BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer reaffirmed last week the carmaker’s commitment to new technology, particularly electric drive. In a statement supplementing BMW's results for the third quarter of 2012, Reithofer said that the carmaker considers electric mobility as a technology with the potential to achieve “emission-free driving pleasure."
The carmaker is set to launch its small i3 electric vehicle in 2013. In the same statement, Reithofer remarked that "BMW is far more than electric drive," taking note of the carmaker’s efforts to use recycled materials and provide for end-of-life recycling. Aside from that, the German carmaker is also adopting renewable energy in production. At first look, regulatory pressure for lower carbon dioxide emissions as well as higher fuel economy pose quite a challenge for BMW, which business model entails strong profits from building luxurious vehicles.
However, global demographic trends show that carmakers cannot postpone their sustainability efforts further. Car manufacturers are considering projections by the United Nations that the world's population will crowd into megacities, which are urban areas with populations of more than 10 million. According to UN’s projects, the world will have 35 megacities by 2015, with a total population of nearly 360 million.
Those cities are expected to become centers of global business, wealth and consumption. And most likely, megacities will be places where vehicle use might be restricted.
Currently, the city of London makes vehicles that drive into the center city to pay a congestion charge of £10. Since megacities have densely packed landscape, carmakers have to develop new forms of mobility. The i3 was a product of the BMW Megacity Project initiated in 2007. BMW is likewise partnering in a car-sharing program, DriveNow, in Germany and San Francisco.
Despite the huge surge in improvements in science and technology, a number of global issues have come to the surface and are now hounding humanity. These issues include increasing urbanization, diminishing resources and climate change – all requiring fresh solutions. Now, BMW i is trying to find the solutions to these issues, after all, the brand is a representation of visionary vehicle concepts, with sustainability becoming a key factor that defines both design and the concept of premium.
As the first series-produced model by BMW i, the new BMW i3 is a premium car with zero emissions – a perfect solution to the aforementioned issues while still offering pure driving pleasure. It marks an innovative and novel way of providing driving pleasure on city roads, while offering a good mix of sustainability and connectivity. In addition, the new BMW i3 comes with a visionary design that conveys the carmaker’s sporting capability and the efficiency of a four-seater.
Since its spacious passenger compartment is made from CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) – it boasts of unprecedented levels of lightness, safety and stability. Moreover, the new BMW i3 has a number of driver assistance systems and mobility services courtesy of BMW Connected Drive and the 360° ELECTRIC services.
New BMW i3 is powered by an electric motor that delivers 125 kW (170 hp) of max output and 250 Nm (184 lb.-ft.) of peak torque – all sent to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. The electric motor gets its juice from the lithium-ion battery pack placed in the underfloor section – resulting to a low center of gravity and an ideal weight distribution.
This battery pack has enough capacity to allow the car to travel between 130 km and 160 km (between 81 miles and 99 miles) with a single charge. Recharging can be done using a conventional domestic power socket, a public charging station or the BMW i Wallbox.