Yesterday, the New York Times posted an article reviewing the latest and greatest environmentally-friendly vehicle to be offered from BMW, which includes a whole new slew of safety and efficiency features.
The article is part of a series by journalist Tom Voelk, who regularly tests out and reports on a variety of new and innovative vehicles. The BMW i3 (Photo Credit) is one of two current vehicles in this model series that boasts all-encompassing environmentally-friendly efficiency both in its overall design and how it operates.
The interior is made from lightweight carbon fiber and reinforced plastic-manufactured in a hydroelectric-powered factory in Washington-and the panels surrounding the interior are made from renewable Asian kenaf plants, which sounds very odd, but looks like a standard fabric.
Interesting specs on how the vehicle works includes a total electric engine with the option of purchasing a 1.9 gallon generator powered by gasoline for almost $4000 more. The car can travel up to 100 miles on battery power alone, and the brake pedal is hardly used when driving on domestic roadways. The regeneration of power is so effective that releasing the accelerator instantly slows the vehicle down and engages the brake lights. The tires are hardly wider than a grown man's foot, but with this vehicle weighing only 2,900 pounds, heavy-duty tires are hardly necessary. Photo Credit
The entire vehicle is assembled in a German plant that is powered by wind. The i3 comes with three model option packages, which vary from bamboo and leather interiors to heated seats, a larger screen on the dashboard, and a rear-view camera.
The BMW website lists five major safety features that the i3 includes:
1. Lithium-Ion High-Voltage Battery: Positioned in the middle of the frame, this battery is surrounded by a heating and air conditioning system that fluctuates very little, which increases the service life of the battery.
2. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic: Lightweight and high-strength, this material provides so-called "outstanding protection" to occupants in the event of an "emergency". The safety concern we have here on the material is how it performs in a collision, and how exactly it protects passengers and the driver.
3. Parking Assistance Package: This safety feature is really an add-on option to whatever model you decide to purchase-it does not come standard. The package includes front park assistance control, a rear-view camera, and an option to "fully automate" the car, which allows the vehicle to steer, accelerate, and brake itself. This package option is reminiscent of thedriverless cars that are currently being tested in the UK. The difference is, the BMW website does not elaborate on how this automatic option works and what the driver's role is.
4. BMW Assist eCall: This technology option-which also appears to not come standard-is equipped to transmit emergency notifications, such as an airbag being deployed inside the vehicle, to a BMW call center that gathers facts from a wreck through this system. Facts about a collision such as the vehicle's location, the type of wreck, and the direction of travel are used to then determine what emergency services are required at the scene of a wreck.Again, details of how the technology works is not outlined-perhaps this is on purpose to draw you into a dealer to learn more? (This technique is one of many that many auto makers use to drive sales and up-sell.)
5. BMW TeleService: This technology appears to come standard on every BMW, since it is apparently exclusive to BMW. This feature continuously monitors certain parts of the car that are known to require maintenance, and services that are regularly required, such as oil changes. The gathered data is transmitted to a BMW Center where a service advisor calls the owner to schedule appointments for service.
While this vehicle is no doubt environmentally friendly and includes a variety of interesting and innovative features, for safety or efficiency, we conclude that thetop nine safest vehicles that we discussed here on our blog last month are far more reliable and safer overall. Much of this new vehicle's advanced and creative safety features come at a higher cost because they are add-ons, and with the base model starting at $42,400, safety on this vehicle translates to a larger hole in your wallet.