In 2013, BMW aims to reinvent the premium market for electric vehicles. The first fully electric vehicle to emerge under the Project i umbrella is the Megacity Vehicle, recently dubbed i3. Part of the new BMW i sub-brand, i3 is one of BMW’s biggest bets in its entire history.
Initially received with skepticism, BMW Megacity Vehicle and Project i, has slowly become one of the most exciting projects inside BMW; engineers, designers, and executives, have begun to embrace the new direction and the thrill of building from bottom-up a new sub-brand, has conquered any fears they all might have.
The project lays under the umbrella of maximum sustainability: from the production process, starting with the first supplier, through to component recycling at the end of the vehicle life cycle, sustainability based on the three cornerstones of eco-friendliness, economic efficiency and social compatibility must be the main process driver.
It is built using lightweight carbon fiber materials. BMW believes that it has developed a radical, lower-cost, mass-market-compatible means of producing carbon fiber monocoque bodywork that will dramatically reduce the i3′s potential weight, improving not only its range but acceleration too. The aerodynamic efficiency and carbon bodywork is expected to represent a breakthrough in terms of both cost and mass production potential.
At launch, Megacity will be offered in a two-door, four-seat configuration. The car will measure around 157 inches. In the future, the MCV sub-brand will include two additional models. First one due in 2015 and dubbed ICV, short Intracity Vehicle, will be a two-door, two-seat car. In 2017, UCV – Urban Commuter Vehicle -will extend the length of the initial MCV and has four doors while hosting five people.
The Megacity family will carry on BMW’s core values and according to BMW executives, will look and drive as a premium product, and will not be a compromise between looks, performance and safety. Quoting Van Hooydonk, “the car looks solid, with a higher riding position that inspires safety. Some iconic BMW design elements might be omitted in the MCV, but other new design elements will be introduced that in their turn, could turn the car into a sub-brand.
BMW i3 is powered by a lithium-ion battery with 35 kWh of capacity placed below the vehicle’s floor. Rear-wheels approach remains in BMW’s philosophy and the power is sent to the rear wheels through a rear-mounted 150-hp electric motor. Driving range is expected to top at 100 miles and top speed at 95 mph. The i3′s chassis will be aluminum and the passenger cell made from carbon fiber—BMW says more conventional materials would add as much as 650 pounds to the i3—and the electric motor could be joined by a range-extending internal-combustion engine at some point.
The i3 will carry over the BMW core values around rear-wheel drive vehicles. The electric motor will be placed directly above the rear axle. Some of BMW’s DNA elements like the Hoffmeister Kink are rumored to not be part of the i3.
The fine details are still being refined, including the overall design and aesthetics, but the initial sketches and information released, are driving rendering artists into creating computer generated images of how the i3 might look like. Last one comes from Car and Driver.