The BMW i3 Concept is an uncompromisingly sustainable vehicle designed for urban areas. Driven purely by electric power and purpose-built to meet the demands of sustainable and emission-free mobility, it embodies an intelligent form of urban transportation and commuting.
“This automotive concept uses a new architecture which showcases all of its new possibilities and potential. It is the world’s first premium electric vehicle.” – Andreas Feist, Head of vehicle project BMW i3.
The BMW i3 is a well-resolved all-round concept, with every detail conceived and optimised to fulfil its eventual purpose. Central to its design is the innovative LifeDrive architecture, the key to the BMW i3 Concept’s appeal as a light, safe and spacious car. Innovative use of materials and intelligent lightweight design not only enable the i3 Concept to travel long distances on a single charge and provide superb safety in the event of a collision, they also help give the car its excellent driving dynamics. The secure arrangement of the battery in the Drive module gives the vehicle a very low centre of gravity and optimum weight distribution. The electric motor over the rear axle – which generates output of 125 kW/170 hp and impressive torque of 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) from a standstill – and a small turning circle combine to deliver pleasingly crisp driving characteristics and give the driver a very immediate experience of the BMW i3 Concept’s lightweight design. The BMW i3 Concept accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h (37 mph) in under four seconds and from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than eight seconds. The extremely direct sensation at the wheel is expressed in outstanding agility at low speeds and during turning manoeuvres, and makes parking in tricky situations that much easier.
The Life module conjures up a feeling of space inside the car more generous than even the latest conversion vehicles can offer. Select materials lend the open and airy cabin a lounge-like character. The use of renewable raw materials is another defining characteristic of the interior, offering passengers a further means of “experiencing” the sustainability of the vehicle. Elements of the instrument panel and door panelling are visibly made from natural fibres, while the naturally tanned leather of the seats creates a lounge-style ambience. Together, these materials provide an appealing contrast to the clear, “floating” forms of the instrument panel and door elements, and lend the interior a strikingly modern feel. With the drive components located in the Drive module, there is no centre tunnel running through the passenger compartment. This allows the two front and two rear seats to be connected with each other by a continuous seat surface, which allows for ease of entry and exit via the front passenger side of the car and means you can park up close to walls, for example. With four seats, wide-opening opposing “coach” doors, boot capacity of around 200 litres and an additional functional compartment in the front, the BMW i3 Concept is neatly equipped for the demands of everyday use.
However, the electric motor developed by BMW and the optimised lightweight design of the LifeDrive architecture cannot take all the credit for imbuing the car with such efficiency and enabling it to travel such long distances on each charge. Indeed, the ability of the car to recoup energy while on the move and special range-extending functions, such as ECO PRO mode, also add miles to the clock. With ECO PRO mode activated, all the vehicle functions operate with maximum efficiency. For example, the accelerator mapping is tweaked to limit the output summoned when the driver flexes his right foot, and the climate control functions also use as little energy as possible. Added to which, sophisticated aerodynamics and slim, low rolling resistance wheels minimise resistance to the car’s forward progress and maximise its range.
Innovative connectivity functions create a seamless connection between the BMW i3 Concept and its customers’ lives outside the car. Remote functions accessible via a smartphone enable owners to find their vehicles, flag up nearby charging stations, allow battery charging and preconditioning at the touch of a button and supply information on the current status of the vehicle. Meanwhile, intelligent assistance systems ease the stress on drivers in monotonous city driving situations and allow them to arrive at their destination more safely and in a more relaxed state of mind.