Monday, July 29, 2013

Electric cars: BMW i3

BMW has unveiled its first mass-production electric car, the i3:

The German car maker says the i3 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just over seven seconds and deliver up to 100 miles of driving between charges.

The car has caused a stir because it is battery powered, costs less than some run-of-the-mill BMWs at $41,350 and is said to perform more like a sports car than a golf cart. However, people may wind up talking just as much about an optional on-board gasoline powered generator that extends its range. BMW seems to have borrowed the feature from the Chevrolet Volt.

The i3 also stands out because its main body, called the passenger cell, is made of plastic.

This isn’t ordinary plastic, but carbon fiber reinforced plastic or CFRP, which BMW said is as strong as steel but weighs half as much. The material, which is used in racing cars and a few exotic sports models, also weighs 30% less than aluminum. The i3, which has the space of BMW 3 Series sedan but the smaller footprint of a 1 Series car, weighs about 2,700 pounds, or about the same as a Mini Cooper S.

The car’s structure is part of what BMW calls the “LifeDrive architecture concept” in which the vehicle is formed of a life module, or passenger compartment, and a drive module that contains the electric drive system, rear suspension and energy-absorbing framework for protection in a crash. The drive module is made of aluminum.

The standard i3 has a range of 80 to 100 miles on a charge and can be recharged in three hours with a 220-volt, 32-amp “level 2” charger. Fast charging, which charges the battery in 30 minutes, is available as an option.

To cut down on the range anxiety that keeps some drivers from considering electric cars, BMW is offering a 650cc, 34 horsepower, two-cylinder gas engine that is mounted in the rear of the car and serves as a generator to maintain the battery’s charge and keep the car going for about double its normal electric-only range. This range-extending system adds about 330 pounds to the vehicle, BMW said.

While the optional engine doesn’t drive the car’s wheels, it would change its character to that of a plug-in hybrid, not a pure electric car like a Tesla Model S or Nissan Leaf.

Tesla Model S vs BMW i3

No comments:

Post a Comment