The i Series represents a different mode of thinking from the main line of BMW. Recently, the head of design for BMW i, Benoit Jacob, did some Q & A with Car and Driver to talk about the themes at the heart of the i3.
If there are two ideas at the heart of the i3, they are probably sustainability and sensibility. Jacob repeatedly says that his team tried to use materials in an “authentic manner,” which is why carbon fiber is used strictly as a structural component and not as decoration. Similarly, there’s only one piece of wood used in the interior, but as Jacob says, “it’s a really nice [piece of wood],” which creates a trough for storage that hearkens back to the BMW 2002.
Indeed, authenticity might be the car’s defining trait, encapsulating those ideas of sustainability and sensibility. Asked about the overall theme of the i3’s interior, Jacob said this:
“We were designing an electric car. And of course electric cars, with their batteries, are limited in range. I wanted the design department to understand and make its contribution to increasing the range. Sometimes those solutions are technology, but sometimes those solutions are people. What if the interior would inspire a more relaxed driving behavior? It’s Zen, in a way. From a higher design level, that was quite an interesting challenge.
“The car is quick . . . but we don’t want to actually motivate that. If we take an M car, with all its dials and the way you sit in the car, of course you’re going to want to drive quickly, and you’ll probably waste more energy.”
It’s clear that the folks at BMW weren’t building an EV as adherence to some fad. There’s an earnestness to all of the work they have put into building these cars and the BMW i sub-brand.
As further evidence, if BMW was just cashing in, they probably wouldn’t be partnering with Volkswagen to expand the network of high-speed charging stations. A report from a few weeks ago shows that the two German auto manufacturers are working with ChargePoint to install nearly one hundred new DC Fast Chargers in the US. Infrastructure updates such as this one are key to accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, so it’s certainly a mutually beneficial deal.