The electric car market has been in the news over the last few years with mixed reviews and mixed reports from consumers and car manufacturers. There is no doubt that we have passed the point of no return with regards to electric vehicles, and the billions of dollars invested in the industry, but there is some concern as to when the sector will reach a mass market position. While many of the earlier entrants to the electric car market have made a name for themselves, such as Nissan and Toyota, it is interesting to see that some of the more recognised names in the automobile industry, such as BMW, held back for some time before making their presence known. There is some concern as to whether BMW has left it too late to attack the electric car market, while others believe the company will learn from the mistakes made by earlier entrants.
What does BMW have to offer?
The company has already released two concept cars to the industry, in the shape of the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 which we will cover in more detail below. The reaction of the motoring industry to these two concept cars has been very positive and indeed the company expects to have the first vehicle on sale during 2013. It will no doubt be announcing it via a massive public relations campaign but the truth is that BMW has kept something back for its electric car range.
The company will be one of the first to produce an electric car which takes in an aluminium chassis together with a carbon fibre body. This is the type of material which is used by the Formula One teams to get the most efficient performance out of their vehicles. It is not cheap and it is not yet available across the industry due to cost implications, but BMW has decided to bring in this revolutionary material to further enhance its brand name and its electric vehicle offerings.
Those who have an interest in motoring will see the name of BMW i3 everywhere over the next few months as we build up to the launch towards the end of 2013. This vehicle is the first of the electric car concept projects to be released into the open market and has been promoted as "an intelligent form of urban transportation and commuting" which is purposely built for emission free mobility. So what does that mean?
The simple truth is that BMW has been able to incorporate the latest electric vehicle technology into a very sleek and a very efficient offering. Like the forthcoming BMW i8, the BMW i3 utilises the company’s eDrive technology, of which we will be hearing more in the months and years ahead. This is a system which generates zero local emissions while motorists experience a controlled, safe and smooth drive. The elegant and refined look of the BMW i3 is not only for presentation purposes because the aerodynamics have been improved to near perfection in order to get the last percentage of efficiency from the vehicle.
The BMW i3 will be able to travel for 100 miles between charges and when you bear in mind some of the criticism of the recharging industry at this point in time, the fact that the battery in the BMW i3 can be charged up to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes is priceless. While many electric car manufacturers have concentrated upon the internal workings of the motor and basic driving requirements, BMW has gone one step further with the BMW i3!
This vehicle can be synchronised with your mobile phone to control recharging at the press of a button, to operate the air-conditioned system before you enter the vehicle, and other services within the car. You can literally have your car waiting to go, before you even set your eyes upon it in the morning!
BMW is keeping back some of the details about the BMW i3 until the launch later in 2013 but from what we see so far it will be a winner, it will match the reputation of BMW cars in the past and ultimately, it could be the springboard to a very lucrative adventure in the electric vehicle market.
At this moment in time the BMW i8 is very much a concept car within the sports car division of the electric car market. Just the quickest of glimpses at this concept vehicle will take your breath away, will remind you of the groundbreaking sports cars of today and in many ways it is easy to forget it is in fact a hybrid vehicle. It is likely that the production version will differ slightly from the concept vehicle but the basics will remain the same and if anything we will see improvements in the on-board technology and efficiency ratings.
The hybrid system will support the electric batteries via a three cylinder combustion engine producing 164 kW/220 hp. When you put together the electric motor system and the hybrid backup system, you get the best of both worlds; amazing speed with the fuel efficiency and fuel consumption of a small town car. This is the kind of concept which many electric car enthusiasts have been waiting to see for years. It is something which will take your breath away, will put BMW in competition with the likes of Tesla and bring many new eyes onto the electric car industry.
When you put together the near perfect aerodynamics of the BMW i8 with a dashboard that gives you instant access to an array of information about your journey, it is not difficult to see why many motoring reporters are chomping at the bit to drive a BMW i8. The chassis system has been revamped compared to that used by conventional BMW cars, all of the best technologies from the BMW i3 have been incorporated and improved, but as ever the proof will be in the pudding!
The launch of the BMW i3 is likely to dictate when the BMW i8 is brought to market because while many concept cars never seem to make it over the final hurdle, we would be very surprised if the BMW i8 was to fall by the wayside.
Like a vulture waiting to pounce when the opposition have weakened, BMW has been keeping a very close watch on the electric vehicle market for some time now. Some experts believed the company had left it too late to enter this new arena but in reality it will learn from the mistakes of other electric car companies and it will maximise the reputation of the BMW brand name, all while bringing in a whole raft of new technologies and aerodynamics the likes of which many of us have never seen before.
The BMW i3 and the BMW i8 (assuming it actually comes to market) will certainly put the company on the map, will grab the attention of motorists around the world and will be delivered in a fanfare of glory. We can't wait!