The best-selling BMW 3 series is getting a make over with slight changes to the body and the powertrain lineup. The cabin is getting a major boost with extra chrome highlights, a redesigned center console and improved materials on touchpoints around the cabin. There’s also an upgrade to the navigation system, which boots up and finds routes faster, as well as offering improved 3D graphics.Externally, the updates are fairly subtle. Full LED headlamps are now an option, and the graphics of the taillights have been revised to make the car seem wider on the road. The front apron has also received a rework to include the sensor for BMW’s active cruise control system.
The big news from an EV front is that from 2016, the 3 Series range will also include the 330e plug-in hybrid, designed to rival the Mercedes hybrid option offers on the C-Class. According to BMW, the maximum output of the 330e’s hybrid drivetrain is pegged at 185 kW (252 hp). Both Mercedes and BMW claim fuel economy of 2.1 l/100km (112 mpg) for their hybrids, while the BMW will travel 35 km (22 miles) on battery power alone – 4 km (2.5 miles) more than the C350 plug-in hybrid can manage.
It’s expected the model will use the new four-cylinder-based drivetrain that was shown in the concept X5 EDrive shown at last September’s Frankfurt show. This means the car will primarily be powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, in conjunction with a 95bhp electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
Judging by the claims BMW has made for the rather larger and heavier X5 plug-in, the new 3-series should be able to cover over 25 miles on pure battery power at speeds of up to 75mph. This 3-series is likely to be given an official consumption figure of over 80mpg when it undergoes EU fuel consumption tests.
The car will have switchable driving modes, and will default into EcoPro mode when the car starts up. BMW says this offers “intelligent hybrid functionality, whereby the energy management system tailors the interplay of combustion engine and electric drive system to most efficient effect.” A fully charged battery pack can also be put into ‘hold’ mode, so drivers can utilise emissions-free driving, for example, at their city-centre destination.
BMW says the new plug-in drivetrain means that “drivers can also enjoy the services of the hybrid-specific Proactive Driving Assistant, which teams up with the navigation system to incorporate factors such as route profile, speed restrictions and the traffic situation into the driving mode selection”.
We are looking forward to our test drive and expect the fact that BMW is introducing a Plug In in the extremely popular 3 series is a big plus for the EV world.
The jury at Car of the Year 2014 or CotY 14, as they say has trimmed the initial long list to a short list that contains two electric cars: The BMW i3 and Tesla Model S.
For this voting phase, each juror selected seven candidates in a simple vote, and the ones with most votes comprise the group of seven Nominees 2014. Now the Jury will focus only on those models, and will be conducting tests near Paris next February, prior to the final vote and the announcement of the winner in Geneva on March 3rd, 2014.
The seven finalists include regular cars as Citroën C4 Picasso, Mazda3, Peugeot 308 and Skoda Octavia along with the extra-luxury vehicle Mercedes S-class, and full electric BMW i3 and the Tesla S.
Established in 1964, the European Car of the Year award was set up to celebrate a “single, decisive winner” each year among all new cars in Europe.
Read more at CotY14 site.
Europe has sluggish car sales – apart from the UK most market are hurting
So when we learn that the BMW i3 is selling well in Europe that’s big news.
According to Automotive News, the German automaker has over 8,000 reservations for the i3 and is considering a production boost above that of the 10,000 cars it originally intended to produce in the car’s first year.
The company will “adjust capacity according to demand”, said BMW’s Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner. If demand continues at its current rate, he said, the company will soon have to invest more in i3 production.
The i3’s early popularity, at least in terms of reservations, is a breath of fresh air for the European car industry, which has so far struggled to shift electric cars in truly impressive volumes.
Through July, just 12,000 Nissan Leafs had been sold in Europe since going on sale. Renault has fared a little better–its 5,000 Zoe electric cars may not sound like many, but represents just four months sales through July, having debuted in Europe in March.
European deliveries of the i3 begin on November 16, with the first cars hitting U.S. roads in the first half of 2014. The car starts at £30,800 and BMW have some attractive lease options.
“The interest in the i3 electric car is generally a good sign,” said Sascha Gommel, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Commerzbank. “BMW has already absorbed the research and development costs for the vehicle and the car is profitable. So every car sold contributes to profits.”
BMW has invested at least 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) on developing the “i” series, analysts say. BMW developed the i3 from scratch rather than converting an existing model, an approach to electric vehicles that contrasts with other conventional automakers.
The i3 is the first car for BMW’s i sub-brand. The i8 hybrid supercar will go on sale next year. More models may be on the way. BMW has trademarked i1 through i9, Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said in July.
The spending on development of new models and expanding production capacity caused the operating profit margin at BMW’s auto division to narrow to 10 percent in the second quarter from 12 percent a year earlier.
“We’ll have to work very hard to keep profitability within our target corridor” of 8 percent to 10 percent in the coming years because of large investments required to meet stricter emissions regulations and the weak car market in Europe, Eichiner said.
No production halt
The rollout of the i3 will go ahead as planned next month and won’t be impacted by issues that typically affect the ramp up of a new model, Eichiner said. The executive was responding to a report by the German publication Wirtschaftswoche over the weekend that said problems bonding carbon-fiber components for the car led to a 10-day production halt.
With the i3, BMW joins Renault and Nissan in betting heavily that electric cars will win wider consumer acceptance despite their high price and limited range compared with vehicles powered by internal combustion engines or plug-in hybrids.
Top Gear hack Paul Horrell reviews a pre-production BMW i3 and likes it.
One day, the idea of cars driven by electric motors will become routine. After all, diesels were once a novelty, and so were turbos. We’ve just had a drive in a BMW i3 – visually disguised, but the real thing in the way it behaves – and it feels so incredibly natural that you rapidly fall for the idea that electric drive should be an idea that nobody questions.
After all, if you were on the ground floor and wanted to get to the 21st, would you want a lift powered by petrol? One that changed up a gear as it passed the 14th floor, and changed down again on the 19th? Nope, for smooth and silent movement, electricity is the way to go.
At first sampling then, this is a compelling electric car. It’s not the first on the market, but BMW has put some original thinking into almost every part of its design and engineering. It drives sweetly, is distinctively designed, and has the reassuring range-extender option if you are anxious about running flat.
That said, BMW reckons nearly all i3 buyers will use it as a second car so won’t be doing long journeys, and it’s optimised to make them efficient and fun.
You can read the full review at Top Gear:
London: Aug 9 2013
Last week BMW invited us and a few close friends to witness the UK and simultaneous worldwide launch of the BMW i3 electric car.
The car was on stage under wraps and introduced by Chris Brownridge, Marketing Director BMW UK Limited who was joined on stage after the car was revealed to the waiting hordes who had by now been well lubricated by the bar by Robert Llewwllyn, an EV activist and actor. Robert hosted a Q&A session and then invited the crowds to come and kick the tires. The audience was super receptive and lined up in a surprisingly ordered way to climb in and over the i3.
The car was given a huge marketing budget to play with. The end result so BMW claim is the results of 20 years of work and a couple of billion Euros. We were reminded that they showed an Electric vehicle at the Munich Olympics back in the 70’s. Since then a lot has changed. One are that was pushed was that this represents a pure electric car design and not a retrofit to an existing model. The benefits of this are substantial. The frame, body and running gear are designed for an electric car and have been designed with low weight in mind. The body is a mix of carbon and plastics with an aluminium chassis. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery pack. The i3 is powered by a 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack built into its floorpan that weighs in at close to 200 Kg. The pack powers a 125-kilowatt (170-horsepower) electric motor, mounted under the high rear load deck, that produces 184 lb-ft of torque.
The car looks different with the doors having no B pillar between them. The i3’s bodyshell, made out of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP)–a first for any volume-production passenger car–is strong enough that BMW was able to dispense altogether with a central pillar, making access to the rear seat easier as the rear doors are hinged at the back. The front doors must be opened first to allow them to be opened, for safety.
The waistline also looks different from most other cars and drops substantially after the front doors, giving increased visibility for rear seat passengers. The read cargo space has a sort of fluid tube look as the glass is shaped into smaller space. In some ways this echoes the rear of the Range Rover Evoque.
BMW were at length to mention that they learnt and listened to earlier EV trials and tests with the Mini E and others. They claim that they have worked hard to solve the perceived problems with the electric car. A home charging station is available. Called 360 Electric, BMW will provide a one stop shop to install a high-powered home charger. You make 1 call and pay a fixed price, BMW work out the logistics with the local power company. Once installed you can receive a full change in 3 hours. They have address the often asked question, how do I drive to Paris, Aberdeen or any other unlikely destination that is far further that the range? Well BMW will offer a loan car from their ICE range as an alternative. Fancy a sporting w/e take the Z3. Want to go skiing take the 535 Estate. Details and costs to be announced but it does neatly remove that anxiety help be many people.
Back to the look and design of the car. One area that is spot on is that the floor is flat. There is no hint of a transmission tunnel. You can very easily slide from side to side, handy for tight parking spaces.
In size the i3 is about the same footprint as the 1 Series but offers the interior of a 3 Series. It does feel light and airy once in the cockpit.
The BMW i3 cars shown in the carmaker’s images all come with their short front hoods painted glossy black, another design element that sets off the BMW i range of electric cars from their petrol and diesel brothers and sisters.
And the twin-kidney grille, while outlined in blue, actually contains not access for cooling air but simple glossy black blanking plates to reduce aerodynamic drag.
The 19-inch wheels are tall, but very thin, using specially developed 155/70 low-rolling-resistance tires. Buyers can also select optional 20-inch alloy wheels, with similarly tall tires.
While they have the contact patch of a conventional 16-inch tire, their narrowness is one element that permits the i3 to have a very tight 32.3-foot turning circle.
Option and trim
Three trims are available Mega, Giga, Tera. The standard Mega trim level includes 19-inch forged aluminium wheels, a 7.4-kilowatt onboard charger, navigation, the BMW Connected Drive infotainment system, and full LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights.
The Giga level adds leather and wool trim, a sunroof, different 19-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio, and an integrated garage-door opener.
And the top-level Tera trim adds to that a different set of 19-inch alloy wheels, a full leather interior using olive tanning processes, textile accents, contrasting stitching, and floor mats in “anthracite”–presumably the colour, not the coal.
About 25 percent of the plastics used inside the car are recycled, BMW notes, and the eucalyptus wood veneers used on high-end trim levels are “responsibly harvested.”
The door trims and instrument-panel surround also use fibers from the kenaf plant, an increasingly popular sustainable element in-car interiors these days.
Battery, range extender
BMW claim the i3 will drive you about 80 -100 miles before you need a charge. They will also offer an optional Range Extender: A rear-mounted 34-HP, 650cc twin-cylinder petrol engine that will act solely as a generator. Unlike the Ampera or Volt this is not connected to the drive train, it is purely to charge the pack. With a 2.4 galon petrol tank, this effectively boosts the range by 100%.
The base i3 has a list price of £25,000 before tax, VAT and any subsidies that may be available depending on your location. The UK provides a £5,000 EV subsidity. Add in tax take away the subsidity and you are close to £25K on the road. That’s not bad for a state of the art all-electric BMW i3.
Leasing pricing and options will also be available to provide a per monthly fee.
Available in November.
Full review and comparison to Tesla to follow.
We are heading to London to attend the i3 launch in the City later today. Should be an interesting session: BMW UK marketing team will be making the pitch. Will be good to see the car in real life rather than the show concept vehicles.
Full report to follow.
BMW i3 goes on sale in UK during November for £25,680, or £369 per month to lease
Hot on the heels of the recent Park Lane launch party, BMW has confirmed that its new i3 electric car will cost from £25,680, including the £5,000 contribution from the generous UK government. First deliveries of the all-electric i3 will begin in November, with BMW yet to confirm the price of the range-extender model.
At this price BMW are introducing battery-powered i3 city car at a lower-than-expected base price to stoke demand for its first electric vehicle as the luxury auto maker aims to keep rivals Audi and Mercedes at bay.
For buyers who wish to lease their i3, BMW has set the cost at £369 per month over 36 months. That’s subject to a deposit of £2,995 and a limit of 24,000 miles.
BMW i3s will be sold using what BMW calls a multi-channel sales model. That means you can buy one from one of its authorised BMW i partners, a dealer or off the BMW i website.
BMW has also added unsurprisingly that customers will be able to customise their i3 deal to suit their needs.
This will include the option to install the BMW i wallbox in the customer’s home. Costing from around £1,200, the wallbox allows the car to be charged from zero to 80 per cent in three hours. A charge from a regular three-pin plug takes between eight and 10 hours
Of course both times depend on how depleted the battery pack is at the time of charging.
Buyers will also be able to add the loan of different BMW products for longer journeys, including using a chunky X5 if they need more space, or a sporty Z4 if they fancy something racy for the weekend.
The i3 will be officially unveiled in production trim on July 29. The launch will be done jointly in New York, Beijing and London.
The car will also be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, alongside the production version of the BMW i8 hybrid supercar.
The world’s biggest luxury car maker has not given a sales target for the i3, although Robertson has said it aims to be “a significant player” in the market for electric vehicles which he has pegged at about 150,000 cars worldwide in 2012.
“The price is very competitive,” Frankfurt-based Commerzbank analyst Sascha Gommel said, citing an anticipated range of 37,000-40,000 euros. “It seems realistic that BMW could grab a decent share of the electric-car market” with the i3.
BMW created a separate “i” sub-brand to market electric vehicles and is counting on the i3 and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, due to hit dealerships early next year, to give it an edge in innovation, a key attribute for premium auto manufacturers.
BMW group, which also includes Mini and Rolls-Royce cars, is stepping up investment on new vehicles and technologies as German rivals Audi and Mercedes seek to snatch the luxury-sales crown by the end of the decade.
Volkswagen-owned Audi, which eclipsed Mercedes as the world’s No. 2 premium-auto maker in 2011, narrowed the gap to BMW to no more than 24,000 cars after six months from 85,000 at the end of 2012.
Both of BMW’s electric cars use carbon fiber and reinforced plastics on a lightweight aluminium chassis and parts, to trim weight and battery costs. The i3 will also offer a range extender permitting the car to drive over 300 kilometres, more than double the normal distance on battery alone.