We recently shared a writeup on an engineering firm that reverse engineered the BMW i3 and called it the “Most Advanced Vehicle on the Planet.” This piece really piqued my interest and upped my perception of the car. I knew it was a marvel of engineering and super light at around 2,900 lbs (1,315 kgs) curb weight (compare to the LEAF, which tips the scales at over 4,000 lbs (1,814 kgs), but it was still impressive to hear an engineering perspective on the matter after a full tear down and analysis.
After that teaser, I was excited to see the pics Drive EV shared from Continental Tire’s twitter account of the BMW i3 at SEMA ’15 in Las Vegas with its skin peeled back for us to see all the beautiful CFRP (Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Plastic) bones underneath. It was fitted with a unique mid-level suspension that raises up the CFRP “Life Module” (as BMW calls it) from the rolling chassis, exposing the car from a new angle.
It’s an impressive view of the Life Module in a mostly assembled i3. It’s also worth noting that the i3 design similarly takes advantage of the same “engine bay” crumple zone up front. Taking out the ICE allows for that much more car to crumple without crumpling any humans.
Comparing these photos to the stock BMW i3 technical photos (below) reveals that the model used for SEMA has also been stripped of its lithium-ion parts, which are typically housed in the center area between the two primary chassis members, presumably to save shipping weight on the show car. These same stock photos also reveal that the i3 has a similar rear crumple zone above and behind the 2 rear passenger seats.
Digging around on the interwebs, I also found this related video that looks like it’s straight from a James Bond lapel camera with a neat view of the stripped-down frame in what looks to be the factory, coming to us from YouTuber DrivingTheNation:
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