.
The i3’s lithium ion array weighs 230 kg and is produced at BMW Bulb Dingolfing. It consists of eight modules, anniversary with 12 abandoned cells. Together, they aftermath a rated voltage of 360 volts and can accomplish 22 kWh of energy. The array assurance is for eight years or 100,000km, and BMW says it should aftermost the accustomed activity of the vehicle, which is at atomic 10 to 15 years.
Each corpuscle is acclimated appropriately to ability the motor, and abandoned modules can be swapped out in case of a fault. The array is cooled by the air-conditioning coolant, which ensures a 20 amount Celsius operating temperature for the batteries to maximise array accommodation and life.
The electric motor offers 170 hp and from the moment the car moves, you accept the abounding torque of 250 Nm – such is the attributes of electric motors. Zero to 100km/h takes aloof 7.2 seconds, which qualifies as balmy bear acceleration. Putting the pedal to the metal on the i3 is activity to feel fun, but you allegedly won’t do it often, in an accomplishment to maximise range. You won’t get to a absolute aerial top dispatch either – because the gearbox is distinct speed, you’re bound to 150 km/h. The motor revs to a best anarchy of 11,400 rpm.
The motor uses about 0.13 kWh per km in the NEDC cycle. Based on my accepted abode electricity bill, I blot about 1,000 kWh a month. That agency whatever I add on by charging a BMW i3 would be answerable at the accomplished appraisal of about 45.4 sen per kWh, which d 7.7 km travelled per 1 kWh calculates to an boilerplate amount of about 6 sen per km. If you biking about 2,000 km a month, an i3 would abandoned amount you RM120 to ‘fuel’ for the absolute month.
Now, the key catechism that anyone because an EV will ask is ‘how far?’ BMW claims about 130 km to 160 km of approved active from a abounding charge. You can either allegation the car appliance a calm bank socket, a BMW i Wallbox or a accessible charging station. If you about-face on the ECO PRO active mode, you can possibly accretion about 20 km in range, and this accretion doubles if you use the ECO PRO active mode. This potentially agency a 200 km range, beneath a specific blazon of ammunition able active style.
You ability admiration what happens if you don’t drive the i3 for a continued time, aback back you do that with a accustomed car, it is acceptable that the array will go collapsed and you won’t be able to crank the engine. According to BMW, abrogation the BMW i3 abandoned for two to four weeks should not be an issue. You can aloof hop into the car and drive as per usual. But if you don’t use it for an continued aeon like say a year, afresh you allegation to allocution to your dealership to booty the adapted measures.
With the 50 kg electric motor army to the one ancillary of the rear axle, you may be apprehensive what’s on the added side. It looks like amplitude for accession motor, and is absolutely breadth the alternative centralized agitation agent goes for the ambit extender adaptation of the vehicle.
The ambit extender agent is a 650 cc, two-cylinder assemblage alms 34 hp. Its ammunition catchbasin is in the advanced of the car, breadth you can ample about nine litres of ammunition for the agent to accomplish electricity to allegation the batteries as able-bodied as run the electric motor.
Range extender operation is a refuel and go activity – no allegation to delay for the ambit extender to recharge the batteries afore you can move. The nine litres of ammunition add about 100 km of ambit to the car. Based on accepted RON 95 ammunition price, this is at a 17 sen per km cost, about amateur that of the 6 sen per km electric ability amount we afflicted earlier.
The ambit extender agent and ammunition catchbasin does accomplish the car beneath efficient. For one, weight is added because of the added components. Secondly, aerodynamics are afflicted because of the allegation for airflow to air-conditioned the centralized agitation engine. The tyres on the ambit extender archetypal are additionally added at the rear – sized 175/65R19 instead of 155/70R19.
As a result, all of this increases the ambit extender model’s 100km/h dart time to 7.9 abnormal and reduces authentic electric ambit by 10%. This agency that if you’re assertive electric ambit will answer for you, the authentic EV archetypal is a bigger bet, as its amount tag is lower than the ambit extender version.
Now, we attending at the added bisected of the LifeDrive bore – the top bisected alleged the Activity module, which is absolute important as this is breadth occupants are seated. The Activity bore is complete from high-strength ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre able polymer. There is no B-pillar – the carbon-fibre cage contains the absolute autogenous of the car, the aforementioned way an F1 disciplinarian sits in his carbon-fibre cage.
You ability be apprehensive aloof how safe the BMW i3 is in a crash. Afterwards all, this is new breadth for appealing abundant all of us; we’re so acclimated to sitting in a metal cage with big crumple zones in the advanced and rear (assuming you drive a sedan), so the abstraction of sitting in a carbon-fibre cage can accession questions, abnormally aback there’s no B-pillar.
The aggregation says that for aboveboard impacts, the activity is broadcast optimally through both the Activity and Drive modules. Additionally, the actuality that the motor is army at the rear allows for a low blast beating and accordingly low addressee loading in a aboveboard crash. BMW claims that alike afterwards a structurally debilitating account aboveboard blast at 64 km/h, the adamant abstracts advance an complete amplitude for passengers.
The high-strength carbon-fibre commuter corpuscle is claimed to abide about chargeless of deformation, and the doors will not get jammed. In its dry resin-free state, CFRP is cloth-like, so it is absolute adjustable in agreement of how it can be shaped. It abandoned becomes adamantine already the adhering injected into the filigree has hardened.
The aerial tear-resistance forth the breadth of the fibres additionally allows CFRP apparatus to be accustomed a high-strength architectonics by afterward their administration of loading. To this end, the fibres are abiding aural the basal according to their amount characteristics. By overlaying the fibre alignment, apparatus can additionally be adequate adjoin amount in several altered directions. In this way, the apparatus can be accustomed a decidedly added weight able and able architectonics than is accessible with approved material.
The aluminium structures at the advanced and rear of the Drive bore additionally accommodate added safety. For rear appulse crashes, best of the appulse activity is captivated by the Drive module, and there are appulse aggressive rear structures to assure the aerial voltage apparatus in the rear.
Side appulse is breadth you may accept the best concerns, aback there is no B-pillar. The Euro NCAP ancillary appulse ysis strikes the ancillary of the agent asleep centre at 32 km/h appliance a pole. In this test, BMW claims the Activity bore absorbs the appulse with basal deformation. The bore elements in the axle blot the appulse activity and alter it aloft the Drive module.
What about attention the battery, you ability ask? The CFRP Activity bore protects it – the after-effects from the aforementioned Euro NCAP ysis shows that the pole does not admission to ability the battery. The array is broken from the electrical arrangement and all apparatus are absolved whenever the commuter abstemiousness systems are triggered, to anticipate the achievability of abbreviate circuits.
The array alcove is additionally not absolutely abounding with the battery, so there’s some allowance for an accident. Of course, these are all learnings from blast ysis after-effects aural the Euro NCAP blueprint and does not awning all kinds of possibilities abeyant real-world accidents ability accompany up.
While we’re on the accountable of fender benders, you ability be apprehensive how article like the BMW i3 be repaired? To apperceive how to fix it, we charge aboriginal apperceive how it is put together. See that agleam metal accoutrement the car? It’s not metal at all. The exoteric architectonics of the car is mostly fabricated out of anatomy panels fabricated out of plastic. The artificial genitalia are either busted on or abrupt assimilate the Activity bore at appropriate ascent credibility that cannot be apparent from the outside. Minor bumps are captivated afterwards abrogation dents, and accident to the acrylic does not advance to acerbic because it’s not metal.
Repair costs are absolutely 40% lower than a conventionally-built car, but we’re allegedly talking about aboriginal apple practices here, breadth not aggregate is ‘knocked back’ into abode by a ‘mud bouncer guy’. If a breadth of the alien bark of the BMW i3 needs to be replaced, you artlessly unclip it and blow a new breadth in. Any authorised BMW i banker can adjustment the alien skin.
As for structural damage, both the Activity and Drive modules can be repaired, but abandoned at specialist adjustment centres. For the Activity module’s CFRP structure, several adjustment stages are authentic for the ancillary anatomy calm with the advantage of replacing it as a whole. If abandoned a damaged ancillary axle needs to be replaced afterwards a ancillary impact, the branch carries out a beheld ysis and accident assessment, and afresh removes abandoned the ancillary axle adjustment breadth appliance a patented milling tool. The adapted ancillary axle basal is bogus to fit, and afresh installed on the damaged vehicle. The new allotment is affirmed to the break credibility appliance adjustment elements. Overall, BMW estimates the i3 adjustment costs to be about the aforementioned as a BMW 1-Series.
By now, you’ll accept realised that the BMW i3 is absolutely a altered car. The way it’s put calm calls for a complete check of the assembly process. Because it uses a CFRP skeleton, there’s no columnist boutique and acrylic boutique on the Leipzig assembly line, breadth it’s built. There’s no blaze from adjustment circuitous – the car is affirmed calm appliance adhesives.
The i3’s CFRP carapace begins as bundles of cilia produced at BMW’s US JV accomplice SGL Group at its bulb in Moses Lake, Washington. The two assembly curve in Moses Lake currently anniversary accept a accommodation of 1,500 tonnes a year – BMW claims the bulb already accounts for about 10% of all-around CFRP assembly today. It produces carbon fibres from a polyacrylonitrile-based thermoplastic t fibre precursor. In a circuitous multistage process, the assorted basal elements of the fibre are removed by gasification, eventually abrogation a fibre that consists of about authentic carbon, with a abiding graphite structure.
The consistent carbon fibres are aloof seven microns (0.007 millimetres) thick. A animal hair, by comparison, has a bore of 50 microns. For automotive application, about 50,000 of these abandoned filaments are arranged into alleged rovings – or abundant tows – and anguish on reels, above-mentioned to added processing.
These rovings are afresh beatific to the JV’s added armpit at the Wackersdorf Innovation Park, for automatic processing into failing carbon fibre laminates. In adverse to a alloyed fabric, in these laminates the fibres are not interlaced or interwoven, but all lie in the aforementioned plane. Weaving would coil the fibres and backbite from their appropriate properties. The fibre acclimatization in the coat is acute to accomplishing optimal affection in a CFRP component.
Then, the laminates are beatific to the CFRP columnist shops at Landshut and Leipzig, breadth the laminates are candy into anatomy parts. The Landshut bulb is not new to carbon fibre processing – it has been authoritative the carbon fibre roofs for the M3 and M6, as able-bodied as the bonanza supports for the M6, for some time. At the antecedent “preforming” stage, the pre-cut carbon fibre coat supplied by the Wackersdorf bulb begins to admission a shape.
During this process, a calefaction antecedent is acclimated to accord a t assemblage a stable, three-dimensional form. Several of these preformed endless (preformed blanks) can afresh be aing to anatomy a above component. In this way CFRP can be used, for example, to aftermath apparatus with a ample apparent breadth that would be difficult to accomplish from aluminium or area steel.
Preforming and allot aing are followed by the aing date in the process: high-pressure adhering bang appliance Adhering Transfer Moulding (RTM). This technique, acclimated in the aerospace industry, shipbuilding and the accomplish of wind agent rotors, involves high-pressure bang of aqueous adhering into the preforms. As the fibres and the adhering bond, and in the consecutive hardening process, the actual acquires the acerbity which is key to its outstanding qualities.
The CFRP presses administer a burden of up to 4,500-t, until the adhering and hardener are absolutely cross-linked and the adhering is hard. BMW’s accomplishment action eliminates the allegation for an added time-consuming autoclaving action to amalgamate the parts. BMW claims that newly-formed genitalia can leave the columnist in beneath than 10 minutes.
Next, the apparatus from both the Leipzig and Landshut columnist shops accomplish their way to the anatomy shop. The basal anatomy of the Activity bore of a BMW i3 comprises about 150 parts, a third of the cardinal adapted for accepted sheet-metal architecture. Abandoned bonding technology is used, and it is 100% automated. Abandoned apparatus are positioned 1.5 mm afar at the band band gap in adjustment to ensure optimal backbone of the consistent joint. The adhering acclimated is applicable for abandoned 90 abnormal afterwards actuality activated to a basal afore adherence begins. An hour and a bisected later, it is hardened.
Once the Drive bore supplied by Dingolfing is anchored and affirmed to the Activity bore supplied by Leipzig, the artificial alien band that we talked about beforehand is installed.
To complete the i3’s eco credentials, the ability sources for these plants are renewable as well. The Moses Lake CFRP bulb is powered by 100% hydroelectric power, while the Leipzig bulb is 100% wind generated, acknowledgment to four 2.5 MW Nordex N100/2500 wind turbines that BMW installed. These turbines accomplish about 26 GWh a year, which is about 2 GWh added than what BMW anticipates the BMW i cars allegation at the Leipzig plant.
Now that you allegedly apperceive way added about the BMW i3 than the boilerplate being would commonly apperceive – actuality comes the best important catechism of all. It has a BMW badge, but is it a BMW? We haven’t had the adventitious to drive it yet, but abounding adopted publications accept appear aback with absolute animadversion about how it drives. Technically, the i3 should prove absolutely competent – the dispatch abstracts are quick, the centre of force is low, the car is light, the weight antithesis is 50-50, the unsprung weight is low, and the abandoned activity I can anticipate of what ability abate the car’s joy to drive would be the high-ish basement position, but afresh afresh an agitative drive can be had in a BMW SUV as well.
The i3’s amount tag was appear afore the car was alike apparent to the public. The official abject appraisement for authentic EV adaptation of the BMW i3 for the German bazaar is 34,950 euros, while the American amount tag is US$41,350 afore tax incentives. The amount for the adaptation able with a 650 cc ambit extender agent will be appear later.
A abject amount of 34,950 euros afterwards any options would abode the i3 aloof beneath the appraisement for the BMW 3-Series 320i GT or 318d GT with chiral manual in the German market, which starts at 36,150 euros. If you alpha to amount up the options on a 3-Series, the abject amount of an i3 would be hardly cheaper than the amount of a BMW 316i with agnate options in Malaysia.
But there’s a lot of assignment that needs to be done afore the BMW i3 can go on auction here. The clandestine charging vendors accept been appointed internationally, so BMW Malaysia will aloof accept to amount out who will be installing them. Charging accessories apparent at the Beijing barrage were from manufacturers such as Delphi and Schneider.
There’s additionally the amount of 360 ELECTRIC services, which are a apartment of casework that a BMW i disciplinarian can use. At atomic some of them will accept to be alien actuality to complete the i3 experience, I would think, unless the standards are bargain for ‘developing’ markets. One of them is continued ambit agent leasing. In markets breadth the BMW i3 is introduced, BMW allows the i3 buyer to charter a approved agitation agent BMW for continued ambit travel.
The 360 ELECTRIC programme additionally includes the BMW ChargeNow card, which enables accepted admission to altered charging abject providers with a distinct accepted balance from BMW for electricity used. ChargeNow is important in countries like Germany, because allegedly there are over 70 altered providers of accessible charging facilities. As for accessible charging basement in Malaysia, there are absolutely a few players who are in the bosom of ambience up shop, but the abandoned one that we are acquainted of with a few charging credibility already installed is Aboriginal Activity Networks, a Tan Chong subsidiary.
And afresh of advance there is the amount of government policy, abnormally aback it comes to acceptation and customs duties. We still don’t apperceive whether the accepted acceptation and customs assignment exemptions for amalgam cars will be continued above the absolute absolute date, which is at the end of this year. It may booty a appealing continued time afore the BMW i3 can be launched actuality – we ability be attractive at 2014 or alike 2015.
For now, we’re attractive advanced to aggravating out the new i3 to acquaint you how it drives. Aback Singapore has a BMW i banker appointed, conceivably we can a blink above the causeway eh?
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