After numerous i3 concepts, lots of testing sessions and numerous teaser images, BMW finally unveiled the new i3 electric car in its production form. The model is the first from BMW’s i sub-brand and opens a new era for electro mobility at BMW. Like everyone else, we are excited to see the i3, but the real prize is the still-in-development i8.
The i3 was built on a new LifeDrive architecture that will help reduce the car’s weight by 250 to 300 kg (551 to 661 pounds). The LifeDrive concept consists of two horizontally separated, independent modules. The Drive module integrates the battery, drive system, and structural and crash functions into a single construction within the chassis. Working in conjunction with the Drive module is the Life module, which consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP. These aspects of car building will lead the way to a whole new process for building cars.
A process that will be simpler, more flexible, and use less energy.
Updated 09/17/2015: LAPD just added one BMW i3 to its fleet. The car was a loan from BMW and will be used as a test car for twelve months.
The i3 really offers no grand surprises on the outside. It retains the same three-door hatchback setup with
a pair of rearward-swinging quarter doors that we expected to see. The i3 does get a more mainstream look than we all anticipated, with its very plain front end that features BMW’s kidney grilles and a BMW i blue background and U-shaped LED headlights.
The profile view of the i3 is about as plain-Jane as it comes, as the anticipated swooping roofline is not as dramatic as we were expecting. In place of the dramatic roofline is a swooping window-line that seems almost awkward as you reach the rear-quarter window. Under the camp, you can see one unique bodyline that looks to run the base of the front and rear door windows, then kick up sharply as you approach the rear-quarter window. Short of that neat line, the rest of the profile view is about as vanilla and un-BMW-like as it gets.
At the rear the model will be offered with a large window that provide a great visibility and easy access to the trunk, while the tail-lights received the same U-shape as the headlights. For improved aerodynamics the model received a rear diffuser outlined in blue.
Despite the uninspired roofline, the rest of the i3 is just as we expected to see it. It has just enough flare to set it apart from the likes of the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but it’s certainly not instantly recognizable as a BMW from all angles but the front.
Now, the i3 may be vanilla in looks, but its carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic passenger cell and perfect 50:50 weight ratio make it a stunner under the surface. This CFRP cell helps keep the weight low and to give it a perfect 50:50 weight balance. Other weight saving items, including forged-aluminum 19-inch wheels and aluminum fasteners, all contribute to the super-low 1,195 kg (2,434-pound) curb weight.
2014 BMW i3 Exterior Features:
BMW i3 Mega World
19-inch extra-efficient forged aluminum wheels
7.4 kW on board charger
DRLs and taillights
BMW i3 Giga World:
All Mega World features, plus:
Giga-specific 19-inch wheels
BMW i3 Tera World
All Giga World features
3,999 MM (157.4 Inches)
2,570 MM (101.2 Inches)
2,700 pounds, Est.
9.86 Meters (32.34 Feet)
One of the most notable features of the new BMW i3 is the lack of center tunnel and the fact that both the front and rear bench seats allow for easy movement inside the vehicle and even allow the driver to exit through the passenger door if necessary. The model has been designed around the driver, meaning that all the controls are placed at easy access.
The i3 is also offered with a freestanding steering column that includes all the driving controls, such as the instrument cluster, start/stop button and gear shift selector.
A weight savings of 10 percent is achieved via the use of raw, renewable materials on the door trim, additionally, the instrument panel supports are made from magnesium for an extra 20 percent in weight savings over the equivalent steel material.
The i3’s full list of standard features will be released later this fall, but there is a standard navigation that makes use of BMW Connected Drive services. This nav system uses a Driving Range Assistant to help you plan a long journey by figuring out if the route is beyond the car’s range and compensating for that by switching driving modes automatically and pointing out an ideal charging location along the way if there is no possible way to make it in one shot.
This nav system also privies you to all sorts of variable info, like battery charge, driving style, electrical draw from accessories, driving mode, traffic, topography and temperature. This data is then crunched and the i3 automatically adjusts its drivetrain to maximize efficiency.
ConnectedDrive also hooks up to any iOS or Android device and allows you to access it remotely. This app allows you to preplan a route based on the car’s current charge and all of the aforementioned variables before you even walk out of your front door. Additionally, the app will show you nearby charging stations, and allow you to activate the battery pre-heating feature to get the battery up to temperature to help maximize performance and range.
The interior is upholstered in sustainable recycled material and the steering wheel is wrapped in leather, as standard. Optional leather and wool, and full olive leaf-tanned leather are available on the Giga World and Tera Worl trims, respectively.
2014 BMW i3 Interior Features:
BMW i3 Mega World
BMW ConnectedDrive with eCall
BMW i Remote
Bright, lightweight Sensatec and sustainable cloth made from recycled materials
Leather trimmed steering wheel
Grained dash trim
BMW i3 Giga World
All Mega World features, plus:
Interior wrapped in leather and wool cloth
Universal garage door opener
Leather-trimmed steering with contrasting stitching
BMW i3 Tera World
All Giga World features, plus:
Luxurious full leather
Olive leaf-tanned interior, with textile accents and contrasting stitching
Anthracite floors mats.
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
Now the part that everyone is most curious about: what’s under the i3’s hood? Well under there is a hybrid synchronous electric motor that puts out 125 kW (170 horsepower) and 250 Nm (184 pound-feet) of torque to the rear wheels from the second you touch the accelerator, via a single-speed automatic transmission. This pushes the petite hatchback to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a spirited 7.2 seconds
and to a top speed of 93 mph. Both are rather impressive, as is its sprint to 30 mph in 3.5 seconds, to 60 mph in an estimate 7 seconds and 50 to 75 mph in only 4.9 seconds.
What really matters in the compact EV class is the efficiency of the car, and the i3 delivers in that area too. Its motor only takes up 0.13 kWh from its eight-module lithium-ion battery per mile of driving. This battery stores a total of 22 kWh of energy, which affords the i3 an everyday driving range of 130 to 160 km (81 to 99 miles). With ECO PRO mode activated, the i3’s range jumps to 150 to 180 km (93 to 111 miles) and ECO PRO+ mode jumps it to 170 to 200 km (105 to 123 miles). Charging can take less than 30 minutes on a fast-charge station and about 8 hours on a domestic socket.
On top of all of that, you can also opt for a range extender at an additional cost, which adds a 650 cc twin-cylinder gasoline engine to the mix. This 25 kW (34-horsepower) engine jumps the total range to up to 300 km (180 miles) in everyday driving.
In terms of handling, the i3 is competent, thanks mostly to its 50:50 weight distribution and battery back that helps lower its center of gravity. Its rear-drive configuration allows for mild oversteer, and its McPherson strut front suspension and five-link rear suspension help it deliver spirited handling. The only real downfall for the i3 are its super skinny and tall 155/70R19 tires. While these do increase efficiency, they are also not the greatest for handling and will be super-expensive to replace.
BMW didn’t dive too much into the i3’s braking system with the exception of noting that it does feature ABS and automatic braking when you lift your foot off of the accelerator. No, this automatic braking won’t completely stop the car, but it does apply about 75 percent braking power, which also helps recharge the batteries.
BMW eDrive technology: hybrid synchronous motor with integrated power electronics, charger and generator mode for recuperation
125 / 170
250 / 184
Energy capacity (kWh)
Power-to-weight ratio (hp/lb)
Acceleration 0–60 mph
Acceleration 0–35 mph
Acceleration 50 - 75 mph
Range in everyday driving (Comfort mode)
130 – 160 km (81 - 99 miles)
Range in ECO PRO+ mode
170 - 200 km (105 - 123 miles)
Range In Comfort mode with Range Extender
Approx. 300 km (180 miles)
Charging times (for 80% charge)
< 30 min. at 50 kW fast charge to 8 h for 100% at domestic socket
Aluminum single-joint McPherson spring strut with anti-dive
Five-link axle directly mounted to Drive module
5J x 19 light-alloy
Pricing and Release
We expected the i3 to come in at about $45k in the U.S. and BMW has just announced that it will come in well under this mark. The i3 will start out at a relatively cheap $41,350 before federal tax credits, plus a $925 delivery fee, for the Mega World trim. The range-extender model will have a starting price of $45,200.
The i3 will make its global debut on July 29th and it will be available for purchase in the U.S. in the second quarter (April to June) of 2014, making it a 2015 model year vehicle.
The Nissan Leaf is currently the most successful electric car offered on the North American market. It comes with a front-mounted, electric-drive motor that delivers a total of 107 horsepower. The Leaf requires a total of 8 hours for a full charge from a 200-volt source.
With the battery at an 80-percent charge, you can drive a total of 80 miles and you can get an additional 31 miles after plugging in for only 10 minutes.
Chevrolet Volt is among the first Extended-range EVs offered on the market, but somehow it failed to be as successful as Chevrolet was hoping. Its lack of success was like due in large part to its inflated $40k price tag.
Volt is designed to drive up to 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions, thanks to the lithium-ion battery pack that runs it. The model delivers an equivalent output of 150 horsepower and 273 ft lbs of torque with a 0-to-60 mph time of about 9 seconds and a top speed of 100 mph.
Though it is only in a very limited market, you can still consider the 500e as a competitor to the i3. It comes up pretty short in power at only 111 horsepower and it only travels a certified 87 miles on a charge. Additionally, there is no optional rage extender available and its $32,500 price tag puts it too close to the i3’s anticipated pricing. Where the Fiat wins out is in overall looks, as the 500e is pretty cute and the i3 is a little flat.
The jury is still out, pending the release of standard features and trim pricing, but the $41k starting price seems like a relative steal, given it is relatively well equipped. We particularly like the optional range extender, which is something that none of the other EVs offer: they either have one or they do not. Additionally, its 7-second run to 60 mph is likely going to lead the class for many years and its nice handing will put it on a pedestal that other compact EVs can look up at.
Great acceleration number for an EV hatchback
Acceptable top speed
Optional range extender is a great idea
A starting price just over $41k is better than expected
Looks are a little bland
Interior details are still scant
UPDATE 07/29/2013: The new BMW i3 finally made its world debut today after undergoing years of testing. Sales will begin in the second quarter of 2014.
Updated 10/10/2013: BMW confirmed that the new i3 will go on sale in the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2014. The battery electric model will have a base price of $41,350, while the range-extender model will have a starting price of $45,200. We have also added a new set of more than 100 new high res images, so check the picture gallery to see them all!
Alina Joined the Topspeed.com team in the early 2000s as one of the outlets very first experts, and she’s been with Topspeed.com ever since. Over the years, she’s served various roles, but today she’s is relied on heavily to verify automotive facts, assist with formatting, and discover new and engaging topics.
Read full bio
About the author
BMW today introduced the all-new BMW i3 electric car, constructed in a revolutionary way from next-generation materials. The BMW i3 will go on sale in the US market in the second quarter of 2014, and starts with a base MSRP of $41,350, before any federal or state incentives, and before Destination & Handling fee (currently $925).
Highlights: The All-New BMW i3:
The new all-electric BMW i3 is a landmark in BMW’s mission to provide a completely sustainable, electric vehicle that still stays true to the Ultimate Driving Machine moniker. The BMW i3 is the first product of the new BMW i sub-brand, and is a truly purpose built electric car. It’s a new era for electro mobility at BMW.
The vehicle concept behind the BMW i3 was designed from the outset to incorporate an all-electric drive system. This has numerous advantages over “conversion” vehicles, in which the original combustion engine is swapped for an electric motor. The engineers can design whatever works best, in terms of construction, dimensions and configuration of the electric drive system’s components. The car’s development is dictated by the characteristics designed into the car by the development team and not by the constraints imposed by a pre-existing vehicle design. For example, the space in a conversion vehicle set aside for the fuel tank or exhaust system cannot be used. In the BMW i3 there is no need for this kind of compromise.
This leads to the LifeDrive architecture concept, which was purpose-built specifically for the BMW i3. It is comprised of two modules; the Life Module, and the Drive Module. Think of the Life Module as the passenger cabin, or greenhouse. It is the first-ever mass produced Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) passenger cell in the automotive business, and is a big factor in the cars efficiency. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic is equally as strong as steel, while being 50% lighter, and 30% lighter than aluminum. The result is an electric car that weighs about 2,700 lbs (preliminary US figures).
Due to the lightweight, high tensile strength of CFRP, the passenger cell has added protection, and the battery has less work to do, which allows for the use of a smaller, lighter battery that saves even more weight, reduces charging time and increases range. The light weight design of the Life Module also lowers the BMW i3’s center of gravity, making it a more engaging and dynamic car to drive.
The Drive Module, which is constructed out of 100% aluminum, consists of the 22-kWh, 450 lb. lithium-ion battery, electric drive train, MacPherson strut and 5-link rear
suspension system and structural and crash components. The battery mounted in the rear, close to the drive wheels, gives impressive performance characteristics while also providing better traction.
Another benefit of the LifeDrive architecture concept is that there is no space-consuming transmission tunnel running through the center of the car, like in most internal combustion powered cars, because of the separate Drive Module. This gives the BMW i3 the interior space of the BMW 3 Series, while only having the footprint of the much smaller BMW 1 Series.
Even the vehicle’s key is sustainably manufactured. The source material of the new bio-polymer key is based on castor oil pressed from castor seeds. The owner’s manual is also made from renewable resources.
The interior is made using high quality renewable sources and recycled materials. The BMW i3 has the Next Premium interior, which blends sustainable resources with a premium feel for the same interior quality as the BMW 5 Series Sedan. 25% of the plastics in the interior and 25% of the thermoplastic parts on the exterior are made from either recycled materials or renewable sources.
According to studies carried out as part of BMW’s Project i, involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 12.5 million miles, it was revealed that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles. The BMW i3 will be able to travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge. This can be increased by up to approximately 12% in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount again in ECO PRO+ mode. It is able to recharge in only 3 hours with the use of a 220V Level 2, 32-amp J1772 charger.
The SAE DC Combo Fast Charging, which charges the BMW i3 up to 80% in 20 minutes, and 100% in 30, can be had as an option.
In order to reduce range anxiety, a rear-mounted 650cc, 34 hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle’s range. When the battery gets to a certain level, the Range Extender starts and maintains the battery’s current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle’s wheels. The Range Extender adds roughly 330 lbs. to the vehicle curb weight and has a fuel capacity of 2.4 gallons.
Since 1999 according to the DOE, average gasoline prices in America have increased from approximately $1.136 to $3.618, or about a 218%. In the same time, the pricing of electricity has increased from 6.6 cents to 9.9 cents, a change of only 50%, making electricity a far more attractive commodity from a pricing standpoint.
The Ultimate Drive Machine®.
BMW makes the Ultimate Driving Machine, and that holds true for the BMW i3. The hybrid synchronous electric motor, which weighs only 110 lbs., is developed and produced specially by the BMW Group for use in the BMW i3, with maximum revs of 11,400 rpm, generates an output of 170 hp and outputs maximum torque of 184 lb-ft on tap from the moment the car pulls away. That’s propels the 2,700 lb car from 0-30mph in 3.5 seconds, 0-60mph in approximately 7.2 seconds, and to an electronically limited top speed of 93 mph (preliminary USA figures). Much like engine braking with a manual transmission, but even more effective, the accelerator pedal also acts as a brake when the driver lifts off the accelerator.
The BMW i3 features Brake Energy Regeneration, which, when the driver lifts off, the motor acts as a generator and converts the kinetic energy into electricity, which is fed back into the battery for a range gain. This Regeneration is speed-sensitive, which means that the car “coasts” for added efficiency at high speeds, and generates the strong braking effect at lower speeds.
The BMW i3’s accelerator pedal has a distinct “neutral” position. Rather than switching straight to energy Regeneration when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to separate from the drivetrain and deploy only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 cruises using virtually no energy at all. This is another way anticipatory driving can preserve energy and increase the car’s range.
The impressive electric motor, small turning circle of 32.3 feet, – a major benefit to driving in the city – BMW’s near-perfect 50-50 weight distribution, precise electric power steering and the stable suspension set-up help to make the i3 as satisfying to drive as every other BMW.
The BMW i3’s tires are a unique 155/70/19 size on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, but the contact patch is the same of that of a more conventional 16-inch tire. To improve efficiency, they have low rolling resistance, and the narrow section width is a key factor in the BMW i3’s super-tight turning radius.
The BMW i3 uses the BMW eDrive rear-wheel drive powertrain previously found on the BMW ActiveE. eDrive offers driving dynamics worthy of the Ultimate Driving Machine name and offers zero tailpipe emission driving. Beyond the traditional immediacy of response offered by electric motors when pulling away, power development in the BMW i3 also remains unbroken through higher speeds. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission, allowing the BMW i3 to accelerate with an uninterrupted flow of power up to its top speed.
City Friendly: The Future of Urban Mobility.
The BMW i3 marks the introduction of a new type of megacity vehicle. Its small size allows it to easily maneuver and park on city streets, while the car’s short front and rear overhangs make parking in tight spaces much easier. Its sharp turning radius and nimble handling are the perfect match for city driving. In the front, the Slide Through Experience allows the driver to slide through the car and exit on the passenger side, to avoid exiting into a busy city street. This is made possible because of the absence of the transmission tunnel. The coach doors make getting into and out of the car much more practical by eliminating the B pillar and creating one large opening to enter and exit.
Not having to fill up on gas is a big advantage while living in the city due to the lack of gas stations. Since electricity is so readily available, recharging is possible almost anywhere, and practically gives the BMW i3 unlimited range due to being able to charge at any and every stop.
Emission-free driving is also a plus in the city. Cities are so congested with cars idling at red lights or stop and go traffic, so having a car that runs on electricity that doesn’t pollute is another way that the BMW i3 benefits the environment, and its owner.
On a similar note, the navigation system can take traffic conditions into consideration and help route around any areas of large congestion, which is a huge benefit when living in a city with a lot of traffic. It can help maximize efficiency and cut down commute times in order to save you time.
The same navigation system also remembers the owners driving style and can judge by that and the amount of charge left if a route is too long or if a recharge is necessary for the return journey.
Design: Aesthetic Appeal with Elegant, Renewable Interior.
The BMW i3 is stretching the definitive envelope of what a conventional car can be and how it should look. Its striking appearance is unique to the BMW i sub-brand while still remaining unmistakably a BMW.
The front end has a clear and simple design. BMW’s iconic kidney grilles headlines the front end with the BMW i blue background. Under the kidney grille, silver layers sculpt the front apron. Contrasting black surfaces identify the functional load compartment under the hood and air inlets. Aerodynamic Air Curtains give an aggressive appearance to the BMW i3, while also helping to increase the range by minimizing air resistance and drag. U-shaped, LED headlights, give a fresh take on the BMW light design and give the car character.
At the rear end, the large rear window gives great visibility and easy access to the trunk. The roof lines are optimized to give as much interior space as possible. The LED U-shaped taillights are housed in the rear window and appear to be floating there.
The rear diffuser is the lowest point on the car and lends to its aerodynamics. Outlined in blue (not available with Solar Orange Metallic exterior color), the diffuser is shaped to show the BMW i3’s powerful stance.
Thanks to its LifeDrive architecture, the BMW i3 is a new canvas for BMW interior designers. There is no center tunnel taking up space, which creates an open, roomy cabin. The front and rear bench seats allow for easy movement inside the vehicle and even allow the driver to exit through the passenger door if necessary.
All driving controls are ergonomically placed for easy access to the driver. The instrument panel stretches through the whole interior from the air vents next to the steering wheel to just before the passenger door. It encompasses the radio and climate controls as well.
The freestanding steering column is a distinctive element in the light interior. All of the driving controls, such as the instrument cluster, start/stop button and gear shift selector can be found there.
The interior, which is put together using a technique known as layering, – which is the utilization of space through the structuring of lines and surfaces into layers – features Next Premium. It is made of high quality renewable raw materials, in the name of sustainability. The driver’s seat is located in a semi-command driving position, set-up higher for a better view of the road. Certain parts of the instrument panel and door panels are made using southern Asia’s Kenaf plant natural fibers to save about 10% weight, while the interior leather is tanned using a natural process that uses olive leaf extract to provide protection against fading and wear while giving a unique look.
Using a magnesium supporting structure for the instrument panel saves weight in two ways. Superior material attributes over conventional sheet steel results in a weight reduction of 20%. Also, the high composite rigidity of the magnesium supporting structure allows a reduction in components and lowers weight by a further 10%.
The wood trim used in the dashboard is crafted from eucalyptus which is grown in Europe and certified as 100% sourced from responsible forestry. As the eucalyptus ages, it darkens and changes color. The location of the crafting was selected carefully to ensure short delivery routes to the production stages.
The Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), which is produced near Moses Lake, Washington, is made primarily with the use of hydroelectric power, harvested nearby. This is done to minimize the effect that BMW i3 production has on the environment. Since more than 10% of the carbon fiber needed to manufacture the BMW i3 is made from recycled materials, it is another way the BMW i3 is completely sustainable. The roof is made of CFRP scraps to help recycle left over material from other parts.
Explore the World: Vehicle Trim Levels.
Due to the unfamiliarity of electric mobility technology in the United States, buying an EV can be a daunting experience for the average customer. BMW sought to make this process as simple as possible in the new BMW i3. The BMW i3 comes in three different worlds: Mega, Giga and Tera, all of which come equipped with a very high level of standard equipment.
The base Mega World comes standard with 19-inch extra-efficient forged aluminum wheels, BMW Navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive with eCall, the BMW i Remote, an alarm, 7.4 kW on board charger and LED headlights, DRLs and tail lights. The interior is donned in bright, lightweight Sensatec and sustainable cloth, which is made from recycled materials. It also features a leather trimmed steering wheel and grained dash trim.
The next level, Giga World, has all the features of the Mega World but with the addition of distinct Giga-specific 19-inch wheels and an interior wrapped in leather and wool cloth. A universal garage door opener is included for easy access to the i3’s BMW i Charging Station, which is usually mounted in the garage. It also has Comfort Access, a sunroof, and satellite radio. The leather-trimmed steering wears contrasting stitching to give a classy, sporty look.
The top-of-the-line Tera World, adds unique 19-inch wheels, a luxurious full leather, olive leaf-tanned interior, with textile accents and contrasting stitching, and anthracite floors mats.
Available for every world is the Technology and Driving assist, and the Parking assist packages. The Technology and Driving Assist package adds a host of convenience and safety technologies to the BMW i3. It includes the wide-screen Navigation Professional with advanced real-time traffic and the new touch pad, Traffic Jam Assist, BMW Assist with Enhanced Bluetooth and USB with BMW Apps, Online Information services, Deceleration Assistant, ACC Stop & Go, Speed Limit info, BMW ConnectedDrive services, Forward Collision Warning, Pedestrian Protection and City Collision Mitigation. The Parking Assist package is ideal for living in the city and includes a rearview camera, Park Assistant, which helps take advantage of tight parallel parking opportunities, and Front Auto Park Distance Control.
The BMW i3 full options list for USA will be released Fall 2013.
BMW ConnectedDrive. Mobility services and new driver assistance systems.
BMW ConnectedDrive is the interface between the customer, their car, 360 Electric, and the Premium Mobility Service. Connected mobility is the embodiment of an individual, sustainable, efficient and convenient form of urban mobility. It is a crucial part of the BMW i and urban lifestyle.
An embedded SIM card in the BMW i3 is the key that unlocks the BMW ConnectedDrive services, available to the new electric model. A feature of BMW ConnectedDrive is BMW i Navigation, which can search for a nearby charging station, which should give the driver piece of mind, knowing that there is a station nearby. It can also give a real world range estimate and visualization of the estimate with the SpiderMap, Real Time Traffic Information and plan a route that avoids the traffic as best as possible.
The customer has access to personal assistance from a BMW ConnectedDrive agent at any time of the day or night. Concierge Service can help answer almost any of the driver’s questions. They can recommend restaurants, give information on destinations or guide the driver to the nearest charging station, among other things.
In the unfortunate situation when an accident occurs, Intelligent Emergency Call (“eCall”) sends information like location, number of front-seat occupants, and even crash severity data to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Center, which quickly informs the appropriate 911-dispatch center.
BMW ConnectedDrive can also connect directly with your iPhone with an original Apple cable that connects to the car and built-in BMW Apps.
The optionally available Driving Assistant Plus for the BMW i3 comprises Collision Warning with brake priming function, which is activated at speeds up to about 35 mph (60 km/h) and is able to respond to both moving and stationary vehicles ahead, as well as to pedestrians. It also comes with Active Cruise Control including Stop & Go function. In addition to visual and audible warnings, the system is capable of braking the vehicle by itself, if required, with up to maximum stopping power. The Parking Assistant can also be found on the option list and performs the steering maneuvers at the same time as controlling accelerator, brake and gear selection, enabling fully automated parallel parking. Another handy optional extra is the Traffic Jam Assistant that allows drivers to delegate the tasks of pulling away, braking and steering to keep the vehicle in lane. Meanwhile, the Speed Limit Info system is also offered.
360 Electric: Support and Convenience for Electric Mobility.
Electric cars differ drastically from their gas-powered counterparts, and the 360 Electric features further that differential. All of the 360 Electric features help to ensure convenient electro mobility in most situations.
If the BMW i3 buyer has a private parking space at their home, BMW i will offer a home charging station, which includes a BMW i charging station for convenient charging. They will even send a representative to install it to any specific need. 360 Electric will also help with public charging by locating the nearest station.
As part of 360 Electric, the BMW i Remote app links to your car and can monitor its battery level, charging status and other charging-related functions, such as heating and air conditioning. The app can also give the cars location, lock or unlock the doors, honk the horn, or flash the lights.
Before driving away in the BMW i3, it is recommended to precondition that battery to the preferred operating temperature of between 60 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit to optimize range. Battery temperature may be monitored through the iDrive system. The battery liquid cooling system keeps the battery at the ideal operating temperature which increases performance and life expectancy. Battery condition is controlled and operated in harmony by the intelligent energy management system. This, combined with Brake Energy Regeneration system extends the vehicle’s range while enhancing its performance.
The Range Assistant is engaged both for route planning and during journeys already under way. Topographical mapping technology helps find the most efficient route to your destination by calculating distance, elevation and other factors, in order to get the best range from your BMW i3. If the destination is beyond the cars range, it can suggest switching to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ to get more from the battery’s charge.
In the unlikely circumstance of a breakdown, the BMW Assist Safety Plan provides contact with a Response Specialist at the touch of a button.
BMW Assist also introduces Navigation services specially-developed to enhance electric mobility alongside familiar features including the Concierge Services information facility and the intelligent BMW Assist eCall. Moreover, drivers may use the BMW i Remote app to share information with their car using a smartphone. The pedestrian navigation function guides the driver from parking place to their final destination and back.
Safety: Always a true BMW.
From an efficiency standpoint, the body of the BMW i3 needs to be not only strong but, above all, light. However, from a safety point of view, it has to be not only light but, above all, strong. This apparent conflict of interests highlights the engineers’ pioneering work in developing the vehicle architecture of the BMW i3. Here, there is no contradiction between lightweight construction and safety. Quite the opposite, in fact: the LifeDrive concept of the BMW i3, with its combination of aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), is on a par with other structures and even performs better in some areas of crash testing despite its lightweight design. The use of CFRP essentially allows the construction of extremely lightweight bodies. Moreover, CFRP possesses an impressive ability to absorb energy and is extremely damage-tolerant. CFRP is the lightest material that can be used in the construction of car bodies without compromising on safety.
The LifeDrive concept is based around two horizontally separate independent modules. The Drive module – the aluminum chassis – gives the car its high-strength foundations and integrates the battery and drive system into a single structure. The Life module, meanwhile, consists principally of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger compartment made from CFRP. With this innovative concept, the BMW Group takes the combination of lightweight design, vehicle architecture and crash safety to an entirely new dimension.
LifeDrive module offers tremendous safety.
The crash requirements in automotive manufacture are very strict. Numerous impact criteria stipulated by the stringent guidelines of global consumer protection organizations and legislators have to be taken into account. During the development of the BMW i3 concept, there was close consultation with the international crash test institutes on the innovative car body and safety concept of the BMW i models.
The high-strength passenger compartment teams up with the intelligent distribution of forces within the LifeDrive module to provide the cornerstones for optimum occupant protection. Even after the structurally-debilitating offset front crash at 64 km/h (40 mph), the extremely rigid material maintains an intact survival space for passengers. The crash-activated aluminum structures at the front and rear end of the Drive module provide additional safety, so that less body deformation occurs compared with comparable steel bodies. Furthermore, the “cocoon effect” of the CFRP car body ensures that the doors can be opened without any problem and the interior remains largely free of any intrusions.
Even rescue scenarios have been worked through and checked. In standard cutting tests, the process of rescuing occupants from a BMW i3 involved in an accident was comparable to that for a conventional vehicle. In some respects, indeed, it was more straightforward since the lighter components can be more easily cut than high-strength steels, for example.
Impressive rigidity, combined with its ability to absorb an enormous amount of energy, makes CFRP extremely damage-tolerant. Even at high impact speeds it displays barely any deformation. As in a Formula One cockpit, this exceptionally stiff material provides an extremely strong survival space. Furthermore, the body remains intact in a front or rear-on impact, and the doors still open without a problem after a crash.
In its dry, resin-free state CFRP can be worked almost like a textile, and as such allows a high degree of flexibility in how it is shaped. The composite only gains its rigid, final form after the resin injected into the lattice has hardened. This makes it at least as durable as steel, but it is much more lightweight.
The high tear resistance along the length of the fibers also allows CFRP components to be given a high-strength design by following their direction of loading. To this end, the fibers are arranged within the component according to their load characteristics. By overlaying the fiber alignment, components can also be strengthened against load in several different directions. In this way, the components can be given a significantly more efficient and effective design than is possible with any other material that is equally durable in all directions – such as metal. This, in turn, allows further reductions in terms of both material use and weight, leading to another new wave of savings potential. The lower accelerated mass in the event of a crash means that energy-absorbing structures can be scaled back, cutting the weight of the vehicle.
Superior protection in a side impact.
The ability of CFRP to absorb energy is truly extraordinary. Pole impacts and side-on collisions both highlight the impressive safety-enhancing properties of CFRP. Despite the heavy, in some cases concentrated forces, the material barely sustains a dent, and passengers enjoy nearly unbeatable protection. All of which makes CFRP perfectly suited for use in a vehicle’s flanks, where every centimeter of undamaged interior is invaluable. However, there are limits to what CFRP can endure. If the forces applied go beyond the limits of the material’s strength, the composite of fibers breaks up into its individual components in a controlled process.
In the Euro NCAP side impact test, in which a pole strikes the side of the vehicle dead-center at 32 km/h (20 mph), the carbon fiber composite also demonstrates its extraordinary energy-absorbing capacity. The Life module absorbs the entire impact with minimal deformation, guaranteeing optimum passenger protection. Even as CFRP dissipates energy, danger to passengers or other road users is substantially mitigated.
The best of both worlds: combining aluminum and CFRP.
The new Drive module has also been carefully designed and structured with these exacting crash requirements in mind. Crash-active aluminum structures in the front and rear sections of the vehicle provide additional safety. In a front or rear-on collision, these absorb a large proportion of the energy generated. The battery, meanwhile, is mounted in the underbody section of the car to give it the best possible degree of protection. Statistically, this is the area that absorbs the least energy in the event of a crash, and the vehicle shows barely any deformation here as a result. Moreover, positioning the battery in the underbody allows the BMW Group development engineers to give the vehicle an ideal low center of gravity, which makes it extremely agile and unlikely to roll over.
The high-voltage battery also benefits from the excellent deformation properties of the CFRP Life module. In the side crash test, the pole does not penetrate as far as the battery. The mix of materials used and the intelligent power distribution in the LifeDrive module ensure that the high-voltage battery is optimally protected even in the side sill area.
All in all, the high-strength CFRP passenger cell teams up with the intelligent distribution of forces in the LifeDrive module to lay the foundations for optimum occupant protection.
In the unfortunate situation when an accident occurs, Intelligent Emergency Call (“eCall”) sends information like location, number of front-seat occupants, and even crash severity data to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Center, which quickly informs the appropriate 911-dispatch center.
Lithium-ion batteries are safe even in the event of a fire.
Safety is a key criterion in the development of the BMW i models. A range of systems and measures have been implemented in the vehicle that ensure safety in normal operation and in the event of accidental fires. The high-voltage system is designed to cope with accidents beyond the legal requirements, with the high-voltage battery including features that ensure its safe reaction even in situations such as this.
The latest series of tests conducted by the renowned DEKRA E-Mobility Competence Center were extremely extensive – ranging from how a car might catch fire, how the flames might spread and what would be required to extinguish the fire, to the pollution caused by run-off of the water used for fighting the fire. The experts concluded that electric and hybrid cars with lithium-ion drive system batteries are at least as safe as vehicles with conventional drive systems in the event of fire.
To ensure maximum safety in such a crash scenario, the high-voltage battery is disconnected from the high-voltage system and the connected components discharged when the passenger restraint systems are triggered. This safely prevents the possibility of a short circuit, which could lead to electric shocks or cause a fire.
The Ultimate Driving Machine in a new era of mobility
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – July 9, 2013 6:00pm EDT/3:00pm PDT…
The BMW Group is set to play a leading and groundbreaking role in shaping personal mobility at the premium level well into the future. The research and development work carried out since 2007 as part of project i has laid the foundations for sustainable mobility solutions influenced by environmental, economic and social change around the world. The BMW Group is pursuing an integrated approach, as embodied by the new BMW i sub-brand, in its drive to achieve the necessary balance between individual needs and the global mobility requirements of the future. BMW i is committed to creating innovative vehicles and mobility services with premium character that is defined squarely in terms of sustainability. This vision is about to become reality: the BMW i3, the first series-produced model from the new brand, offers customers zero driving emission mobility in a premium car package.
The BMW i3 has been designed and conceived like no other vehicle to be powered by an electric drive system. The result is hallmark BMW driving pleasure in undiluted form, delivered with zero driving emissions and an engaging intensity unmatched by any electrically powered vehicle. Like the car’s unique architecture – based around the LifeDrive structure and its carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell – the electric motor, power electronics and high-voltage lithium-ion battery have been developed and manufactured independently by the BMW Group under its BMW eDrive program. This ensures that the BMW i sub-brand’s first car will fulfill the promise of The Ultimate Driving Machine TM. Also playing their part here are the driver assistance systems and mobility services from BMW ConnectedDrive and 360° ELECTRIC designed specifically for the BMW i3. Intelligent integration of these features allows them to accentuate the premium experience of all-electric mobility in urban environments.
LifeDrive architecture and BMW eDrive: fulfilling promise of The Ultimate Driving Machine.
The familiar sense of driving pleasure embodied by the BMW i3 is the result of a completely fresh 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 near perfect 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 driving characteristics of the BMW i3 are dominated by maneuverability – 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 (32.3 ft or 9.86 meters), produces a BMW take on electric mobility.
The electric motor generates output of 170hp (125 kW) and peak torque of 184 lb-ft (250 Nm), which is on tap immediately. The motor weighs just 110 lbs. (50 kg) 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 35 mph (0 - 60 km/h) in about 3.5 seconds and 0 to 60 mph (0-100 km/h) in approximately seven 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 lifts 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 80 – 100 miles (130 - 160 km) in everyday driving. This can be increased by up to approximately
12 percent in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount 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 gasoline engine developing 34 hp (25 kW). It is mounted 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 160 – 180 miles (250 - 300 km).
The world’s first fully networked electrically powered car, courtesy of BMW ConnectedDrive.
The BMW i3 is the world’s first fully networked electrically powered car. No other model boasts such far-reaching exchange of information between the vehicle, its driver and the outside world. An embedded SIM card in the BMW i3 is the key that unlocks BMW ConnectedDrive services
available to the new electric model. For example, it introduces navigation services specially developed to enhance electric mobility alongside familiar features including the Concierge Services information facility and the intelligent BMW Assist TM eCall. Moreover, drivers can use the BMW i Remote app to share information with their car at any time using their smartphone. The pedestrian navigation function guides the driver from parking place to final destination and back, while BMW ConnectedDrive also offers unique intermodal route guidance as a world first, which incorporates local public transport connections into journey planning. The aim of this intelligent networking is to enable maximum driving pleasure in a car emitting zero driving emissions.
BMW ConnectedDrive services specifically designed for BMW i focus on the areas of navigation and energy management. Range Assistant is engaged both for route planning and during journeys already under way. If the destination programmed into the navigation system is beyond the car’s range, the system suggests switching to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode and calculates a more efficient route. If the driver needs to charge the battery at a public charging station, a list of available stations in the area is displayed. The navigation system of the BMW i3 also comes with a dynamic range display, which supplies drivers with exceptionally precise, up-to-date and reliable information on whether there is sufficient charge to reach their destination and, if so, how much power will remain at the end of the journey. Many factors affecting range are considered in the calculation process, which is carried out on a BMW server and sent to the navigation system via the SIM card installed in the car. The range readout, presented in the form of a spider map on the navigation system in the central information display, is extremely clear.
The link between driver and car also enters a new dimension in the BMW i3. The BMW ConnectedDrive Remote app for BMW i enables smartphone access to useful vehicle data for journey planning. If the BMW i3 is hooked up to a charging station, the supply of energy can be controlled via smartphone, while the air conditioning and heating function for the high-voltage battery pack can also be activated remotely. In addition, customers can use their smartphone to send destinations to their car’s navigation system. The app also shows the driver charging stations (both available and in use) and can establish if the car has sufficient power remaining to reach them. The car’s range limit display on the smartphone screen replicates that provided by the car’s navigation system.
The BMW i3 is also available with an array of other innovative BMW ConnectedDrive driver assistance systems developed specifically to enhance convenience and safety in urban conditions. These include Driving Assistant Plus, Parking Assistant, a rear view camera and Speed Limit Info.
Integrated approach: 360° ELECTRIC provides an all-encompassing energy supply and mobility solution.
The aim in determining the range of the BMW i3 was to ensure that customers could cover their typical energy needs by charging the car twice or three times per week. The studies carried out as part of project i – involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 12.5 million miles (20 million km) – revealed that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles (45 km). Customers can charge their cars using either the home charging station supplied by BMW i or any public charging station that uses a Level 2 SAE J1772 charging system.
BMW i offers an extensive range of products and services in its 360° ELECTRIC package designed to meet all individual customer needs for energy supply and journey planning. The spectrum of services ranges from the installation of the BMW i Wallbox in the customer’s garage and special renewable energy supply offers, to the charging card for user-friendly access to the public charging infrastructure and additional assistance services from BMW ConnectedDrive. If the BMW i3 concept fails to meet mobility requirements in a specific situation, 360° ELECTRIC provides flexible mobility solutions including alternative vehicles from BMW.
Driving pleasure redefined: Drive system, chassis and lightweight construction.
The market launch of the BMW i3 also heralds the dawn of a new era for electric mobility. The design, space concept and driving characteristics of the BMW i3 are part of an overall package that opens up an all-new experience of mobility with zero driving emissions. The revolutionary character of the BMW i3 is the result of a unique vehicle architecture combined with drive system technology developed in-house at the BMW Group exclusively for BMW i models. The LifeDrive architecture and BMW eDrive technology form the basis for electric mobility at a premium level and pave the way for undiluted driving pleasure.
The BMW i3 is the first series-produced model to benefit from the results of the research and development work carried out by the BMW Group as part of project i and focusing on sustainable solutions for day-to-day mobility. Its vehicle concept and drive system technology are based on the innovative power of the world’s most successful manufacturer of premium cars. This ensures the BMW i3 is both an original BMW Group product and the embodiment of a new, yet classically BMW, interpretation of personal mobility.
The electric motor, power electronics and lithium-ion battery developed by the BMW Group for the BMW i3 are all examples of BMW eDrive technology. The BMW eDrive banner encompasses any BMW concept that delivers pure electric zero driving emissions, making it a particularly significant pillar of BMW EfficientDynamics in the exploration of future mobility. The all-electric drive system of the BMW i3 represents the fullest possible expression of BMW eDrive technology.
BMW i3 – designed from day one to deliver all-electric mobility.
The vehicle concept behind the BMW i3 was designed from the outset to incorporate an all-electric drive system. This has numerous advantages over “conversion” vehicles, in which the original combustion engine is later swapped for an electric motor. Firstly, the engineers have free rein in terms of the construction, dimensions and configuration of all the electric drive system’s components. The trajectory of the car’s development is also dictated by the characteristics designed into by the car by the development team and not by the constraints imposed by a pre-existing vehicle design. For example, the space in a conversion vehicle set aside for the fuel tank or exhaust system cannot be put to particularly constructive use. In the BMW i3 there has been no need for this kind of compromise.
Instead, the engineers were able to focus entirely on shaping the character of the BMW i3 as a sporty and agile, yet also comfortable premium car for an urban environment. When it comes to the driving attributes of the i3, the engineers have achieved a perfect balance of vehicle weight, performance and range. This is particularly important since these three factors are so inextricably linked. The operating range of electric vehicles can be extended by increasing battery size, but that adds weight and therefore has a negative impact on performance. Similarly, a more powerful motor requires more energy, which again means heavier batteries or restricted range. A lightweight body, on the other hand, enhances performance and the weight saving can be “invested” in larger batteries which, in turn, boost the car’s range.
In its mission to deliver driving pleasure in urban areas, the BMW i3 is the perfect package. With a DIN curb weight of 1,195 kilograms,
(2,630 lbs), the car is lighter than most compact vehicles, yet offers significantly more space for up to four occupants (US specific weight specifications will be available closer to the US launch). It also has the edge over conventionally powered models of a comparable size and output in the sprints from 0 to 60 mph, which it completes in about seven seconds, and 0 to 35 mph (0-60 km/h) in about 3.5 seconds. Furthermore, extensive road tests conducted as part of project i ensures
the car’s range of 80 – 100 miles (130 - 160 km) in everyday conditions is adequate to comfortably meet the day-to-day mobility needs of the target customer group.
From drawing board to detail: intelligent lightweight design, rigorously applied.
The BMW i3 embodies a particularly rigorous commitment to the principles of intelligent lightweight design as the basis for enhanced driving pleasure, a lower energy requirement and longer range. Every step in the development of the series production model has been shaped by the demands of weight optimization, from the concept underpinning the vehicle architecture and the development of individual components to the smallest details of the car’s design. Every decision on the selection of materials and component geometry was driven by a central principle of intelligent lightweight design: the combination of maximum functionality with minimum weight.
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 aluminum 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-fiber-reinforced plastic injection molding. And that contributes a 30 percent 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 three pounds (1.5 kilograms). Weight-minimizing construction also sets the tone for the chassis components of the BMW i3. For example, the forged aluminum suspension links weigh around 15 percent less than in a conventional design, the hollow drive shaft is 18 percent lighter than a conventional equivalent, and the standard 19-inch forged aluminum wheels of the BMW i3 are 36 percent 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 optimized geometry, which results in a weight reduction of some 20 percent. 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 percent. The door trim panels are made from renewable raw materials and tip the scales around 10 percent lighter than conventional equivalents. And the rigorous application of the lightweight design strategy extends to screws and bolts made from aluminum. 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 aluminum mount was developed specially for the wipers of the BMW i3, its force-flow-optimized geometry also yielding a reduction in weight.
Rear-wheel drive, a low center of gravity, balanced weight distribution and a specific suspension set-up provide the perfect platform for agility and driving pleasure.
The low and central position of the battery pack has a similarly positive effect on the car’s agility to the balanced 50:50 weight distribution enabled by the arrangement of all the components in the Drive module. The battery is encased in aluminum sections and is particularly well positioned from a crash safety perspective. The electric motor and transmission unit are located in direct proximity to the driven rear axle. Underpinning their space-saving integration into the Drive module is a compact and harmonized construction facilitated by the in-house development of the drive components at the BMW Group. The clear subdivision of Life and Drive modules means no central tunnel is necessary – a particular feature of the car’s construction that has noticeable benefits for the freedom of movement and the generous space available inside the BMW i3.
The car’s rear-wheel drive allows the front axle to remain free of torque steer and fulfill its steering function to full effect. As with current models from the BMW and MINI brands, electric power assistance also sends the BMW i3 driver’s steering commands to the road with smoothness and precision. Its extraordinarily small turning circle of 32.3 ft (9.86 m) and a steering set-up that demands just 2.5 turns from lock to lock enhance the agile handling of the BMW i3. This agility is the defining characteristic of the driving experience, especially in the car’s urban habitat. In addition, a long wheelbase (101.2 inches/2,570 mm), the Drive module’s rigid aluminum frame and advanced chassis technology provide the perfect ingredients for a sure-footed and relaxing ride.
The suspension components of the BMW i3 stand out with their minimized weight yet extremely stiff construction. The BMW i3 has MacPherson single-joint front suspension and a five-link rear axle mounted directly to the Drive module. This design assists the functional separation of wheel location and suspension, resulting in sporting driving characteristics defined by impressive longitudinal and lateral dynamics combined with superior suspension comfort. The rigorous adherence to lightweight design principles yields a reduction in unsprung masses to the benefit of ride comfort at all speeds. The BMW i3’s forged aluminum wheels also boast outstanding rigidity and extremely low weight at about 15 lbs
(7 kg) each.
The dimensions of the standard tires (155 / 70 R19) are specific to the BMW i3. The large and comparatively narrow tires allow an excellent balance between dynamics and drag, and the aerodynamic properties and rolling resistance of the tires are designed to provide extremely efficient driving. However, their contact patch barely differs from that of the tires fitted as standard on conventional cars. Indeed, even when the BMW i3 is driven with sporting intent, longitudinal and lateral dynamic forces are always transferred with great assurance and poise. Interventions by the BMW i3’s DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) driving stability system are only required in extreme situations, and body movements are minimal.
The standard DSC system offers all the functions familiar from current BMW models, including the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Brake Assist, Brake Standby, Start-Off Assistant, Fading Compensation and the Brake Drying function. The DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) mode, activated at the touch of a button, raises the intervention thresholds of the stability control system and allows a controlled degree of slip through the BMW i3’s driven wheels when pulling away on snow or loose sand or in particularly dynamic cornering.
BMW eDrive: electric motor sets new standards in power density and efficiency.
The hybrid synchronous electric motor developed and produced specially by the BMW Group for use in the BMW i3 generates output of 125 kW/170 hp and puts maximum torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft) on tap from the moment the car pulls away. The BMW i3 dashes from 0 to 60 mph (about 0-100 km/h) in about seven seconds. With a time of 4.9 seconds for the sprint from 50 – 75 mph (80 to 120 km/h), it boasts a level of sporting ability that comparably sized combustion-engine cars would require far higher outputs to achieve.
Beyond the traditional immediacy of response offered by electric motors when pulling away, pwer development in the BMW i3 also remains unbroken through higher speeds. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission, allowing the BMW i3 to accelerate with an uninterrupted flow of power up to its top speed, which is limited to 93 mph (150 km/h).
This linear power delivery extending into high rev ranges can be attributed to a special electric motor design developed exclusively for the BMW i3. BMW eDrive technology has been employed to take the principle of the permanently excited synchronous motor to another new level through detailed optimizations. A specific arrangement and dimensions for the components used to generate drive produces a self-magnetizing effect only otherwise induced by reluctance motors. This additional excitation causes the electromechanical field formed by the current supply to remain stable even at high revs. The maximum revs of the motor developed for the BMW i3 – known as a hybrid synchronous motor on account of its specific combination of properties – are 11,400 rpm.
The innovative design principle behind the electric motor in the BMW i3 helps it to run extremely effectively across a wide load band. The motor’s average power consumption of around 0.13 kilowatt hours per kilometer (0.21 kilowatt hours per mile) in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) plays a key role in optimizing the car’s range. This is an extraordinarily low figure, especially considering its maximum output and torque. The BMW i3 is therefore the most economical electrically powered car of its size and output class. The power density of the electric motor, weighing in at no more than around 110 lbs (50 kg), sets a new benchmark for electric vehicles. The BMW i3’s motor also stands out with its smooth running and low vibrations, while acoustic comfort and vibration damping similarly meet the high standards expected of a premium car.
Driving pleasure, BMW i-style: instantly responsive, agile and uniquely assured.
Zero CO2 driving emissions provide the most compelling argument for electric mobility in urban areas. But the appeal of all-electric vehicles is further enhanced by their instantaneous power delivery – which also allows the BMW i3 to deliver rousing acceleration in city traffic – and their quietness, which is a major contributor to the relaxed and comfortable driving experience on board the BMW i3.
Also helping to deliver the BMW i3’s engaging driving experience is the single-pedal control feature carefully configured by the BMW Group’s drive system development engineers. 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 ability to accelerate and brake using just one pedal creates a uniquely direct interaction between driver and car. Thinking ahead in city traffic can allow the driver to carry out 75 percent of braking maneuvers without applying the brake pedal. The brake lights illuminate if the amount of recuperation in progress produces the same braking effect as actually pressing the brake pedal. The conventional braking system only joins the action if the driver summons greater braking power by depressing the brake pedal.
Intensive use of this form of brake energy recuperation through the motor also increases the range of the BMW i3 by as much as 20 percent. And the “coasting” facility further enhances the user-friendly nature of single-pedal control. The BMW i3’s accelerator has a distinct “neutral” position; i.e. rather than switching straight to energy recuperation when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to decouple from the drivetrain and deploy only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 glides along using virtually no energy at all. This is another example of how an anticipatory driving style can preserve energy and further increase the car’s range on electric power.
Optimized performance and range through the in-house development of storage technology and energy management.
Specially developed lithium-ion storage cells supply the drive system with the energy required. The BMW Group also utilizes its technological expertise in the development of numerous battery system components in order to bring about a comprehensive optimization of the high-voltage battery pack. These include specific components which ensure the interconnection of the cells themselves as well as the connection between the battery system and the vehicle. They also comprise the integrated control unit and the electronic components in the proximity of the cells, including battery management sensors. Apart from procurement of storage cells from a specialist manufacturer, all the development and manufacturing stages are carried out at the BMW Group. The high-voltage battery is produced on a state-of-the-art assembly line at BMW Plant Dingolfing.
The high-voltage battery in the BMW i3 consists of eight modules (each with 12 individual cells), which together produce a rated voltage of 360 volts and generate approximately 22 kilowatt hours of energy. The lithium-ion cells used in the battery stand out with their high energy density and impressive cycle life. They are designed to perform their energy storage function over the vehicle’s entire lifespan. In order to maintain their output and storage capacity over time, the battery management system therefore controls both the charging and the discharging processes, as well as the operating temperature of the cells. When the vehicle is on the move all the cells are used equally to supply energy. However, it is also possible to replace individual modules in the event of a fault. The air conditioning coolant is used to provide extremely effective cooling of the high-voltage battery, and this fluid can also be warmed using a heat exchanger. All these characteristics enable the optimum operating temperature of around 70oF (20oC) to be reached before a journey begins, even when the ambient temperature is low. This preconditioning ensures the battery operates to optimum effect in terms of power output, range and durability. The BMW Group has planned and developed this battery to last for the full life of the vehicle.
As well as the drive unit, all the other electrically powered systems on board the BMW i3 are also designed to run as efficiently as possible. For example, energy-saving light diodes are used to provide interior and exterior illumination. And an optional interior heating system based on the principle of a heat pump uses up to 30 percent less energy in city driving than conventional electric heating.
The battery pack is mounted flat in the Drive module and weighs approximately 450 lbs (230 kg). The battery casing and its model-specific attachment systems were developed by the BMW Group to provide the high-voltage battery with extensive protection against environmental factors and in the event of a crash. Three levels of safety, including a cut-off mechanism, for the car’s software and hardware provide reliable protection for the electrical system as a whole.
The power electronics responsible for the interaction between the battery and electric motor are also developed by the BMW Group. The power electronics serve both as an inverter for the power supply from the battery to the electric motor and as a voltage transducer interacting between the high-voltage battery and the 12-volt onboard power system. Highly sophisticated software control ensures the best possible current flow during energy recuperation on the overrun. And the operation of battery charging systems is also integrated into the power electronics, which regulate charge outputs of between 3 kW and 50 kW, depending on the electricity source.
Flexible, fast and convenient: charging from the mains supply.
In order to make topping up the car’s power supply as user-friendly as possible for the driver, the BMW i3 lays on an extremely flexible and efficient charging system. Customers can charge their car from a home BMW i charging station. In the US, it can also be charged from any public charging station with a SAE J1772 connector. When the BMW i3 is plugged into a public DC fast-charging station (50 kW) it only takes about 20 minutes for the battery to reach 80 percent capacity.
Optional range extender acts as a spare tank.
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 certain value. Performing this role is a 650cc two-cylinder gasoline engine developing 34 hp/25 kW, which is mounted immediately adjacent to the electric motor above the rear axle. Specifying the range extender has no effect on luggage capacity: the 2.4 gallon (nine liter) fuel tank is located in the front section of the car.
The combustion engine drives a generator to that produces electricity. It is brought into play as required, responding optimally to match the load and running extremely efficiently. Driving in ECO PRO mode or ECO PRO+ mode can increase the range of the BMW i3, in each case by up to approximately 12 percent. And if the range extender is specified, the BMW i3 will be able to travel more than 60 miles (100 km) further before refueling. The BMW i3 is the world’s first electrically powered car to offer the option of a range extender engine used exclusively to generate electric power.
Intelligent connectivity for sustainable mobility: BMW ConnectedDrive in the BMW i3.
The BMW i3 is an electric car offering complete connectivity. Cutting-edge driver assistance systems coupled with mobility services from BMW ConnectedDrive that have been specially tailored for the all-electric drive technology serve to optimize safety, convenience and the usability of in-car infotainment products, as well as providing the ideal conditions for completing everyday journeys with zero driving emissions. BMW ConnectedDrive is unique in the way it helps drivers to implement their mobility plans to combine sustainability and driving pleasure in perfect harmony.
Navigation services that have been purpose-developed with the demands of electric mobility in mind complement the proven products from the revised BMW ConnectedDrive portfolio unveiled in 2013. These include mobility services, such as the Concierge Services for information and the Intelligent Emergency Call function, along with an array of innovative driver assistance systems that make an effective contribution to enhancing the convenience and safety of urban mobility. Access to the BMW ConnectedDrive services is ensured by an embedded SIM card that comes built into the vehicle as standard equipment.
Connectivity between driver and car is also taken into a whole new dimension in the BMW i3. The BMW ConnectedDrive Remote app for BMW i also makes the vehicle data used for mobility planning available on the customer’s smartphone. Alongside the pedestrian navigation function for finding the way from the parked car to the final destination and back again, BMW ConnectedDrive also boasts a unique intermodal route guidance feature that is capable of incorporating local public transport connections into mobility planning. The BMW ConnectedDrive services for BMW i guide customers to destinations accurately and efficiently. They can plot the route for the BMW i3 from the driveway to a parking space, assist in the driver in changing to the correct bus or underground line, and help complete the final leg of the journey on foot.
BMW ConnectedDrive services for safe, convenient mobility in the urban landscape.
The Driving Assistant Plus that is optionally available for the BMW i3 comprises Collision Warning with brake priming function, which is activated at speeds up to about 35 mph (60 km/h) and is able to respond to both moving and stationary vehicles ahead, as well as to pedestrians. It also comes with Active Cruise Control including Stop & Go function. In addition to visual and audible warnings, the system is furthermore capable of braking the vehicle by itself, if required, with up to maximum stopping power. The Parking Assistant can likewise be found on the list of option packages and performs the steering maneuvers at the same time as controlling accelerator, brake and gear selection, enabling fully automated parallel parking of the BMW i3. There is also the option of a rear view camera for the BMW i3 to supplement the standard Park Distance Control (PDC) with rear sensors. Another handy optional extra is the Traffic Jam Assistant that allows drivers to delegate the tasks of pulling away, braking and steering to keep the vehicle in lane. Meanwhile, the Speed Limit Info system is also offered in conjunction with the navigation system.
The various mobility services from BMW ConnectedDrive und 360° ELECTRIC that have been specially developed for BMW i focus on the aspects of navigation and energy management. The comprehensive exchange of information between driver and vehicle allows the current mobility requirements to be checked against the available energy resources. Under everyday conditions, a fully charged BMW i3 is capable of covering a distance of 80 – 100 miles (130 to 160 km) before having to be plugged into a power supply again. The field trials conducted as part of project i, which involved over 1,000 test customers and clocked up more than 12.5 million miles (20 million km) of practical driving, revealed that this driving range is more than enough for day-to-day mobility requirements in urban environments, where the average distance covered daily is around 30 miles (approx. 45 km). The BMW ConnectedDrive mobility services included with the BMW i3 as standard help to tailor this general compatibility to any individual driving situation. Intelligent connectivity paves the way to maximum driving pleasure in a car whose drive system produces zero driving emissions.
Precise, up-to-date and reliable: navigation system with dynamic range display. The BMW i3 can be optionally equipped with a navigation system whose functionality has been extended to include the BMW ConnectedDrive services developed specifically for BMW i. The Driving Range Assistant is invaluable for both route planning and the current journey. If the destination selected in the navigation system lies beyond the vehicle’s current range, it comes to the driver’s aid by suggesting switching to the ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode, as well as calculating a more efficient alternative route. And if the battery has to be recharged at a public charging station, the driver is given a choice of available stations in the neighborhood.
A further key element of the linked-up navigation unit is a dynamic range display, which delivers remarkably precise, up-to-date and reliable information by factoring in all the relevant variables. The battery’s charge status, the driving style, activity of electric comfort functions and the selected driving mode are all taken into account for the calculation, along with the route’s topography, current traffic levels and the outside temperature. The system is therefore able to make allowance for the extra energy required for an upcoming climb, stop-start traffic or a traffic jam on the selected route, and lower its range calculation accordingly. The up-to-the-minute and detailed real-time traffic information provided by the RTTI system is also added to the equation. The information is analysed and evaluated centrally by the BMW ConnectedDrive server that is in permanent communication with the vehicle. The SIM card that comes built into the BMW i3 ensures a reliable connection between the vehicle and the BMW ConnectedDrive server.
The dynamic range display is visualized on the central information display in the BMW i3 as a peripheral contour within the navigation map. Taking the vehicle’s current location as a starting point, all points that can be reached in the various driving modes are displayed in the form of a range spider map.
BMW ConnectedDrive Services enable mobility planning to the current destination and beyond.
Apart from the information required for the route guidance currently in progress, the navigation system also helps drivers to plan mobility requirements beyond their present destination. For the purpose of energy management, not only are the current battery capacity levels taken into account, but the various options for recharging are also considered. The lithium-ion battery in the BMW i3 can be recharged from SAE J1772 Level 2 rechargers in the US to give maximum flexibility. The BMW ConnectedDrive services help drivers to quickly pinpoint these charging points by displaying all available charging stations along the route or in the vicinity of the destination on the navigation map. In the same way that points of interest such as restaurants, hotels and tourist sites are visualized, charging stations and parking facilities can also be shown in the information display if desired.
The BMW ConnectedDrive server additionally provides up-to-the-minute data indicating whether potential charging stations will be
available on arrival. For instance, drivers can call up a station located close to the journey’s destination in advance. The system also notifies them of the charging time required before commencing the return journey or the onward journey to the next destination. The wealth of functions offered by the navigation system with its BMW i-specific BMW ConnectedDrive services makes it possible to plan journeys using electric power alone with supreme precision, reliability and convenience.
Intelligent link-up between driver and vehicle: the BMW ConnectedDrive Remote app for BMW i.
The mobility planning information provided is made available on the customer’s smartphone as well as in the vehicle. This connectivity is provided by an application developed especially for BMW i for mobile phones with the iOS and Android operating systems. The app is an enhanced version of the remote services offered by BMW ConnectedDrive.
The Remote app for BMW i allows drivers to access vehicle data and relevant information on route planning at any time. The driver is also able to use the app to call up a display of charging stations that are either full or have spaces, and see whether they are located within the vehicle’s current driving range. To this end, the range contour is also displayed here just as it is in the vehicle’s navigation system. This highly intelligent form of connectivity allows drivers to check the status of their BMW i3 and even plan forthcoming journeys while away from their vehicle – whether at home, at work or walking to the car park. The recharging facilities provided by the ChargeNow network of charging stations are also shown.
If the vehicle is plugged into the BMW i charging station or a public charging station, the charging procedure can be controlled both remotely and using a timer function. A range calculation graphic identical to that in the vehicle can be viewed on the smartphone too. The BMW i App can also be used to search for and select a navigation destination or a free charging station and then import it to the vehicle’s system. Besides this, the available charging stations along the route and in the vicinity of the destination are likewise visualized in the BMW i App, just as they are in the vehicle’s information display. This enables the driver not only to plan the upcoming journey in good time and with foresight, but also to make adequate preparations for further mobility requirements beyond the immediate future.
Drivers have the ability to control not just the charging process remotely but also the advance preparation of the vehicle. If the BMW i3 is plugged into a charging station or the BMW i charging station, the energy supply can be controlled from the smartphone. The vehicle’s air conditioning and heating of the high-voltage battery can likewise be activated remotely. Pre-heating the battery ensures optimum operating status for performance, range and battery durability, even at low ambient temperatures. There is also the option of programming the charging process using the app so that charging takes place when electricity is cheaper, for example using off-peak tariffs at night.
Once a journey has been completed, customers are able to compare the efficiency of their driving style anonymously with that of other BMW i3 users. At the same time, they are given further efficiency-enhancing pointers as well as tips for honing the way they drive.
In addition to this, BMW i offers pioneering mobility services under the umbrella of 360° ELECTRIC that can be incorporated into the customer’s mobility planning. These include the premium car-sharing service DriveNow, which has been available in Germany since 2011 and in San Francisco since September 2012. It was here that the ParkNow facility was also introduced as a world first, enabling parking spaces to be booked via a smartphone app.
ParkNow and other services are offered to customers through BMW ConnectedDrive and made available for use in their navigation system.
Thinking outside the box : 360° ELECTRIC offers all-encompassing vehicle solutions.
So that customers can make the best possible use of their BMW i3, BMW i provides a comprehensive range of products and services to cover individual requirements beyond the actual vehicle. The comprehensive 360° ELECTRIC package provides an especially reliable, convenient and flexible way of harnessing the benefits of electric mobility during everyday driving, with customers deciding for themselves which particular features they wish to use. The 360° ELECTRIC portfolio has four mainstays essentially covering the areas of home charging, public charging stations, safeguarding mobility, and integration into innovative mobility concepts to overcome range restrictions.
Home charging: the most convenient option.
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 will enter into a far-reaching partnership in the electricity field to ensure premium charging solutions are available. 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.
Public charging: topping up on the move.
360° ELECTRIC also comprises individual solutions for anyone who is unable to recharge their BMW i3 at home or at work. Thanks to collaboration with car park operators and public charging station providers, BMW i grants customers highly reliable access to the public charging infrastructure. BMW i, together with its partners, fosters connectivity between vehicle, driver and the outside world, providing users with convenient features such as the display of available charging stations in the navigation system and on the customer’s smartphone, along with a simple and transparent payment method with the ChargeNow card. This card enables universal access to charging poles and provides a cashless means of payment. In so doing, it groups together the maximum number of public charging infrastructure suppliers in all BMW i markets, allowing the customer to access the charging stations of different providers with a single card and receive a single standardized invoice from BMW i.
In Germany alone, there are over 70 different providers of public charging facilities, who currently operate a variety of payment and service concepts. Harmonizing this situation is of crucial importance. BMW i already offers customers an intelligent solution with its ChargeNow card. The challenge now is to join forces with all the partners involved and further extend the range of products that are universally available.
To make sure the BMW i3 runs smoothly during everyday operation, the battery and remaining electrical systems are monitored even while the vehicle is being driven. In the unlikely case of a malfunction, BMW i Centers
are able to carry out vehicle diagnostics to pinpoint any faulty components so that the BMW i3 is ready to be driven again in the shortest time possible. And the service provided is of exactly the same thoroughness and standard as offered for conventionally powered BMW cars. In the unlikely case of a malfunction, any BMW i Centers will be able to carry out vehicle diagnostics to pinpoint any faulty components so that the BMW i3 is ready to be driven again in the shortest time possible. And the service provided is of exactly the same thoroughness and standard as offered for conventionally powered BMW cars.