BMW i Born Electric Tour stop in NYC Active E

For the Los Angeles Auto Show next week, BMW will show off a new i3 concept – "admittedly a tease," we were told – and not some sort of plug-in i4, as had been rumored. While we won't be seeing the production version of the city electric, the good news is that each iteration of the concept does bring us closer to the production version. For example, the i3 on display in New York as part of BMW's "Born Electric" tour last week still had glass doors. It's pretty obvious that the production version won't keep this feature. The new interior (first seen at the recent Paris Motor Show) is also more in line with what will be on sale a year from now. The message here? BMW is getting real with its i line of electric vehicles (EVs).

BMW's first two EV programs – the Mini E and the Active E – were both glorified test programs, but now BMW will want to sell larger numbers of plug-in vehicles, with the i3 due in late 2013 and the i8 in the first half of 2014. The clearest sign that BMW is serious is the carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) LifeDrive body that was on display in New York. After all, you don't start putting seat anchors into body shells if you're not planning on having people actually ride in them some day.


bmw i3 carbon fiber reinforced plastic body

As you can see, there is no B-pillar in the i3. That speaks to the strength that CFRP offers, but it also saves weight. And that's a really big deal when you start dealing with plug-in powertrains. In a straight comparison, CFRP is roughly 30 percent lighter than aluminum and 50 percent lighter than steel. For the i3, BMW said that a traditional body would be around 660 pounds heavier. Using CFRP, BMW can thus introduce a gas-electric (or pure electric) powertrain, which includes the heavy battery pack. CFRP even performs great in a crash, since it's really a tiny net and so can absorb more collision energy than hard materials like steel.

The i3 will be available with a range-extender as an option as soon as it goes on sale.

Someone at BMW even gave these parts a clever name: LifeDrive. The "life" part refers to the body, where the passengers, um, live, and the "drive" refers to the powertrain. Like skateboard vehicles, the drive can stay the same (or similar) while the life model is changed. As you can see in the picture for the i3 LifeDrive above (and here), BMW has left room for a range extender. This is because the i3 will be available with a range-extender as an option as soon as it goes on sale, should buyers think a pure electric i3 not fit their needs. Things like cost were left unspoken. All we know for now is that the i3 will be "below the 5 Series" in price.

Another aspect of BMW's i project are a suite of mobility apps. Like other automakers, BMW is realizing not everyone wants to own a car, but we do want to move around. To that end, BMW has a car-sharing app, DriveNow, and a parking app called ParkNow, which attempts to minimize the approximately 30 percent of city driving that is just people looking for a parking spot. There is also MyCityWay, Park At My House, Embark (a public transportation app) and a partnership with Chargepoint. It's a brave new world.


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MOBILITY EXPERTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY HELP KICK-OFF THE BMW I "BORN ELECTRIC" WORLD TOUR ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13
12/11/12 from BMW Group

BMW's Forum Exploring the Future of Mobility will Feature the North American Debuts of the BMW i8 Concept Roadster and Next Generation BMW i3 Concept

BMW and New York University to Announce Findings of a Joint Study on Future Mobility at a 12:00 p.m. Press Conference

Mobility experts from around the country will join executives from BMW i to kick-off a week-long event exploring issues of future mobility on Tuesday, November 13 beginning at 11:00 a.m. EST at 1095 Avenue of the Americas (between 41st and 42nd Streets) in Manhattan. A morning panel discussion on the mobility challenges facing major cities will be followed by a 12:00 p.m. press conference during which Professor Mitchell L. Moss of New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management will announce the findings of a specially commissioned joint study with BMW i on future mobility. The press conference will also feature the North American debut of the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 Concept Roadster and the electric, next generation BMW i3 Concept – both made of high-tech, lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic. An afternoon panel will explore the psychology of mobility.

Prominent speakers in the fields of mobility, transportation, psychology, sustainability and carbon fiber will include:
  • Ron Thaniel, Executive Director, National Association of City Transportation Officials
  • Todd Rufo, Director of Economic and Workforce Development, City of San Francisco
  • Kate Ascher, former executive vice president of New York City's Economic Development Corporation, Professor of Urban Development at Columbia University and Author of "The Works: Anatomy of a City"
  • Professor Joe Magee, Associate Professor, NYU Stern School of Business
  • Tom Vanderbilt, Author of "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)"
  • Professor David Poeppel, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, NYU
  • Professor Mitchell L. Moss, Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU
  • Peter Miles, Chief Operating Officer, BMW of North America
  • Henrik Wenders, Head of BMW i8 Product Management, BMW AG
  • Manuel Sattig, Communications Manager, Project i Strategy for BMW AG
  • Joachim Hauser, Director, BMW Mobility Services
The week-long event will offer the public an opportunity to explore the future of mobility through visionary new vehicles, interactive displays and demonstrations of technologies that will help shape the way we move in and around our cities in the future. The event is open to the public on Tuesday, November 13 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. and on Wednesday, November 14through Sunday, November 18 from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

WHAT: BMW i "Born Electric" World Tour
WHEN: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11:00-11:45 a.m. – "Future Cities" panel discussion
12:00-12:45 p.m. – Press conference
1:30-2:15 p.m. – "How Mobility Changes Us" panel discussion
WHERE: 1095 Avenue of the Americas (between 41st & 42nd Streets) in Manhattan

BMW i "Born Electric" World Tour / New York City
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Available Experts

Peter Miles, Chief Operating Officer, BMW of North America
Peter Miles is the Chief Operating Officer of BMW of North America and is available to discuss all facets of BMW business in North America including sales and strategy.

Henrik Wenders, Head of BMW i8 Product Management, BMW AG
Henrik Wenders is the Head of BMW i8 Product Management and is available to discuss details and technical specifications of the BMW i8.

Manuel Sattig, Communications Manager, Project i Strategy, BMW AG
Manuel Sattig is the Communications Manager for project i strategy and is available to discuss cabron fiber production and its use in the construction of the BMW i vehicles, as well its value chain.

Jacob Harb, Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy and Operations, BMW of North America
Jacob Harb is the Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy and Operations for BMW of North America and is available to discuss the company's electric vehicle programs and strategy including details of the BMW i vehicles and the BMW ActiveE.

Jose Gurrero, Product Manager, BMW i and Electric Vehicles, BMW of North America
Jose Gurrero is available to discuss the details of the BMW i vehicles and the BMW ActiveE. Gurrero can also specifically provide insight and perspective on the U.S. market in relation to these vehicles.

Daniel Starke, Head of Interior Design Team, BMW i
Daniel Starke is the head of the interior design team of BMW i and is available to discuss the specific design elements of the BMW i vehicles.

Uli Quay, General Manager, BMW i Ventures
Uli Quay is the General Manager of BMW i Ventures and is available to discuss BMW's investments in mobility services companies including MyCityWay and ParkatMyHouse.

Joachim Hauser, Director BMW Mobility Services
As director of BMW mobility services, Joachim Hauser is responsible for BMW's ParkNow iniatitive and also serves on the board of directors of the Green Parking Council. He is available to dsicusss BMW's efforts in the mobilty services space and investments in partner companies.

Mark Leach, Director, BMW Mobility Services responsible for ParkNow
Mark Leach is available to discuss BMW's efforts to develop new mobility services, the recent launch of ParkNow in San Francisco and future plans for the program.

Dana Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer, DriveNow
Dana Goldin is the Chief Marketing Officer for DriveNow and is available to discuss BMW's car sharing program.

Gary Neff, CEO ParkNow
Gary Neff is available to discuss the recent launch of ParkNow in San Francisco and future plans for the program.

Puneet Mehta, CEO MyCityWay
Puneet Mehta is co-founder and CEO of MyCityWay -- a suite of location-based apps designed to make navigating and finding things in major cities easier. MyCityWay was the first investment made by BMW i Ventures and winner of New York City's inaugural Big Apps competition. Mehta is available to discuss future plans for MyCityWay and the planned integration of the service into BMW's DriveNow fleet of ActiveE vehicles.

David Hodge, CEO, Embark
David Hodge is available to discuss BMW i Ventures' investment in Embark – a mobile app designed to help travelers navigate mass transit systems in several major cities – and the company's plans to integrate an intermodal functionality and incorporate BMW's DriveNow fleet as one of the transportation options.

Mitchell Moss, Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, New York University
Mitchell Moss is the Head of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University and is available to discuss the joint New York University / BMW i study as well as general topics involving transportation issues, ternds and future mobility in megacities.