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BMW i3 electric car: the inside story

BMW reveals the carbon-fibre body and inner workings of the i3, which might be the most complete battery-electric car so far.

BMW recently unveiled some of the secrets of its battery-powered i3 hatchback, which goes on sale this year. Claiming the i3 will be the world’s most sustainable car, journalists were allowed access to the i3’s remarkable wind turbine-powered, carbon-neutral production plant near Leipzig in Germany.

It quickly became clear, however, that even the buying public won’t be flocking to the i3 because it is a battery car (a 650cc, twin-cylinder motorcycle-engined range extender is expected to take at least half of all i3 sales), but they might because it is a (partly) carbon-fibre car.

And carbon-fibre is the key to the i3’s low (for a battery car) kerb weight of 1,250kg (2,755lb), but while carbon-fibre is commonly used in aerospace, motor racing and supercar manufacturing, it is produced in an artisanal process. BMW has applied systems analysis to batch produce the carbon-fibre panels required for the i3’s passenger cell, a manufacturing first.


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