Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First i3 Interior Spy Shot Captured by Bimmerpost

Bimmerpost was the first to get a decent shot of an i3's dashboard. While much is still covered and the dashboard is obviously not in finished trim, you can see a lot of what BMW has kept and what they have changed from the concept i3. Compare this new photo with the concept i3 below:

BMW is keeping the gear shift know on the steering column. That oval 'Q' looking knob is the gear selector. If you push it forward you put the car in drive and if you pull back all the way you put it in reverse. I guess somewhere in the middle is neutral, there must be a distinctive click or resistance when you pass neutral or it would be difficult to know when you have placed it in neutral. The start/stop button is also on the steering column.

The two main instrumentation panels appear to be similar in size and location as the concept, and if you expand the picture to the right it looks like the display on the drivers instrument cluster is very close to what the concept i3 display looked like. It is fuzzy, but you can clearly see the main display is just about exactly what the concept display showed. You can see the current speed in the center, surrounded by an oval which displays the level of energy you are either using or gaining with regenerative braking. On the left is the outside temperature and on the right is the amount of miles you have driven on the current trip. Along the bottom there is line that represents the battery charge level with the estimated remaining miles you have before needing to plug in. If indeed I am correct about the oval circle encompassing the speed indicator, and all that is displayed is an amount of bars to show you if you are using or recapturing energy, then I will be disappointed. I want that to be represented in a numeric value for me to see like watt hours per mile. Five bars doesn't tell me anything about how much energy I'm using or how much I'm gaining by driving down a long hill. I'd like to see the actual energy flow in real value, not just bars please. I do like this small simple display unit though, and expect the production one to be all screen, unlike the one in the photo that has more painted surface than screen.

Now to the center stack console and here is where it gets a little dicey in my opinion. I'm not a fan of what I see in the picture. In fact it reminds me of the center stack console of my late 90's Honda Civic. I'm not going to go all out and slam it yet because the best feature, the large display screen is covered and hidden from view. However I can't help but look at what is visible, compare it to the concept i3 console and wonder what went wrong. They kept the tray to hold items between the controls and the display which I think is nice to have, but the button arrangement, vents and knobs remind me of something from the past, not the future of personal mobility. I loved the simple, modern, streamlined look of the concept i3's dash and I guess I was hoping for more of that look. I'm not giving up yet though because most of the dash is still covered and who knows, this might not even be the real production dash. The steering wheel was borrowed from a 3 series so perhaps what we see is only partially correct, however I have to believe what we see here is mostly what we'll get.

I know production cars never quite live up to the concept form. Designers can do wild things when they are making one car, and often some of the aspects of the things they dream up don't translate to making an affordable production vehicle, so changes are made. I doubt the manufacturers say "Yeah this concept is gorgeous, too nice for the public in fact so let's ugly it up a bit". I just really liked the look of the concept i3 interior (more so than the look of the exterior)and hope BMW manages to bring as much of it to the production version as possible.


  1. very nice i3 EV. I didn't see an estimated price?

    This should compare with the planned 2014 Tesla whitestar due with a $30K MSRP, 150 mile range and liquid cooled and heated batteries and controler.

  2. PHXEAA:

    Tesla's codename Whitestar was for the model S that they are currently selling. I think you are referring to the codename Bluestar. That is supposed to be the 'affordable' Tesla priced around $30,000 and have ~150 mile range. That car won't be available until 2015, and honestly most people very familiar with Tesla say it wouldn't be possible to launch it until the very end of 2015. So the i3 will be out at least one and a half years earlier than than and actually probably closer to two years.

    I too am anxiously awaiting what the bluestar will be, but I'm not waiting three years to buy my next EV, I'll be getting the i3 next year for sure!

    As for the i3's price BMW hasn't formally announced it but there is strong belief that it will be about $43,000 before federal Tax incentives. Tesla always quotes their car prices AFTER the $7,500 federal tax credit so that would mean they hope to start pricing of the Bluestar at around $37,500. That would be amazing it they can pull it off!