Friday, February 8, 2013

BMW i3 Concept Coupe Video

A new video of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe surfaced on YouTube today. Here it is for your viewing pleasure...


  1. HI Tom -

    The video says it all. With the BMW marketing folks casting the i3 as a hip social platform (with handling and engineering attributes now completely banished), I'm ready to look elsewhere for a small e-hatch. Third-gen Teslas might do it. I'm hoping Honda's successor to the Fit EV will be amazing. But I'm still really drawn to the i3's carbon-fiber construction, and its single-pedal speed control. The answer to my quandary might just be a carbon-fiber Mini-E with a next-gen battery. All the i3's technical underpinnings, but in a more basic package with an emphasis on handling fun. I hope they're listening.

  2. I really don't care what they put in promotional videos, I'm going to take one for a test drive as soon as they are available and that will be the real test. If everything I've read (performance, range, price) is legit then I'll probably have one of the first ones available in Florida

  3. Chris, I don't think you should pay much attention to these social media short clips. As Larry pointed out just get in one and go for a drive. I think the price & EPA range rating are really what we need to keep our eye on here. The i3 is going to be quicker and carve up winding roads better than any other serious production EV other than Teslas. Why do you care if BMW i wants to court "upscale urban professionals" as long as it works for you and drives great that's all that matters. Once they actually start advertising it, like TV spots and such, you will see an emphasis on performance, I am certain of that.

  4. Well, of course you're right, Tom, objectively, and I'm sure BMW has done their marketing research on what is hot and is tailoring their ads toward whatever demographic they think will work for them. Probably same thing with their styling choices. Their press releases and videos just irk me -- I'm an old-school sports car junkie. The first BMW I drove was a 1971 2002 -- weighed about 2000 pounds, about 100 horsepower, 165-13 tires -- no luxury, but really fun to carve turns. I do expect the i3 to handle as well, with much better performance, but it will cost the same as a 5-series, and much of that cost will be to connect drivers to everything but the seat of their pants: cell phone, text messaging, social networking, web browsing, infotainment, navigation, etc. The car will be a personal assistant, backseat driver, and nanny -- the ultimate internet cafe. I know that's the trend these days, and likely justified. From my observation of BMW drivers around here, most like the luxury, the power, the prestige, and going fast in straight lines, but they don't go around curves any faster than your typical Buick driver. And yet BMWs are very capable in the corners, even at their considerable weight. The i3 promises to be one of the lightest and most nimble. Why not say something about that? The answer is that BMW is a business, with engineers and bean-counters and designers who all try to do their own things, but must bend to marketing. I love what their engineers have done, but unfortunately, the i3 has become its advertising. To appeal to their target buyers, BMW has had to include certain features and fashion statements that do not appeal to me, and for close to $50k, I'm not willing to compromise. If it was $35k, that would be something else. But for $50k, I could buy TWO Mini Coopers and have a pile of cash left over. The i3 will be a great car, but there will be other choices.

    1. There are definitely LOTS of other choices as you eluded to with two MINI coopers, but there aren't really that many decent electric choices. When the i3 launches it will probably(we need to see the EPA rating) have a greater electric range than anything that isn't powered by a Tesla drivetrain. I make that distinction because the RAV4 EV has a Tesla powertrain and has an EPA rating of 103 miles, but it's only available in California and it's a very limited run, compliance car.

      It will also be faster 0-60, handle better and charge quicker than any of the other EV's available except the Tesla products. I'm also guessing it will cost about $12,000 to $15,000 less than the least expensive Model S.

      Don't worry about what you see on these social media pieces. Wait till BMW actually stars marketing it and I think you are going to see performance be a cornerstone of their marketing. But then again, who cars how they market it? Get in one and take it for a drive, then decide if you are impressed or not, and by all means post your review here, good or bad.

  5. I have no doubt that it will be a fantastic driver--great handling and performance, and of course the quiet, smooth, seamless torque of an electric, plus single-pedal speed control. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes the styling, appreciates the "connected" features, and doesn't mind the steep admission price. I love the size, shape, and utility. I also lament that it did not end up matching my idealized expectations. A lot of that going around. Some people wanted a lot more range, some people wanted a high-speed highway cruiser, and some wanted it to look like a traditional BMW.

    My specific disappointments, in no special order:
    1) the ICE-like grille (I don't want it to look like an ICE car, but obviously a lot of people feel more comfortable with a familiar look--why The Model S looks like it does),
    2) the scooped rear side window,
    3) no cloth seats (I won't buy a car with leather seats; I'm a vegetarian & animal rights nut. You can buy BMWs with cloth seats in Europe, but not here. And I also just like the feel of cloth better.)
    4) I won't buy a car with its own SIM-card, and all the other related driver-assist features. I think drivers should focus on their driving--silly me.
    5) And finally, the rumored price has steadily grown, with the last estimate reported from a BMW exec who said it would be priced comparable to a basic 5-Series -- perilously close to $50k.

    Many of my issues might seem trivial, but the weight of them combined adds up. But I'm not in the mainstream, and BMW is marketing to the mainstream, so I think they will sell a lot of i3s, especially once people start driving them. I will not buy another ICE car; there's just nothing good about them. And you'e right that there are no BEVs comparable to the i3 now, but on the other hand, the i3 is not going to be available here until next year, so we'll see what happens.

    Hopefully BMW will change the styling of the i3 Coupe before that comes out, and make all the "connected" extras and leather seats pricy options, and sell the base car at a much more attractive price. That I would buy in a second.

  6. Chris: You definitely make some good points, but you do know that BMW is positioned as a 'premium' brand in the US market so I don't think you'll get a "basic transportation" EV from them. I would personally prefer cloth seats myself and perhaps we'll get them.

    Other things: The grill is the BMW trademark double kidney grill. I suppose they could integrate it in but I also think they may be using it to cool the radiator. The thermal management system still need to dissipate the heat so the cars do have radiators.

    As for the price, you say "the rumored price has steadily grown". You know I've been following this car very closely and I've been really monitoring what BMW say's about pricing. All you have heard are speculation and unsubstantiated rumors. The only thing BMW has ever said about pricing is that it "will cost less than a 5-series" and nothing else. I remember a while back someone wrote that they believe it will be priced at $35,000. I emailed the author and grilled him on his sources. He couldn't respond and said that judging from pieces of information he had read that's what he believes it will start at and that may be after the $7,500 federal tax credit. So basically he was making it up for a story. The price hasn't grown, maybe people's estimates have but the only word from BMW has remained the same and the i3 will be positioned below the price point of a 5-series. How much is anybody's guess. Since a 5-Series now begins at about $48k you can draw your own conclusions. I think it's going to start at around $43-$46K so it will be under 40k after the federal tax credit in the US.

    The only other interesting (IMHO) EV that's going to be available in the i3's time frame is the Infinity LE. That could be a real nice car if Nissan puts a 35-40kWh battery in it.

  7. Hi Tom -
    Yes, I'm not holding my breath waiting for BMW to build a car outside of the premium/luxury market (in the U.S.). That's why I suggested that a future Mini-E built on a modified i3 platform would be a more appropriate solution for me. Time will tell what choices materialize. By this time next year, hopefully our crystal balls will be better informed. Are you still holding to your prediction that a pre-production i3 4-door will be unveiled at Geneva (in a little more than two weeks)?

    I certainly have no objection to a double-kidney grille on the front of the i3, only that its proportions are similar to those feeding BMW's ICE radiators. If you recall, I put a low-profile faux grille on my rendering of a redesigned i3 Coupe concept (here). I think that version is appropriate for an i sub-brand BEV and consistent with the grilles on some past BMWs (but differing from the current ICE grille template). I recognize that the battery cooling system needs some kind of radiator, but it is my understanding that the i3 "grille" is blocked off, and that the cooling air enters via the more subtle grille under the bumper. Spy shots have appeared to show storage space (a small frunk) behind the i3's faux grille. Please correct me if I am wrong.