The 2015 BMW i8’s entire design was drawn from its battery pack. Everything from its physical dimensions to the function of its doors are derived from the optimum shape in which its 96 lithium-ion cells have been arranged. The batteries rest in a nearly five-foot long arrangement, sealed inside an aluminum box at the heart of the car. The length allows the pack to be relatively narrow so as not to rob the passengers of room, but it also requires that the car itself be elongated with a matching wheelbase in order to house the remainder of the powertrain. Designing doors for a car with a long footprint and a short inseam can be tricky. Regular hinged doors won’t work, and gullwing would make ingress awkward for such a low vehicle, which is why BMW settled on its unique scissor doors that fold up along the A-pillar.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that BMW is willing to overcome a great number of challenges in order to obtain eco-friendly results. The i8’s 22-mile electric-driving range is well worth the extra time on the drawing board, and with BMW, you never had to doubt that the finished product would look as good as it does.
BMW i seeks to reduce its environmental impact even beyond the cars themselves. Take this BMW i Solar Carport Concept. More than just an artful half-garage, this carport is made up of sustainable materials and solar panels. The structure is made of bamboo and carbon elements while the photovoltaic cells serve as a roof to provide shade as well as sending the energy of the sun to the vehicle via the charging port. Using such a charging station could help you take your BMW i vehicle completely off the grid.
These efforts to limit carbon emissions extend even further beyond conventional thinking. Both the BMW i3 and i8 have undergone extensive crash testing, including a battery of computer simulations. BMW runs these simulations on computers in Iceland. Why Iceland? Eighty percent of the small Arctic country runs on renewable energy thanks to hydroelectric and geothermal power. Even the servers that BMW’s software runs on – all 1,300 of them – are cooled naturally by the chilly Icelandic air.
Where some might see eccentricity or an excess of effort, we see BMW’s environmental philosophy for what it is: Dedication to innovation in the hopes of making a better world.