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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 BMW i3







PRICE : For 2014 BMW i3 $41,350

BMW goes all-in on an electric vehicle future with the 2014 i3. The Bavarian automaker has designed the i-Series -- which also includes the high-performance i8 -- behind a philosophy of sustainable mobility. In the case of the i3, that means a dedicated electric city car. At just 157 inches long -- about 1.5 feet shorter than the Nissan Leaf -- the i3 should have few problems finding good parking near the downtown museum. And with four-passenger seating, you'll be able to bring the art critics in your social circle with you.

Being a BMW, the i3 shouldn't lack for performance. We drove one at a BMW test facility and came away impressed with its instant and fluid acceleration, refined ride at highway speeds and the unmistakable pedigree in its handling ability. It turns, twists and surges pretty much exactly as you'd expect from a small BMW. Extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber for chassis and cabin structures means the i3 weighs in at around 2,700 pounds. That's a good bit leaner than the Leaf or even the Toyota Prius.

A powerful 125-kilowatt electric motor mounts over the rear axle and drives the rear wheels with the equivalent of 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. BMW says the i3 will dash from zero to 62 mph in 7.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 93 mph. The i3 will deliver anywhere from 80-100 miles of range on a single charge, with additional range enabled by sticking to the efficiency-minded Eco Pro and Eco Pro+ drive modes.

The i3 will also be offered with a second drivetrain, this one with a small two-cylinder engine that joins the electric motor as a generator. The auxiliary engine does not provide any propulsion, but instead jumps in to maintain the battery's state of charge when the juice starts dwindling. BMW says the Range Extender option roughly doubles the i3's range.In its most basic configuration, the i3 should recharge in six hours, while a 50kW "fast charge," similar to the supercharger configuration used by Tesla promises a full charge in 30 minutes. Using a 220-volt outlet, the i3 can charge in three hours.

Inside the cabin, a "freestanding" steering column houses key controls including the instrument cluster and gearshift lever, and eliminates a center console. Instead, three displays -- a 6.5-inch instrument cluster, 8.8-inch central display and a third screen dedicated to audio and climate controls -- form the bulk of the driver interface. A navigation system comes standard.The i3 cabin also dispenses with a center tunnel bisecting the floor and uses full-width seat benches front and rear for passenger-friendly ingress and egress. Continuing the eco theme, the upholstery and panels are made from sustainable materials; up to one-quarter of the interior plastics come from recycled sources.

Outside, the i3 doesn't look quite like any BMW before it and will feature 19-inch alloy wheels (20-inch optional), adaptive LED headlights and LED taillights. Three trim levels (BMW quaintly calls them "worlds") -- Mega, Giga and Tera -- will offer a range of options including distinct wheel designs, a sunroof and leather upholstery. Two additional packages will bundle advanced navigation features, smartphone-connected services, safety tech including forward collision warning and collision mitigation, a rearview camera and parallel parking assist.How the i3's ride quality and ability on real roads stacks up to other electric vehicles like the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf remains to be seen, but its BMW heritage and promising performance should make it a distinctive choice.The 2014 BMW i3 goes on sale next spring in North America starting at $41,350 before any applicable tax credits. Expect to pay about $4,000 more for the Range Extender option. Check back for a full review of the all-new i3, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.




EXTERIOR












We'll just come out and say it: The BMW i3's exterior is polarizing. In one sense, it is as unconventional as its powertrain. Glance at the overall design of this BMW's side windows, and you may see the shape of a bottle on its side, with the spout just over the i3's rear wheels. And like the front wheels, the rear set is pushed to the very edge of the car's carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body. Even the doors are strange yet functional. The rear set open outward to make entering and exiting easier for rear passengers. At just 157.4 inches long, the 2014 i3 is shorter than a Honda Fit.



INTERIOR
















The LifeDrive architecture, including the CFRP passenger compartment, also opens up new freedoms in the design of the BMW i3 interior. Opposing "coach" doors and the absence of B-pillars pave the way for the unusually generous levels of space and freedom of movement (given the car's exterior dimensions). Thanks to the positioning of the electric motor directly on the driven axle, the central tunnel - normally a feature of conventional vehicles -has also been omitted, allowing for a totally open connection between the footwells on the right- and left-hand side of the car. 

Again, this contributes to the generous impression of space on board and also has functional benefits - such as when getting in and out of the car in particularly tight city parking spaces. Sliding from the right rear seat to the left is as refreshingly easy as moving over from the front passenger seat to behind the steering wheel. Folding down the rear seat backrests creates a totally level load compartment floor and allows the car's variable load capacity to expand to 1,100 litres.

A slightly raised seating position optimises the view out over city traffic. The BMW i3 is fitted with lightweight seats whose slim backrests also provide additional legroom in the rear. The freestanding steering column has a two-section construction that exudes lightness and elegance, attributes that are underlined by the colour concept. The gear selector and start/stop button share a control element projecting from the steering column. The driver selects gears using a rotary control, which moves forwards or backwards according to the desired direction of travel.

Both the instrument cluster and the Control Display of the BMW i3 (6.5 inches in diameter as standard, 8.8 inches as an option) come in free-standing display form. The positioning of the displays lends further emphasis to the heavily three-dimensional design of the cockpit. In the centre of the cockpit, a flat control surface - tilted slightly towards the driver - for climate control and audio functions forms the lower edge of the instrument panel. The Controller and direct menu control buttons for the iDrive system are arranged between the
driver and front passenger at seat surface height.



LIGHTS




 U-Shaped Light

The design of the rear section accentuates both the functionality and surefooted roadholding of the BMW i3. The large tailgate opens high and the slim, upright roof pillars make it easier to load items into the boot, whose capacity can be expanded by folding down the rear seat backrests as and when required.

The tailgate takes the form of a homogeneous black glass surface. It forms part of the black belt which continues down to the lower edge of the body at the outer extremities of the rear end. In combination with the side panels, which extend slightly into the rear, it creates an eye-catching colour contrast. This, in turn, underlines the car's planted stance as the "cascading" body gains in width towards the road. The light units appear to be floating in the tailgate's glass. Intricate LED lights provide a striking night design, their U-shape adopting the now characteristic BMW i headlight profile.

Six colour shades designed exclusively for BMW i are available for the paintwork of the side body panels and the front and rear aprons of the BMW i3. The two non-metallic and four metallic colours form a prominent contrast to the black belt. The accent surfaces on the side skirts and the BMW kidney grille surround come in BMW i Blue or Frozen Grey metallic, depending on the variant.



HANDLING




This is the BMW's big bugbear. The steering wheel is small and grippy, and low-speed handling is superb. On-center steering effort seems a bit artificially heavy, though confidence-inspiring. Unfortunately, things fall apart quickly in the corners, with overly-light effort and almost no feedback from the road. Goose it around a bend and the i3 feels balanced and corners fairly flatly, considering its height (thanks to the low-mounted battery and motor), but it understeers quickly. Of course, that's to be expected, given the eco-conscious skinny tires and the cold Chicago temperatures, but it's worth noting.

Like my old Civic Hybrid, there's enough feel in the steering to get comfortable with (eventually), and I'm sure it would be fun to drive slow-car-fast—I just wouldn't expect any miracles on the autocross course. For a city car, it's fine... But I don't think BMW should be   content with "fine."...SEE ALL PHOTOS



PERFORMANCE



The 2014 BMW i3 is primarily a battery-electric car, but buyers can choose to add an optional range-extending two-cylinder engine as well. BMW suggests that the car's ability to deliver its range will make the range extender unnecessary, but we suspect that in the U.S. many customers will want it anyhow.

Like any battery-powered car, the BMW i3 has smooth continuous torque from takeoff. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in "approximately 7 seconds", BMW says, and 0 to 35 mph takes just 3.5 seconds. We observed a speed of 134 km/h (83 mph) with the car still accelerating; top speed is given as 93 mph. On the road, the i3 moves out crisply and its nimble handling and tight turning circle of 32.3 feet make it a joy to navigate in crowded city streets. Even in Amsterdam, where any given street may feature trams, buses, commercial trucks, cars, taxis, motorcycles, scooters, cyclists, and pedestrians all within inches of each other, the i3 was easy to place and a pleasure to driveThe i3 is also a fine highway car, within the limits of its range, but we found it slightly sensitive to sidewinds and quite firm riding.

The electric BMW's 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack in mounted in the floor and liquid-cooled. It powers a 125-kilowatt (170-horsepower) electric motor that produces 184 lb-ft of torque to drive the rear wheels. That makes the BMW i3 the only rear-wheel-drive electric car on the market aside from the Tesla Model S. The motor is located under the load deck on the left side of the differential; at the right is an empty space where the range extender and generator package goes on cars ordered with it.

The BMW i3 differs from every other electric car, however, in its approach to regenerative braking. The solution BMW chose distinguishes the i3 drive experience from electric cars that simply mimic the behavior of a gasoline car with an automatic transmission. The strong regenerative braking makes the i3 the first production car we've driven since the original Tesla Roadster that truly permits one-pedal driving. And the effort BMW put into its well-calibrated control software really shows.

The feature can catch new drivers unaware--on our first drive, lifting off the accelerator while going down a parking garage ramp slowed the car to a complete stop, pointed downhill--but it takes only a few minutes to learn. There's no idle creep, though we didn't miss it. And BMW has retained a gliding or coasting mode, between acceleration and regen, although the software control is now so seamless that you have to watch the power display through the steering wheel to find it. There's no tactile or seat-of-the-pants indication that the motor has disengaged, unlike the cruder software used in the BMW ActiveE test fleet, when you could feel the motor disengage.Because the regenerative braking can slow the car by recharging the battery at up to 50 kilowatts, the brake pedal only triggers the friction brakes--it does not induce or increase regeneration, which is controlled entirely from the accelerator pedal. In most uses, once a driver has learned how to modulate the accelerator, the friction brakes rarely need to be used in real-world conditions. They're mostly for sudden or panic stops.

We noticed that in both BMW i3 cars we tested, there was a slight creak from the front of the car just as it came to a stop using the brake pedal. BMW engineers said this is a slight slippage of the pad on the disc, a sound normally masked by engine and transmission noise in other cars. That may be, but we've not experienced it on any other electric car; the engineers said they are working on a fix for the problem.To start the BMW i3, the proximity fob must be in the car, and the driver's foot must be on the brake pedal. The start button is on the inside of a rotary controller behind the steering wheel on the right that lets the driver choose forward or reverse, and also holds a "Park" button. The electric parking brake is far enough back on the tunnel, at the base of the storage bin and armrest, that we had to have it pointed out to us.

Buttons on the console let the driver select "Eco Pro" or "Eco Pro+" mode, to stretch battery range a bit further (BMW says about 12 and 25 percent, respectively). Unlike Eco modes in most other cars, the BMW i3's efficiency modes leave the car responsive and capable of keeping up with traffic. The EcoPro+ setting more aggressively restricts the energy devoted to heating or cooling the cabin; it's the "wear a down jacket" setting that will keep the car going as far as it can in cold winter weather. A kickdown function in the accelerator lets drivers override either EcoPro mode when sudden performance is needed in unexpected driving situations.

The i3's ride is well controlled, but the stiffer sidewalls of the very tall, narrow tires mean it's not soft. During a handling test, it was relatively easy to get the front tires to squeal on fast, sharp turns. We also noticed that the rear of the car jittered and skipped in fast cornering on broken surfaces. And because the car's heavy battery pack is mounted low, in the floor, but occupants sit straight up on top of it, the sensation of body roll is amplified. The BMW i3 rides well enough, but it's not a car you're going to want to take to track days or slalom courses.

Our two test cars were delivered with full batteries that registered available range of 132 km and 141 km (82 and 88 miles, respectively). The sum of distance traveled and distance remaining stayed close to those original figures, regardless of driving style, so we suspect that the BMW i3 will deliver a real-world range of 75 to 90 miles, with an EPA range rating of 75 to 85 miles.



ELECTRIC DRIVE



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.



FEATURES

















Specifications and options packages for the 2014 BMW i3 that will be sold in the United States haven't yet been released. Details will be provided by BMW closer to the car's arrival at selected dealers in May 2014, following the start of production for U.S. models in March.

We do know that the base-model i3 will cost $42,275 (including a mandatory $925 delivery fee). Ordering the car with the optional range-extending two-cylinder engine will add an additional $3,850 to that price, bringing it to $46,125.

But whether certain features will be standard, optional, or not available remains to be determined. One feature that could become standard is a rearview camera, which is Europe is offered as part of a Safety Package that also included systems like automatic braking for crash avoidance and adaptable cruise control.



COMFORT & QUALITY



Like most electric cars, the BMW i3 is quiet and smooth to travel in. From inside the car, the interior feels and appears far more spacious than you'd expect in a minicar that's the shortest vehicle BMW sells.

The cabin is wide for the length of the car, and the base of the windshield is roughly two feet ahead of the display screens mounted on top of the dash. Overall, it feels like a much larger vehicle than it is, and its small size only registers when slotting it through narrow gaps in urban driving. While BMW says the i3 has interior volume comparable to its 3-Series sedan, the passengers sit more upright and some of that volume occurs between the steering wheel and windshield--unavailable for passengers or cargo.

The front seats were specially designed with extremely thin backs, but they're comfortable and well bolstered nonetheless. The seating position is upright and higher than some other small cars, giving the driver a good view ahead at the level of other traffic. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel has an unusual wide range of adjustment, making it possible for almost any size of driver to be comfortable.

The rear seats are tight for full-sized adults, and we don't expect the i3 to carry four people very often. They're also awkward to get to; while the rear-hinged "carriage doors" reveal a single opening without a central pillar, they're not full-sized doors and the seat actually sits further back inside than the opening. Also, rear passengers can't get out of the car on their own--the front-seat occupants ahead of them have to open their own doors first. As with most cars that have their batteries in the floorpan, the feet of rear-seat passengers sit higher than they would in the foot well of a conventional gasoline car, so there's a bit of the knees-under-chin feel to sitting in the rear.

On the road, there's almost no whine from the motor or electronics inside the cabin, except occasionally at maximum power. That's a testament to BMW's noise insulation team, because you can certainly hear a whine from the outside when an i3 passes by. The European-market cars we drove had no synthetic noise generator to alert pedestrians, and it's unclear if U.S. cars will launch with one before any Federal regulations to require it.

We did notice wind noise during our road tests, especially in gusty weather, but it wasn't intrusive. It would likely have been masked by mechanical noise in a conventional car, pointing out the different challenges electric-car designers must contend with.



BRAKE



The i3's regenerative braking is reduced from its maximum potential to keep the back end from getting squirrelly on slick pavement, but it's strong enough for real one-pedal driving. I had to get over the anxiety that I was going to stall it at every stoplight (I'm used to a manual), but for someone used to automatics it should be no problem. The real brakes seemed fine as well, though I hardly touched them.



INNOVATIVE DESIGN



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.



LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN



Weight is a key factor in the development of an electrically powered vehicle - as with battery capacity and energy consumption, it has a direct impact on how far the car can travel on a single charge. That is why a particularly sharp focus on intelligent lightweight design has been a key factor in achieving the greater driving pleasure, lower energy requirement and longer range of the BMW i3.

The LifeDrive architecture developed specifically for BMW i models has created the perfect framework for purpose-built electrically powered car concepts. Here, the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) construction of the passenger cell (Life module) plays a central role. Such extensive use of this lightweight and crash-safe high-tech material is unique in volume car production. The principle of lightweight design also governs the aluminium Drive module and the connection between the two elements.

The body structure - shaped by its LifeDrive architecture - enables the use of a trailing edge element made by glass-fibre-reinforced plastic injection moulding. And that contributes a 30 per cent weight saving compared with a conventional sheet steel solution. The direct connection between the power electronics and electric motor in the rear of the BMW i3 reduces the length of cabling required and cuts the overall weight of the drivetrain by around 1.5 kilograms. Weight-minimising construction also sets the tone for the chassis components of the BMW i3. For example, the forged aluminium suspension links weigh around 15 per cent less than in a conventional design, the hollow drive shaft is 18 per cent lighter than a conventional equivalent, and the standard 19-inch forged aluminium wheels of the BMW i3 are 36 per cent lower in weight than comparable steel rims of the same size.

Using a magnesium supporting structure for the instrument panel saves weight on two fronts. Superior material attributes over conventional sheet steel allow these components to boast optimised geometry, which results in a weight reduction of some 20 per cent. In addition, the high composite rigidity of the magnesium supporting structure lends it a strengthening effect, which allows a reduction in components and lowers weight by a further 10 per cent. The door trim panels are made from renewable raw materials and tip the scales around 10 per cent lighter than conventional equivalents. And the rigorous application of the lightweight design strategy extends to screws and bolts made from aluminium. The engineers' detailed commitment to the principle of lightweight design is lent visible expression by the honeycomb structure of the windscreen wiper blades. In addition, a cast aluminium mount was developed specially for the wipers of the BMW i3, its force-flow-optimised geometry also yielding a reduction in weight.



CHARGING





 Home Charging

BMW i is able to offer customers who have their own garage or a private parking space tailor-made solutions to make domestic charging a safe, simple and particularly quick procedure. To achieve this aim, BMW i entered into a far-reaching partnership agreement with Schneider Electric and The Mobility House (TMH) in January 2013. The aim is to provide customer-friendly and efficient charging facilities by the time the BMW i3 is launched that will allow for recharging in the comfort of the customer's own garage. To that end, BMW i not only offers a charging point (the BMW i Wallbox) but also checks the electrical installation in customers' homes, supplies and assembles the charging point, as well as providing maintenance, advice and other services.

BMW i also backs the use of electricity from renewable sources and has joined forces with selected partners to offer a choice of green power products. A strategic alliance between BMW AG and German eco power supplier Naturstrom AG will in future give customers in Germany the opportunity to obtain an eco power package for running their BMW i3. Naturstrom AG supplies electricity entirely from renewables, with a very high proportion of wind power, ensuring that the electric vehicle can be operated with zero CO2 output. And BMW i can also assist if the customer decides, for example, to install a carport with solar panels.



SAFETY



The 2014 BMW i3 is said to have a remarkably strong body shell, made out of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and mounted on an aluminum rolling platform that provides front and rear crash-energy absorption structures and holds the battery, electric motor, and all the car's electronics. Even after a crash at 40 mph, BMW says, the passenger compartment will stay intact, with energy dissipated into the rest of the vehicle.

BMW stresses that the battery--built into the floorpan--is positioned and reinforced for maximum crash safety, with three separate systems to shut down all electric components in the event of an accident.Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has yet tested a BMW i3 for crash safety. But both entities are likely to do so in short order, given the intense interest in the use of strong, lightweight carbon fiber to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency in vehicles of all types.The i3 has the usual quotient of six airbags, including dash-mounted front bags for the driver and front passenger, bags in the sides of the front seats, and side curtains over the windows for front and rear passengers. BMW notes that the bags built into the front seats are a brand-new design that's small enough to fit into the slim, lightweight seat frames.

The electric BMW also has all the mandatory safety systems--including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, and tire-pressure monitoring. Optional systems will likely include radar adaptive cruise control, parking proximity sensors, automatic crash-avoidance braking, and other advanced warning and control functions.

The frontal vision from inside the i3 is good, except for the large rearview mirror and camera housing in the top center of the windshield. But the right-side and rear three-quarter vision are only adequate. A rearview camera could assist drivers in seeing what's close behind the tail, especially as the rear load floor is quite high because the motor and drivetrain sit below it; whether the i3's camera will be optional or standard has not yet been decided.



EFFICIENCY


Running on grid power, as it will almost surely do for far more than half its miles, the 2014 BMW i3 is a remarkably efficient electric car. While the EPA has not yet released range and efficiency ratings for the i3, its light weight, purpose-built construction, and dedicated drivetrain have all been optimized around the goal of extracting maximum distance from every stored electron.

Because electric cars are still a novelty in the U.S., we rate every battery-electric vehicle at 10 on our Green scale. Relative efficiency differences among electric cars are less important than the fact that they run on grid power--which automatically makes them some of the greenest cars you can buy.

And even if a BMW i3 is recharged from the oldest, dirtiest coal power plants in the nation, it remains cleaner--comparing "wells-to-wheels" carbon emitted through the process of creating the fuel as well as powering the car--than any gasoline car sold today that isn't a hybrid. In California, which will see more plug-in sales than the next five states combined, the grid is relatively clean, so parity with any gasoline car soars toward unattainable numbers like 80 or 90 mpg.

The BMW i3 is far from the lowest-priced electric car on the market, but like all plug-ins, its running cost per mile will be very low against gasoline or diesel cars. At average U.S. electricity prices, it's likely to cost about one-quarter as much to run 100 miles as a 25-mpg gasoline car. But that difference varies quite a lot, because electricity prices per kilowatt-hour cover a much wider range than gasoline or diesel fuel costs--so your cost efficiency may vary.

With a built-in charger capable of up to 7.4 kilowatts (higher even than the 6.6-kW units found in the Nissan Leaf and other cars), the BMW i3 can recharge its battery pack to 80 percent of capacity or more in under 4 hours using BMW's 240-volt Level 2 charging station--and about 20 percent longer using Level 2 stations from other makers. Those stations may require some home electrical work, but no more than what's needed to install an electric stove or clothes drier.

On standard 110-volt household current, a full recharge will take four times or more that long. BMW does not offer an option to charge only to 80 percent of capacity, however, as Tesla and Nissan do; the company said it wanted to reduce complexity for its customers. The i3 will also offer a DC quick-charging port compatible with the new Combined Charging Standard (CCS) protocol--although today there are very few stations using that standard.


VIDEO ( 2014 BMW i3 )


Video by : Testdriven

SEE ALL PHOTOS


By : Automotive News & Super Modified Sports Cars


= Shahen Tharammal



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