The vehicle is made of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic). You may recognize the material from the M3 coupe or the M6 roof which was made from the same material as well.
The question remains why invent a new way of making a vehicle when you already have made and perfected the steel body construction for many decades? The answer is the weight savings are substantial to offset the weight of the battery pack. It was important to start with a new way to approach this matter.
When it comes to invention BMW is no stranger to developing new way of making designing and engineering components.
Ten years ago BMW developed a unique manufacturing process to reduce manufacturing time and cost of the CFRP roof to make the CSL handle better due to the light roof which lowers the center of gravity of the vehicle.
The first i3 city cars will be all electric only with a range of 150 km or + - 20 depending on multiple factors (stop and go traffic). Later will be available with a 650 cc range extender to cut driver anxiety. It will be a generator only set up like the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma for instance.
BMW says electric range could drop to 80 km in extreme cold weather and highway driving, which should be sufficient for most drivers for every day commuting.
Recharge times will take 6 hours from empty battery to full charge. Worth to note 80 percent of charge can be achieved in 30 minutes, which is amazing considering how long it takes for a full charge.
The weight of the i3 structure is only 150 kg hence the carbon fiber structure. The strength and light weight is an essential part of the vehicles architecture.
For comparison sake worth to note if the i3 would be made from steel it would weigh 300 kg or even from aluminum it would be beyond 200 kg as well the total weight will be close to 1250 kg with all the essentials on board.
There are some interesting facts to note: BMW builds the vehicle with the extensive use of local wind turbines to make it more environmentally friendly.
Production of the i3 and the i8 will be using 50 percent less energy to manufacture and 70 percent less water as well.
BMW producing these cars with SGL whom is a carbon fiber specialist in Germany but the production will be handled by BMW themselves.
There are some more interesting facts. All the lighting will be handled by LED and the heating will be taken care of by a heat pump opposed to an electric heater, due to more efficient energy use. The i8 use laser lighting head light system .
The i3 has been extensively crash tested so it did perform beyond expectations.
Visit our blog for more info on BMW i3 electric car.