USA Today Says BMW i3 Stands Out in 5 Ways (w/video)

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 37

And agree or disagree, here are the 5 ways, as presented by USA Today:

Lightest BMW Since 1991

Lightest BMW Since 1991

1. A true backup gas engine. While some other electrics, like Chevrolet’s Volt, offer powerful car engines as a backup to their batteries, BMW went with the tiniest of engines, a two-cylinder “range extender” motorcycle engine. It’s coupled, however, with only a 2.6 gallon tank, meaning the car’s range on gas will only be about 80 to 100 miles, about the same as it range on batteries. In other words, making a long trip in the i3 will require some fillups along the way.

2. It’s the lightest BMW since 1991. At about 2,700 pounds, the i3 lightest since the 3 Series of another era, one that barely included a lot of the heavy safety equipment found on all cars today. The light weight will help the i3 get maximum range, that and other improvements like skinny low-rolling-resistant tires.

3. Despite its size outside, it has maximum room inside. That high roof and a rear door that opens from the front — a so-called suicide door — help open up the insides. It is also is made of sustainable materials.

4. It’s more expensive. At a starting price of $41,350 plus $925 in destination fees, it costs more than a Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus electric or the raft of other electric cars out there, except for the superluxury models like Tesla’s Model S. But it has something that the others don’t, which bring us to our next point.

5. It’s a BMW. The badge counts for a lot, even if the car itself hardly looks like the sleep, low, wide Ultimate Driving Machines for which the brand is known.

Really?  The lightest BMW since 1991?  So, battery-electric vehicles don’t have to be heavy then?  Myth busted.

Source: USA Today

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37 responses to "USA Today Says BMW i3 Stands Out in 5 Ways (w/video)"

  1. James says:

    Number 5 states what I’ve been saying all along. I mean, to me — This has to be your
    motivation for buying an i3. Nothing else makes sense.

    “It’s a BMW”. I say, BEE EF DEE!

    I know every marque has it’s fans. To me, if they even make an EV it’s plus points.
    That said, WHY and HOW they make them is of highest concern. Most automakers
    are fighting to comply with present and future regulations. Germany’s carmakers
    have just fought back with their government and won. GM was part of that fight. It’ll
    be part of the same fight here in the USA.

    It’s really why I look at Tesla – and to a slightly lesser degree, Nissan — and applaud
    them for doing what they didn’t have to do. In Tesla’s case – they’re basically leading
    the world into a brave new world of electric mobility.

    1. Anderlan says:

      Even in Georgia, with a $5000 state credit, this only comes down to $32k (with the rangex). It will sell, but they need to push it strategically in order to get it to sell. Maybe find the status-conscious person (who’s into Beemers, I won’t elaborate further) in Atlanta who is at a $30k price point and who has maybe been turned onto electrics from friends with LEAFs.

  2. Nelson says:

    Those skinny tires are its biggest negative. They should have gone with rimless/airless tires. No worrying about getting a flat.
    http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2013/09/hankook-teases-airless-tire.html

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

    1. James says:

      – And cost of bodywork

      – And the MSRP for an 80 mile EV

      – And the suicide doors that only OPEN/SHUT when the front doors are open

      – And…And…And….

      1. Nelson says:

        You’re right. I forgot about those too.
        I’d like to see a video of the NHTSA crash tests for the i3.
        I would imagine body parts flying everywhere.

        NPNS!
        Volt#671

    2. Justin W. says:

      That is actually one of the cooler design aspects of the car. Tall narrow tires are a great idea for increased efficiency while maintaining traction, handling, and appearance. The 15″ tires on the Prius are super efficient but they look terrible. Slap a set of 17″ tires on it and you lose efficiency. This new design backed by Michelin, Continental, Pirelli and Bridgestone is on the right track. You don’t need super wide tires on an efficiency-based passenger car.

      1. Nelson says:

        I can tell you have either never driven a car with narrow tires or have forgotten how poorly they grip the road at highway speeds. Stopping distance and handling both suffer with narrow tires.

        NPNS!
        Volt#671

        1. Justin W. says:

          I have 20 years of racing under my belt so I’m not a noob. 🙂

          You have to remember that you didn’t just go narrower. You added height which increases the contact patch length. Braking should in theory be better in this scenario. Steering will be lighter and almost twitchy if you’re not used to it however. The low profile nature of these tires will reduce sway at higher speeds too. I’m not saying this is the ultimate setup for performance. I’m just saying it is great for efficiency while maintaining looks and control.

    3. Rick Danger says:

      To me, the biggest negative is the looks. BMW could have done sooo much better.
      Just bringing the rear sill up to match the front makes a dramatic improvement.

      I simply don’t get why everyone but Tesla thinks a purpose-built EV has to look ugly. I can understand making it distinctive, but please make it attractive!

      1. Bret says:

        I agree with this completely.

  3. James says:

    To Eric –

    So it’s lightweight. Again, BEE EF DEE!

    With all this expense and technology bundled into producing a lightweight car —-
    THE THING STILL ONLY GOES 80 MILES ON ELECTRICITY!

    i3 was designed as an Electric Car – so this is how we must judge it. And to this
    day – the number one qualifier as to how good an EV is ……IS RANGE, CORRECT?

    Adding the optional $4500 2cyl motorcycle ICE just doesn’t qualify it as a success.
    In fact, it kind of qualifies it as a loser…. Here’s my rationale: Tesla used mostly
    aluminum and still produces an EV that goes 200-250 miles, despite it’s weight.
    All that carbon-composite R&D makes for lighter components in BMW’s conventional
    ICE fleet – which was, in fact, a major motivator for them to do the carbon work in
    the first place. My theory will surely be confirmed at the point wherein Tesla’s Bluestar
    project hits the showroom. By then, BMW better do better than this.

    For now, you’ll hear a lot of this “i3 is better than LEAF and Volt because it’s a BMW”
    nonsense, mixed with “It’s better than a Tesla because it costs less” garbage.
    I believe most EV fans’ opinions will be solidified against the i3 once the ReX
    performance information finally surfaces from major auto journalism outlets.
    This will take time, and in the mean time – we all will have to suffer from the
    glowing reports that this is “the next big thing”.

      1. gigglehertz says:

        I believe his point is why all the hoopla and fauning press over a $40k+ vehicle that doesn’t go very much further than a sub $30k Leaf?

        1. scottf200 says:

          Price > range. There is a lot more to cars. Everyone loves to fixate on one thing and drive it home as the MOST important thing in their mind and try to convince everyone else it should be the most important thing to them too.

        2. George B says:

          What excited me originally was the fact that BMW marketing dollars will help establish plugins as mainstream vehicles (I’m consciously not saying EVs). We see it with Tesla too, lots of folks that just want a nice and yet futuristic car end up purchasing it. They like it, and then tell their friends. I think this precisely what will benefit the cause. I still remember the outrage when AOL users were allowed onto the Internet. They were not worthy to use such advanced technology, much like someone who might buy an EV because of its brand. What’s wrong with it in the grand scheme of things? I know people who have purchased a LEAF because it sported the Nissan badge.

    1. David Murray says:

      Sorry, I have to disagree. If you look at the REX version, it qualifies as the highest EV range you can get in a a range extended EV. The Chevy Volt gets half the EV range.

      As for your comment about range being the number one qualifier.. I also disagree. The Coda had decent range but nobody bought them. The RAV4 EV has decent range and nobody is buying it. There are other considerations such as appearance and price.

      I think the i3 is going to be a success for BMW.

      1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        “The RAV4 EV has decent range and nobody is buying it.”

        It also costs a whole lot, and is an extremely-limited-distribution compliance car.

        1. George B says:

          Not after the discounts and subsides. It could be actually cheaper than the i3 with everything Toyota is throwing at it factored in. This, of course, is only being done because of soft demand.

      2. Jeff D says:

        I agree, there are many considerations when buying an electric vehicle. I would love to go out right now and buy an electric vehicle right now, but financially it is not the right time to go car shopping much less electric car shopping. I do look at all sorts of aspects of an electric vehicle to guide me to the right choice when the time comes. For me price and range are important. I want to be able to afford the vehicle with my meager income. I also want a large range, because even though on a daily basis I fall within the 40 mile or less daily commute, most of my family and friends live a couple hundred miles away in another part of my state. I would love to easily be able to go visit them and not have to frequently refuel and I want to do it all with electricity if at all possible. At this moment, I feel a Leaf would fit my needs the best at this moment. Other people have other wants and needs. The more vehicles we can have available that can meet those individual wants and needs the better. I would hope that more cars would be available to all and not compliance cars so that we as consumers can get our wants and needs met.

    2. KenZ says:

      I think the lightweight part is a huge BFD. BMW wanted to dabble in ultra lightweight manufacturing. They, and others, have done concept cars that way, but they wanted to explore it in true manufacturing. BUT, they had a problem: do you do that on a high volume production car for your first shot? Likely not. Here’s the perfect solution: use the already expensive EV that will sell in low volume to cutting edge, relatively forgiving believers.

      The lightweight part is a massive step forward for all automobiles, not just electric ones. I highly recommend getting and reading Amory Lovins’ “Ending the Oil Endgame” which was an analysis done for the DoD years ago, turned into a book, about how to wean the US off foreign oil. They do a very complete analysis of oil usage, the transportation industry, and the end answer is largely based on lightweighting. In fact it spawned the premature, and recently dead company called Fiberforge, which I think was ahead of its time.

      Anyway, quit using a narrow lens to critique the lightweighting: it’s a massive step forward for BMW and the entire auto industry. It’s more important than the I3.

  4. James says:

    By the way – did I mention it has a very cool interior, and very cool control stalk
    on the steering column. Both pluses. But not enough for a buying decision.

  5. James says:

    On the video – “…The black materials around the dash and door panels are made of hemp”….

    Does this mean we can smoke the car if we want to? Or will it sell best in Colorado and Washington?

    🙂

    1. GeorgeS says:

      Yes you can,
      Now do you like the car?

      1. Rick Danger says:

        Good one George! 🙂

    2. Jeff D says:

      Hemp and marijuana are not the same thing. They are related but not equivalent.

  6. Aaron says:

    /s/sleep/sleek/

    Since when is CFRP a sustainable material?

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      They’re referring to the interior materials – hemp, eucalyptus wood, olive oil tanned leather, etc. 25% of the interior plastics and body panels are from recycled sources. The carbon fiber is produced by hydro power. End-of-life recyclability is 90%.

      “BMW has also come up with what it claims is the world’s first CFRP recycling concept. Various body components, production waste and even parts from damaged i3’s will find their way back into production following a unique sorting process that separates “resinated” materials from non-resin parts. Excess CFRP cuttings, sans resin, that would normally be discarded are instead repurposed back into non-woven textiles and worked back into the vehicle. BMW claims around ten percent of the carbon fiber used in production of the i3 is derived from recycled materials.”
      http://www.gizmag.com/bmw-i3-mass-production-sustainability/27174/

  7. Bret says:

    There are a lot of negative comments about the i3, but I think it’s a great car and is well positioned to sell a lot of units. It costs just a bit more the LEAF and Volt originally sold for, but the styling and performance are far superior. It’s made from aluminum and CFRP, instead of being a converted steel ICE vehicle. It obviously doesn’t stand up to a Model S, but costs quite a bit less. I think it’s going to be a winner, at least until the Model E comes out.

    1. EV says:

      your kidding right? styling far more superior than the volt? Uh NO, better than the leaf yes but not the volt, volt is the one of the most futuristic and coolest looking cars out

      1. George Parrott says:

        I have Volt VIN 679, and I would not say it is more than OK looking.

      2. MTN Ranger says:

        While the Volt has some futuristic aspects on the interior, most people have mentioned to me that they thought it was a Cruze. The i3 looks like a concept car and it will turn peoples heads. I think it actually looks really cool..

        1. George B says:

          Yes, it does look cool in person, and it will turn heads.

      3. Bret says:

        Nope, wasn’t kidding. The Volt is a great car, but it’s just an electrified Cruze. I can understand why some don’t like the i3’s exterior styling, but the interior is awesome.

  8. EV says:

    ya i’ll take another chevy volt… nah its a cool car but i dont like how BMW is acting just because they are BMW they think their car is so much different

  9. David Murray says:

    I’d just also like to add… I would probably seriously consider this if it were about $5,000 cheaper. Unless they offer some seriously awesome lease deals, I’ll probably just get another Volt when my lease is up.

    1. Dan Frederiksen says:

      It’s a lot cooler than the Volt though.

  10. Suprise Cat says:

    When you want to order an i3 and you don’t get one of the very limited initial contingent, don’t expect it get delivered next year.