BMW i3

124 MPGe**, are you kidding me? That is impressive. The new BMW i3 all-electric vehicle is officially the most energy-efficient automobile in the United States. It beats out the Prius, Spark, Leaf and Tesla. How do they do it? The body and internal structure is made almost completely of carbon fiber.

**Note: MPGe means miles per gallon equivalent. It is an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) term coined to describe the measurement of hybrid vehicle mileage.

Carbon fiber is strong strands of pure carbon woven together and melded with a resin so it can be shaped to the configuration desired. This gives you a product that is five times as strong as steel but weighs two-thirds less, translating into a 60-percent decrease in overall weight. Less weight equals more MPGe.

If carbon fiber is so great, why hasn’t it been used years ago? The answer is simple: price. Steel costs less than a dollar a pound to produce while carbon fiber costs about $10 a pound.  However, fuel has reached a point that if a vehicle is designed intelligently, the overall price can be brought down to something (relatively) affordable. The new BMW i3 is $41,350 before any tax credits, $33,850 after tax credits, and if you live in California it can come down to $31,350 after you get the California EV credit. $31,350 is about the average cost of a new vehicle in the U.S. Along with fuel savings and performance, the reasonable price could be the reason that BMW has 10,000 pre-orders for the i3.

What does this have to do with auto glass replacement? One of the concerns about this vehicle was that, due to the carbon fiber body, repair costs would be way too high for the vehicle to be popular. Hearing this concern led BMW to promote the ease of repairing the vehicle. They maintain that fixing a damaged panel is as simple as remove, throw away and attach a new panel.  However, what about the removal and replacement of the glass parts? Will the typical tools used to remove the glass damage the body? It seems that BMW believes that they will. So they have recommended the use of a fiber cord, wire-out procedure for removal of the glass parts.  Evidently, BMW is afraid that the use of other tools will damage the carbon fiber but they do not mention what would happen if it is scratched or superficially damaged.

Here is an interesting article concerning the i3 and an interesting picture showing a quarterglass removed with a tool we have heard of before but seems to be a new tool for the BMW i3.


What do you think? Will you be lining up to purchase this vehicle?