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Brief Published: 23 Sep 2013

BMW i3 Switches to Carbon Fibre


German automaker BMW has launched the first large-scale production of its new i-Car project that seeks to build electric cars from carbon fibre instead of steel. The new production process offers a lower-cost way to assemble vehicles.

Electric car batteries are currently expensive and offer very little driving range. Using lightweight materials like carbon fibre reduces the weight the batteries have to propel. Carbon fibre also allows for a radical and simplified body assembly system: lightweight plastics can be glued together using precision-programmed robotics. 

BMW designed the i3 city car to have between 100 to 120 separate parts in its body structure, compared to a steel body vehicle with 400. The underbody of the i3 is made by stacking sheets of carbon fibre that are then heat-moulded into window pillars and doorframes. The outer body is also made of plastic that can be painted without water waste and requires no rust-proofing, lowering factory utility costs. 

For more auto innovations, look out for Stylus coverage of Frankfurt Auto Show, coming soon. 

BMW i3