BMW i3 Concept Coupe to Make European Debut in Geneva, Range-Enhancing Features Detailed

The BMW i3 Concept Coupe, which was launched at the Los Angeles Motor Show last November, will make its European debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show alongside the i8 Concept Spyder. This time, though, the Bavarian carmaker is not dwelling on the concepts so much as on the eDrive technology that will form the nucleus of all models in its “i” sub-brand. According to BMW, all eDrive powertrains will comprise an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery and an “intelligent” management. Buyers will get their first taste in the production version of the i3, which will go on sale later this year. Having covered more than 20 million km (12.5 million miles) in 10 countries since 2008 with over 1,000 “pilot” customers driving the BMW ActiveE and MINI E vehicles across three continents (Europe, Asia and the USA), BMW has fine-tuned its technology adding some range-enhancing solutions. The original target set by BMW was that typical commuting from home to the workplace and back would require charging the battery of the i3 all-electric city car only once every two to three days. The real-world trials showed that the i3 exceeds this goal, with a range of 130-160 km (80-100 miles) in such operation and is also able to cope “comfortably” with out-of-town journeys. That’s due to the high-voltage lithium-ion battery being less affected by temperature changes than comparable batteries as its “intelligent” heating/cooling system keeps it at an optimal operating temperature, improving performance, range and life expectancy. Other features, such as the cabin heating that operates on the heat pump principle and results in 30 percent savings in energy consumption, and the LED internal and external lighting, contribute to what BMW calls a “range security”. The i3 will offer three modes, named Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+. The internet-enabled navigation system utilizes a dynamic range display that takes into account which mode is selected at any time, as well as real-time traffic data, and displays two different versions of the range graph. It can also “suggest” that the driver changes to another mode, like the Eco Pro+ that’s 25 percent more efficient than the Comfort setting, when necessary, and show charging stations until the destination. BMW claims that, in “fast charging” mode, the battery of the i3 can be charged for an additional 120 km (75 miles) “in the time it takes to stop for a cup of coffee”, while an optional range extender than increases driving range to around 300 km (186 miles) will be available. By Andrew Tsaousis