Technical brilliance poses interesting questions and problems. As everyone likes its high tech vehicle in the concept car form, the production ready with such characteristics would be a real threat to the local service. Or not?
So, from the wisdom of people who own cars with no carbon fiber, the release of the new electric i3 and its revolutionary mass-produced carbon-fiber structure raised the question among the audience: how can it be repaired? That is, in motorsport, the carbon body parts tend to shatter and crumble on impact; will it be the same with the BMW i3?
If we really want to be brief, the simple answer is: no. Besides the obvious fact that BMW engineers already thought about that from the drawing board, we can also explain a bit. For one, the carbon fiber construction used in the i3 is very different to that used in motorsports. It’s built to be impact resistant, very rigid and lightweight, and BMW argues that its reparability has not been compromised. In fact, the company claims that the i3’s accident repair costs are similar to those of a BMW 1 Series – the cheapest model of its line-up.
Additionally, carbon fiber has impressive energy absorption properties and is very damage-tolerant. BMW even claims it’s the lightest material that can be used in car body construction without impairing safety. The carbon fiber and aluminum LifeDrive concept in the BMW i3 has partially surpassed comparable steel designs in BMW’s internal crash tests.
Also, several repair sections are defined into the side frame and if needed, the damaged structure will simply be cut out (along many predetermined separation points) and replaced with a new part. Of course, all that can only be done in an authorized BMW i workshop.
In truth, BMW i3’s carbon-fiber construction is really complicated, yet it is officially claimed to be safer than cars its size and just as economical to repair as standard BMW vehicles.