A car is to be expected where everything is different: carbon instead of steel, electricity instead of fuel, batteries instead of a tank, etc..
Unlike the "conversion" approach, the innovative LifeDrive architecture of the BMW i vehicles focuses directly on the technical requirements of the electric drive train. In this way the electric motor and the battery can be optimally accommodated.
The LifeDrive concept essentially comprises two separate, independent functional units. The Drive module integrates the vehicle's suspension, battery, drive system, structural and crash functions into a construction made chiefly from aluminium. The Life module consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The use of this high-tech material across large sections of the car ensures that the Life module is remarkably light and helps to achieve both impressive range and improved. Moreover CFRP is extremely rust and corrosion-resistant, which gives it a far longer lifespan than conventional steel structures, for example.
The fibres are woven into lattice structures and embedded in a plastic matrix to create the carbon fibre/plastic composite material CFRP. In its dry, resin-free state, CFRP can be worked almost like a textile, and as a result allows a high degree of flexibility in how it is shaped. The composite only gains its rigid, final form after the resin injected into the lattice has hardened.
CFRP has previously been seen as too expensive and insufficiently flexible to work with. However, with more than ten years of research and production expertise, BMW, together with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibres, now develops and produces carbon fibres and carbon fibre sheets. An ultra-modern, renewably powered carbon fibre production plant has been built at Moses Lake, USA. After a three month testing period, production of carbon fibres for processing at the BMW joint venture plant in Wackersdorf, Germany, will start in 2011.
Further Information & Source: http://www.bmw-i.co.uk/en_gb/concept/