BMW has unveiled its BMW i3 Concept Coupe at the Geneva Motor Show, along with the BMW i8 Concept Spyder. The two concept vehicles demonstrate the latest status of the current development process of an extended BMW i portfolio. The vehicles also illustrate the potential breadth of the portfolio.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe and the BMW i8 Concept Spyder are built around BMW eDrive technology, which according to the carmaker, they will provide a unique driving experience in all of its future BMW electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. These BMW eDrive powertrains – which include the electric motor, lithium-ion battery and intelligent powertrain management – are the core of all the i models.
Using field trial results as basis, BMW i endeavored to develop a BMW eDrive powertrain for the BMW i3, which in typical travel use between home and workplace would only require the battery to be recharged every two to three days. However, the BMW i3 performed better than expected, posting a range of between 130 and 160 kilometers (80 to 100 miles) in daily operations. This means that a typical driver could even drive the BMW i3 to longer travels. The drive system and all other vehicle functions in the BMW i3 are powered by a special high-voltage lithium-ion battery.
BMW’s battery works better than average batteries, since its energy output – which translates to the range of the vehicle, is less affected by fluctuations in temperature. This is attributable to its intelligent heating/cooling system that keeps the battery at an optimal operating temperature. This significantly enhances the daily practicality, stable performance and life expectancy of the battery.
BMW also sought to design the BMW i3 to cut the energy consumption of electrical components. The i3’s cabin heating operates on the heat pump principle, which allows a 30-percent energy savings in city driving compared with a conventional electrical heating system. The vehicle also uses energy-saving LEDs for internal and external lighting. The measures allowed the BMW i3 to boast of range security unlike other vehicles.
Since the coupe concept adopted the design language for BMW i cars, it features a body styling that conveys both driving dynamics and sustainable mobility. Overall, the appearance of the new BMW i3 Concept Coupe exudes the brand’s values: efficiency, lightness, safety and premium quality.
BMW structured the concept’s exterior surfaces and color finish in a manner that would visualize the basic construction established by the LifeDrive architecture. The so-called “layering” – or overlapping levels – has come to signify the harmonious interaction between the stunning construction and design elements of the Life and Drive modules. Likewise, this layering provides a basis for a transparency in the vehicle design that supports the i3’s sustainability.
For example, the structure of the carbon fiber material in the Life module is visible in the entrance area and the roof pillars as the user opens the door. The composition of the CRFP material becomes pretty visible in this section.
Meanwhile, the bodywork panels around the concept’s wheel arches, doors and rear sidewalls are finished in Solar Orange metallic, thereby contrasting the high-gloss black finish on the hood, roof and boot lid, body's lower section. Interestingly, black embedded elements are found on the front apron, all designed to create an air curtain effect, which guides airflow in the area of the wheel arches.
Furthermore, the lower section of the rear apron features a diffuser component that helps optimize airflow towards the rear of the underside. In addition, the license plate holder is surrounded by a narrow strip in Solar Orange. Just like on the BMW i3 Concept, the rear window features integrated U-shaped rear light clusters.
The new BMW i3 Concept Coupe is also marked by Frozen Grey matt BMW kidney grille and sill lines on the sides. The model also features a number of characteristic BMW i elements like brand emblems -- in Stream Blue -- at the front and rear and on the wheel hubs.