BMW i3 provides All the Comforts of Home

Megacity electric car owners want to make a statement while enjoying ease of mobility and creature comforts

When BMW set out to build the BMW iBrand they did so with sustainability in mind. Research showed buyers wanted more than just an electric car, they wanted to make a statement and the i3 compact does just that. Manuel Sattig, project manager of the BMW i sub brand, said, “We targeted sustainability not only in use but across its entire life cycle and production.”

Materials such as lightweight aluminum, carbon fiber, recycled plastic and even natural fibers for the dashboard are incorporated into the car’s design. The design is distinctive “because people want to make a statement when they are driving an electric car,” Sattig says.

In their research, Sattig and his designers traveled to several large cities such as Los Angeles and New York to develop what was then called a “megacity car.” They looked at the lifestyle of their customers. “We looked in people’s fridges and accompanied them to their offices,” Sattig says. In 2007, when Project i was launched “we were a team of seven that worked without any rules,” he says.

The result of that research was the BMW i3 four-door. The car was the first of a family of production plug-in hybrids and EVs. In April of next year the i3 EV and i8 plug-in hybrid go on sale in the United States. The company has trademarked i1 through i9 and may expand the brand in the future.

The results of the research showed that megacity drivers are much different from their rural and country customers. They value connectivity as well as electric drive. “They wanted solutions for parking and traffic,” says Sattig. “And that has nothing to do with the drive train but with intelligent services. They said, ‘If I live in a megacity, I want someplace to retreat,’ and they asked us for a couch, flat-screen TV and a table, like they have at home.”

People can slide across the rear seat just as they would on a couch at home since there is no transmission hump and the i3 has two flat screens. One above the steering wheel shows the car’s speed, range and percentage of charge. Another 10.2-inch screen in the center of the dash provides navigation and infotainment. Connectivity is obtained through a SIM card or built-in subscriber identification module.

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