Which brings us to another number: €2 billion ($2.77 billion). That is a conservative estimate of how much BMW has spent to create, from scratch, the "i" brand devoted to building sustainable electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. The program has its own carbon-neutral supply chain, starting with the hydroelectrically powered facility in Moses Lake, Wash., that makes the carbon-fiber thread from which lightweight vehicles are built. The i cars are assembled at a Zaha Hadid-designed facility in Leipzig, Germany.
The i3 brought to market the program's signature LifeDrive technology: All the car's moving parts, the machinery, is packed into a lightweight aluminum Drive chassis, like a roller-skate truck. The body of the car, the passenger safety cell, is spun out of a light, strong carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). And the two modules, Life and Drive, are essentially glued together, meshing on the assembly line like two sides of a zipper. The resulting car is 2,860 pounds.
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