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Published on October 1st, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


“Most Advanced Vehicle On The Planet” — BMW i3?

October 1st, 2015 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

A “jd525” recently shared a super interesting video about the BMW i3 on the BMW i forum. (Surprising place to find such a thing, eh?) To be specific, it is a Forbes video in which engineers from Munro & Associates display and talk about some of the cool things they found when reverse engineering the BMW i3.

Without a doubt, these guys were impressed with the vehicle. One of them called it “the most advanced vehicle on the planet” and compared it to the Ford Model T. Hard to say it deserves such a comparison, but I’m definitely a fan of the vehicle.

Some of the things these engineers loved were the use of carbon fiber, how the “Life Module” was designed and how well it protects passengers, and the way BMW split up the battery pack. For details, check out the video:

More stuff to consider when deciding which EV to lease. For more on that, see: Tesla Model S vs BMW i3 vs Nissan LEAF — My Dilemma (and many more comments on that article here).

Also recommended:

  1. Great BMW i3 Review (In-Depth Video)
  2. BMW i3 Review (+ VIDEO)
  3. World Green Car Of The Year Is BMW i3
  4. BMW i3 = 2015 Green Car of the Year
  5. How’s Driving On The BMW i3’s REx?
  6. Hacking A BMW i3
  7. BMW Highlights i Brand & Electric Cars At Frankfurt Motor Show
  8. BMW’s Lightweight Design Center Begins Construction
  9. BMW Investing $200 Million To Triple Carbon Fiber Production
  10. BMW Wants To Bring Carbon Fiber Costs Down 90%
  11. Rumor: Apple Wanted To Use BMW i3
  12. Ranking Automakers On Their Electric Commitment (Top 10 List)
  13. Most Fuel Efficient Cars In 2015 (USA) — BMW i3 is #1

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Matt

    Carbon fiber nice, but half video is on the get smart of having 8 sub modules instead of 4. So that you throw away less if one cell in the sub module goes bad. LOL

    • Foersom

      > smart of having 8 sub modules instead of 4.

      In the video they talk about 8 modules (BMW I3) in stead of 1 (Ford C Max). They present it as the charge controller in Ford cannot control state of charge in each cell. I do not know if that is right or not.

      LiPo (Li-ion) battery packs are usually made so there is a main cable that is the serial connection (sum of voltage) of the battery cells, as well as a balancer cable that allows to (slowly) manage the charge of each individual cell.

  • Fritz Redeker

    The i3 is a really nice piece of engineering.
    Lightweight, quiet and comfortable. Ergonomically it’s a bit better than the Volt IMO. If the range extender version had a larger gas tank it could serve as your only car in a suburban setting. For me, that’s why the Volt is a great design. Electric range high enough for city trips. Gas range enough to get to SoCal from the Bay Area.

  • purrpullberra

    I think I agree that the i3 has been the most advanced car if we don’t count supercars that is. Everything going into the carbon fiber is great, so much great tech. The 2 modules part is wonderful and realized beautifully. It needs to be built out into a larger line up before a lot of people start to agree that the i3 represents a massive amount of advanced technology. When people see that the i3 and the i8 and a 5 series like EV i5 and maybe a smaller car the i1 all come from the same basic design and share a lot of production processes it will be easier to see how different these cars are from everything else.
    At this point the ModelX comes on to the scene and IMO the title should change hands. The tech in the doors is fantastic. The tech that made the windshield is great. The seats and the air filter, the incredible safety (a bad point for the i3 as mentioned below) and the thoughtful way the tow hitch mounts and allows rear gate access is all advanced engineering but of a more approachable level. The performance seals the deal.
    Most people will find the ModelX more advanced than the i3. And it is. But that isn’t because the i3 is less of a great car. I think I’d like one very much.

    • Marion Meads

      The car body material proposed by Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute is the most advanced. Too bad no one invested in that technology to make cars out of the proposed material.

    • Agreed. Hope the Model X goes into real production soon. It is in a league of its own, imho.

  • Steven F

    While carbon fiber does reduce the body weight considerably it doesn’t necessarily make the care safer. In Europe the i3 only earned a 4 star rating. The Volt with its conventional steel construction earned 5 stars. US crash ratings are not yet available for the i3.

    Installing 2 battery pacts instead of one may seem beneficial if one cell fails. Yes if one cell fails you only have to replace one of the two batteries. However One cell failures appear to be a rare on modern electric vehicles. There have been very few failures of Tesla or volt batteries. The biggest reason to replace a batteries is capacity loss. if one battery has to be replace due to capacity loss you weight as well replace both since the other will be just as old and will probably have lost some capacity. besides lithium iion battery prices are falling.

    As to the rest of the car the BMW i3 only has a 1.9 gallon tank in the US and a 2.4 gallon tank in Europe. That is not going to get you very far once the battery is out of power. There are also some places in North America where 1.9 gallons would not get you to the next gas station, Furthermore the small i3 gas engine cannot maintain freeway speeds if the battery has zero charge. So the gas engine in the range extended version of the i3 is only intended to get you to a nearby outlet where you can recharge.


    The volt only has about half the battery only miles of the i3 but can go much further on it on its 9 gallon gas tank at full freeway speeds. There is no significant loss of performance with the volt running on gas only. So in my mind the i3 is not the most advanced vehicle on the road.

    Note I own a 2015.

    • Marion Meads

      the most advanced technology of BMW is limping compared to what the Gen 2 Volt can do!

      Carbon fiber is a very very old technology! It was already here before I was born.

  • Kraylin

    I think the Volt is the better value and all around car as well but hey that’s just personal preference. Admittedly I think I just cant get past the look of the i3, no good for me. I also wouldn’t consider a gen1 volt on looks alone, but the 2nd gen looks great. I really wish GM would take the Volt seriously and actually produce a significant number of them.

  • Brent Jatko

    Agreed, carbon fiber is pretty advanced. It’s the only mass-produced carbon fiber car as far as I know.

  • MarTams

    Lousier performance than the Volt. It is a half baked engineering solution and a bloated price tag for not much. Yeah they can fleece out their fan base.

    • Philip W

      Great, spreading hate without even watching the video (or you didn’t understand it).
      What’s so hard in understanding, that very advanced engineering went into the i3, mainly due to the mass produced carbon fiber body?

      • Marion Meads

        the video hasn’t convinced me. carbon fiber is old tech. if you want advanced tech, check out RMI’s proposed car body material. It can make the cars way lighter and safer too. too bad no one invested in his proposal.

        • Philip W

          What you don’t realise is that carbon was Formula One and 1 million $ supercar stuff just a few years ago. Advancing carbon fiber into cheap mass production is an incredible achievement.

          • People don’t seem to like giving BMW credit for what it is doing here. Too bad, it’s a great step forward.

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