Nice-lookiong ride! Well done, BMW. The price isn't too bad, either--BMW seems to have found a way to combine luxury and affordability in their EV. I understand how traditional BMW buyers might balk, but perhaps people who would never buy a BMW or EV might like the look and the price and get on board. I guess time will tell.
Liz, your comment about combining luxury and affordability is right on target when you look at it from the perspective of the EV market. The Tesla Model S is probably the closest competitor, at least in terms of luxury brand aspirations. But the Model S costs about $30,000 more than the i3. On the flip side, the Nissan Leaf, in the mid-$20,000 range, is closer in terms of cost, although not targeted for a premium audience. So the i3 lands smack-dab in the middle of those two.
Yes, I agree with you that this car is in a good position in the EV market, Chuck, and I applaud BMW for its relative affordability with premium style. I think sometimes there are people who just want EVs to fail to prove some kind of point, and will look negatively on anything manufacturers are trying to do to attract not just hippie-eco types, but other more mainstream or high-end customers. I personally hope BMW has a lot of success with this to quiet some of those naysayers.
I have to ask an engineering question here, if it has so much carbon fibre that it has 90km range with a 22kWhr battery, then what does its wind surface to weight ration look like? What I'm getting at is I drive a 1.5t 3.0l powered petrol car (which does get quite good economy on the highway) and when I'm driving at 100kph and I get a 100kph wind gust from the side I feel a real tug on the steering. In my wife's 900kg petrol car I feel the tug a little stronger. What happens in this car that looks like it might be the size of a medium SUV and maybe weighs only 70% of its traditional sister when that happens? Just a thought.
The question of why you get so much feedback in the wheel...a sideways tug with side windload is not only a function of the weight, but also a function of the suspension setup and the location of aerodynamic center of gravity (ACG) relative to the mass/physical (CG) location. This is not magic, it is all related to applied phyics.
If you are an engineering person or have taken physics, remember the free body diagrams. There 3 mutually perpendicular axes of the vehicle to consider a vertical axis (yaw axis), a longitudinal axis (roll axis), and cross body axis (pitch axis) which all originate from the vehicle CG in 3D.
Remember the concept of forces applied at a distance of leverage creating a torque moment? Think now in terms of vehicle response in a rotational mode around the yaw axis located at the CG, these are the torque moments that will generate steering feedback. The net torque moment will be fed back through the steering mechanism for the driver to experience.
If the ACG is aligned with the CG, there is no net rotational torque moment to create feedback into the steering mechanism, and there will be merely sideload roll torque around the imaginary vehicle axis running parallel to the wheels.. The location of roll torque moment relative to vehicle CG around that logitudinal roll axis....in combination with spring/bushing stiffnes will dictate the amount of roll response of the vehicle to side winds.
BMW certainly should have designed the suspension properly in consideration of the above, and the Center of Gravity (CG) of the vehicle should be very low with batteries and motor assembly sitting low on the vehicle.
Driving the final vehicle will tell you how they did at dealing with the vehicle dynamics/physics.
@Burghermeister I'm sorry I should have explained my concern a bit better. If BMW were to do everything just right in terms of the steering geometry and so on, it wouldn't change the fundamental fact that an SUV is like a poorly designed sail for side wind and the lighter the vehicle is with respect to the surface area it represents, the easier forward motion can be destabilised particularly when the wind is gusty and the forces pushing on the front of the vehicle will alternate stronger and weaker with respect to the force at the rear of the vehicle, and this will alternate as you pass various fronts. To put my concern in a nutshell and a worst/best case comparision, consider a brick sitting on the ground in strong wind then consider a cardboard box of the same exterior dimensions but at only 1% of the weight (perhaps less?). One will fly away in relatively light wind, the other will stay put unless it's a cyclone. This is all driven by exposed surface area to weight for a given geometric form "SUV" in this case.
I understand your concern better with that clarification. Certainly an SUV is not aerodynamically optimal especially regarding the exposed side sail area and dynamic wind load gradient (gusts). I have experienced this specifically when blowing by semi trailers during strong sidewind conditions, in days gone by.....since there is a strong pressure wave propagating off the front. It is somewhat like a bow wave off the front of a boat, except water is not a compressible medium.
Small tweak suggestion to your statement "This is all driven by exposed surface area to weight for a given geometric form "SUV" in this case." I recommend appending "Up to the frictional limit of the four contact patches" since this is the point where frictional limits end and an "exciting" ride begins...in the case of real world vehicles. I had the direct thrill when crossing this transition point experience.....long ago.
From analysis perspective, the Finite Element Analysis and Compressible Fluid Dynamics model simulation runs of this vehicle would be interesting to see in comparison to a "normal" vehicle configuration. I do not believe vehicles are really wind tunnel tested in cross vehicle platform modes....perhaps might be a heads up additional test to confirm cross vehicle gust response....while running on a vehicle chassis roll tester. (Would be an interesting wind tunnel/tester design problem.)
BMW has resources and German fine engineering aplenty....they can do all these simulation runs, and the German engineers also are pragmatic about building/testing real vehicles at the end to learn real lessons and not make end customers "Beta testers" of the real world vehicles. I have worked with the Germans in different life adventures and it is a positive experience to see both theoretical and real world engineering, culminate into real nice products.
I say we now need to test drive one of these vehicles fast and furious, to really experience it.
That's an excellent question, etmax -- one that applies to virtually every vehicle with a carbon fiber body. Unfortunately, it's not one that I'm likely to get an answer to. I checked BMW's 24-page press release and it doesn't even give the drag coefficient (as far as I can tell), let alone the wind-surface-to-weight-ratio. Sorry.
I agree, it's not something they're likely to have handy, an as Burghermeister pointed out drag coefficients are typically only in reference to forward motion. It may well be that BMW has done their due diligence on this, but because carbon fibre SUV's are a relatively new phenomenon maybe not. Sports cars while affected by this.are to a much. Lesser extent. BTW fullstop after much was because whoever wrote the predictive typing.for Android never figured on anyone wanting to type the word lesser after the word much. :-)
I heard the reviews on the radio and podcasts before I saw the car.
Yowza. Now, I understand the negative reaction. It looks like the offspring of a Prius and Mazda3. It does not look like a BMW.
The zeitgeist that's leading back to urbanization has been interesting. As someone who did not participate in suburban flight, the romantic notion of zipping around "the city" in an electric car has no emotional hold. But, it does for many others. It's really unfortunate that this consumer doesn't get a stylish option, not even from BMW.
With you Nadine. The Prius is sexy next to this buggy. (Actually, though it doesn't fit my needs I am a Prius fan, it sells well because it works, not for "green cred" IMHO. Chuckle.)
I think the $5k range extender is a smart marketing move. It will really help the range anxiety thing. Frankly I am dubious of the chances of any vehicle (electric or not) with a sub 100 mile range. The only things that can get away with that are toys like dirt bikes (love dirt bikes, bet an electric one like a Zero would be fun).
Without the range extender it strikes me as a toy. (Sorry Liz) ;^)
I think the Eco-toy market is getting saturated and a lot of the potential buyers have theirs already.
Not anti-electric-just don't think they are ready for the big time. Cue fire storm from pro-EV zealots.
Agree - this doesn't look exciting - too bad because the 90 mi. range would easily cover all but maybe 5-6 trips in a given year. (Really - does the average person drive ~90mi*300days = 27,000+mi/year??)
I was hoping it would look close to the original I3 concept car. At that price, I want something that excites me.
Prius is a reasonably well engineered car - with the exception of the poorly designed dash - way too cluttered and non-intuitive, and the non-existent clearance. I've rented several,
You're right. The Eco-toy market is dominant. I listened to a panel discussion with many who were instrumental in getting the first Earth Day up and running. They lamented the fact that the holiday is just another opportunity for consumerism.
On a lighter note--The funniest thing I've ever seen on a Prius was a license plate that read "PIOUS".
It has always amused me that they chose Lenin's birthday for earthday.
That soemone would put that on their own Prius is hilarious. Some folks act like all Prius owners are eco-nazis but most of them just seem to want an affordable mid-size car that gets great mpg. And that is why, IMO, it dominates the market-the combination of price, utility and mileage is the best.
However my VFR800 get similar mpg and puts a grin on my face every day. My "Eco-toy".
That's a great license plate, Nadine. Apparently, Prius owners have a good sense of humor. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" did a show poking fun at Prius owners, even though Larry David himself is a Prius owner and an avowed environmental activist.
That is a great license plate for a Prius driver, Nadine! Nice to see even the eco-minded types have a sense of humor (as I assume it is meant to be sarcastic, right? :)) On the earth day note, yes, it doesn't take much for any U.S. holiday, even one meant to celebrate nature, can become a reason to buy and sell things. :(
An interesting side note to the i3 story: In its press release, BMW describes the i3 as "the world's first premium car designed from the ground up to be powered by an electric drive system." It would seem BMW has forgotten about, or is just plain ignoring, Tesla.
Thank you Charles for the update and excellent slide show. Yesterday (Friday) I completed the second phase of a project for a client in Atlanta. It was a very long day ending with the accumulation of 289 miles round trip at 0218 hrs in the morning. This very fact highlights why I could not purchase a car such as this with an 81 to 99 mile travel distance. Even with the extended package, I could possibly be in trouble during the early morning hours. Now, using the i3 as a "commuter" car--OK, I'm on board with that. Drive, park, charge, work, unplug and drive home; maybe so but with the price tag being $41K plus, it's quite a challenge to undertake. Also, for me, there is the question of annual costs for maintenance and possible reliability issues. One thing that seems reasonable to state: BMW feels this is the "wave of the future" if they are willing to make the sizable investment in design, fabrication and assembly.
You raise good points, bobjengr. One of the points that some automakers have made is that the driver's life needs to be predictable in order for a pure electric to serve adequately. A 289-mile round trip ending at 2 a.m. doesn't fall in that "predictable" category.
Charles, I think i3 is the first electric car from the automaker BMW. That's means it's going to be the age of either electric or hybrid cars; otherwise they won't step in to that segment. Since we canot rely on cruedoil always, there is no doubt that electric cars are going to be flurished in market
It is good to see that luxury cars are opting for the environmental way though I must say the price of the BMW i3 is not what people think when the model is mentioned, the price is very friendly in addition to the fact that it is an EV. Maybe this is the way to go for the like of Benz and the Rovers.
I agree, AnandY. The price of this vehicle is surprising, especially coming from an established luxury car maker. It's considerably beneath the Tesla Model S, which should make for an interesting competition between the two.
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