There has been an impression that BMW is positioning its BMW i series against the offerings of the popular US carmaker Tesla. Tesla now has the Model S while BMW is launching its i3 compact EV and i8 premium plug-in hybrid. But Ludwig Willisch, chief executive of BMW of North America, is quick to dismiss that notion.
"It's a different concept," he said while speaking to the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable. He remarked that their idea from the start was to produce a megacity vehicle for the i3 and to offset the additional weight brought by the batteries through lightweight construction. He said that the major EV maker "has been a nice snowplow for us" in raising public awareness of electric drive.
While he did not name Tesla on his remarks, it was apparent that BMW is considering Tesla. For instance, Willisch grants that BMW's Future Retail initiative that will be launched this year is at least inspired by Tesla's showrooms.
BMW is targeting to have an open, airy retail setting with a number of video screens and no cubicles, "a high tech automotive gallery." He mentioned that the Tesla Model S doesn't match the i series vehicles as a driving machine: He commented that the Tesla Model S is “very heavy on the braking,” while the i3 feels just like a normal car. “That's a big difference when it comes to driving.”
Considered to be the first series-produced model released by BMW i, the i3 boasts of having a premium car package while being able to offer zero emissions. This combination results in delivering genuine driving pleasure. Powering the new i3 is an electric motor capable of reaching peak output of 170 hp (125 kW) with maximum torque at 184 lb.-ft. (250 Nm).
All of the power is immediately sent to the wheels in the rear through a single-speed transmission. The energy of the motor comes from the lithium-ion storage cells that have been incorporated on the underfloor section of the new i3. Further, by putting the battery units in a center and low position, it allows for a lower center of gravity while the resulting evenness of the weight distribution helps with the agile handling.
When fully charged, the battery allows the i3 to achieve a range, under the usual conditions, of between 81 miles and 99 miles (130 km to 160 km). Should the battery be drained, it can be charged at a public charging station, the brand’s very own i Wallbox, or even a standard domestic power socket.
Given that this is also the first model from BMW Group to run solely on electric power, customers are sure to experience innovative and new ways when it comes to connectivity, sustainability, and driving pleasures, especially on urban roads. The design of the new i3 can be described as visionary and it highlights with authentic clarity not only the brand’s well-known sporting ability but also the efficiency offered by a four-seater. Meanwhile the vehicle concept itself is also innovative.
A good example is the passenger compartment which is composed of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic or CFRP. It allows safety, stability, and lightness to be combined with exceptional spaciousness. BMW also developed technological features for this model.
These include 360° ELECTRIC services and the mobility services and driver assistance systems courtesy of the BMW Connected Drive. With this, the i3 is able to ensure that zero-emission urban mobility becomes a truly exciting daily driving experience. Overall, the BMW i is not simply a new brand but is also a new way of looking into premium models.
Despite already having success worldwide as a premium vehicle manufacturer, BMW is projected to take a groundbreaking and leading path when it comes to molding the future of personal mobility.
The research and development conducted for the i project is said to have started way back in 2007. As a result, BMW is able to set the foundation for mobility solutions that are sustainable and guided by economic, environment, and social changes worldwide.