The electric vehicle segment continues to swell and BMW is getting in on that expansion. The 1 Series Active E will arrive soon, followed by the release of the BMW i3 – a carbon fiber-bodied electric that will hit the market sometime in 2013 with a ballpark sticker price of $35,000.
The rear-wheel-drive i3 is powered by a 150-horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack that reportedly provides up to 100 miles of range, but it's the extensive use of carbon fiber that makes the i3 unique. BMW sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson told Autocar that the i3's use of carbon fiber is viable due to costly batteries. Quoting Robertson:
Meaning that if BMW elected to scrap the use of carbon fiber on the i3, then a more sizeable battery pack would be required which, in turn, would actually increase the price of the i3. So, even though it's a pricey material, the carbon fiber in the i3 keeps overall weight in check and thus reduces the vehicles price. Makes a slick kind of sense.A carbon body structure is 50-60 per cent lighter than a conventional body, and batteries are heavy. So suddenly you have a good business case. The smaller battery pack required by a lighter car offsets the cost of the carbon fiber body.