BMW’s €400m strategy for electric cars

When BMW AG decided to venture into electric powered concept cars, its overall strategy was that it would be done from the ground up — encompassing recyclable materials for use in manufacturing the cars up to tapping on renewable energy to power the plant.

The German luxury carmaker is investing about €400 million (RM1.6 billion) in new buildings and production facilities by 2013 which will also create 800 new jobs.

To showcase the successful concepts, in late July it unveiled the new BMW i sub-brand cars. The BMW i3 is its first electrically powered production car while the BMW i8 sports car combines an electric motor and a combustion engine.

These concept vehicles provided an insight into the BMW group’s electric motoring strategy with the BMW i3 slated to be launched in 2013 and the BMW i8 in 2014.

Notably, these concept cars were engineered from all aspects as electric cars, from the start to the end.

For electric cars, weight is an important criterion. Hence, BMW’s plan was to make light-weight carbon-fibre cars a prominent part of electric motoring.

This saw the usage of light-weight carbon-fibre, which is as strong as that used in Formula One racing cars.

BMW also said the production of BMW i models in Leipzig is setting benchmarks in the automotive industry in terms of 50% less energy, 70% less water compared with the conventional auto industry while powered by 100% renewable energy.

“This vehicle (BWM i3) will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon. It’s a revolution in automotive design,” said Klaus Draeger, a member of the board responsible for development.

Most importantly, vehicle production will be carbon dioxide neutral and rely on renewable resources. BMW is also looking into the possibility of constructing its own wind turbines at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany.

BMW also raised the benchmark in terms of recyclable materials and renewable energy.

For instance, 80% of the aluminium used is either recycled or produced with renewable energy while 25% of the weight of thermoplastics used is replaced by recycled materials and renewable raw materials.

According to BMW officials, a sidewall of the i3 uses secondary aluminium or equivalent to 479 cans. The fabric is from recycled PET bottles.

The BMW i3, specifically developed for use in an urban environment, boasts a zero-emission electric drive and a range of 150km.

The batteries and the motor lie below the floor of the car, an innovative idea which maximises space inside. The car seats four and has a 200-litre luggage space.

The carbon-fibre reinforced plastic body is mounted on an aluminium frame of the BMW i3, which combines an extremely low weight of 1,250kg with optimal interior space and the highest crash safety levels.

The BMW i8 sports car, combines an electric motor with a three-cylinder combustion engine.

However, the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 sports car are not exactly pushovers in terms of acceleration performance compared with other petrol-powered vehicles.

The BMW i3 takes less than eight seconds to hit from 0 to 100kph. Concerns about long charging times can be overcome with a high-speed charger that enables the battery to be charged up to 80% in an hour.

The i8 surges from 0 km to 100kph in less than five seconds while fuel consumption is less than three litres per 100 km.

Its plug-in hybrid drive with a system output of 260kW allows a range of up to 35km in electric mode, which BMW says is sufficient for most daily journeys.

For outstation trips, it relies on the high-performance three-cylinder petrol engine. It has a speed limiter of 250 km/h while it has space for up to four occupants.

“The BMW i8 concept is the sports car for a new generation — pure, emotional and sustainable,” Draeger stressed.

BMW said due to the emission-free drivetrain and a chain designed to be sustainable all along the line, life cycle emission figures for the BMW i3 are at least a third lower than for a highly efficient combustion-engine car.

If the BMW i3 is run on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by well over 50%.

With BMW i, BMW officials said the group is providing answers to the mobility challenges of the future while providing a holistic approach.

In addition to purpose-built premium vehicles with electric drive, the company is also offering intelligent mobility services.

Its focus is on solutions for improved use of parking space, intelligent navigation systems with location-based information, intermodal route planning and car-sharing schemes such as DriveNow.

Following MyCityWay, ParkatmyHouse marks the second investment by the recently launched venture capital company BMW i Ventures in a company providing Internet-based mobility services.

Parkatmyhouse allows private individuals to use the Internet or smartphone applications to rent out their private parking spaces on a short- or long-term basis.

Another innovation from BMW is its new app, The Ultimate Drive.

Released in early August, the free app allows users to discover, share and rate the world’s most interesting driving routes contributed by users worldwide, according to Reuters.

By incorporating GPS, the app is also able to find routes surrounding a particular location, and will alert users when new routes are discovered in their neighbourhood. So far more than 600 routes have been added to the app.

The Ultimate Drive is currently only available in North America. However, the approach which BMW is taking with its electric cars and intelligent mobility services and now with new apps, it is raising its benchmark for its competitors to follow.

The i8 surges from 0 to 100kph in less than five seconds, while fuel consumption is less than three litres per 100 km.

Its plug-in hybrid drive with a system output of 260kW allows a range of up to 35km in electric mode, which BMW says is sufficient for most daily journeys.

For outstation trips, it relies on the high-performance three-cylinder petrol engine. It has a speed limiter of 250kph while it has space for up to four occupants.

“The BMW i8 concept is the sports car for a new generation — pure, emotional and sustainable,” Draeger stressed.

BMW said due to the emission-free drivetrain and a chain designed to be sustainable all along the line, life cycle emission figures for the BMW i3 are at least a third lower than for a highly efficient combustion-engine car.

If the BMW i3 is run on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by well over 50%.

With BMW i, BMW officials said the group is providing answers to the mobility challenges of the future while providing a holistic approach.

In addition to purpose-built premium vehicles with electric drive, the company is also offering intelligent mobility services.

Its focus is on solutions for improved use of parking space, intelligent navigation systems with location-based information, intermodal route planning and car-sharing schemes such as DriveNow.

Following MyCityWay, ParkatmyHouse marks the second investment by the recently launched venture capital company BMW i Ventures in a company providing Internet-based mobility services.

Parkatmyhouse allows private individuals to use the Internet or smartphone applications to rent out their private parking spaces on a short- or long-term basis.

Another innovation from BMW is its new app, The Ultimate Drive.

Released in early August, the free app allows users to discover, share and rate the world’s most interesting driving routes contributed by users worldwide, according to Reuters.

By incorporating GPS, the app is also able to find routes surrounding a particular location, and will alert users when new routes are discovered in their neighbourhood. So far more than 600 routes have been added to the app.

The Ultimate Drive is currently only available in North America. However, the approach which BMW is taking with its electric cars and intelligent mobility services and now with new apps, it is raising its benchmark for its competitors to follow.