• Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
The time has come for BMW to stop talking about the i3 electric city car - something that it has been doing for quite a while - and start building. That's what happened today at the company's plant in Leipzig, Germany, and the event was powered, in part, by wind turbines.

There's a lot that's new for BMW with the i3, including a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) body and an EV powertrain with optional range extending engine. In fact, BMW is proud that CFRP manufacturing on this "industrial-scale" is coming to the auto industry for the first time with the i3. The material is shipped over from a plant in Moses Lake, WA, one part of the production network for the i vehicles (which also includes the upcoming i8) that BMW says cost around 600-million euros ($801M US).

The first production i3 will make its way to the German capital to act as the lead car in the Berlin Marathon at the end of the month. The model will be available to the European public in November and in the US and other areas in early 2014. Once the car is available out in the wild, there will be more new things for BMW to try, like potential mass market EV advertising and bot "salespeople." Check out our First Drive of the i3 here.
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A new era dawns: BMW Group begins series production of the BMW i3 electric car in Leipzig. / Industrial-scale manufacture of CFRP makes its debut in the car industry. / Commitment to a sustainable production process.

18.09.2013

Leipzig/Munich. The BMW Group entered a new era in automotive construction today with the start of series production of the BMW i3. The world's first premium electric vehicle to be purpose-designed for this form of drive system is the result of an all-encompassing development approach targeted at reducing fuel consumption and emissions in urban areas. Exceptionally high standards of sustainability and resource efficiency have also been achieved in the selection of materials and production processes employed. This is the first time that carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) has been used in automotive volume production. The body structure of the BMW i3 consists entirely of this extremely lightweight and durable material, allowing the extra weight of the batteries for the electric drive system to be cancelled out. By industrialising the manufacturing process for CFRP, the BMW Group has become the first company worldwide to make its use in vehicle production economically viable.

At the Leipzig plant alone, some €400 million has been invested in new structures and machinery for the production of BMW i models and 800 new jobs have been created. The production network for BMW i also sees key components for the BMW i3 manufactured at BMW Group plants and joint venture facilities at Moses Lake in the USA and Wackersdorf, Landshut and Dingolfing in Germany. The company has invested a total of around €600 million in the BMW i production network and generated over 1,500 jobs.

Series production of the BMW i3 got under way today in the presence of the Minister President of the state of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, Mayor of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung, and BMW AG Board Member for Production, Harald Krüger. The first BMW i3 off the line has been recruited as the lead car for the International Berlin Marathon on 29 September and was handed over to German marathon runner Jan Fitschen. Deliveries of the BMW i3 to customers in Germany and other European countries will begin in November, with the car's launch in the USA, China and other markets to follow in early 2014.

"Today represents a milestone in our company's development," said BMW production chief Krüger. "We are making history with the BMW i3. Not only is our first electric car about to hit the road, we are also completely redefining sustainability with regard to personal mobility thanks to groundbreaking technologies and processes." Indeed, the entire value chain is firmly committed to sustainability and efficiency: "We require 50% less energy and 70% less water, and source the electric energy for production of the BMW i models CO2-free from the wind turbines at the plant," added Krüger. This huge reduction in energy and water consumption can be attributed primarily to the elimination of the traditional painting process for steel and aluminium bodies.

Stanislaw Tillich was delighted that this new chapter in automotive history would be written in the federal state he heads: "I'm proud that, in BMW, we have such an innovative carmaker here in Saxony and that BMW is building the i3 at its plant here in Leipzig. This proves that Saxony is an attractive location in terms of its research and educational institutions, its infrastructure and, most importantly, its highly qualified and motivated people."

Leipzig's mayor Burkhard Jung concurred: "The BMW plant has been a boon for our city from the beginning and continues to act as a growth engine for jobs. With BMW also basing production of its electric vehicles here, the prospects for the local area are extremely healthy."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      lad
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't like their body style and think their car is ugly on the inside as well. But. I applaud them for the forward engineering of building a separate power chassis module and body passenger module of light-weight materials. BMW is not the answer to the mass acceptance of EVs because their cars are way too costly. Nissan has the upper hand in EVs right now; but, is restricted by their battery to only building short-range commuter cars, in effect they are throwing away their advantage by not being able to develop and bring a less-expensive, longer-range battery to the market place. I had hoped their strategy was to improve their battery with each MY so that they could offer a retrofit improved battery, i.e., better range battery, that could be used to upgrade the older models. But, they are sticking with the old ICE model of obsoleting the car as soon as possible after you sell them. The first company out with a $25k, five-place BEV that will go an honest 150 miles at 65 mph, will own the EV market. And, unless they are all B...S PR, that might be VW.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope the i3 gets German buyers interested in EVs. I still think the design is weird looking . . . the hood looks like two different cars rendered on top of each other (for you virtual types) or two different cars welded together (for you physical types). But the light-weight carbon fiber is cool. And the BEVx idea is interesting . . . although I wish they used the space more efficient for the version w/o an ICE.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      So did BMW figure out how to mass produce cars with CF bodies, where Toyota had failed with the Lexus LFA?
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        The 3-D CF loom technology that Toyota developed was nothing less than Earth-shatteringly amazing. http://www.core77.com/blog/materials/video_of_lexus_360-degree_carbon_fiber_loom_19146.asp Toyota wasn't trying to create a mass production process for high-volume lines, so comparing them to BMW and calling them a failure isn't appropriate.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          ".... well, what good is it then?" So, I guess "advancing the state of the art" isn't something that impresses you? Toyota built a loom that allows them to do something nobody else can do. It dramatically reduced the amount of time and labor required to make very intricate parts. "But cars are a mass production, high-volume biz." No shiat, Sherlock. But high-end exotic sports cars are a little different... Remember, Toyota wasn't trying to get into the mass-production game - they were just putting their toe into the carbon fiber pool *for the first time*. However, because of what Toyota learned, they are already announcing the integration of carbon fiber parts (roofs, specifically) into certain product lines.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "Toyota wasn't trying to create a mass production process for high-volume lines" . . . well, what good is it then? I guess that would be fine for aircraft. But cars are a mass production, high-volume biz.
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        IIRC, the Moses Lake CF plant is a joint venture between BMW and Boeing with the purpose of mass-producing CF and price its price down. Moses Lake has had a relatively large Boeing presence for a long time.
          ThinkAboutIt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          The Moses Lake partnership is between BMW and SGL, (49% / 51%). The BMW and Boeing partnership, although based in CFRP, is something entirely different.
      aatheus
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you're near San Jose, CA on September 28th, there will be an i3 on display at National Plug In Day, in Cupertino. http://bit.ly/NPID-Cupertino-2013
      aileen
      • 1 Year Ago
      my roomate's aunt makes $84 an hour on the laptop. She has been fired for 9 months but last month her pay was $17155 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you could try this out ....... WWW.YAD7.COM
      jeff
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like the BMW i3.... I put a deposit on a Tesla Model X today. If the i3 lives up to my expectations, I might just have to cancel the Tesla. I know the Tesla is better in almost every way, but the i3 should be fun to dive Ana meet 90% of my requirements for 1/2 the price... I guess I'll just have to wait and see what I think once I can drive one next year....
      MTN RANGER
      • 1 Year Ago
      The carbon fiber sheets made in Washington state are also made via hydro-power.
      PatrickH
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ah, so when the wind stops does the line stop? Won't be so bad I suppose, as this car probably won't sell in high numbers.
      vi_per
      • 1 Year Ago
      I see two rows of cockroaches on the floor...
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