Friday, September 20, 2013

BMW i3 Production Video Series

BMW released a four part video series which shows in great detail the construction process of the i3. From carbon fiber manufacturing, to battery pack construction and full vehicle assembly on the production line at Leipzig. It's rare that a manufacturer allows such a detailed look at how they make a car. There's over an hour of combined video in the four part series below. If you are an i3 enthusiast, or even just a car person, this is definitely worth watching.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

BMW i3 Electric Motor Assembly Video

A friend of mine posted a video that shows the manufacturing process of the 168 horsepower, 184 lb-ft electric motor used in the i3. It's nearly nine minutes long and pretty comprehensive so I thought I'd put it up here. Hat tip to George Batek for finding and posting it on the Facebook group page!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

BMW i3 Production Begins!

Fitschen accepts the keys to Job 1 from BMW board member Harald Kruger
Series production of the BMW i3 began today in Leipzig. In less than two months the i3 will be available for sale in Germany and select European countries with US deliveries beginning 4 - 5 months later. BMW gave the keys to the first i3 to roll off the assembly line to German Marathon runner Jan Fitschen.

These are exciting times. The i3 is the first volume series production car in history to make such extensive use of carbon and aluminum and it's the first electric vehicle to be offered for sale by BMW company history. The better news is, this is just the beginning of the electric revolution!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Serial Production of The i3 Begins Tomorrow

According to Automobilwoche a German car website, serial production of the BMW i3 will begin tomorrow, September 18th at BMW's Leipzig manufacturing plant. You can read (if you read German) or translate the article here.

The i3 is scheduled to go on sale in select European countries in November with the US launch set for Spring 2014. However, it's not clear if the range extender will be available as an option from the start. I have had people in Germany and the UK tell me when they placed their order the BMW i representative told them the range extender option will not be available until after the new year meaning they will have to wait a few more months if they want the REx. I have not heard any official confirmation of this, but I have no reason to doubt those that told me this. I have been told that the range extender will be available right from the start in the US though, and since we have to wait 4 or 5 months longer than Europe for the launch, that seems legitimate. 
The floor of the i3 assembly plant.
Carbon fiber i3 passenger cells are carried down the production line in Leipzig

Saturday, September 14, 2013

More i3 Video Love

There have been i3 videos popping up just about every day now. I posted a bunch of them a few days ago and when I find any of interest I'll post it here. This one by Automann TV spends a good amount of time inside the car so I thought it would be interesting to post. Make sure you change the settings to 720p or 1080p for the clearest look.

Friday, September 13, 2013

i3 Range Extender Closer Look

If you look at the two pictures of the i3 chassis above, you can see the one on the left has a large empty space to the right of the electric motor with only a support brace in the empty void. In the picture on the right there isn't any spare room and it appears as if the entire unit there is one large piece of machinery, which of course it isn't. That's the i3's optional range extender and BMW certainly used every inch of space they had to squeeze it in there.

The engine used in scooter trim
When equipped with the range extender the i3 weighs 330lbs more, is slightly slower (because of the added weight) and has a lower all electric range since the rage extender comes on automatically once the state of charge reaches about 20%. The driver will have the ability to manually turn the range extender off so it doesn't come on at 20%, and many will likely do so as long as they can make their destination to recharge safely before they run out of charge. However many will be willing to accept these drawbacks because of the added utility the car when equipped with the range extender, as well as having the peace of mind knowing you'll never get stuck somewhere if you fail to calculate the cars electric range properly or need to drive further than expected.

The i3's range extender is a modified version of the 650cc Kymco engine used in the BMW C650 GT scooter. It's highly optimized for this particular use and puts out only 34 horsepower compared to 65hp when used for the scooter. It has a tiny 2.4 gallon gas tank which is positioned in the front of the car close to the filler door which is above the front right wheel. BMW claims the range extender will add up to 87 miles of range before needing to refuel but whenever a manufacturer says "up to" I've found you can easily discount that number by as much as 20% so without any proof  I'm guessing it will provide around 70 miles of additional range.

The range extender tailpipe is shown here. This picture was taken from the rear of the car and you can see how it won't be possible to see any tailpipe unless you bend over and look under the car.

The Frankfurt Motor Show just opened a few days ago and Horatiu Boeriu, the managing editor for BMWblog was there covering the event. I have been providing content for BMWblog for a few years now and Horatiu usually asks me to cover electric mobility topics on his site. I asked him to get a picture of the underside of an i3 because I haven't seen any good pictures of that yet. I tried to get one myself at the i3 premier but the lighting was so bad my picture wasn't clear enough to use. So Horatui got the picture I asked for and I was pleasantly surprised to see the car he picked had the range extender option on it and he got a great picture of how BMW managed to conceal the range extender tailpipe so it's not visible from the outside unless you crawl under the car like Horatiu did to take the picture. This is important because many electric vehicle owners have expressed how they are proud they don't have a tailpipe on their EV. They don't want to see a tailpipe on their car, even if it's a range extended EV that happens to need a tailpipe. This is the very first picture I have ever seen of the range extender exhaust, and may just be the first one ever published.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rory McIlroy & Gary Woodland Race BMW i3s!

Rory Mcllroy and Gary Woodland competed in a driving challenge Tuesday to kick off BMW Championship week. The two competed against the clock to raise money for the Evans Scholars Foundation. For their participation, BMW donated $10,000 to the Foundation.

BMW has also pledged to give an i3 to the first player who makes a hole-in-one this week at Conway Farms’ 17th. As for the competition, both Mcllroy and Woodland were impressed with the i3's acceleration, handling and braking and they finished only 2 seconds off the courses' record.