Monday, May 16, 2011

2013 BMW i3 to cost $35,000? That's what Car & Driver says

According to this report from Car & Driver, the 2013 BMW i3 is going to cost $35,000, have a 150 hp motor and have a driving range of 160 miles.

If true, this is great news. I have been following the i3 since it was first revealed and everything that I have read and heard pointed to less impressive stats. I have been figuring it would cost at least $40,000, have a range of 100 miles and have a 135 hp motor. Obviously if Car and Drivers "deep inside source in M√ľnchen" is correct, than BMW has been playing us a bit with the information they have been occasionally releasing to the media. I hope C&D is right with this info, it would really put the i3 at the top of the list of available electric cars options in 2013 if it's so. 

UPDATE: After contacting Car & Driver and challenging the 160 mile range claim, they admitted they were wrong and that the i3 will have a 100 mile range as I expected. Car and Driver should just check with me next time, don't you think? :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

BMW Carbon Fibers Factory in Moses Lake, WA is Completed and Ready To Begin Production

It may not be much to look at in the above picture, but this newly constructed factory in Moses Lake, Washington will play a big role in the BMW i3 and probably many other future BMW vehicles.

BMW, along with the SGL Group built this facility in Moses Lake primarily because they will be able to take advantage of the inexpensive electricity which is mostly all generated by hydro power. Besides the cheap electric rates, this renewable way of generating electricity is in line with BMW's commitment to sustainability, and allows them to make the energy-intensive carbon fiber material without producing nearly as much pollution as they would if they were using electricity from a coal burning power plant. 

This facility will employ 80 workers by the end of this year and up to 200 once all six buildings on the campus are completed and operational. With these plans, it's obvious that BMW intends on using CFRP in many more vehicles than only the i3. This is more evidence the i3 may just be the "revolutionary" vehicle that BMW has been touting it as. The combination of the highly efficient electric drivetrain, the newly developed lithium-ion battery cells that are nickel-manganese-cobalt chemistry and the extensive use of advanced materials sounds like the engineers have been busy at work. 

Hopefully the designers do as good a job on the vehicles appearance. It's hard to tell what's under all the camouflage in the spy photo's we have seen, but the overall shape doesn't really capture the sleek, streamlined look that the BMW-released rendering appeared to have. However we'll have to wait until we see an actual pre-production i3 without all the camouflage to really critique the design. Rumor has it we'll only have to wait until the Frankfurt Auto Show in September...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BMW Recruiting Engineers to Focus on Lightweight, Carbon-Fiber Composites

According to this report BMW is recruiting 40 engineers that specialize in carbon fiber to join the i3 and i8 development teams.

The photo above is the frame of the i3 during crash testing simulations. This further proves BMW's commitment to the extensive use of CFRP in their future models, particularly vehicles in the new i line.

The i3 will eventually have three variations. The initial i3, the one we have been focusing on here will be a three door hatchback that seats four and is scheduled to be release in 2013. Rumors have it that this version will be then offered with an onboard range extending, gasoline powered generator. A few years later, there will be a smaller two seat hatchback with a smaller range for inner city driving, and then a five seat, four door version that is larger then the original i3 and will have a larger battery with a range at least as great as the original i3.

BMW may be joining the EV party a bit later than some competitors, but they certainly have some grand plans for the next three to five years. This recent news about hiring more engineers that specialize in CFRP only adds credibility to their commitment to light weight, highly efficient electric and plug in hybrid vehicles. That's good news in my book.