Gamechanger: the BMW i3


A radical departure from what had gone before, the i3 set BMW on the path to electrification via a collaborative, though not always harmonious, relationship between the German OEMs design and engineering teams. Mark Smyth charts the story of this gamechanging car

We’ve all been excited by a concept car and then thought, “it’s never going to go into production like that”. Perhaps you’ve designed a few knowing full well that the end result will be toned down dramatically from the sketch that resides on your studio wall. All too often the vision and the eventual reality are very different.

Then there’s the BMW i3. BMW gave us clues with the Megacity concept but let’s be honest, most of us imagined the technology would be transferred into a body more in keeping with the brand’s existing design, possibly into a 1 Series or the Mini. Even if it was to become a new model, surely the world wasn’t ready for a BMW that looked like that.

In 2011 the i3 concept made its debut and we were shocked to see that it still looked radically different, not just to any other BMW but to any other car. Was BMW really about to have its Audi A2 moment? Was it really going to take such a big risk? Surely not.

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