Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BMW i3, A world’s best... world’s first... car.

As a driver of the BMW Mini-E, BMW ActiveE,  Honda Fit EV, and as an Energy Consultant and County of San Diego Planning Commissioner, I get to “play and plan” for future generations of technology, cars and people. Yeah, it's a fun job :)

This insight and experience gives me confidence in my prediction that the 2014 BMW i3 will be a world’s first... world’s best... car. A car that will revolutionize automobile manufacturing, transportation and urban planning like no other car sold before save for the Ford Model T.
Bold statement I know. Let’s get started on the many reasons why….

1. The BMW i3 will be the most energy efficient 4 passenger car  in the world. Currently, the 2013 Honda Fit EV has that international honor at 118MPGe, it’s a heck of a fun car to drive.  The Fit EV, weighs in at a relatively svelte 3250lbs thus the high MPGe efficiency.    The BMW i3 completely shatters that mark, having a curb weight of an estimated 2750lbs.  The BMW i3, optimized as an EV platform and 500lbs lighter, will be far more aerodynamic, 2 inches shorter in height  than the retrofitted gasoline Fit.   This combo of lightness and optimized aerodynamics will produce a world’s best 125-130 MPGe, averaging nearly 5 miles per kwh.
2. The BMW i3 will forever change automobile manufacturing.  Since the 1908 Ford Model T first rolled of the assembly line,  we have been manufacturing cars by stamping steel and welding the pieces together.  Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) has been used in jets, exotic cars,  race cars, and in small bit piece doses, higher end mass production cars.  The BMW i3 brings a quantum shift to auto manufacturing ushering in the world’s first mass produced car with a CFRP passenger life cell.   This incredibly strong and lightweight cell is the key component of the i3’s weight reduction.   BMW will lead the world in producing light and efficient vehicles, with the BMW i3 as the world’s first CFRP mass produced car with many more models to follow.   The era of CFRP is born with the BMW i3.

3. BMW i3 is a car for the future. Since the beginning of the auto era, our cities and citizens have driven to the perimeter edge in the search of the newest, lowest price, homes, shopping and lifestyle.  This perimeter development pattern exploded in popularity with the advent of the interstate transportation system in the 1950s.  The glory days of the modern car era were the 50,s 60s, and early 70’s utilizing this new arterial infrastructure. By the early 1970’s some unfortunate consequences began to emerge, chief among them congestion, smog, generic sameness, and volatile gasoline prices.   Sitting in two hours of traffic, replaced the two hours of being a little league coach, or time with the family, or a hobby, or involvement with your community or church.  Driving 30,000 miles a year with high gas prices offset the savings of a less expensive home farther away from jobs.

Population trends clearly show a migration of citizens that are moving to and near the city.  Our cities and counties are planning for this shift, by being more efficient and more compact with our development and infrastructure.  Don’t worry, the single family home on a quarter acre is safe, there will just be far more options available in the near future reflecting the demands of the marketplace.   This tectonic shift in culture, location and population can be defined as “Moving away from urban sprawl and moving towards relocalization.” 

The BMW i3 will be heavily involved in car sharing, heavily connected socially with technology,  and a world leader in semi-autonomous driving options, primarily focused on de-stressing a city driving experience. All this while still providing a range extending option for travel between large city centers.  While most car companies are planning for business and car models as usual,  BMW with the i3 is planning for the future.

4. The BMW i3 will be the least expensive car to drive in the world.  With rising gas prices and the cost of driving going in one direction (up) for gasoline cars,  BMW is going in the opposite direction with the BMW i3.  If operated on utility supplied electricity the i3 will have an EPA estimated operating cost of $450 a year surpassing the current leader the Honda Fit EV.  If you live in mountain states with cheap hydro electricity operating cost will be a low as $350 a year.  If you produce your own electricity via solar, operating cost could be as low as $250 a year. No other car in the world will be able to drive so inexpensively.   At $20-$40 a month in cost, driving the BMW i3 will become less costly than a bottle of wine once a month at a restaurant. In other words, it’s no longer a major part of the family budget.

5. The BMW i3 will be a BMW. A rear wheel drive, little electric rocket with the handling dynamics and luxury of a BMW. New to the brand will be the design language of a skateboard with unfettered passenger and cargo space on top of the skateboard and drive components and batteries below the skateboard deck.  Unless your car badge has a M or AMG on it, or is a high end Ferrari, Lambo, Porsche or Tesla, the BMW i3 will leave you behind in the rear view mirror.  With a 0-60 speed in the low to mid seven second range, 165 electric horses and tons of torque, the BMW i3 will be nearly unbeatable off the line 0-40 mph.   The EV grin is going to get some bigger brighter teeth with the i3.

6. The Ultimate Driving Machine.  We’ll have to wait several months for the official specs to come out on the BMW i3.   However I already know the BMW i3 will have a world’s best MPGe, A world’s lowest cost of driving, Will be able to drive on sunshine I produce (that's the underline in ultimate) will be a world’s first in CFRP manufacturing, an unbeatable combination of  luxury, efficiency, and performance made possible by revolutionary car manufacturing and electricity, and will have a true 100 mile electric range. BMW has been visionary, methodical and strategic in their electric car development program and the payoff is right around the corner.  As A Mini-E and ActiveE driver, I am happy to have had the opportunity to experience and participate in the cars evolution towards production.

My garage is waiting :) 
60,000 sunshine powered miles.