Beats Out CNG, Hybrid And High-Efficiency Gas Finalists
The popular little BMW i3 (popular in the US, at least) was named the 2015 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show today. The award doesn't just take into account a car's green credentials but also its "availability to the mass market." While the i3 is a bit expensive, starting at $41,350, it is becoming available at BMW dealers across the country, which cannot be said about a lot of other new plug-in vehicles released these past few years.
BMW i8 And i3, SEMA, Ferrari Spun Off, Tom Magliozzi Passes Away
Episode #404 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Chris Paukert and Brandon Turkus talk about the BMW i8 and i3, this week's SEMA show, the looming Ferrari spin-off and the passing of Tom Magliozzi, longtime co-host of NPR's Car Talk. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow a
BMW i8 And i3, SEMA, Ferrari Spun Off, Tom Magliozzi Passes Away
We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #404 this evening. Check out the topics below or drop us your questions and comments via the Q&A module. And don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Short List Includes Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, VW Golf
The 2015 edition of the Green Car of the Year award is following right in the footsteps of previous years with a variety of alt-fuel powertrains making the just-announced finalists list. You've got your plug-in vehicle (the BMW i3), your compressed natural gas (the Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel), your high-efficiency diesel (the Audi A3 TDI), your 40+ mile-per-gallon gas engine (the Honda Fit) and, finally, a car that can do a little bit of everything (the VW Golf).
It's not a new version of the BMW i3, but an updated version of a lightweight concept car from SABIC, BMW, the Technical University of Munich, Daimler and others does bear a certain resemblance to the well-designed plug-in city car. From the black "glass" in the hatch to the angled line tail lights to the up-and-down window line, you can see a sort of family resemblance (see an i3 comparison photo here). And, of course, they both have an electric powertrain.
Carbon fiber has been utilized for decades to build racecars, as a means to cut weight while maintaining strength. But until recently, the space-age material has been largely absent from the street on anything but supercars because of the expense to use it. Recently, BMW signaled a major shift in that trend when it starting using carbon fiber reinforced plastic panels on the i3 and i8. This relatively small scale start might be just the beginning; the German company believes that a breakthrough
The BMW i3, especially when wearing its Capparis White paint job, already looks a bit like some sort of futuristic escape pod launched to Earth from a spaceship. It was only a matter of time until the electric car got touched by the eager hands of a tuner to make it even more eye-popping. It is, after all, a BMW. Japanese tuner Garage Eve.Ryn appears to be the first to give the i3 the inevitable once over.
The BMW i3 has been hailed in some quarters as the future of electric mobility, what with its innovative carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body and commitment to sustainable materials wherever possible. The modernist little hatch is even available with a 650cc two-cylinder gas engine with 34 horsepower to act as a range-extender for those who want it. However, that optional engine might have a drawback – at least for the moment.
BMW has found a receptive audience for its first batches of plug-in vehicles in the good 'ole USA. The German automaker, which started selling its first mass-produced i plug-ins in Europe late last year, will send a higher percentage of those vehicles to the US because of strong demand here, according to Automotive News, which talked with BMW executive Ian Robertson. And the Americans might cause Bimmer to speed up production, to boot.
Brazil is a long way from the US, and the price of the BMW i3 in that South American country is even further away from what Americans pay for the same electric vehicle. But that hasn't stopped a few wealthy Brazilians from taking the plunge.
Electric-vehicle sales may be leveling off a bit in the US, but across the Pond, that's not the case. Nope, European drivers appear to be plugging in at a progressively faster rate, as EV sales during the first half of the year jumped 91 percent from a year earlier, Automotive News Europe says, citing JATO Dynamics. And while Renault EV sales are slowing down, Nissan, Tesla and BMW are more than picking up the slack.
Behold a cheaper version of BMW's range extender for its i3 plug-in. And it's brought to you by ... Honda? Sort of, if you take the approach that Gadget Review took when it looked for an alternative to ponying up the $4,000 or so for the gas-powered i3 range extender that comes from the factory.
Apple unveiled details about its long-awaited Apple Watch yesterday and we now know that the $349, er, watch will be released to the public early next year. Amid the millions of features the watch has is the ability to provide real-time information on the battery charge level in a BMW i3 or i8 plug-in vehicle. The watches can also help locate the vehicles if, say, they're parked in a crowded lot. Because so many of us lose our Bimmers on a daily basis.
Interoperability, Ease-Of-Use Are Key Factors For Plug-In Vehicle Adoption
It looks like it's just a blue box on a pole, but BMW's new i DC Fast Charger represents a much bigger deal than just the lowest-cost SAE Combo Charger on the market. BMW sees it as the key to getting more drivers into electric vehicles. As Robert Healey, the EV infrastructure manager for BMW of North America told us, "For [BMW], the future is clear. DC charging really is the future."
Gift to the world or trade bait? Tesla Motors announced this week it would open its patents for other automakers to use. That has analysts guessing whether the California-based electric-vehicle maker is looking to either swap trade secrets with other automakers or to expand the proverbial pie that represents the plug-in vehicle market. For its part, Tesla says the answer is B.