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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 10, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

    BMW’s new i3 breaks cover

    Michael McAleer

    BMW recently announced the launch of its new sub-brand, BMW I, for its future electric models, along with a suite of added electronic services. The latter will include features like identifying unoccupied parking spots in your area, details on the latest shows on in theatres you may pass, and a host of other features. The key element, however, will be the new cars.

    First up for 2013 is the i8, an electric sports car based on the Vision concept that has been on demonstration tours globally for a year now.

    The other car is the i3, a small city car that is based on the MegaCity concept. The car itself has not been shown, apart from initial photos of its subframe. However, an i3 has been caught during the the filming of a BMW-TV production in Scandinavia.

    BMW plans to sell up to 30 000 i3s in its first full year of sales in 2014. The official unveiling of the i3 production version along with the i8 hybrid supercar will take place in 2013. Both models will be built at the Leipzig plant and ride on the firm’s “LifeDrive architecture” which has an aluminium chassis and a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The i3 is expected to produce well over 130bhp from its electric motors.

    First sightings of BMW's new i3 electric model, due for official launch in 2013

    • sonyKopines says:

      If Moore’s Law applied to the auto industry a Rolls Royce would cost 50 quid do about 500 miles to the gallon and you’d throw her away after two years ownership… and there’s a bit of a problem I’d suspect. Development lead time in the auto biz is measured in years if not decades; while in the silicon biz it’s measured in months and at most a couple years, tick-tock (every odd year a new technological leap is announced, and every even year the silicon is shrunk and things like power management improved) means every two years we see an exponential leap in development. Consider the car industry, it can take up to ten years to R&D a new vehicle, even though there are very few patents in the industry these days i.e. most of the tech is old old old and out of patent dunkey’s generations back. Now this will obviously change as we EOL the infernal combustion engine and move to fuel cells and the likes. But my question is: how are you, as a car manufacturer, going to retool and relaunch your in-vehicle infotainment systems every couple years so you don’t get left behind looking Methuselan every 24 months? And what’s more, how are you going to do this when the punters aren’t any longer willing to pay primo bucks for your innovative electronic infotainment, because they already have things like GPS and other geo-computational apps plus digital radio, movies/tv and so forth on their smartphones and you can’t – as you could in the old days – frontload your innovation costs onto luxury car drivers, but must rather immediately make them available massmarket? IMO the only way to solve this is to partner up automakers with silicon designers and foundries and app programmers, utilising wireless connection protocols like Bluetooth and wifi (not USB or SD card) so that regardless of changes to standard ports and hardware both in the car and in the phone you can at least dispense with compatibility problems and enable free upgrades to the IVI during the (increasingly extended) life of the warranty (up to 7 years these days, that’s three and a half generations of silicon tech development in the life of a single car)

    • I see there is a new four-cylinder engine – which has a more advanced version of the system BMW Valvetronic variable valve timing. There will also be two six-cylinder engines: the 325i gets a 160kW 2.5-litre and the 330i a 190kW 3.0-litre turbo.

    • sonykopines says:

      Maureen Dowd of the NYT don’t seem to impressed with infotainment systems in cars: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/opinion/27dowd.html?_r=2&ref=maureendowd Nor does this guy:http://www.spectacle.org/0311/vincent.html. And I confess that driving my best mate’s old ’79 MG surely reminds me that tootling along in an XJ8 with networked everything somewhat distances the driver from the experience of driving by comparison. But comparisons are odious too. I guess the younger generation, Generation Wireless, are more accustomed to splitting their focus/concentration in a multiplicity of ways and we all jes’ a-gittin old. I’d still rather have cruise control ABS a decent sat-nav and sound system on board together with a bluetooth handsfree like as not. And with some cruise control systems that use radar or lasers to measure the distance between you and the car in front of you; there’s no doubt that things are getting safer all round. So on balance it’s a good thing even if the driving experience might be losing a certain je ne sais quoi that involves bobble hats and leather elbow patches. Others are welcome to it. If I want the wind in me hair and flies in my teeth I’ll buy a motorbike. But Ms Dowd’s and Mr Vincent’s take on infotainment and its power to distract the driver reminds me of a story I read once where an old man watching a young man kissing his girl as he drove her along in his car said: ” He’s doing two important things badly at the same time”.


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