Car problems BMW i3

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BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto

Archive for BMW i3

BMW Working on Carbon-Fiber Wheels, Hopes to Convince Regulators of Safety

With the advent of the electrically powered i3 and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. BMW has doubled down on lightweight technology. For the structure and body panels of both vehicles, BMW is making liberal use of carbon-fiber reinforced composite materials.

The high-tech approach serves multiple purposes: It offsets some of the massive weight of the battery system of these vehicles, it serves as a testing ground for larger-scale application in other BMW models, and it’s a perfect marketing tool to endear skeptical car enthusiasts to electrics.

The coolness factor will only rise when another innovation comes to market: carbon-fiber wheels. Such wheels have been used by tuners and on motorcycles, but up to now, carmakers have shied away from the technology. Michael Taylor reports in Auto Express that BMW is developing wheels consisting of aluminum spokes and a carbon-fiber rim, as well as wheels completely formed from the woven stuff.

BMW is apparently unfazed by concerns about the safety of carbon-fiber wheels. They are very damage-resistant, BMW engineer Franz Storkenmaier says, and he also claims that cosmetic damage such as scuffing is easier to repair. The weight savings with the hybrid aluminum/carbon-fiber wheel are expected to hover around 25 percent versus the industry-standard aluminum wheel, while a wheel completely constructed of carbon fiber weighs roughly 35 percent less.

Even though the total number of pounds saved would be small, lighter wheels lower a car’s unsprung mass, and that has a very beneficial effect on handling. Nevertheless, the most important argument for the complex and costly technology may be its marketing value. In short, carbon-fiber wheels look cool.

Which means it is the perfect wheel for BMW s funky electric fleet. It could come to market within two years, if approved by government authorities.

BMW Assessing Demand Before Expanding i Lineup

The first words of caution are emerging from Munich. After the launch of the i3 and the introduction of the i8. BMW production chief Harald Krueger told  Automotive News   that the company needs time to assess demand before it green-lights further electric or plug-in hybrid models under its i range.

The sub-brand will remain with only the two models until BMW can determine if there s enough demand for any more.

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BMW has said that the i3 is selling well and the i8 is sold out for 2014. without disclosing actual production figures or sales targets. Analysts IHS Automotive recently predicted global sales for the i8 of 1932 units in 2014 and 5085 units in 2015, while it s predicted that 21,416 i3s will be sold in 2014 and 22,480 units in 2015. After this peak in 2015, IHS expects sales of both models to dwindle.

Krueger told  Automotive News that the i3 won t be offered in China, the world s largest automotive market.

Estimates regarding just how much BMW spent in RD, tooling, and marketing for the i3 and i8 vary wildly, but it s believed the automaker has sunk between $2 billion and $5 billion into the project. BMW will only say that the costs have been written off, allowing the brand to make money from the first one sold.

Krueger s comments mark a departure from the extremely bullish tone that the company had previously adopted. Rumors of a mid-size, family-hauling i5 have gone quiet in the past few months; meanwhile, model designations up to i9 reportedly have been trademarked. It s possible they may go unused.

The Continental: Impressions from BMW’s i3 Launch, Plus a Note on Benz’s Nine-Speed ‘Box

Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him. the Continental.

We understand companies should be proud of their newest wares, but some of the rhetoric that came out of the BMW i3 launch last week—which happened simultaneously in London, New York, and Beijing—was a bit much. Take, for example, these quotes from BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer s big speech:

What the mobile phone did for communication, electric mobility will do for individual mobility.

This is more than the birth of a unique car. It s a milestone in the automotive history.

Today, the BMW i3 begins a new era: The era of true sustainable mobility.

And Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW s board member responsible for Mini, Rolls-Royce, and aftersales, actually claimed: Never before has the BMW Group been so proud to present a car to the world. (From 1994 to 2012, Schwarzenbauer worked for Porsche and Audi, but I assume he asked around in Munich prior to his bold statement.)

Indeed, the question of whether automotive history was made on the morning of July 29 remains wide open. Personally, I was present at the New York i3 event, participating amongst a sizable number of BMW Group executives and the usual group of journalists and bloggers. Outgoing mayor Bloomberg, who prides himself on promoting sustainability, made an appearance as well.

After the speeches were delivered, we proceeded to take a closer look at the actual car on stage, and another one on the rooftop of the impressive Center 548 in the Chelsea arts district.

The series production car is unusually close to the concept cars we ve seen over the last two years. It will be one of the most futuristic vehicles on the road, both in overall shape and in the execution of the details. It was surprising, however, to see one of the two cars (the orange example pictured above) fitted with halogen, reflector-type headlights.

This low-cost, traditional technology won t be offered in the U.S. market. Carbon fiber is visible throughout the vehicle, and in sometimes unusual patterns. Exterior panels like the doors and fenders are made from conventional plastic. They are painted, but BMW has considered dyed-through plastics, and I am told that such parts may be offered on future i models.

BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto

The gaps are not as tight as on other BMW vehicles, undoubtedly due to the manufacturing challenges of the carbon-fiber-and-aluminum architecture of this car.

Inside, the i3 displays an unusual material mix with optional open-pore wood and supposedly eco-friendly materials. The look is futuristic, but traditionally minded customers might perceive some of the materials as being on the cheap side. Personally, I appreciate the i3 s design, both outside and especially inside. It s a new and refreshing take on the modern urban car: Radiating cold precision, it probably is the most convincing electric vehicle yet.

  BMW chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk said that the i design language will remain distinct: I do not want to take these design elements to the main brand. Ulrich Kranz, who leads the i product line, agrees: As long as it is an i, you will recognize a specific i shape. He also said that i would be treated similar to BMW s M GmbH high-performance division, but won t enjoy Mini s independent standing.

BMW executives said that a battery-changing system, like the one Tesla is working to offer on the Model S, is presently not an option: The battery is an integral part of the vehicle and we have found the optimal position, says head of BMW i production Daniel Schäfer. But the company is still looking at inductive charging, according to spokesman Cypselus von Frankenberg.  As to future models, BMW executives say that with the i3 and the upcoming i8. there is room below, between, and above. And they hint that the most likely model to follow is a family car positioned right between the i3 and i8.

Moreover, there could be electric Minis: Of course I can imagine an electric Mini, says BMW chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk.

The i3 goes on sale in Europe in November 2013, but U.S.-market customers will have to wait until the second quarter of 2014. BMW USA chief Ludwig Willisch tells me he expects a conquest rate pretty close to 100 percent; dealers can opt out, although the investment to offer the i3 barely exceeds $100,000— not a hurdle, really, as Willisch says. Interestingly, in the U.S. the i3 and the i8 will launch almost simultaneously.

Hyperbole aside, the i3 is a fairly significant step for electric mobility: With its semi-affordable entry-level price, and the weight and support of BMW, it may be the best shot at re-educating the fuel-wasting public yet. It also is a massive step for BMW, for better or for worse: The project is rumored to have consumed funds in the order of $2.7 billion, and if it doesn t take off on the marketplace, it will go down as one of the gravest poor investments in automotive history.  Whether last week s launch was BMW s proudest ever or not, it is clear that there will be a lot of future events with a clear focus on Motoren as if nothing had ever happened.

More Paddling, Marginal Gains

Call me backwards, but I tend to dislike transmissions with more than six speeds. In fact, I am perfectly content with a five-speed unit, but six speeds seem to be a happy compromise between offering seamless connections, a wide overall spread, and a workable palette of gears for any situation. Of course, we have moved into a world of seven-speed manuals and automatics with up to ten gears. One of the reasons provided is the supposed improvement in fuel economy; allegations that the more-is-better approach to the number of gears is marketing-induced are of course vehemently denied.

Mercedes-Benz now offers a nine-speed automatic in the diesel-powered, rear-wheel-drive E350 BlueTec, at least in Europe; U.S.-market models so equipped will follow.

How great are these efficiency gains? M arginal. Using European-cycle numbers, the E350 improves from 42.8 mpg with the seven-speed box to 44.4 mpg with the nine-speed transmission. But at the same time, the official numbers for the all-wheel-drive E350 BlueTec 4MATIC, which keeps the seven-speed, have also quietly changed from 39.2 mpg to 39.9 mpg.

No explanation is given, but it suggests that the rear-driver s improvement must at least partially be attributable to other factors, whether technical or measurement-induced. On a different note, Mercedes-Benz says that the nine-speed transmission will be offered with a manual mode. Do you like paddling?

Meanwhile, changes in the European emissions regulation may put a halt to the proliferation of start-stop systems. Speaking with a German-based Hyundai/Kia executive at length, I learned that the anticipated next set of rules means that start-stop systems have little effect on certified consumption and emissions anymore. If they are to have a positive effect, it would largely be through credits awarded to carmakers that take their pick from a menu of pre-selected, good technologies.

You can t blame carmakers for taking a wait-and-see attitude.

BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3  Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto

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