electric cars, new models

It’s a happy second birthday for BMW’s i3 wundercar

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HITTING THE ROAD: Another batch of eight BMW i3 battery-cars – almost as clean to use as the bicycle in the foreground – en route to the coast for international export. Image: BMW Germany

MUNICH, Germany – Two years after it went on sale the BMW i3 has established itself at the pinnacle of its segment worldwide. In Germany, one in every four electrically-powered vehicles sold since then has been a BMW i3; globally it is one in 10.

In the listings of the most popular EV cars the i3 is third on a global basis with its most important single market the USA, where it also ranks third. In Norway i3 has been the best-selling model across the entire BMW range through 2015.

The car is the only imported electric vehicle in China, where it can be bought tax-free. In avoids the hurdles presented by the local licence plate lottery. In Japan a special version of the i3 is available to handle the low height of the car-parks there.

ALL ABOARD:
ALL ABOARD: Stage 2 of the export journey – two BMW i3 and two BMW i8 sports cars queue for passage to, perhaps, as far away as China and Japan. Image: BMW Germany

The car is (November 2015) available in 49 countries – including South Africa – completing, BMW says, the core phase of its market introduction is finished. Only some smaller markets are still to be supplied.


South Africa, according to BMW SA, has to date sold 79 i3 units and 106 of the awesome i8 sports car – arguably the most beautiful sports car on the planet.


To cater for still common fear of the modest range of electric vehicles, the i3 is still the only EV worldwide with an (optional) small back-up engine.

GLOBAL FIRSTS FOR CLEAN MOBILITY

“The BMW i3 meets the needs,” the automaker told The Corner in a media release, “demanding people who combine an appreciation for sustainable mobility with a desire for a driving experience that is both sophisticated and rich in emotional appeal.

“Its progressive design, intelligent light construction, ground-breaking drive technology and innovative connectivity turn locally emission-free mobility into a fascinating experience, opening up a new market for the BMW Group.

“More than 80% of i3 buyers worldwide are new BMW customers.”

ALL TIED UP:
ALL TIED UP: Packed like sardines in a can, 15 BMW i3 units strapped down in case of bad weather in the giant car-carrier’s cavernous hold. Image: BMW Germany

BMW’s plant in Leipzig is assembling more than 100 i3 units – as well as more than 20 of the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car – every day to meet rising demand.

BMW says the success of i models shows growing interest in “sustainable personal mobility” while providing a valuable boost for infrastructure still required.

The cars were launched in South Africa in February 2015. (Read what Carman’s Corner editor Les Stephenson had to say about the cars in a feature written for South African motoring website Wheels24 and take a look at his images taken at the time.

Achieving even greater market penetration of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-drive cars depends, the automaker told The Corner, not only on attractive cars but also on an expansion of the public charging networks and the creation of other infrastructure-related elements.

STILL PUSHING FOR MORE URBAN SUSTAINABILITY

Positive examples of how the electric mobility can be increased through infrastructure and public incentives can be found in countries such as Norway and the Netherlands.

BMW i has introduced a range of innovative mobility services to further the cause of sustainability on urban roads. One example is the integration of the BMW i3 into a DriveNow car-sharing fleet: 100 at locations in Germany with another 300 to be added before the end of 2015.

The plan: to give large numbers of people their first taste of premium pure-electric mobility. In September 2015 DriveNow sent the largest BMW i3 fleet yet – 400 cars – into service in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

By the end of 2015 electric vehicles will account for 20% of vehicles in the BMW Group-owned car-sharing fleet.

HIGH TECH BODYWORK – AND FUTURE MODELS

Following its introduction into the BMW X5 xDrive40e, eDrive technology originally developed for BMW i cars will also find its way into BMW 3 Series, 2 Series Active Tourer and 7 Series through 2016.

All variants of the i3 have a ‘Carbon Core’ body whose development is largely based on expertise gained in the industrial use of CFRP (carbon-fibre reinforced plastic) developed by BMW i and in which BMW is a global leader in the automotive industry.

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