BMW will unveil the i3 Concept Coupe at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. 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.
The three-door concept 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.
Transferring the design idiom developed specifically for BMW i cars to a coupe concept has resulted in a body whose styling smacks of fun at the wheel while still plainly signalling sustainable mobility. The BMW i3 Concept Coupe's looks let the brand values of efficiency, lightness, safety and premium quality clearly shine through, along with the study's distinctly dynamic bias. The exterior surfaces and colour scheme are structured in such a way as to visualise the basic construction defined by the LifeDrive architecture. The principle of overlapping levels known as "layering" serves to symbolise the harmonious interaction between the striking construction and design elements of the Life and Drive modules, as well as providing the basis for a transparency in the vehicle design that reinforces the concept's sustainability. For instance, the structure of the carbon-fibre material employed in the Life module can be clearly seen in the entrance area and the roof pillars when the door is opened. It is here, as the two-dimensional CFRP laminate typically used for load-bearing elements comes into view, that the material's composition becomes particularly apparent.
The bodywork panels around the wheel arches, doors and rear sidewalls are painted in Solar Orange metallic, a warm shade bursting with energy that was created especially for the BMW i3 Concept Coupe. It forms an electrifying contrast with the high-gloss black finish on the bonnet, roof and boot lid, as well as with the body's black lower edge.
The front apron includes black embedded elements designed to create an air curtain effect that carefully directs the airflow in the vicinity of the wheel arches. The rear apron's lower section incorporates a diffuser component to optimise flow conditions towards the rear of the vehicle's underside. The licence plate holder features a narrow border in Solar Orange, while the U-shaped rear light clusters are integrated into the rear window, just as they are on the BMW i3 Concept. Contrasting touches of Frozen Grey matt for the BMW kidney grille and the sill lines along the sides are specific to this model and add to its visual appearance. The brand emblems in Stream Blue at the front and rear and on the wheel hubs are characteristic BMW i features.
A steeply raked windscreen that extends a long way forward and a roof line that descends gently into the vehicle's tail are the defining features of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe silhouette. The long doors with frameless windows also have a typical coupe feel to them. The specific way in which a CFRP passenger cell is constructed means there is no need for a B-pillar. Not only does this facilitate access to the rear seats, it gives extra impact to the dynamic flow of lines visible in the window styling.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe includes a fresh interpretation of the brand's hallmark "stream flow" design for the side window contours between the doors and the C-pillars. As a result of the enclosed body concept around the doors and the rear sidewalls, the ratio between the body's basic structure and the window area is clearly marked by the shoulder line. The latest version of the window outline tapers sharply towards the rear, once again putting clear emphasis on the vehicle's excellent aerodynamic properties. The upper and lower edges are spaced particularly far apart on the BMW i3 Concept Coupe, producing an enlarged window area at the rear. This means that, in contrast to conventional coupes, passengers in the rear compartment are able to enjoy a remarkable sense of spaciousness and feel far more involved in the driving experience.
The highly distinctive and dynamic view of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe in profile is completed by the gently rising swage line on a level with the door openers, as well as a striking character line that produces an intriguing interplay between light and shade just above the side sills. The exterior mirrors also sport a design that's specific to this model, with black mirror bases and caps in Solar Orange metallic that pick up on the body's overall colour scheme. 20-inch light-alloy wheels in double-spoke design further intensify the car's sporting aura.
All in all, the even more purist interpretation of the design idiom compared to the BMW i3 Concept, coupled with the more horizontal focus of the exterior's styling, highlights the car's enhanced aerodynamic properties. The BMW i3 Concept Coupe therefore epitomises the future of urban mobility, at the same time as instilling it with a distinct sense of sportiness and emotional appeal.
Individual styling and material selection ensure that the brand's trademark principles of sustainability, lightness and transparency are applied to genuine effect in the interior design of BMW i models, too. The interior of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe illustrates how the cockpit design has evolved as it is readied for series production, while at the same time creating an individual ambience that fits in with the concept of a sporty three-door car. The layering structure employed for the exterior once again underpins the arrangement of the function elements and controls, while a mixture of leather, wood, wool and other renewable raw materials ensures that the car's premium characteristics, including the new aspect of sustainability, can be both plainly seen and felt.
The freestanding steering column's two-part design with its light and graceful feel is further accentuated by the colour scheme. All supporting elements are finished in a light grey colour, whereas the steering wheel's outer grip areas and all controls are coloured black. Besides the display that acts as the instrument cluster and the control stalks for the direction indicators and windscreen wipers, the steering column is also home to the electronic gearshift lever and the Start-Stop button.
Above the steering column and behind the instrument cluster, there is a horizontally mounted wooden panel that spans the full width of the interior in a dynamic sweep. Sourced from certified sustainably managed European forests and treated using natural materials, the light eucalyptus wood adds a real touch of class, and is made all the more noticeable by the contrast with the black, three dimensionally shaped controls. The control panels on either side of the steering column are bordered by brushed aluminium accent strips. The sweeping design of the eucalyptus wood panel is echoed by the contour of the armrests in the doors, meaning that the driver and front passenger are encircled by a series of harmoniously styled surfaces.
The manually adjustable seats with integrated head restraints that were specially designed for the BMW i3 Concept Coupe are upholstered in a blend of warm-toned textured wool yarn and a cool-looking monofilament material. The elegant, sporty colour scheme's light grey tones also reflect the sustainable character of the natural materials. The door support panels made from anthracite-coloured kenaf fibre are perfectly in keeping with this, and also blend harmoniously with the doors' leather trim panels. The leather adorning the interior of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe is treated using natural products exclusively, with an extract from the leaves of the olive tree serving as the tanning agent.
There are two individual seats in the rear of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe where passengers are able to savour a whole new form of motoring comfort in a lounge-style ambience. The seat backrests both curve outwards prominently to form a seamless connection with the rear panelling. Whereas the seating position engenders a feeling of security, the windows - which are exceptionally large for the rear of a coupe - make passengers there feel more part of the driving experience. After tilting the front seat backrests forwards, getting in and out of the rear is facilitated by leather-trimmed grab handles that double as belt feeders for the driver and front passenger.
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 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 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, it enables detailed graphics to be reproduced, just like the central information display in BMW production cars.
The two displays have been designed to interact in such a way that the information shown is distributed between the two screens as the situation dictates. In the case of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe, their interaction is best illustrated by a typical urban mobility scenario. When the car is started, the instrument cluster springs to life first. It signals that the vehicle is ready to start with a welcome sequence whose animation spreads to the central information display. In the meantime, the system has already connected to the drive's smartphone and is showing current calendar entries. Shortly afterwards the driver receives a text message with the agreed venue for his meeting. The address data are automatically used to generate a navigation destination, which then appears on the central information display. The driver learns that his destination is within the vehicle's range and he is advised to recharge the car there. Shortly before arrival at the destination, various charging stations in the vicinity are displayed and the driver is offered the option of booking one of them. He confirms and books the nearest one. During the journey the driver can also find out about the restaurant he is heading for as well as listening to personal playlists. On arrival, the driver hooks the vehicle up to the charging station. The illustration of the different functions is rounded off by an animated charging graphic that appears on both displays when recharging the battery.