BMW i3 Concept Coupe

BMW i3 Concept Coupe comes with a unique idea

BMW has studied EVs very closely for many years and uncovered some surprising EV habits regarding charging. BMW also has a unique idea about how to handle long trips if you are EV owner.

At the Geneva Auto Show, BMW will introduce the new BMW i3 Concept Coupe to Europe for the first time. BMW has been working for many years to develop an electric vehicle. Instead of jumping in and selling a converted 1 or 3 series vehicle, BMW has been rather quietly developing custom platforms for the BMW i3 and i8 concept. The models on display will showcase BMWs current state of progress on electric mobility. Both vehicles use eDrive technology.

Torque News and this author have test-driven the BMW eDrive technology applied to a BMW 1 series test mule called Active E. The vehicle we drove was a refined EV with moderately good performance and the buttoned down feel that very heavy small EVs often have. There were no drivability issues. Early on there were some drivability issues regarding the throttle that BMW resolved. As the photo shows, the i3 Concept Coupe will not be a 1 series adapted for electric drive. The chassis and body are unique to the i3. BMW points out that its prototype EVs are optimized for use in all climates. That may be true, but many manufacturers are close to releasing their second generation of EVs and many brands now have multiple models for sale. Saying BMW has a prototype good in snow is not really much of a headline.

In a press release today BMW focused attention on two issues it sees as critical to the EV becoming a mainstream transportation option. First is range. Even though BMW has not yet released a vehicle for sale, it does seem to be caught in the same range trap that all other mainstream EVs are. The range is about 100 miles. In order to make the most of the vehicle’s range BMW offers 3 drive modes on the i3. Basically, the car starts off moderately drivable, gets a slower throttle response, and then gets that plus a maximum speed of 56 mph and all of the accessories such as AC and heat are cut back by the car so that range can be maximized. We have seen all these tricks before, and on cars we can buy today if we choose. BMW has also spent considerable software development time and money to have the GPS navigation system take into account both grade (hills) and traffic to maximize driving range. Again, not exactly a giant leap ahead.


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