The final farewell to the BMW i3 marks the end of an era in BMW Leipzig Plant. And it also becomes a momentous moment in the history of motorsports and electric mobility. Nine years Since its launch, the BMW i3 has been a source of inspiration, a driver of innovation and a pioneer of driving pleasure that is the motto of the brand that shines on its radiator grille. After 250,000 units produced the moment of farewell arrives.
The list of attributes that have accompanied BMW’s first series production electric car is long. Since its arrival in a barely exploited market in 2013, it has been shown as an exotic specimen becoming a classic with an unmistakable charisma. After its production period, it now goes down in the company’s history as pioneer of sustainable mobility.
In the month of July 2022, which begins today, it will leave the production lines in Leipzig the last unit of this compact that revolutionized the panorama of electric cars. With a groundbreaking aesthetic, the result of its development from scratch to be an electric car, with suicide rear doors and made of carbon fiber, its design was not without controversy. Its power train stood out for its performance and novelty of the use of the ‘one pedal’ (generalized later in many other models). The BMW i3 should go down in history as an icon of electric mobility.
Born as a concept in 2011, the first generation of the BMW i3 was launched in 2013 with 190 kilometers of autonomy. It was accompanied by a second version of extended range thanks to a small two-cylinder gasoline engine. The first update arrived in 2016, offering a larger battery capacity that increased its autonomy up to 312 kilometers. In 2017, without changing the battery capacity, BMW launched the BMW i3s with a motor with 10 kW more power, a range of 280 kilometers and some features that offered a sportier dynamism.
As of November 2018, BMW started selling the currently marketed version with a new battery with a gross capacity of 42.2 kWh and a useful 37.8 kWh and a WLTP autonomy that is between 285 and 310 kilometers. This latest update definitively ended the version with a range extender in Europe, which was no longer offered in the US.
In its final stretch, the BMW i3 once again showed its elegant and extravagant side. The BMW i3s HomeRun Edition received for the first time a Frozen paint finish associated with a maximum of exclusivity: only ten units of this special edition that commemorated his farewell.
The production of these ten special models was a final highlight not only for the employees involved in their production at the Leipzig plant. Customers of the special models were able to witness for themselves how the assembly process of their vehicles was finished in the assembly room.
Nine years of production
The BMW i3 ends its production cycle with impressive production figures. Just a few days ago, the lines at the Leipzig plant came off the 250,000th unit, making the BMW i3 the most successful electric vehicle in the premium compact segment in the world. Contrary to what might be expected of a disappearing model, his popularity did not wane as he matured.
The BMW i3 has been sold in more than 74 countries around the world. In many of them, it achieved a significantly higher market share in the electric vehicle segment than its own brand BMW in the area of conventionally powered cars. It also succeeded in inspiring additional target groups in BMW’s premium mobility offerings. In the early years, more than 80% of all BMW i3 buyers were new customers of the BMW Group.
Their architecture It consists of an aluminum chassis, on which the e-drive electrical system, suspension and high-voltage battery are mounted, and a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger compartment called Life Drive. This design, developed from the outset to serve a 100% electric vehicle, made possible a generous interior space and a cabin and center console design that brings together high quality and high technology.
The same goes for the Exterior design. The BMW i3 retains its groundbreaking appearance after nine years of life thanks to lines that seek more the technological avant-garde than current fashions.
In addition to the fully electric drive, the ecological balance of the BMW i3 also stems from the choice of materials that make up your upholstery, oriented towards sustainability and production that conserves resources. It was the first BMW Group model to receive an ISO certificate issued by independent auditors at the time of its market launch, confirming its optimized environmental commitment throughout its entire life cycle.
The symbolic power of the BMW i3
These characteristics have not only made the BMW i3 a pioneer in the transformation towards emission-free mobility. “The BMW i3 has great symbolic power,” says Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the BMW Board of Management. He describes the development of the BMW i3 as a excellent example of “BMW style”. This is characterized in particular by his search for “pioneering themes, to do something different and not just go with the mainstream”. This mentality continues to endure, according to Zipse, because “even the BMW iX, which is quite amazing in its capabilities, has its origins in this corporate culture.”
The employees involved in manufacturing the BMW i3 at the BMW Group plant in Leipzig know very well what this culture means in practice. Innovative processes, unique in the automotive industry, have been established there to mold large-format body parts from a high-tech material such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). Today, the BMW Group has unique expertise in the industrial use of carbon fiber in body construction and aluminum for chassis component design.
A new start for the Leipzig factory
“The BMW i3 is a true pioneer and the epitome of pioneering spirit,” says Milan Nedeljković, member of the BMW Production Management Board. “Thanks to the BMW i3, the Leipzig plant became the birthplace of electric mobility at BMW” and will remain “electric” in the future, says Nedeljković. “It will become the hub for electric mobility and supply components to our production network around the world.”
For the Leipzig plant, the dismissal of the BMW i3 is linked to the start of a new chapter in electric mobility. In a smooth transition, more components from the fifth generation of e-drive components for BMW electric cars will be manufactured there. In addition to producing high-voltage battery modules, a task that has already been done since May 2021, the next generation of the electric MINI Countryman will start next year.
In this way, the experience in electric mobility of its workers, accumulated in recent years, will be applied to new objectives. At the same time the Leipzig plant becomes the first location in the company’s global production network where BMW and MINI models are built together.