The study presented at the 2012 LA Auto Show has been brought out in parallel to the ongoing development process for getting the first ever all-electric model from the BMW i brand ready for series production, and demonstrates the potential for conceivably extending the model range.
The state-of-the-art, clean-cut and open design showcased by the BMW i3 Concept Coupe represents a pioneering form of urban mobility that makes sustainability awareness an intrinsic part of the premium profile. Beyond this, the three-door model employs the design idiom that has been created especially for the BMW i cars to convey an undeniable sense of dynamism and driving pleasure.
The carbon-fibre body’s visual impact is largely shaped by the gracefully flowing coupe roof line and the fresh interpretation of the BMW i “stream flow” design that can be seen in the side window styling, and gives an instant impression of lightness, transparency and streamlined aerodynamic qualities. On the inside, the sense of spaciousness typical of the BMW i brand is combined with an exclusive lounge-style ambience in the two individual rear seats. The BMW i3 Concept Coupe furthermore assumes the title of the world’s first fully networked electric vehicle. Thanks to the inclusion of innovative BMW ConnectedDrive functions that have been devised by BMW i for use in production vehicles, operation of the navigation system as well as the information transfer between the vehicle, the outside world and the driver’s smartphone has been geared towards the specific requirements of e-mobility.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]The BMW i3 Concept Coupe sharply focuses the spotlight on the dynamic performance that can be achieved with the purely electric version of the BMW eDrive technology. Like the BMW i3 Concept, the Coupe is also propelled by an electric motor developed by the BMW Group, which develops a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft), and channels its instantaneous power delivery to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The electric motor draws its energy from the lithium-ion storage cells under the floor. Positioning the battery units here has the effect of lowering the centre of gravity considerably, which further adds to the vehicle’s sensationally agile handling.
The LifeDrive concept for the BMW i vehicle architecture is instrumental in enabling a brand new vehicle character to be married so harmoniously with BMW eDrive, a technology that is already nearing production standard. The horizontally split construction consisting of two self-contained elements intrinsically focuses on the technical requirements of the electric drive train, and helps to produce a design concept, sense of spaciousness and driving experience that are unique to BMW i cars.
The passenger cell forms the core of the Life module, which is built from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). BMW i is scaling new heights for automotive engineering by making such extensive use of this high-tech material. Because it is extremely light yet very strong too, CFRP opens up tremendous scope for design and therefore has all the right credentials for translating the inimitable and unmistakable BMW i design idiom into a wide array of variants. On the BMW i3 Concept Coupé, the drive system, chassis and energy storage unit, along with the structural and crash functions, are once again incorporated into the Drive module that is made chiefly of aluminium.
Measuring 3,964 millimetres in length, 1,768 wide and 1,555 high, the BMW i3 Concept Coupe can be noted for its highly individual proportions. When compared directly to the BMW i3 Concept, the new study has a broader, lower-slung look that serves to highlight its agile nature at first glance. The wheelbase, on the other hand, is unchanged from that of the standard BMW i3 at 2,570 millimetres.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe helps the driver to optimise efficiency by choosing an appropriate vehicle set-up. The Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console can be used to select the three driving modes, COMFORT, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+. The sportiness and comfort of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe can be best experienced in the standard COMFORT setting. ECO PRO mode places the focus more on economical energy management for an increased range and even cleaner performance. The accelerator mapping is modified, for example, so that the same pedal travel delivers less power. At the same time, the heating and air conditioning are switched into a more energy-efficient operating mode. Changing from COMFORT to ECO PRO mode can extend the vehicle’s range by as much as 20 per cent.
Efficiency can be boosted yet further in ECO PRO+ mode, which is designed to do everything possible to maximise driving range. So, not only is the accelerator mapping modified, maximum speed is also limited to 90 km/h (56 mph). Comfort functions such as the heating and air conditioning are furthermore run at the minimum level required to prevent the windows from misting up, for instance. Electrical consumers like the seat heating, mirror heating and non-essential components of the daytime running lights are even switched off completely. As a result of all this, more miles can be added to the vehicle’s range.
The BMW eDrive system fitted in the BMW i3 Concept Coupe is designed to allow the vehicle to cover a distance of around 160 kilometres (100 miles) on a full battery charge before it has to be plugged into a charging station again. This range comfortably allows it to be used for more than just urban mobility.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe comes with two top-class displays, which provide the interfaces for the exchange of information between vehicle and driver and for operating the infotainment and communications functions. Information that can help to make driving a more comfortable, efficient and safe experience is flashed up in the displays. The navigation system, meanwhile, is networked with the outside world via BMW i ConnectedDrive.
Information is visualised in the form of three-dimensional, high-resolution graphics depicted in the reduced style typical of the BMW i brand. The task of the instrument cluster is assumed by a 6.5 inch (16.5 centimetre) screen positioned on the steering column, where all driving-related information appears in digital form. The second display in the centre of the dashboard is positioned at exactly the same height for perfect legibility. With a screen diagonal of 8.8 inches (22.4 centimetres), it enables detailed graphics to be reproduced, just like the central information display in BMW production cars. This screen is used, for instance, to display the functions of the navigation system including the BMW i ConnectedDrive services. The information provided by the functions familiar from BMW ConnectedDrive is likewise shown here. This central information display also serves to keep the driver and front passenger fully informed of the vehicle’s status and the drive system’s operating mode.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe is equipped with a navigation system featuring BMW i ConnectedDrive services. Both the navigation system and the BMW i ConnectedDrive services have been carefully tailored to the specific demands of electric mobility. Apart from the route guidance function, the system also offers drivers assistance with their mobility requirements that extends beyond just the journey planning. One of the key elements of the networked navigation unit is a dynamic range display, which delivers precise, reliable readings by factoring in all relevant variables.
The battery’s charge status, driving style, activity of electric comfort functions and the selected driving mode are all taken into account for the calculation, along with the route’s topography and current traffic levels. The system is therefore able to make allowance for the extra energy used up for both an upcoming climb and stop/start traffic or traffic jams, and lowers its range calculation accordingly. Up-to-the-minute and detailed real-time traffic data is also added to the equation. The information is analysed and evaluated centrally by the BMW ConnectedDrive server that stays in permanent communication with the vehicle thanks to its built-in SIM card. The SIM card’s fixed installation ensures an optimum connection at all times throughout the vehicle’s life.
The dynamic range display is visualised on the vehicle’s central information display not only as a figure but also as a peripheral contour within the navigation map. Taking the vehicle’s current location as a starting point, all points that can be reached with the available energy reserves are joined up to form a peripheral contour. Since the driver is able to actively influence the vehicle’s energy consumption and therefore its range by switching the driving mode, the graphical representation of the range calculation is always made available in two variants, allowing the driver to view the relevant current range regardless of whether the COMFORT, ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode is selected.
When route guidance is activated, the driver is given a precise and true-to-reality indication of whether the destination is within range and how much energy he has to spare. The most efficient route is also shown as an alternative to the fastest. If necessary, the Range Assistant will even recommend changing to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode in order to increase the range. This function clearly demonstrates the interaction between the tailored route guidance for electric vehicles from BMW i ConnectedDrive and the special energy management from Efficient Dynamics.
If desired, the driver is able to call up a charging station near to his destination and reserve it with another push of a button. The system additionally notifies him of the charging time required before commencing the return journey or the onward journey to the next destination. The wealth of functions offered by the navigation system with BMW i ConnectedDrive services makes it possible to plan out journeys using electric power alone with supreme precision, reliability and convenience.