Thursday, September 15, 2011

BMW i3 and i8 make Frankfurt debut

BMW i3 and i8 make Frankfurt debut

BMW presented a pair of wild-looking electric cars – the i3 urban runabout and the i8 sports coupe, as well as its new 1-Series five-door that would undoubtedly be a smash hit in Canada if priced right to compete in the growing luxury compact class.

BMW’s second generation 1 Series will be a 2012 model in Europe and continue to be the only rear-wheel-drive model in the class. A Sport line and Urban line will appeal to younger buyers looking for BMW’s premium materials and feel, but the five-door design makes it plenty functional for any age buyer.

All engines in the 1 Series are now turbocharged with BMW’s TwinPower turbo – a single dual vane turbo system that reduces lag. A slate of engine choices that would make fuel-conscious Canadians drool include two diesels, one with 184 horsepower in the 120d, and the other with 143 horsepower in the 118d. Two gasoline versions are available, a 170 hp four cylinder in the 118i, and 136 hp in the 116i. For this country, the 120d and 118i seem a natural fit. Call your BMW dealer and demand these cars.
More interesting, if a little far away yet, are BMW’s eDrive concepts, the i8 and i3.

The i8 uses an electric drivetrain and three-cylinder TwinPower turbo gasoline engine to pull zero to 100 km/h times under five seconds, yet uses no more than 3.0L/100km. Thank the i8’s mostly carbon fibre and aluminum shell and aerodynamics for that, but also the sheer torque from the front-mounted electric motor, which drives front wheels. The gas engine drives the rear wheels for a perfect 50/50 weigh distribution, but also allowing all-wheel drive when both engines are working.

The i3, meanwhile, is meant for urban commutes, using a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that spans the undercarriage, supplying up to 170 horsepower to an electric motor mounted over the rear axle to allow for rear-wheel drive. The range is 160 kms, BMW says, yet it can reach 150 km/h and handle zero to 100 km/h in under eight seconds.

Either way, both of these cars appear as revolutionary as they are visionary. Let’s hope they’re built soon.

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BMW i3, i8 Headed to Dealers Starting in 2013: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

BMW i3, i8 Headed to Dealers Starting in 2013: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Sporting nearly as much carbon fiber as your average F1 car, the BMW i3 Concept isn't a world-burning super sports car, or even a punchy performance hatch that fights above its weight. It's born and bred for the city, with an emphasis on efficiency and compact size that prompted the development team to call it the Megacity Vehicle.

Powered by a 167-horsepower electric motor on the rear axle and good for 93 miles of range, it has the key vitals of a great urban runabout that's up for the occasional longer haul. It gets its good range despite having so much available power by being light, which is where all of that carbon fiber comes in; the i3 Concept weighs just 2,755 pounds.

BMW says that's about 500-800 pounds lighter than a similar car built out of conventional metals would be. For all of the details on the i3, including its performance and charging times, check out our preview here. 

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BMW i3 and i8 concepts feature new LifeDrive platform

BMW i3 and i8 concepts feature new LifeDrive platform

These are the BMW i3 and the i8 Concepts, the two members of the new BMW i family that BMW previewed last week at Messe Frankfurt. The BMW i3 was originally known as the BMW Megacity Vehicle, and it will be BMW’s first series-produced all-electric vehicle, and you’ll see the i8 sports car in the upcoming Mission Impossible movie.
BMW started off the BMW M sub brand for high performance versions of its cars. The company had to evolve with times, and with the rise of the popularity of the SUV came the BMW X brand along with xDrive.
Now as the world continues to change with the times and the idea of mobility continues to evolve – BMW has responded with the creation of a sub-brand which meets the changing needs of customers head-on: BMW i. BMW i is all visionary vehicles and mobility services, inspiring design, and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability.
“The purpose-oriented and sustainable mobility solutions from BMW i mark the dawn of a new era in personal mobility for the automotive industry,” said Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing.
The BMW i brand started off as a think tank called project i back in 2007. BMW had set project i up to explore sustainable mobility solutions, intended to generate a transfer of expertise into both the company as a whole, as well as future vehicle projects.
Quite interestingly, the sustainability goals extended way beyond just the vehicles themselves. The development engineers focused on the entire value chain – not just the end result products. Every parts-related process, technology, supplier – they’ve all been required to contribute to the sustainability rating of the products. The goal is to reduce resources consumption and emissions per vehicle produced by 30 per cent over 2006 levels by 2012.
Anyway, let’s look at the two concept cars. First up – the BMW i3 concept, previously known as the BMW Megacity Vehicle. It is the BMW Group’s first all-electric car intended for series production, focused on the mobility challenges of ultra urban areas. BMW is not the first to the end of the line in the race to start selling a production EV – there are already other cars on sale such as the Nissan LEAF, but this is a premium EV.
It kinda looks like a typical hatchback, and you can even imagine perhaps that space in front of the passenger cell where the combustion engine might be in a conventional car might house the i3′s electric motor.
But the i3 (and the i8) are not “conversion” cars. Their chassis architecture was built from ground up to house an electric drive train. While in a combustion engine car it might make sense for the engine to be up front with the gearbox, the petrol tank at the rear and etc, this might not be the best way to house the components necessary for an electric drive.
Electric drive components place totally different demands on a vehicle when it comes to installation space and cannot be integrated into that vehicle without adding weight and compromising interior and boot space.
Because of a chassis designed for a combustion engine, many of these “conversion EVs” have lots of restrictions and compromises because of the legacy architecture they are based on, and sometimes the cars end up having an odd weight distribution, or a very heavy weight. The MINI E is an example of a conversion electric car – a regular MINI chassis converted to use batteries. BMW says the i3 is much lighter than the MINI E because it was designed from ground up as an electric car. The 1-Series was also ‘converted’ into the BMW ActiveE Concept.
Enter BMW’s LifeDrive architecture, which is built from ground up for electric car construction. It’s divided into two parts – the Life module which contains the ‘life’ or the passengers, and the Drive module which contains the drive equipment like the engine, electric motor and batteries. These modules are said to be separate, independent functional units.
The Drive module houses the vehicle’s suspension, battery, drive system, and structural and crash functions into a construction made mainly from aluminum. The secure arrangement of the battery in the Drive module gives the vehicle a very low centre of gravity and optimum weight distribution.
The passengers sit in the Life module, consisting of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The use of CFRP ensures the Life module is remarkably light, helping counter the weight of the other components, thus helping achieve better range and power.
You might worry about the idea of something that has the word “plastic” on it surrounding you and protecting you on the highway. Like the cockpit of a F1 car, the CFRP passenger cell provides an extremely strong survival area. While regular metal chassis constructions require the addition of large energy absorption zones, special deformation elements in the CFRP structure allow large amounts of energy to be absorbed in an amazingly small area.
With the drive components located in the Drive module, there is no centre tunnel running through the passenger compartment. This allows, if necessary, the left and right seats in a row to be connected with each other by a continuous seat surface, which allows for a relatively more comfortable entry and exit via the front passenger side of the car and means you can park one side of your car up close to walls, for example.
All of this sounds very high tech but it actually kinda reminds me of the old way of constructing cars – body on frame instead of unibody, a technique still used today in most pick-up trucks.
Although both the i3 and the i8 are based on the LifeDrive architecture, the geometric implementation of the concept differs in the two models, having been adapted to suit their different usages. The BMW i3 Concept features a horizontal-split variant of the LifeDrive platform optimised to accommodate the car’s electric drive system.
Here, the Life module is simply mounted on top of the Drive module. The 170hp/250Nm compact (smaller than a typical internal combustion engine, and 40% smaller than the MINI E’s motor) motor is mounted at the rear axle, while the rest of the space in the Life module contains a large battery to provide the electric-only i3 Concept a longer range. The battery is penned in by aluminium profiles, which protect it from external impacts. Crash-active structures in front and behind it provide the necessary energy absorption in the event of a front- or rear-end collision.
An integrated liquid cooling system keeps the battery at its optimal operating temperature at all times, which helps to significantly boost the performance and life expectancy of the cells. The climate/heating system cools the fluid circulating in the battery housing via a heat exchanger. Because the cooling system of an electric car is different, there’s really no need for a radiator grille at the front, so to improve aerodynamics, the i3 is designed with no air vents at the front – the kidney grille is decorative.
The battery can be fully recharged in six hours at a standard power socket. If a high-speed charger is used, an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in just one hour. The i3′s electric motor via a single speed transmission gearbox takes it from 0 to 60km/h in under 4 seconds. It hits 100km/h in about 8 seconds. It hits an electronically governed top speed of 150km/h.
If necessary, BMW has designed for the i3′s LifeDrive platform to be able to accommodate a small petrol engine as a range extender. This range extender (REx) engine will be integrated together with the electric motor in the rear axle.
The BMW i3 Concept also has a high recycled material content. 25 per cent of the interior plastics by weight have been replaced by recycled and renewable materials, as have 25 per cent by weight of the exterior thermoplastic components, while the CFRP used in the Life Module consists of 10 per cent recycled material.
The use of recycled CFRP in this form is currently unique. The CFRP produced by BMW’s joint venture partner at the Moses Lake plant in USA is made with electricity generated entirely from hydroelectric power. A total of more than 80 per cent of the aluminium used in the BMW i3 Concept is produced either using renewable energy or from secondary material.
And now we take a look at the i8. The i8 is quite a different vehicle from the i3 – while the i3 is a city roundabout vehicle, the i8 is a sports car. Unlike the i3′s EV power, the i8 is powered by two different power sources, which demonstrates the versatility of the LifeDrive architecture.
The LifeDrive architecture is constructed differently here – arranged in a vertically manner instead of the simple top-down horizontally split structure of the i3. The drive systems powering the BMW i8 Concept are integrated into the front and rear axle modules, with the CFRP Life module providing the bridge between the two.
The electric motor has been adopted from the BMW i3 Concept and modified for use in the BMW i8 Concept’s hybrid power train, where it is “tuned” to run with a smaller battery pack and in conjunction with an internal combustion engine. It drives the front axle, while a 220 hp turbocharged 1.5 liter three-cylinder petrol engine developing up to 300 Nm of torque drives the rear axle. Naturally, this gives the i8 all-wheel drive traction capability.
This is something new, as the previous BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept used a diesel engine. Together, the two power sources take the vehicle to a governed top speed of 250 km/h. It hits 100km/h in under 5 seconds but consumes just 3 liters per 100km on the Euro test cycle.
SInce the i8 is a plug-in hybrid, it does not need as much battery cells as the electric-only i3. These battery cells are stored inside the Life module inside an “energy tunnel”, which is very much like a transmission tunnel. This also helps gives the vehicle a low centre of gravity, which helps with handling. The batteries alone give the i8 an all-electric driving range of approximately 35km, and they can be charged in 2 hours with a standard power socket.
BMW i is the embodiment of “next premium” for BMW, which extends the idea of premium to encompass future requirements of personal transportation. These cars still have quite a few years before they hit production, and in the meanwhile there are already a few other carmakers putting their EV products into the market – for example, we have cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan Leaf in the non-premium market, and US automaker Tesla in the premium market.

As part of project i, the BMW Group is currently conducting field trials in everyday conditions with conversion vehicles running purely on electric power. The ongoing trials in the USA and Europe with a fleet of more than 600 MINI E cars are already delivering important feedback on the demands the series-produced electric vehicles of the future will need to meet.
Added to which, a test fleet of over 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles – set for launch in the USA, Europe and China at the end of 2011 – will contribute valuable insights into the performance of these models in everyday use. Feedback from the customers trialling the MINI E and BMW ActiveE is channelled directly into the series development of the BMW i vehicles.
We’ve tried a few electric cars before, including one that’s technically from the BMW stables (read our previous story on the Rolls Royce EV). We’re really looking forward to trying out a BMW or MINI EV sometime soon, if not prototype versions of the the i3 or i8, perhaps one of the conversion vehicles like the BMW ActiveE or the MINI E?
Look after the jump for a full gallery and more videos of the i3 and i8.
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BMW i3 and i8 Concepts To Make World Debuts at 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

BMW i3 and i8 Concepts To Make World Debuts at 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The 2013 BMW i3 compact and 2014 BMW i8 sports car will be formally introduced to the public at the upcoming Frankfurt show.
  • While labeled as "concept studies," the prototypes provide strong clues as to the styling direction of BMW's first two i Series cars.
  • Also starring on the automaker's Frankfurt stand will be the redesigned M5 and 1 Series.

MUNICH, Germany — BMW plans to make a major splash at the upcoming 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show with the public debuts of its first two i Series concepts, the 2013 i3 and the 2014 i8, as well as the redesigned M5 sport sedan and 1 Series compact.
BMW released the first images of the i Series cars in late July. While officially labeled as concepts, the prototypes provide strong clues as to the styling direction of the production cars.
Both cars are rear-wheel drive and seat up to four occupants. The i8 is a gasoline-electric hybrid sport sedan, while the smaller i3 is a pure electric hatchback.
BMW is launching the i Series as a dedicated family of vehicles and services focused on "sustainable mobility."
The redesigned 1 Series hatchback also makes its formal public debut in Frankfurt. The new model, which isn't expected to be offered in the U.S., is longer and wider and rides on a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. It will be sold in Europe with a choice of four-cylinder gas and diesel engines.
BMW said advanced technologies, including Speed Limit Information System with No-Passing Info and Lane Departure Warning System with Collision Warning, also will be available for the first time in the new 1 Series.
Of perhaps greatest interest to enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic is the redesigned M5 sedan, which appeared earlier this year in concept form at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show and was first revealed to the public in late June at the annual BMW M Festival at the Nürburgring.
The fourth-generation M5's twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 will deliver 553 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission with Drivelogic (a six-speed manual will likely be available as an option in the U.S.).
The new M5 is slated to arrive at U.S. dealers in spring 2012, most likely as a 2013 model.
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BMW i: Future mobility engineered today

BMW iFuture mobility engineered today

No retro-fit of a conventional carBMW i vehicles are entirely designed for electric powertrains
New plans for electric vehicles are so widespread in the auto industry today that almost allcarmakers seem to be working on future modelsSeveral have already rolled out mass-produced renewable energy cars.
As the world's leading premium carmakerwhat BMW will offer as its own solution to futuremobility is highly anticipated by the motoring world.
Recently in Frankfurtthe manufacturer gave a dramatic answer when it debuted the first twomodels of its new "isub-brandwhich stands for electric mobility.
Unlike other automakersBMW showed two very different electric models at the same timeItsi3 concept car is a small all-electric vehiclewhile the racecar-like plug-in hybrid i8 twins anelectric motor with an internal combustion engine to deliver high performance.
With its compactagile body and medium-sized electric motorthe i3 is BMW's practicalsolution for urban environmentssaid industry analysts.
In the i8 - with its dynamic sports car design and powerful output - BMW demonstrates that itssporty DNA will be retained and even enhanced in the new kind of automobile.
The two vehicles will be put into volume production in BMW's plant in Leipzig and go on sale in2013 and 2014. The company said it will invest around 400 million euros in new productionfacilities to make the models over the next three years.
"We are marking another milestone in the history of the BMW GroupAs chairman of the boardand an engineer myselfI am very proud of this project," said Chairman and CEO NorbertReithofer.
The i3 is less than 4 meters long but has a 2,570 mm wheelbase that provides spacious roomfor passengersPurpose-built for everyday use in citiesthe car's range is long enough tocover the distance between home and office or even a trip to the suburbs on weekends.
The i8, combining an electric motor and 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engineis remarkable forits performanceIt accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in under five seconds and uses less thanthree liters of fuel every 100 kilometerscapabilities beyond any other current vehicle poweredby a combustion engine of comparable performance.
Both the i3 and the i8 also use engineering BMW calls Eco Pro to increase electric drivingrange and reduce power consumption at the press of a buttonIn the i3, it stringentlymaximizes the range amid unforeseen circumstances such as prolonged traffic congestion thatmake reaching a destination uncertain.
The function limits electrically powered conveniences such as air conditioning and heatingsystems and shuts down others such as heated seats and heated mirrors altogether.
In additionintelligent navigation functions in the i8 enable optimal energy management tosignificantly reduce fuel consumptionAs soon as a destination is entered into the navigationsystemthe vehicle calculates the best way to manage energy consumption by its two powerunits along the route.
On different sections of the routethe vehicle characteristics can be modified for either formaximum efficiency or optimal performance.
Unlike the common approach to integrating electric components in conventional vehiclesdesigned for a combustion enginethe innovative LifeDrive architecture in BMW i vehicles aredesigned specifically to meet electric powertrain requirements.
As a resultthe electric motor and the battery are optimally accommodatedCombined withlightweight design and innovative use of materialsthe vehicle can be electrified withoutcomplex modifications and additional weight.
The approach also ensures generous interior spacetop driving characteristics and high safetylevels for the battery and passengers.
BMW's LifeDrive concept has two innovative components - a drive module integrated into thevehicle's suspension and a high-strengthlightweight passenger cell made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP).
"This vehicle (i3) will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodyworklargely made of carbonIt's a revolution in automotive design," said Klaus Draegerboardmember for development.
Like the cockpit of a Formula One carthe CFRP passenger cell provides an extremely strongsurvival areaPole impactsside-on collisions and rollover tests highlight the impressive safetyproperties of the extraordinarily robust material.
With the LifeDrive approachthe automaker has taken lightweight designvehicle architectureand crash safety into a whole new dimension.
For the BMW isustainability is of pivotal importance and something it aspires to throughoutthe entire production chainFrom the earliest planning stagesclearly defined sustainabilitytargets were set for the BMW i vehiclesAll sustainability aspects were addressed across theentire spectrumfrom purchasingdevelopment and production to sales and marketing.
Sustainable system
The BMW Group as a whole has invested enormouse effort in developing a sustainableproduction systemWith its "ivehicles the company goes even further.
Compared with the already efficient BMW Group production networkthe production plant forBMW i vehicles in Leipzig will save an additional 70 percent on water consumption and 50percent on energy for each vehicle produced.
Further reductions on greenhouse gases across the entire product lifecycle can be achievedthrough a carefully focused purchasing strategy for aluminum and CFRP.
Aluminum produced from 100 percent renewable material - known as secondary aluminum -can reduce CO2 emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to conventional manufacturing.More than 80 percent of the aluminum used in the i3 is produced either using renewableenergy or from secondary material.
In CFRP manufacturingthe BMW i also uses eco-friendly processesMaterial produced at theautomaker's joint venture Moses Lake plant in the US is made using electricity generatedentirely from hydroelectric power.
BMW i suppliers must also demonstrate that their business practices are sustainable.
Mobility services
The BMW i also stands for comprehensive and custom-designed mobility services that canoptimize personal mobility even for customers who do not own their own vehicle.
Starting in Junethe DriveNow joint venture between BMW Group and Sixt AG is offering amobility serviceinitially in Munichthat includes high-efficiency premium vehicles and anextensive range of services.
A highlight of the service is that vehicles do not have to be picked up from and returned tospecific locations but can be hired and left wherever the customer wishes.
Customers can check vehicle availability either on the Internetuse a smartphone app orsimply when passing by on the streetConventional car keys are not required since theDriveNow vehicles can be unlocked by means of a chip inserted in a driver's license andstarted using a starter button.
More major European cities will get the service later in the yearIn the longer termthere arealso plans to extend this car-sharing service to other continents as well.
In addition to developing and offering its own servicesBMW Group also provides services inpartnership with other companies and makes strategic investments in mobility serviceproviders.
BMW i Venturesa subsidiary established early this yearis providing backing for new,promising startup companiesMyCityWay and ParkatmyHouse are the first two startups inwhich BMW i Ventures invested.
MyCityWay is a mobile app that provides users with information on public transportparkingavailability and local entertainment for more than 50 cities in the USCanadaEurope andAsia.
The ParkatmyHouse Internet platform enables private individuals rent out their driveway orprivate parking space on an occasional or permanent basisThis parking management servicemakes private parking spaces affordable and takes the pressure off street parking.
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