The fact that BMW board member Harald Krüger, Saxon Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich, Leipzig Mayor Burkhard Jung, responsible managers and a few hundred employees all applauded the i3 production start when the first mass-produced i3 rolled off the assembly line goes without saying. However, it was different from similar events. It was more than the routine start of production of a new model. It was actually the first step into a new era of individual mobility: The fact that BMW “makes history today”, as CEO Krüger said, is not an exaggeration. For the first time, a production car rolled off the assembly line, which was designed and constructed from the ground up as an electric vehicle. Anyone who says now, but many i3 are already rolling across the streets is right. But series production is very different from pre-series production. The first series vehicle is to run ahead of the runners at the Berlin Marathon on September 29th.
In fact, the uncompromising consistency with which BMW acts when it comes to electric vehicles also impresses with the i3 series start-up. Not only that the i3 and later the i8 are driven purely electrically, the production is probably the most "regenerative" in the world: with its own power supply through four wind turbines placed in front of the factory, a 70 percent lower water requirement and energy-efficient ventilation without air conditioning.
Another record-breaking fact is the 50 percent halved production time compared to conventional vehicles. BMW not only sets standards in the production process, but also in the entire i-project. In fact, the production appears very different than in normal car factories. No welding with flying sparks, no noisy presses that form body parts, but state-of-the-art adhesive technology that assembles those parts made of the black wonder material carbon. A total of 160 meters of adhesive tape must be coated precisely per vehicle. The innovative architecture of the BMW i3 consists of two elements: the active drive module made of aluminum, in which the drive, the chassis, the energy storage as well as the structure and crash functions are integrated, and the life module made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, the forms the passenger compartment.
BMW has been working with CFRP components that were first installed in the roof of the M3 for about ten years. The learning process has led to the fact that today an economical and high-quality large-scale production with high process reliability is possible. In this period, the manufacturing costs for CFRP body components have already been reduced by around 50 percent.
Anyone who sees the i3 on the street is amazed at how the paint on the outer skin shines. No wonder, because it is not coated carbon, but plastic, from which the entire outer skin is made. Only the roof is made from recycled CFRP. Here too, the consistent implementation of highly efficient processes. Now only the customers have to buy i3 consistently.