BMW is poised to give the Prius a serious run for its money with the BMW i3, the German manufacturer’s first foray into series-produced all-electric model from the new sub-brand. Engineers spared no detail in the making of the i3, which BMW is marketing towards urban motorists. A lighter body built on a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell and electric motor, power electronics and high-voltage lithium-ion battery are unique to the i3 and made exclusively for BMW’s eDrive programme.
Driver assistance systems and mobility services from BMW ConnectedDrive and 360° ELECTRIC are also unique to the i3. The electric motor mounted in close to the rear axles provide strong traction while retaining the driving characteristics of a true BMW. The electric motor – which weighs only 50 kg – generates output of 125 kW/170 hp with peak torque of 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) from start.
The i3 is speedy: it goes from 0 to 60 km/h (37 mph) in 3.7 seconds and 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.2 seconds. The lithium-ion battery has a range of 130 to 160 kilometres (81 – 99 miles) in everyday driving, and rises by up to 20 km (12 miles) in ECO PRO mode and by the same distance again in ECO PRO+ mode. The high-voltage battery has eight modules, each with 12 individual cells, which generate 360 volts and approximately 22 kilowatt hours of energy.
BMW doesn’t boast that the i3 “is the world’s first fully networked electrically powered car” without a reason: a SIM card unlocks the BMW ConnectedDrive services, which include navigation, Concierge Services information facility and the Intelligent Emergency Call function. Drivers can access the BMW i Remote app to share information with their car using a smartphone. Optional features include Driving Assistant Plus, Parking Assistant, a rear view camera and Speed Limit Info.
The i3’s lightweight body enhances performance substantially. Weighing in at 1,195 kg, the car is lighter than most compact vehicles. Just about everything is lighter in the i3, from forged aluminium suspension links that weigh 15 percent less than similar BMW models, to the hollow drive shaft, which is 18 percent lighter. Even the standard 19-inch forged aluminium wheels weigh 36 percent less than comparable steel rims. The door trim panels are made from renewable raw materials and are 10 percent lighter. Even aluminum screws and bolts are lighter in the i3.
The BMW i3 has MacPherson single-joint front suspension and a five-link rear axle mounted directly to the Drive module. The standard DSC system offers all the functions familiar from current BMW models, including the Anti-lock Braking System, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Brake Assist, Brake Standby, Start-Off Assistant, Fading Compensation and the Brake Drying function.
Photo Credit: BMW