The Germans have done it again, they have gone above and beyond expectations to create one of the most interesting purely electric models to hit the North American market. The BMW i3 with its lightweight infrastructure allows a respectable range of 60-90 miles fully charged. Which for many who wish to utilize this vehicle is enough for their everyday urban trekking needs. But BMW wasn’t satisfied, and needed to best themselves when they announced recently they plan to integrate their motorcycle inline twin-cylinder to bring that range from 90 miles to almost 250. Almost tripling it!
With other automakers like Chevy and Nissan making large leaps in the electric car market, BMW felt it needed to up their game a bit to even compete within such a niche. This is why they decided to add the option for the smaller 600cc motorcycle twin-cylinder for consumers to purchase. On top of that BMW has already added to the i3 what could be one of the better achievements in the auto world in recent years. They have a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic chassis. This material is incredibly lightweight and it being plastic, still remarkably durable. This cut curb weight allows the i3 to accelerate like it should even if it has a motorcycle’s electric technology inserted. You shouldn’t expect top speeds equal to that of other BMW models, nor to match that sort of acceleration and power, but you can expect for its purpose (urban driving), it will surpass the needs of those who need it.
How does it stack up to the plug-in hybrids or gasoline only city vehicles already on the market like the Scion IQ? Even though the overall range of the i3 is in most cases lower than that of most plug-ins and cars like the IQ, there is still the counter argument that the non-reliance of fuel, and improved electric range with inline twin-cylinder will best both the plug-in and current gasoline powered city cars. Then there is the fact it is a BMW, and the BMW brand itself speaks volumes in comparison to many of the automakers out there today—no matter what they are looking to pitch to drivers.
So what sort of response from consumers should we expect initially and long-term? Well BMW admits they are uncertain on how receptive this i3 concept will be to the North American market, and city dwellers especially, but they do know one thing if they can sell some, some is better than none. They also expect because of the very little restriction that the smaller motorcycle electric will offer, that many will pay extra to opt for the improved range. To be exact they are expecting about 50% of the i3 sold early after its release will be purchased with the option for the extended range. Then shortly after it should slide to something along the 20% area. But in the eyes of BMW—as long as people are buying they know they can move forward with bettering their electric experiments.
As if that wasn’t enough to convince you to purchase the i3, the German engineers at BMW, and the Japanese automakers, Toyota are working together to come up with what they are currently calling lithium-air. It is a new battery technology that is anticipated to utilize the natural oxygen in the air to intake and utilize as a source of power to help the battery last longer—thus improving its overall range. So what if everyone buys one of these new cars with the lithium-air? Will it suck all the oxygen out of our atmosphere? Unlikely, we can be reassured that the BMW engineers and scientists aren’t expecting such a catastrophe—but if it did happen, wouldn’t that be incredibly ironic?
For everything else that is happening with BMW, or if you are interested in some of the other models in the lineup from BMW in North America, then you should check out your neighborhood BMW dealer…such as BMW of Rockville.