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BMW keeps green i on the future

Date: 25 July 2013

Prestige carmaker BMW is hoping to take a cut of the developing electric vehicle market when the i3 city car arrives later this year. In the meantime, the manufacturer is busy proving its sustainable credentials to environmentally aware companies, as Rachel Burgess discovers.
The i3's outer body is made from carbon fibre.

With a host of electric vehicles already on sale in the UK, BMW is late to the game with regard to offering pure-electric solutions to its fleet and retail customers.

But the arrival of the i3 supermini by the end of this year, as a pure EV or as a range-extender EV, will change this. The i8, a plug-in hybrid sports car, will follow shortly after.

The i3 hosts a 125kW 250Nm electric motor, which should provide more than enough power. Range is impressive, with 80-99 miles for city use, or up to 49 miles at motorway speeds.

And while battery longevity remains a major concern for the EV market in the UK, fuelling doubts over RVs, BMW says its battery is designed to last for at least 1500 charging cycles, equating to 150,000 miles, or 10 years. After this time, efficiency will reduce to 80% - still a respectable figure, and one that will only improve with more research and time.

Carbon fibre future

Due to be built at BMW's Leipzig plant, which produces the 1-series and its variants, wind energy from turbines on site will be harnessed to build the i3 because the company claims they are more effective than solar energy thanks to "stable wind" in the region. A quarter of the car's materials are recycled or from renewable sources and, overall, the i project is using 50% less energy and 70% less water than the BMW average. At the end of its lifecycle, 95% of the i3 is recyclable, including the battery, which can be used secondarily as stationary energy storage.