How The i3 and i8 Will Change the Game in Electric Cars

The Los Angeles Auto Show saw BMW unveil their latest i-series, the i3 Concept Coupe and the i8 Spyder Concept. Their i-series, like their 5, 6, 7 and X-drive series, is built around an overall concept of driving. Unlike any of their predecessors, the i-series is focused on electric motors. In a Forbes Magazine interview, Adrian Van Hooydonk, head of design at BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce, was quoted as saying: “Our goal is to show that a premium brand can also be electric. We want to show that this new type of mobility can be fun.” BMW doesn’t just want to produce cars that are better for the environment; they want to enact a paradigm shift in electric cars.

The seeds of this change of attitudes toward electric cars have already been sown and can be seen in the used BMW market. As with many brands, used BMWs that are hybrids are resold for higher prices than traditional used cars. The used car market has put a premium on used BMW hybrids because it recognizes the value of hybrid cars as well as the importance of reducing one’s carbon footprint. The i-series is expected to have a similar higher used value in the future. So what makes them so special?

i3 Concept Coupe

A true electric car, the i3 offers drivers three different operation modes: Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro +. These options determine the performance and range of the i3. In Comfort mode the range is expected to be around 100 miles with a 20 percent increase using Eco Pro, and a further increase with Eco Pro +. Among the many things that set the i3 apart are the materials that it uses. The cabin uses carbon fiber reinforced plastic that is lighter than steel yet stronger. This allows for an elimination of the B beam (the vertical truss in the middle) and a car much sturdier than most people expect from a plug-in electric. The drive train is made of aluminum while the inside is composed of leather, wool, wood and other renewable materials.

And it wouldn’t be a car of the future if it didn’t have cutting-edge technology. The i3 boasts two high-tech screens, one in front of the steering wheel and another in the middle of the dash. While the screens are nice, the real advancement is in the BMW I ConnectedDrive, which displays infotainment, navigation (showing you the range of the three drive modes as well), pull contacts, messages and schedules from a wirelessly connected smartphone that in turn makes suggestions as to where and when to recharge the i3.

i8 Spyder Concept

If you’re not ready for an all-electric car because you like the performance and power of a traditional car, the i8 is for you. With an estimated 78-mpg and a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds, i8 delivers speed, drivability and lower carbon emissions. It has an electric plug-in motor in the front and a 1.5 liter 3 cylinder engine in the back producing a total output of 349 HP. It uses similar materials as the i3, making it lighter and stronger than traditional cars. Also, keeping with Hooydonk’s vision, it has futuristic styling that’s as fun to look at as it is to drive.

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