Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BMW i Does New York

I found a nice place to hang in between the events
The BMW i Born Electric Tour had its only North American stop last week as they set up shop in New York City at a great space across the street from Bryant Park at 1095 Avenue of the Americas.

Just give me a mic and I'm ready to talk EV!
I actually went to the event twice. Once on Tuesday for a private event that only the BMW ActiveE lessees were invited to, and again on Sunday. I made a presentation on Sunday to the participants of the developers Hackathon that BMW i had over the weekend. BMW asked me to talk to the group about my experiences driving BMW's electric cars, the MINI-E and ActiveE over the past 3 1/2 years and I happily agreed to do so.

There wasn't much in the way of new information on the i3 there for me anyway, but this wasn't really meant for those of us following the progress of the i brand closely. It was meant to open the door to the general public for the first time and to show them a glimpse of what BMW i is all about. BMW i is much more than just the cars that are coming from it. It's about the future of urban mobility and where BMW believes we are going. BMW i will have strategic mobility partners like DriveNow, ParkNowMyCityWay and to compliment the cars they will be selling. These services will compliment their plug in line and make urban mobility easier. BMW i is also focusing on sustainable manufacturing and electric vehicle recharging. The carbon fiber used on the i brand cars is made with 100% renewable energy at BMW's Moses Lake, WA carbon fiber plant and the entire Leipzig assembly plant for the i brand cars will be powered by a wind farm that is currently being built. The materials used for the interior also reflect the sustainability theme: "The interior of BMW i3 Concept is characterized by the visible use of natural resources such as European eucalyptus wood. The natural materials underscore the premium standard of BMW i while conserving resources – and during disposal, they emit only as much CO2 as the plant stored during its growth phase. The leather used in the interior is tanned using a natural agent derived from olive leaves. The olive leaf extract provides natural protection against fading and wear while giving the leather a unique look and unmistakable character. The cowhide from southern Germany is thus not only environmentally friendly, but also produced for maximum durability. The wood used in the dashboard is made entirely of timber grown in Europe and certified as 100% sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). By crafting the wooden components in Europe, BMW ensures short delivery routes and sustainability in all stages of production." There were plenty of displays that focused on the sustainability side of the brand. Personally I think they could have benefited from balancing that off a bit with some more info on how the cars are fast, smooth and fun to drive.

Jose giving one of many i3 presentations
There were very helpful and well informed assistants there, in particular a woman named Barbara was very helpful. She led one of the tours on Tuesday and was on the main floor on Sunday answering questions about the i3. However the best presentation award in my opinion goes to Jose Guerrero of BMW i. Jose spent much of Tuesday night at the i3 display explaining every detail (that he can at this time) to the ActiveE drivers. Jose was great and the ActiveE Electronauts that I spoke to all thought he was very informative and entertaining to listen to. 

I think BMW did nice job on the whole event. They need to begin to inform the public as to what BMW i is all about. As I said before, this wasn't geared for people like me who have seen the concept i3 & i8 a few times already in person and follow everything that is announced. However for the person off the street it was an eye opener. I watched the people walk in on Sunday and marvel at the cars. A couple people even said to their friends "Yeah, but they'll probably never make these because they are too cool" I quickly jumped in and told them that these cars will be on sale starting next year and they were very happy to hear it. One of the real highlights for me was on Sunday. I was talking to Barbara on the main floor and a guy walked up to me and introduced himself. He said he recognized me from reading my blogs and that he's been following them for a while now and reads every post. That was really cool and I want to thank him for taking to he time to stop by and say hello as well as for following my blogs. Hearing people tell me they enjoy them is what really keeps me doing it.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
The i3 advertised range: You better deliver on this promise BMW!

A smaller battery means quicker charging. The i3 will fully charge in 3 hours compared to the ActiveE's 5 hour recharge time
BMW had a display that showed that New York City already has over 100 public charging stations installed