Production begins on BMW i3 electric car

Industrial-scale manufacture of composite material enables lightweight EV

Published: September 20, 2013, 5:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 2:53 PM

BMW i3 Production

BMW has begun series production of its lightweight i3 electric vehicle at a plant in Leipzig, Germany.

The body structure of the BMW i3 consists entirely of lightweight carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), thus offsetting the extra weight of the batteries for the car's electric drive system.

It is said to be the first time that carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) has been used in automotive volume production. By industrializing the manufacturing process for CFRP, BMW says it has become the first company worldwide to make its use in vehicle production economically viable.

The first BMW i3 off the production line will serve as the lead car for the International Berlin Marathon on September 29.

Deliveries to customers in Germany and other European countries will begin in November and the car will be launched other markets, including Canada, in the first half of 2014.

The company has invested about €600 million in the BMW i production network and generated over 1,500 jobs.

"Today represents a milestone in our company’s development," said BMW production chief, Harald Krüger. "We are making history with the BMW i3. Not only is our first electric car about to hit the road, we are also completely redefining sustainability... thanks to groundbreaking technologies and processes."

He added: "We require 50% less energy and 70% less water, and source the electric energy for production of the BMW i models CO2-free from the wind turbines at the plant."