BMW have been heavily focusing on carbon fiber as a means of reducing the weight of its higher end models like the BMW 7-series and the BMW 5-series.
The former was the first BMW model to come with a carbon core, which along with other aspects helped the vehicle achieve savings of almost 200 kg over the outgoing version. The recently launched BMW 5-series also used a carbon core, albeit on a limited scale, to achieve weight savings in the region of 100 kg.
Just when it seemed that the company would pass on this technology to the lower end models like many other aspects, BMW has confirmed that the carbon core feature would be retained only for the high-end models. The price conscious lower-end vehicles like the BMW 1-series will not get this feature. A lighter car has numerous advantages like less braking power, less power required to accelerate quickly, and higher overall fuel economy. The latter is especially important for makers like BMW who focus on luxury cars. Their models usually tend to offer lower fuel economy, which impacts the sale of vehicles in highly restrictive markets like the United States.
The use of carbon core not only provides lightness, but it also increases the overall rigidity of the vehicle substantially. Despite being one of the strongest elements known to mankind, carbon is also extremely light. However, it is also quite expensive, thereby making its application in a value market highly prohibitive. BMW recently opened a high-tech research facility – at a cost of more than $20 million – in order to research on lightweight materials.
The company has confirmed its intention is to rely on elements like aluminum in order to keep the weight low when it comes to models like the BMW 1-series.
BMW has learnt it the hard way when it comes to pricing in the lower end segment. The BMW i3, which is a full electric vehicle, is one of the first vehicles from the BMW line-up to offer maximum use of carbon core. However, it places the vehicle at a prohibitively expensive €45,000 while Tesla have been able to price the Model 3 at a reasonable $35,000. The latter has already received more than 400,000 bookings around the world while the BMW i3 continues to struggle for interest amongst buyers.
BMW recently confirmed its intentions to come out with all electric versions of vehicles like the BMW X3 and the Mini in the next few years.