- Helping you drive happy

BMW i Cars: Born electric, bred dynamic

There’s something to be said for a vehicle that garners the type of attention normally reserved for hypercars and prototypes on a grey, thundery afternoon in the city. With windows rolled down, blinking against the gentle rain, passersby asked time and time again, “Is that a prototype?” To which I happily replied, “Why, no, actually. You can go to your local BMW dealer right now and buy one.”

Boom. Mind. Blown.

Cruising around in the 2014 BMW i3 I felt like a mild celebrity, and for good reason. This little hatch created such a buzz, such a stir, it was hard not to feed off the public’s excitement. And if they only knew half of what this car was all about (not just its futuristic looks), they’d have even more reason to ogle at it.

i Cars: The future really is now
As I sat through BMW’s presentation about the i3 and the technology behind it, I was riveted. I’m not going to lie, most manufacturer presentations are a bit of a snooze fest and even if I don’t pay attention I know I can find all the information on the nifty little USB keys they hand out with everything on them. However, with the i3 it was different. This car, and the technology behind the i Cars at BMW, is so intriguing, so interesting that I stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the entire time. These things are downright cool.

Born Electric
That’s the slogan for BMW’s i Cars (the i3 and the i8), and it’s perfect. See, BMW didn’t just throw an electric motor in a 3 Series or a MINI (well, they have in the past, but this time it was different). The i3 and i8 are brand new vehicles from top to bottom. From the chassis to the body to the exterior design language, the i Cars are a breed all their own. They are the new BMW. And they are hot.

It’s not just the exterior and powertrain that are new, the interior is absolutely stunning and essentially 80% brand new for BMW as well. There’s the familiar iDrive knob in the centre console, as well as the drive mode buttons, and that’s pretty much where the familiarity ends.

From a eucalyptus wood dash to two iPad-like displays that seem to float on nothing, along with two-tone seating in recycled, sustainable materials; the i3 is a feet in engineering and interior design. I wish my own condo looked as swanky as the interior of the i3. Truly.

Appealing to today’s way of life
The i Cars are about more than just offering EV driving, it’s about way of life. BMW understands that and so upon the purchase of your i3 or i8 you will be given a series of tutorials on how to be a good EV owner. Your car will also be able to help you with a specifically tailored navigation system that will show you just how far you can go on a range, at which point it will point out various public transportation options for you. You can also hook up your i3 to your iPhone (or Android) for preconditioning before you step inside your fancy EV for the day.

BMW even went so far as to design their own charging stations so they are not only practical but aesthetically pleasing to look at and in line with the design language of the i Cars. For $1,000-$1,200, you can have a charging station (engineered in collaboration with Bosch) in your home. Said charging station cuts charge times down dramatically (instead of 15 hours it’s possible to do it 2-4 hours).

The EV way of life
Everything that was seemingly wrong with the EV, BMW has not only fixed but made better. What may have simply been a fleetingly intriguing idea to some can now be a reality. The i3 offers an EV driving experience on a level of luxury we’ve only seen so far in the Tesla Model S, at a price that’s on par with the EVs currently out there.

I think the perfect way to illustrate the possible success the i3 (and by association the i8) will have is with this little anecdote: One of the first i3s sold in Canada was to a man who traded in his 2010 M3.

Boom. Mind. Blown.