The electric vehicle did not start with the Volt, the Leaf, the i3, or even with Tesla. EV’s had a brief appearance in the late 90’s/early 2000s. After being taken off the market for a few years, they returned with a bang; almost every company has designed their version of a modern day EV. I have only had the opportunity to test out two electric vehicles so far: The widely-popular Nissan Leaf and the brand new BMW i3. Both are wonderful rides but in my opinion, each has their own unique benefits.
Nissan Leaf- the Leaf was introduced in the US back in 2010. Since then, two more models have emerged for purchase or lease. I started leasing my 2013 Leaf last June and have been driving it daily for about a year. The car is very simple to drive once you get used to how an EV handles. I recharge in my garage (120v) overnight and wake up to a fully charged ride. I do not own a quick charge station but when I charge at a public location, my car is juiced up in about four hours (and that’s if it is really dead).
Interior- The interior of the Leaf comes in black leather, black cloth, partially recycled gray cloth, or partially recycled black cloth. The cabin has a slight futuristic look to it, but besides a few details it looks like most other cars of its size. The gear shift is an orb found on the middle console with a push to park button and a steering wheel that features normal radio and hands free controls along with a green “Eco” button. Backseat passengers can sit comfortably and use the back windows in the four-door Leaf.
Exterior- The 2013 Nissan Leaf comes in 7 different colors. In my opinion the car looks similar to a 2013 Prius in terms of shape, but is a bit longer in size. The headlights are huge and extremely bright at night, much brighter than other cars I have driven because of the LED lights. While the Leaf’s exterior may look strange to some, I think it looks pretty standard especially compared to the i3 more urban look. The charging port is at the front of the car, in between both headlights. I feel that a front port is much more vulnerable to being damaged even in a crash then the i3 side port making it impossible to charge.
Drive- the Leaf provides a very smooth drive and accelerates in just a few seconds. Very few people will understand just how fast EV acceleration is without driving it first. Both the gas and brake pedals are highly sensitive to the touch. Unique to the Leaf is their green eco button. The eco button will change your driving range from eco mode to standard, or what I like to call turbo mode. I always drive in eco to conserve my charge as long as possible, but if I need a quick burst of speed I can press the eco button and take off. Driving outside of eco mode for an extend amount of time will kill your battery quickly so I advise only using it when you need or want a quick burst of speed. The feeling of driving the Leaf or any other EV will take some time getting used to, but you will quickly adapt to how sensitive the car is.
The BMW i3- The BMW i3 will be available for purchase and lease this July. Both the i3 and Leaf have a standard plug letting you charge at any public charging station and both have a cord allowing you to plug into a normal 120v home outlet. You can install a few different in home charging systems if you prefer a quick charge rather than waiting overnight. Leaf owners have the option to use the Blink network while BMW has partnered with ChargePoint for their vehicles. Both charging systems can be used on either car the only difference being payment and subscription.
Interior- The i3 interior is beautifully designed and feels surprisingly open, much more so than the Leaf. Ninety-five percent of the interior is created from recycled fibers and materials with olive oil tanned leather and eucalyptus wood accents. The gear shift is on the right side of the wheel. The middle console has a BMW-signature navigation toggle found in their newer vehicles along with a switch to change from comfort, to eco pro, to eco pro+ mode. To enter the back seat you must open the front door, pull the interior switch to open the smaller back “coach door” and slide behind the driver or passenger seat. Remember to close the coach door before you close your passenger or driver side door. Rear windows do not roll down in the i3 which could be problematic for backseat passengers. BMW has designed low profile seats to allow more room in the back.
Exterior- The i3 has two color combinations, black and orange with grey accents or silver and black with blue accents. It has two standard doors along with two coach doors that open from the inside of the vehicle. The car seems to be shorter in length then the Leaf, although I did not measure them side to side. I did not try the car at night, so I don’t have much to say about nighttime visibility but I am sure the headlights are just as bright as the Leaf. Both cars have LED headlights to maximize battery life. The i3’s charging port is on the back right where a traditional fuel door would be on a gas car which makes more sense in my opinion then the Leaf’s front placement.
Drive- BMW’s navigation is phenomenal. It looks sleek and modern and having the control down in the middle console makes it much easier to use verses reaching up to a touch screen. As for the step-by-step navigation the i3 prepares you for your next turn early and does not take long to recalculate your route after making a wrong turn. Like the Leaf, the i3 accelerates extremely quickly from 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds. While the i3 is supposed to accelerate faster (by a few seconds) compared to the Leaf I did not notice a difference; both have amazing torque thanks to the direct-current battery. Changing from comfort to eco pro or eco pro+ will not give you the same boost of power as changing modes on the Leaf. Instead the modes reduce fuel consumption up to 20% by optimizing cabin temperature and lighting. A unique feature to the i3 is how quickly it decelerates when you take your foot off the gas. As I started my drive in it I keep removing my foot from the gas and jerking forward, almost to a complete stop. While it takes a while to get used to I believe the quick deceleration without the use of the brake is an added safety benefit. I thought the Leaf’s gas and brake pedals were sensitive, but the i3 took it to a new level. Only a small amount of pressure is needed to accelerate or brake.
Both the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3 provide an amazing drive. Each car accelerates fast, drives smooth, and responds quickly. The i3 has a much more luxurious feel which is expected from a BMW. The interior has a Zen, open feel with sleek technology and beautiful accents. On the contrary, the Leaf standard design provides a more comfortable ride for back seat passengers. Both cars are city cars, meaning they will not get more than 100 miles per charge. For my day-to-day drive this is more than enough, and if my range is low I hop on surface streets; the car recharges slightly as you brake, making stoplights your new friend. EV’s take driving to a whole new level; I highly recommend taking one for a spin if you get the chance! The i3 will be available at Chapman BMW this June.
It’s no secret that BMW continues to roll out new versions of its existing lineup. The latest model BMW has officially unveiled is the BMW X4 crossover, which features a coupe-like shape similar to the X6.
The BMW X4 is built on the same platform as the X3 and will be offered in the same xDrive28i and XDrive35i versions, which means the base version is powered by a 240-hp 2.0L turbocharged engine, while the xDrive35i gets a 300-hp 3.0L six-cylinder. Both engines are mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The xDrive28i reaches 0-60 mph in six seconds, while the xDrive35i only takes 5.2 seconds to reach the same speed. Those familiar with BMW model naming will know that both come standard with all-wheel-drive.
Inside, elegance mixes with sporting intentions, with a high-gloss black panel accented with aluminum trim strips in the wood paneling. With more standard features than the X3, the X4 comes with a sports leather steering wheel, variable sport steering, and rear parking sensors. Also standard is a power tailgate, but for those who want to open it simply by moving their foot underneath the tailgate, that will be optional.
Also on the options list is a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian and collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot system, surround rearview camera, and a park assist system that parallel parks the X4. If you don’t like making too many trips to the gas station, the X4 is also available with eco mode and a start-stop system.
BMW digs deep into its technology resources for the X4, offering everything from the latest version of iDrive to LED headlights. The car will come with a data connection to power Google search in the navigation system and support app integration through BMW Connect. The new version of iDrive comes with a touch pad for gesture control embedded into its main dial.
The X4 can be further customized with the M Sport package. Per usual, that option will outfit the X4 with an aerodynamics package, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, Anthracite headliner, M leather steering wheel, M door sills, M driver’s footrest, and 19- or 20-inch wheels.
For more information on the BMW X4, visit Chapman BMW.
The supercar is changing.
High horsepower and abysmal fuel economy are no longer staples of expensive, exotic supercars. Tomorrow’s supercars will be hybrids, packing high-horsepower engines and efficient electric motors. While BMW’s foray into hybrid supercars isn’t as aspirational as Porsche’s 918 or McLaren’s P1, the BMW i8 is a great stepping stone for the German automaker. The BMW i8 doesn’t command the astronomical price tag of the 918 or P1 either.
The BMW i8 is set to arrive in showrooms, like Chapman BMW Chandler, in the spring of 2014 for a cool $135,925. What makes the BMW i8 such a unique vehicles is that it really has no true competition. The Fisker Karma is no more while the Tesla Model S is a fully electric family sedan—not a 2+2 coupe like the i8.
Power comes from a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged engine, and a synchronous electric motor. Total output is rated at 360 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. This should be enough power to launch the i8 from 0 to 60 in just 4.3 seconds.
While that may not be real supercar speeds, it is very quick for a hybrid that looks as exotic as the i8. Once inside the i8, the interior feels distinctly futuristic while still offering the opulence BMW is known for. Recycled plastic and wool create the headliner floor mats and other interior bits. This is just the i8’s commitment to eco friendliness.
The passenger cell of the BMW i8 is carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which contributes to the i8’s relatively low weight of around 3300 pounds. Exotic materials are used throughout the i8, helping it reduce weight for increased efficiency.
Ultimately, the BMW i8 is the future of all cars. It’s combination of exotic and recycled materials combined with a fuel-efficient engine and electric motor will soon be the standard. While it isn’t the high-horsepower supercar like the 918 and P1, it still offers exceptional performance for what it is. Stop by your local BMW dealer for more information.
It’s no secret that fuel economy is a bigger concern among drivers than ever. As technology evolves, and with government fuel economy standards rising, better fuel economy is sure to continue well into the future. But no matter the car you drive, aggressive driving wastes gas. In fact, it can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.
BMW has always been focused on pursuing efficient driving technologies. BMW EfficientDynamics represents a comprehensive package of innovative technologies designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, increase driving dynamics, and ultimately allow drivers to visualize their fuel efficiency.
Among the latest of these technologies is BMW’s ECO PRO mode, which BMW claims will enable drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent. When you select the ECO PRO mode using the driving experience switch, the system tells you if you’re accelerating too aggressively. And for maximum energy efficiency, automatic transmissions will shift even faster in higher gears and automatic air conditioning will be subject to energy-optimized settings. Visit an Arizona BMW dealer to see for yourself.
To take it a step further, BMW has added an ECO PRO Analyzer to the existing free BMW app for smartphones. The ECO PRO Analyzer evaluates driving style and how efficiently the driver accelerates, brakes and changes gear. This can help to extend the range of the vehicle. Useful ECO tips additionally help to achieve an even more efficient driving style. The goal is to help drivers develop a more efficient driving style in ECO PRO mode.
The analyzer uses a star rating function. The number of stars shows how good the result was in each of the individual categories over the previous ten minutes. The more stars you’ve earned, the faster the bonus range will build up.
The road (pictured above) improves as more stars are won. If you earn all of the stars, the road becomes perfectly smooth. However, the road also reacts with inefficient driving.
The high score list (pictured above) in the vehicle shows the four journeys that you have achieved the best average fuel consumption. For reference purposes, the average fuel consumption for the current journey is displayed above them. Only drives exceeding a distance of three miles will be stored.
To prevent driver distraction, it is best to test this function with a passenger in the car. For more information on BMW EfficientDynamics, or the BMW Connected App, visit Chapman BMW in Chandler.
The US launch of the BMW i3 all electric vehicle is highly anticipated at Chapman BMW. Fully electric cars have significantly higher energy efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional vehicles. Already on a wait list, the i3 will be BMW’s first fully electric car that also boasts “cradle to grave” sustainability. BMW has ensured that sustainable practices and materials are incorporated in the i3 from the start of the production process, to ownership, and finally to the end of the cars life.
BMW’s Leipzig shop which manufactures the i3 is LEED Gold certified and gathers all of its energy to operate from four wind turbines. To become LEED Gold certified, BMW Lepizig needed to earn high points in nine categories ranging from waste and water efficiency, to design, materials, and sustainable education. It is the first automobile manufacture in Germany to obtain all of its energy solely from wind turbines. The turbines generate so much electricity that BMW finds them self with a surplus after powering the factory. BMW outsources the carbon fiber used for the passenger cell of the car from a facility in Moose Lake, Washington that produces 100 percent of its electricity from hydro power and has 50 percent less CO2 emissions then others facilities like it. The choice to use malleable carbon fiber sheets verses aluminum saves BMW energy in production as well as produces a car that is light weight increasing over all driving range.
A portion of the i3’s interior is created with recycled materials and environmentally refined wood accents, while the leather is tanned with olive leaf extract as a natural alternative to traditional chemicals. Any aluminum features in the exterior or interior of the car are made from melted down recycled aluminum, cutting energy use up to 95 percent that what would be needed to melt down aluminum alloy.
The least sustainable part of all electric vehicles happens to be the part that powers them. Batteries can be made of recycled components, but cannot be melted back down and recreated because of toxic chemicals inside. BMW’s solution to the i3’s battery is in a re purposing program. After 1000 charges, the battery is replaced with an all new one to ensure maximum range performance. The old battery is then turned into a solar energy storage cell for residential use or is combined with other batteries to build a large storage cell to store extra power produced from renewable sources.
BMW is the first car company to create an electric vehicle that maintains sustainability efforts throughout its production stages and past the death of the car. The i3 will come to Chapman BMW for a test drive event in April 2014, and will be available for purchase at Phoenix BMW dealerships June 2014.
Information was obtained from BMW’s Veritably Sustainable Press Release.