Electric Cars, the BMW i3 “case”: when the materials count

BMW i3

Will be the definitive turning point for the electric cars? Hard to believe. What the BMW i3 brings with vehemence to the forefront of the market is, however, a concept of frame optimization result of specific needs and constraints that the electrical architecture imposes.

Some considerations can not pass in the background, especially when you put on the scales important elements. It is the first product of a premium manufacturer of zero emissions to fall in a competitive window of purchase, that range between 30 and 40 thousand euro, in which we find today a large part of the electric models.

It has an important brand on the hood, one of those for whom we would be willing to spend more for the same features. If, then, the technical features are widely superior to the opponent, then the official list price of 36,200 euro, seems even cheap.

Is BMW losing more money than others do? Hard to believe. Rather, it will be interesting to see the reaction of those who find themselves struggling with the new benchmark in terms of price: the price adjustment appears as an unavoidable operation. Why? Because the i3 has winning arrows at his bow. And especially because the zero-emission motorist itself is a ‘premium’ customer, with a superior spending ability.

Returning to technology, we may think that the time is ripe for a transfer of innovations. The launch of an electric car with a pricing aligned to the competitors but with the content particularly refined, begs the question: why not adopt these innovations on traditionally powered cars and equivalent size? Question that applies to BMW and even more to other brands.

Life and Drive. Two distinct concepts hide the design philosophy behind the i3 and i8 of the future. Those concepts that are true value for the motorist, and possibly not only for the pioneers of the electric wave.

Old car chassis  in field (202)

Talking about composite materials in the automotive world, until recently, meant to turn to the emerging super car, with a price inversely proportional to the lightness of its components. The i3 is able to employ the CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) and take it on the body and the Life cell, ie, the cockpit element to remain in the classical vocabulary. Aluminium frame, not an absolute novelty, but certainly a surplus for a vehicle that is around 4 meters in length; magnesium for the support structure of the dashboard panel: here the attention to the materials strikes more than the electric technology in itself.

And then, if it is possible to launch this new car at a competitive price – although renouncing at an immediate ROI – (I would ask:) dear manufacturers, why not try to make an extra effort and transform many small to medium cars in actual traveling examples of automotive technology?

Ah, yes … we must be electric, supported by the incumbent EU rules on the limits to the CO emissions, but that’s another story …

(Translated by Raffaele Vincenti)

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