Electric BMW i3 Test Drive at 2013 LA Auto Show

by Dean Adams Curtis

Inspired by a panel discussion about the future of sustainable mobility hosted in mid-November by UCLA’s Smart Grid Energy Research Center and the German American Business Association, which featured stimulating discussions by representatives of the BMW leadership team, as well as by Dr. Rajit Gadh of UCLA and others, Green Family Car asked the panel’s moderator Michael Boehm, founder of the Advanced Sustainability Institute, to meet the following day at the 2013 LA Auto Show for a test drive of BMW’s new i3 electric vehicle.

We’re particularly impressed by the fact that the fun-to-drive i3 EV’s are produced at German assembly plants which get all their energy from renewable sources like on-site windmills. These plants get their carbon fiber on big spools after it is cooked in an assembly line of electric ovens at a new U.S. plant in Moses Lake, Washington, which gets all its electricity from Grand Coulee Dam hydropower.

Examining the i3 story closely reveals that this new EV entry has been designed from scratch for maximum sustainability, as well as emission-free agile driving, following on the heels of BMW’s ActiveE electric sedans, many of which are rolling on the streets of San Francisco for rent and easy, fully-charged pickup, provided by BMW’s Drive Now subsidiary. The ActiveE electric sedans inherited lessons learned during a rollout of BMW-owned Mini electric vehicles, the MiniEs, which were created rapidly using off-the shelf components to thrust BMW into the center of the field of EV play.

And if you feel that you need more than the 80 to 100 mile range that BMW predicts you will get with your i3, you’re able to purchase a range extender, one of BMW’s small motorcycle engines, that uses gas from a two-gallon gas tank to create electrons to recharge your batteries.

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