The BMW i-Series, if you have not heard about it (which rock were you stuck under?) is one of the latest all-electric automobiles, not just in Malaysia; in the world of automotive. It is also one of the cleanest in the world, not just because it is a zero-emission car, BMW produces this car in a lab, a separate factory that focuses on making all-electric i-series cars.
I say a lab because the factory in Leipzig that makes this BMW i3s only makes zero emission cars. BMW also claims that this factory is a zero-emission factory, meaning there is no pollution that comes out of this isolated factory in Germany. It draws electricity from a nearby hydroelectric dam, it recycles its own water supplies, it produces almost no waste, and it employs new manufacturing technique that minimises waste and maximise production and material efficiency.
So in some sense the BMW i3s is one of those Toyota Prius moments? Not exactly.
The Toyota Prius was a hybrid vehicle, an electric powered motorcar with a petrol engine to extend its range. You also refuel it by filling its petrol tank instead of plugging it into a wall socket. There is no real need to change your lifestyle or driving consideration for that vehicle.
Electric cars like the BMW i3s is different. It relies purely on your wall sockets or charging box which you can get installed in your homes. Instead of spending 10 minutes in a petrol station, you have to plug your car in for 13 hours or 3 and a half hours depending on what you plug your car into. This BMW i3s, apart from its production method is also a little different from the rest of all-electric cars you can find on the market today.
For one, this is built entirely with Carbon Fiber material, sort of like a Formula One car. The only parts that are not Carbon Fiber are the external housing panels and engine mounts. They could do a full Carbon body, but that would be expensive.
But because Carbon is lighter and stronger than steel and aluminium, the BMW i3s is rigid, sports car rigid. The Combination of these two things means that the compact crossover handles like a BMW should despite its odd height. It also means that the people inside the car is safer with a stronger chassis. Unlike a BMW though, this does not have leather seats. Instead all the materials in the car are all recycled, or recyclable materials that does not harm the environment.
The electric motor drives the rear wheels at 184hp. That is good for a 0-100km/h sprint at 6.5 seconds, faster than most compact sized car can. It is even comparable to the Volkswagen Golf TSI. The battery pack, they say is good for 260km on a single charge, that is provided you do not drive like a lunatic and floor it all the time. This is also considering that you get some recovered energy from regenerative braking.
Unlike the other fully electric cars too, the BMW i3s has a new type of modular battery pack. The battery container unit underneath the car itself contains about six battery modules that is interchangeable. This makes it even easier and cheaper to replace in case of a malfunction or damage.
So far, the BMW i3s is proving to us to be a very interesting car. So interesting in fact that we actually want one. It is the perfect city car anyway; compact, easy to drive, looks quite fun in some angles, and cheap to run. The only issue is that because this is made in Leipzig and sent around the world including Malaysia, it makes the car an imported vehicle. An imported vehicle in Malaysia does incur heavy taxes when it lands here. At the end, buying the car will set you back MYR279,000; at least 3 times more than the petrol competition in its same class.
The question after this is; would we buy it if it is at half the price? Maybe. But if it is one-third the current asking price, we would buy it in a heartbeat – if we have the money that is. What do you think though? Comment below.