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The revolutionary BMW i3 premium all-electric vehicle made its global debut just a few days ago, representing a new form of sustainable mobility. There’s a lot to get excited about here. BMW claims that this is the future, now.

A crucial aspect of the BMW i3 is its groundbreaking LifeDrive architecture. The all-carbon-fibre platform is so lightweight, giving this electric car enough pep to put it in the same performance ballpark as today’s sub-200 hp hot-hatches such as the Peugeot 208 GTi and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Consistent lightweight construction is especially important for electrically-powered vehicles, as, alongside battery capacity, the vehicle weight is the limiting factor for the range. The lighter the vehicle, the greater the range, because the electric motor has less mass to move when accelerating.

This concept calls for the use of modern lightweight construction materials. BMW’s answer? Carbon-fibre, which until now is used exclusively in top-tier vehicles where production cost is not a limiting factor. It obviously is for a mass-produced car like the BMW i3, though.

Previously, large-scale use of carbon-fibre was deemed too expensive by others. Through innovative production processes, BMW Group is now the only automobile manufacturer to possess the necessary expertise for industrialised mass production of carbon-fibre.

The entire carbon-fibre manufacturing process, which starts in Moses Lake in the US, then passed to Germany in Wackersdorf and Landshut and on to final construction in Leipzig, has been carefully controlled by BMW to conserve the environment and resources involved.

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It’s a long and carefully thought-out process. The i3’s basic bodyshell is made up of around 150 parts, one-third fewer than in a conventional sheet steel body. In construction and assembly, there’s no noise pollution from screwing or riveting, no sparks flying during welding, as only adhesive technology is used.

The long curing time dictated by traditional carbon-fibre production has been accelerated for the i3. What would take days for small batch productions is now completed within minutes through use of newly-developed adhesive, thermal and bonding processes.

Every little detail and new innovations add up to make the use of carbon-fibre financially and physically viable for a large-scale, mass-produced project – something that is unheard of before. The revolutionary production concept of the BMW i3 sets new standards in the use of the exotic material in an everyday car.

Ultimately then, the new BMW i3 is the first mass-produced car to be made primarily of carbon-fibre, but with manageable costs involved. It will still be priced like a BMW, but considerably lower than anything else with a state-of-the-art carbon-fibre construction. Now, this is a cost-cutting process that you won’t look down upon with condescending eyes.