By Joseph Lenart There is the idea of the BMW i3 and then there is driving the i3. Imagine no water pump, no oil changes, no valves, no oil cooler, and no gas station. The i3 is made of carbon fiber, it is “baked” and glued together in Leipzig, Germany; this modern plant is also home to 1 Series production. The i3 is built in a quiet environment, the workers are not required to wear hearing protection, and the electricity to build the vehicle is provided by large on-site windmills. These windmills can be seen filling the landscape in this part of Germany; these windmills are large and impressive. Now I know where all my old plastics bottles go, the i3 material seats are made from re-cycled plastic. The i3 is environmentally friendly to say the least; it is constructed from many other recycled materials. The dashboard wood comes from fast growing renewable forests; the leather seats are naturally dyed with olive oil and come in only one color, dark brown. Overall, BMW made a large investment in the entire production process for the new vehicle construction. In the week before Christmas, the BMW of North America national marketing program brought several i3s to the local BMW dealership as a stop on their national marketing tour. These i3s were European models not yet fully certified for the US market; they had just enough components to be allowed into the US temporarily. The vehicles were all orange with black trim and a black hood, actually all the color options will have a black hood with black trim and of course decorative kidney grills, since a radiator is no longer required. The electric motor is located in the rear of the vehicle on the driver side and the lithium-ion batteries are located at the bottom of the vehicle for a low center of gravity. Under the front hood is a small trunk to store the charging cables and other small items. More storage is available in the back similar to the BMW X1. The i3 electric motor produces the equivalent of 170 hp and 184 foot-pounds of torque; this power plant can propel the 2,700-pound i3 to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds. The range of the battery is stated as 80 to 100 miles on average, longer in economy mode. The test vehicle had the olive oil dyed leather seats which look nice and they were comfortable also. There was great outward visibility through the large windows and the dashboard area is very functional and appealing even with the large center display noted by many as a floating display. It did seem more integrated and visual visually appealing than...
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