New York Auto Show: BMWi3 Is The 2014 World Green Car Of The Year – Forbes

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014

Just in time for U.S. sales to begin in May, the battery powered BMW i3 electric vehicle drove off with awards in two categories of the World Car of the Year awards at the New York International Auto Show today.


First, the BMW i3 won 2014 World Green Car, selected by a jury of 69 automotive journalists from around the world.  The other finalists were the Volkswagen XL1, an extremely lightweight diesel-electric hybrid; and the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron, which runs on compressed natural gas or a synthetic fuel Audi calls e-gas.


The others are worthy competitors, but the BMW i3 is also formidable, with an expected range on a single charge of 80 to 100 miles, with zero tailpipe emissions (actually, there is no tailpipe).


Moments later, the BMW i3 won 2014 World Car Design of the Year. The other World Car Design finalists were the Mazda3 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.


That win was more of a surprise. With all due respect, the BMW i3 is an ugly duckling in terms of curb appeal. But to an engineer, it’s a rolling platform of innovations, especially in terms of packaging and material choices, starting with the extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, which makes up the underlying body structure.



English: BMW i3 Concept at IAA 2011. View: fro... English: BMW i3 Concept at IAA 2011. View: front right Deutsch: BMW i3 Concept auf der IAA 2011. Ansicht: vorne rechts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carbon fiber is known within the auto industry and to race fans as the strong but lightweight material inside Formula One race cars. Until recently, its use in production cars has been sparing because it’s so expensive.


BMW is trying to bring down unit costs by encouraging greater use of the material in cars like the BMW i3. The German automaker even owns part of a plant in Washington State that makes carbon fiber materials, including carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.


The BMW i3 is pricey. The sticker price starts at $42,275, including $925 destination charge. With a two-cylinder gasoline engine which acts as a “range extender,” it’s $46,125. That’s before a $7,500 federal tax credit.



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