Friday, December 20, 2013

The BMW i3's "Black Hand"

The i3 in Laurel Gray with BMW i Blue accent. Even though it's not quite as black in person as it looks in this picture, I like how it minimizes the two tone color scheme. I plan to order my i3 in this color scheme, with the 20" sport wheels as pictured and apply a dark tint to the rear windows. 


I get emails from readers here almost on a daily basis, and now that we are approaching the US launch the amount of correspondence I receive has been dramatically increasing. Quite often my blog posts are a reaction to something someone asked me. I figure if someone out there was curious enough about the topic to email me, then others probably are as well. I've had people ask me about this in the past, however yesterday and today I have had three people ask me if there was any way to special order a monochrome i3, with the hood, roof and accents all painted the color that the rest of the body panels are, instead of black.

The "Black Hand" extends to the side mirrors
Sorry, but the answer is no. If you want your i3 to be all the same color, you'll have to paint it or get it wrapped after you've bought it. The only other way around it is to consider getting it in Laurel Gray (Laurus Gray in Europe). Laurel Gray is a dark metallic gray, and while it isn't black, it's close enough to give your i3 the monochrome look you desire. I like this color a lot and will likely order my i3 with it.

Everything is black besides the bumper

The back of the car is particularly interesting because everything is black except the rear bumper which kind of gives the appearance that there is another car inside the i3 that is trying to get out! The New York Times Wheels Blog recently did a story on why BMW chose to use the black hood, roof and accents on all i3's regardless of the main color of the car. Evidently it was to "lighten" the appearance of an otherwise "chunky" small car.  Here is an excerpt from the NY Times story:


"In designing the i3 electric car, BMW engineers were tasked with reducing weight to compensate for heavy batteries. They used a combination of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic and aluminum, and the company mounted the passenger compartment atop the batteries. That approach made for a shorter vehicle with a lower center of gravity, but it also gave it a chunky profile. So designers set out to lighten the tall, bulky “monoform,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s design director.

“We wanted to remove visual weight from the car,” he said. That meant using all sorts of techniques and tricks to break up the apparent mass of he car, he explained in an interview last week.

Mr. Van Hooydonk, Richard Kim and Benoit Jacob worked on designing the i3 for five years. The name they chose to describe the technique used to lighten the bulk of the car’s outline was the black hand, said Mr. van Hooydonk.

“The hood, as you see, is black, and the same material runs over the roof and to the back,” he explained. “This helps us divide up the volume.”

The i3 in white. We call this the "Panda Version" over on the i3 Facebook group
Solar Orange has been well received

The i3 Andesite Silver










What are your thoughts on the "black hand?"  Do you think it does what BMW had hoped it would, or would you rather your i3 painted all one color? Does anybody out there plan to paint their hood the same color of the car? How about a wrap? Lets discuss in the comments:

14 comments:

  1. The hood doesn't bother me but the rear diffusers in black do. The rear end looks odd how the body colored bumper is surrounded in black

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  2. I finally got to see and drive the i3 just this week, and given the size of the car the black accents looked good. I'd like the hood of my i3 to match the body, and I know BMW will do custom colors through their individualization program, I once priced having an interior color from one model put into another, I was quoted $4,100. to do so. Also BMW has performance parts which include body kits, these body kits are dealer painted and installed. So any dealer should have access to a local body shop that can get the job done. I'm happy with the look I'm going to keep the two-tone look as is, but I may ask about getting the hood done, and if it isn't too much trouble I might get it done. I'll ask when I put in my deposit.

    ,CDspeed

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    1. What color are you thinking about CDspeed if you don't mind me asking? I'm interested because I think some colors look better than others with the two-tone.

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    2. Hi Tom, my favorite exterior color is silver so most of my cars have been silver. I'm interested in Ionic Silver for my i3 with the Tera interior, looking at the hood of the i3, I think it's shape would look great in a metallic color. Though having seen it in person I can say I am in no way disappointed and can't wait to get one.

      ,CDspeed

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    3. Ionic sliver is my 2nd favorite. I think if it had just a bit more blue in it I would have went for it instead of the Laurel Gray. I haven't had a much time in person with the Ionic Sliver yet though. If you notice, very little of them in that color are out there. Most all of the pre-production i3's here in the US being used for test vehicles are either Solar Orange or Andesite Silver. I did see one in person though as well as a Laurel Gray. Still haven't seen a White or an Arravani Gray in person though.

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    4. Hi again, the i3 I drove was Solar Orange. Since you've seen Andesite Silver I've wondered, is it actually light beige?

      ,CDspeed

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    5. To me it looks more silver in person with just a twinge of beige. It seems to look more beige-ish in pictures

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  3. Wow. Panda is right. I normally love a white car, but not so much the i3. Its a good thing I'm a fan of the solar orange color. I think the black and orange combo is great - just hope I don't tire of it before my lease ends. The Laurel Gray certainly is sharp, but I have a thing (irrational as it is...) about driving a "black" car in Phoenix.

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  4. I have been through them all (in theory), but I think that the best interior (by far), is the Lodge. And with that, the Andesite Silver is the best match... So that's what I ordered :)

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  5. I like a two-tone car, being a big fan of '50s Detroit Iron done that way. However, I am not a fan of black, or having black be one of the colors except as an accent. I won't say it's a deal-breaker, but it's a big turn off. We get a lot of sun and keeping a car cool takes energy. A black roof does not help.

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  7. Tom,

    Thanks for posting this. It will keep me from making a mistake that I will probably regret for years to come. Both the UK and USA configurators show the Arrivani Grey to be significantly darker than the Laurel grey, so I had planned to order Arrivani, hoping for the closest possible match to the color of the hood, top, and hatch. Thanks for setting me straight.

    Could not agree more with your reasoning. I used the same logic with my PiP. For some reason, no matter what exterior color one chooses, Toyota places a silver band across the back that creates a visually unappealing contrast in all but the silver color, which matches the silver of the band. Luckily, I like silver, but if I didn't, I would have ordered it anyway in order to mitigate a poor styling choice on Toyota's part.

    Similarly, black is far from my favorite color choice for the i3, but BMW has left me with no other way to disguise their unfortunate styling choice.

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    1. Yes the configurers are deceptive. I even had the names reversed for a while. The Arravani is not metallic and is a lighter shade of gray but the website makes it look darker

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  8. Frustrating that BMW doesn't offer the car in all black. Sounds like they could offer it at a premium.

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