By Bill Koenig
BMW AG’s i3 electric vehicle “is the most dramatically different car since the Model T,” a consultant said, describing the results of a teardown his firm performed on the model.
“If I were an executive, I would be thinking, ‘How am I going to compete with this?’” Sandy Munro, chief executive officer of Munro & Associates in Auburn Hills, MI, said in an interview on Tuesday.
Asked how important the model is on a scale of 1 to 10, Munro said it was “8 ½ to 9” for its extensive use of carbon fiber, which is lighter and stronger than other materials.
“The whole car, that’s an 11,” Munro said. “It’s got the best battery on the planet. This just isn’t carbon fiber. We’re blown away by this electric motor.”
The i3, which starts at about $42,400 can get up to 81 miles (130 kilometers) per change and that it can be recharged in about three-and-a-half hours.
Earlier in the day, Munro gave a presentation at the SAE World Congress in Detroit about the BMW model.
Munro estimates the tooling costs for the i3 are about a third compared with a conventional car with stamped steel parts.
“Not a lot of energy has to be put into the parts in order to build it,” Munro said of the i3.
Carbon fiber has been used in aerospace and race cars. Automakers haven’t widely used the material because “perception is reality,” Munro said. “The perception was carbon fiber is too expensive. R&D was needed. Nobody in North America wants to spend anything on R&D.”
Lighter weight materials have become a priority for automakers, which are under regulatory pressure to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Ford Motor Co. last year introduced a new aluminum version of its F-150 pickup. Companies are also looking into high-strength steels – where less steel is required – as a way to cut vehicle weight.
Published Date : 4/21/2015