SemaConnect Blog


February 18, 2014

BMW i3 Review: A Step in EV Innovation

 

Image CC licensed by: mariordo59
The race is now on to see which automobile maker will produce the best luxury EV in 2014. So far we’ve looked at the Cadillac ELR, which shows some promise in the North American Market despite a few nagging drawbacks. But now it’s time to go across the ocean and check the latest EV offering from one of the world’s most esteemed automobile innovators: BMW.


The BMW i3 is one of the latest luxury EVs to head into production, and so far this vehicle has set the bar pretty high when it comes to achieving an innovative, beautiful, and functional EV.
Rather than try to adapt a previous design for use with an EV motor, BMW has decided to construct its new EV from the ground up. The company analyzed every facet of the new i3 design, paying particular attention to weight, aerodynamics, aesthetics, and functionality. In this BMW i3 review, I’ll take a look at exactly why this car is so innovative and what it means for the EV market going forward.
 
It’s All About Design
 
The BMW i3 is designed to maximize the output and efficiency of its electric motor. Achieving top points in this regard means developing a car that is light and ultra-aerodynamic. And reviewing the design specs of the BMW i3 suggests that the German automaker did just that.

To keep the weight down, BMW made use of a “skateboard platform” design. This resulted in a car that was divided into carbon-fibre “life module” deployed onto an aluminium “drive module”. The carbon-fibre BMW used was relatively cheap and light-weight, thus ensuring the total weight of the car came in at 2900 pounds, which is about 450 pounds lighter than the Nissan Leaf.

As a result of its aerodynamic, light-weight design, the BMW boasts a range of between 80-100 miles on its 22 kWh lithium-ion battery. And with its high-torque 170 bph motor and power flow which is uninterrupted by changing gears, you can go from 0-62 mph in 7.2 seconds.

If range anxiety is you’re concern, you can upgrade to an optional range-extending gas motor for an additional 300 miles of range.
 
Regenerative Breaking & Smart Technology on the BMW i3
 
The BMW i3 features regenerative breaking – a feature that is quickly becoming a staple on EVs. The system is initiated by releasing one’s foot off the accelerator which engages a special breaking system that both slows down the car and charges the battery. Some reviewers have noted that regenerative breaking on the BMW i3 is so effective that one can drive around the city without using the brake pedal at all.

In terms of electronics, the BMW i3 makes use of the standard iDrive computer system. Important information such as battery power and range are displayed prominently on the interface, as well as a number of other features such as Eco or Eco Pro driving modes. One reviewer even noted how the BMW i3 is able to point you towards the nearest free charging station when your car starts to run out of juice.

When it comes to technology, the BMW i3 is clearly leading the way among luxury EVs.
 
How does the BMW i3 compare to other luxury EVs?
 
By now BMW has to contend with the numerous luxury EVs on the market (or coming soon to the market). There’s the Tesla Model S, the Cadillac ELR, and the forthcoming Mercedez-Benz B-Class electric drive. With so many options to choose from, drivers of luxury EVs will be looking closely to the specs of each of the cars to see which one is best suited for their needs.

BMW has set the bar high early in the game, with the release of its new i3. Its innovative design, great range capabilities, and smart technology make it a logical choice for the typical urban commuter. But as technology improves and EVs get even better, we could be seeing some truly remarkable cars in the EV market in the years to come.



Joseph Tohill is a freelance writer and online communications specialist for organizations in the sustainability sector. He has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia and spent most of his academic career studying sustainable urban development; namely the interdisciplinary relationship between built form and natural environment.
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