So just how important is the BMW i3 as it reaches its second generation? On the one hand, this is a near-£30,000 battery car from a premium car maker, whose very existence keeps it out of reach to most folks. On the other, BMW has probably done more than most to address the fundamental problems of battery electric travel; weight; range; price; practicality; battery cost; and technology adoption.
… The i3’s lightweight carbon-fibre and aluminium chassis reduces inertia, but it’s expensive.
To reduce costs, BMW and German specialists, SGL separated carbon-fibre from its aeronautical traceability. Using Mitsubishi-produced polyacrylnitrile imported from Osaka, Japan, their $300 million hydro-electric-powered plant in Moses Lake, Washington State, processes it into carbon-fibre at low cost, thanks in part, to electricity costing four cents a kWh. The fibres are transported to Wakersdorf, Germany where they are woven into cloth. And it’s a measure of success that Moses Lake is now the world’s largest supplier of carbon-fibre, it’s 200-strong workforce producing up to 9,000 tonnes a year.
It’s that carbon-fibre passenger safety cell, with aluminium subframes, that carry the 168bhp/184lb ft BMW-designed and built motor, plus the battery pack with its 96 Samsung lithium-ion cells, which makes the i3, at 1,245kg, one of the lightest and most efficient battery electric cars on sale in the UK.
Read more: Telegraph