BMW i is about the development of visionary vehicles and mobility services, inspiring design and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability. With BMW i the BMW Group is adopting an all-embracing approach, redefining the understanding of personal mobility with purpose-built vehicle concepts, a focus on sustainability throughout the value chain and a range of complementary mobility services.
Two Special Vehicle Concepts
The BMW i brand is now poised to enter the consciousness of the automotive public with two new vehicles. On the one hand there is the BMW i3 Concept. Previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, the BMW Group's first series-produced all-electric car focuses squarely on the mobility challenges in urban areas and, as the first premium electric vehicle, reinvents the hallmark BMW attributes for the future. Then comes the BMW i8 Concept, a sports car of the most contemporary variety - forward-looking, intelligent and innovative. Its unique plug-in hybrid solution brings together a combustion engine and an electric drive system to create an extraordinary driving experience complemented by extremely low fuel consumption and emissions.
BMW i3 Concept - Dynamic, Urban, Emission-free
The BMW i3 Concept is an uncompromisingly sustainable vehicle designed for urban areas. Driven purely by electric power and purpose-built to meet the demands of sustainable and emission-free mobility, it embodies an intelligent form of urban transportation and commuting.
The BMW i3 is a well-resolved all-round concept, with every detail conceived and optimised to fulfil its eventual purpose. Its innovative LifeDrive architecture renders the BMW i3 Concept light, safe, spacious and dynamic. Innovative use of materials and intelligent lightweight design, moreover, not only enable the i3 Concept to travel long distances on a single charge and provide superb safety in the event of a collision, they also help give the car its excellent driving dynamics.
The so-called Life module conjures up a feeling of space inside the car more generous than even the latest conversion vehicles can offer. Select materials lend the open and airy cabin a lounge-like character. The use of renewable raw materials is another defining characteristic of the interior, offering passengers a further means of "experiencing" the sustainability of the vehicle. Parts of the instrument panel and door panelling are visibly made from natural fibres, while the naturally tanned leather of the seats creates a lounge-style ambience. With four seats, wide-opening opposing "coach" doors, a boot capacity of around 200 litres and an additional functional compartment in the front, the BMW i3 Concept is neatly equipped for the demands of everyday use.
Innovative connectivity functions create a seamless connection between the BMW i3 Concept and its customers' lives outside the car. Remote functions accessible via a smartphone enable owners to find their vehicles, flag up nearby charging stations, allow battery charging and preconditioning at the touch of a button, and supply information on the current status of the vehicle. Meanwhile, intelligent assistance systems ease the stress on drivers in monotonous city driving situations and allow them to arrive at their destination more safely and in a more relaxed state of mind.
BMW i8 Concept - Emotional, Dynamic and Efficient
The BMW i8 Concept and the fascinating approach that underpins it embody the vision of a sustainable contemporary sports car brought to life. Its innovative plug-in hybrid concept combines the modified electric drive system from the BMW i3 Concept - fitted over its front axle - with a high- performance three-cylinder combustion engine producing 164 kW/220 hp and 300 Nm (221 lb-ft) at the rear. Working in tandem, they allow the two drive systems to display their respective talents to the full, delivering the performance of a sports car but the fuel consumption of a small car.
The LifeDrive architecture of the BMW i8 Concept has been carefully adapted to enhance the vehicle's sports car character, and therefore to deliver unbeatable performance and excellent driving dynamics. The motor in the front axle module and combustion engine at the rear are connected by an "energy tunnel", which houses the high-voltage battery. This gives the car a low centre of gravity - and the dynamic benefits that come with it. The positioning of the electric motor and engine over their respective axles and the space-saving and well-balanced packaging of all components result in an optimum 50/50 weight distribution.
The emotional design of the BMW i8 Concept ensures its qualities are clear for all to see. Its dynamic proportions give the BMW i8 Concept the appearance of surging forward before it even turns a wheel and lend visual form to its extraordinary performance.
The sporting character continues into the interior. Boasting a driver-focused environment unmatched by any BMW Group vehicle before it, the BMW i8 Concept immerses the driver fully in the unique driving experience. The BMW i8 Concept is the sports car for a new generation - pure, emotional and sustainable.
The Design Language of the BMW i Concept Cars
BMW i embodies the creation of visionary vehicles and a new understanding of premium mobility underpinned by sustainability. This can be seen and experienced in the inspirational design of BMW i vehicles. The task for the designers was to develop a unique design language which would reflect the BMW i claim and brand values and include scope for expansion, but which would also maintain a strong link to its parent brand. The aim was to create an authentic visual representation of innovative technology and to translate values such as lightness, safety and efficiency into the BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept models. These basic values are expressed on the one hand in the design of the vehicles through features including large transparent surfaces and a light-bathed interior, a powerful stance and aerodynamic additions such as contact surfaces, spoiler lips and elements allowing air through-flow. The BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept also blend in their own interpretation of familiar BMW design features, cementing a clear link to the BMW parent brand.
The most defining element of the BMW i models is their purpose-built basic construction, the LifeDrive architecture. Within this concept, the CFRP Life module houses the passenger compartment, while the Drive module brings together all the operational driving functions. This distinctive two-way split is also reflected in the design of the cars. The modules are partly covered by side panels, but remain clearly distinguishable. Expressive surfaces and precise lines form a harmonious transition between the two. This overlap and interlocking of surfaces and lines - "layering" in BMW i speak - marks out the exterior and interior design of both vehicles. Here, the different functions of the layers are colour-coded for greater emphasis. The silver layer makes up the outward-facing level, while the black layer of the exterior contains the windows, basic structure and supporting elements. In between, surfaces add high-quality touches. The perceptible difference in height between the layers lends the exterior an extremely dynamic, three-dimensional appearance.
The Life modules of both concept cars come across as bright and open thanks to their large, transparent surfaces. This high degree of transparency imbues them with an airy feel and - together with the generous portions of exposed CFRP on display - reflect the lightness and efficiency of both vehicles.
Aerodynamics and Design
Aerodynamics are an important element of efficient mobility and therefore of BMW i, and they are deliberately reflected in the exterior design of the two concept models. The aerodynamically optimised "stream flow" is one of the most striking styling cues of the BMW i vehicles. Like air streams in a wind tunnel, two horizontal lines run towards each other from the top and bottom of the car to meet in the C-pillar in the shape of a dynamic stroke. The special three-dimensional form of the stream flow on the BMW i8 Concept, moreover, improves its aerodynamic efficiency. The underbody of the two vehicles, meanwhile, is totally enclosed and has a smooth surface to counteract the under-car turbulence that would otherwise push up fuel consumption. Other aerodynamic elements include the AirCurtains, which ensure optimum air flow around the wheel arches, and the aeroflaps in the door sill area behind the front wheels. Both solutions reduce the cars' drag substantially, and in so doing increase their efficiency - and therefore their range when running on electric power alone.
Bringing the Outside in - Layering and Free Forms in the Interior
As with the exterior, three different levels define the interior as well, allowing a range of functions to operate and shaping the way in which they do so. The outer level - the white layer - forms the supporting structure for all interior geometries. The inner layer is the function-oriented level and opens up features such as seat surfaces and storage areas. The instrument panel includes an additional black level between the inner and outer layer, which incorporates the technical components. This technical layer runs through the whole front section of the interior and also creates a visual link between the instrument panel, steering column and steering wheel (including instrument cluster), central information display (CID) and controls. Positioned here are features including the openings for the air vents, while the displays and radio/climate control panel also develop out of this layer.
Exterior and Interior United
The colours and materials concept creates an effective link between the vehicles - and between their exteriors and interiors. The dominant colours of the exterior are the Silver Flow shade of light silver and High-gloss Black. The slightly blue-tinged, bright silver colour tone shows off the vehicles' technical, modern exterior design extremely effectively and presents a clear contrast against the black-painted surfaces. Contrasting touches in bright, forceful Stream Blue bring the efficiency of the vehicles (inside and out) stylistically to life. Externally this colour can also be found in the logo, the kidney grille, door sills and rear apron. Together the various shades produce an extremely high- class exterior impression, maximising the impact of high-gloss surfaces and the contrast of black, silver and blue. The glass surfaces highlight this further.
Applied more discreetly in the interior, Stream Blue glows subtly from the logo in the steering wheel, the seat stitching, and between the leather surfaces and structural layers of the steering wheel, as well as from the indicators and displays. The colours of the interior paint a far warmer picture and therefore create a pleasant contrast to the technical cool of the exterior. The shell layer structures in Porcelain White and the warm dark brown leather colour tone Mocha Brown conjure up a modern yet cosy ambience.
Sustainability in the Interior
A stand-out feature of both interiors is the visible use, for the first time, of renewable and naturally treated raw materials. The BMW i3 Concept sets new benchmarks in the use of sustainable materials. In addition to the extensive use of natural fibres and naturally tanned leather, 25 per cent of the weight of the interior plastic is accounted for by recycled or renewable raw materials.