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BMW presents i3 Concept Coupé battery-electric vehicle at the LA Auto Show; focus on connectivity for driver assistance and intermodal mobility

BMW i3 Concept Coupé. Click to enlarge.

BMW is unveiling the i3 Concept Coupé study at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show; the vehicle has been brought out in parallel to the ongoing development process for getting the first battery-electric model from the BMW i brand ready for series production, and demonstrates the potential for conceivably extending the model range, according to the company.

Like the original BMW i3 Concept (earlier post), the three-door coupe is propelled by an electric motor developed by the BMW Group, which develops a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 N·m (184 lb-ft). Power delivery to the rear wheels is via a single-speed transmission. The Li-ion battery pack is placed under the floor.

BMW i3 Concept Coupé. Click to enlarge.

The passenger cell forms the core of the Life module, which is built from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). On the BMW i3 Concept Coupé, the drive system, chassis and energy storage unit, along with the structural and crash functions, are once again incorporated into the Drive module that is made chiefly of aluminium.

The Driving Experience Control switch on the center console can be used to select the three driving modes: COMFORT, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+. The sportiness and comfort of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe can be best experienced in the standard COMFORT setting. ECO PRO mode places the focus more on economical energy management for an increased range. The accelerator mapping is modified, for example, so that the same pedal travel delivers less power. At the same time, the heating and air conditioning are switched into a more energy-efficient operating mode. Changing from COMFORT to ECO PRO mode can extend the vehicle’s range by as much as 20%.

Efficiency can be boosted yet further in ECO PRO+ mode, which is designed to do everything possible to maximize driving range. Not only is the accelerator mapping modified, maximum speed is also limited to 90 km/h (56 mph). Comfort functions such as the heating and air conditioning are furthermore run at the minimum level required to prevent the windows from misting up, for instance. Electrical consumers like the seat heating, mirror heating and non-essential components of the daytime running lights are even switched off completely. As a result of all this, more miles can be added to the vehicle’s range.

The BMW eDrive system fitted in the BMW i3 Concept Coupé is designed to allow the vehicle to cover a distance of around 160 kilometers (100 miles) on a full battery charge. With the BMW i ConnectedDrive services that were purpose-developed for electric mobility applications powered by eDrive technology, the driver receives realistic estimates of the vehicle’s current range, which can be viewed even before setting off.

Connectivity. Both the navigation system and the BMW i ConnectedDrive services have been tailored to the specific demands of electric mobility. Apart from the route guidance function, the system also offers drivers assistance with mobility requirements that extends beyond just the journey planning. One of the key elements of the networked navigation unit is a dynamic range display, which delivers reliable readings by factoring in relevant variables. The battery’s charge status, driving style, activity of electric comfort functions and the selected driving mode are all taken into account for the calculation, along with the route’s topography and current traffic levels.

The system is therefore able to make allowance for the extra energy used up for both an upcoming climb and stop/start traffic or traffic jams, and lowers its range calculation accordingly. Real-time traffic data is also added to the equation. The information is analysed and evaluated centrally by the BMW ConnectedDrive server that stays in permanent communication with the vehicle via the built-in SIM card. The SIM card’s fixed installation ensures an optimum connection at all times throughout the vehicle’s life.

Peripheral contours show the points that can be reached with the current state of charge. Click to enlarge.

The dynamic range display is visualized on the vehicle’s central information display not only as a figure but also as a peripheral contour within the navigation map. Taking the vehicle’s current location as a starting point, all points that can be reached with the available energy reserves are joined up to form a peripheral contour.

Since the driver is able to actively influence the vehicle’s energy consumption and therefore its range by switching the driving mode, the graphical representation of the range calculation is always made available in two variants, allowing the driver to view the relevant current range regardless of whether the COMFORT, ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode is selected.

When route guidance is activated, the driver is given a precise and true-to- reality indication of whether the destination is within range and how much energy he has to spare. The most efficient route is also shown as an alternative to the fastest. If necessary, the Range Assistant will even recommend changing to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode in order to increase the range.

If desired, the driver is able to call up a charging station near to the destination and reserve it with another push of a button. The system additionally notifies him of the charging time required before commencing the return journey or the onward journey to the next destination.

The mobility planning information provided is made available on the customer’s smartphone as well as in the vehicle courtesy of a smartphone app for the iOS and Android operating systems which was specially developed for BMW i. The app is a further development of the eRemote functions from BMW ConnectedDrive and offers the driver constant access to the vehicle data and relevant route planning information.

If the vehicle is plugged into a public charging station or the BMW i wallbox, the charging procedure can be controlled both remotely and via a timer function. The range display shown in the BMW i navigation system can also be viewed on the smartphone in the same format as in the vehicle. The BMW i app can additionally be used to search for and select either a navigation destination or a free charging station and then import it to the vehicle’s system. Available charging stations are indicated in both the navigation unit and the BMW i app, which also show whether the stations are currently free.

Intermodal navigation and planning. When the driver leaves the vehicle at the journey’s end, he or she can use the pedestrian navigation function built into the BMW i app to guide him or her to the final destination. For this, the navigation destination selected by the driver in the vehicle is automatically transferred to the BMW i app via the BMW ConnectedDrive server.

The route planning function that was specially developed for BMW i and the specific requirements of urban centers also includes local public transport networks, allowing the available transport connections to be taken into account if required. This gives the driver the option of selecting an intermodal route in his BMW i car, whereupon he is first directed to a public car park by the navigation system. After leaving his vehicle, he now uses the BMW i app to guide him first to the correct bus or tram stop and then on to his destination while completing the final leg of the journey on foot.

In addition to this, BMW i also offers mobility services that can be incorporated into the customer’s mobility planning. These include the premium car-sharing service DriveNow and the ParkNow facility enabling parking spaces to be booked via a smartphone app. ParkNow and other services are provided to the customer via BMW ConnectedDrive and made available to use in the navigation system.


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