BMW announced it will loan its electric i3 car to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for evaluation over the next 12 months. The evaluation will mark the i3’s first test in an American authority fleet. Back in 2011, when BMW first unveiled the i3, it became the first major automaker to mass produce a car largely made with composites. BMW said in a Sept. 11 press release that the i3’s composite structure was a critical part of the LAPD’s decision to test it.
“The decision by the Los Angeles Police Department to undertake this evaluation highlights the compelling nature of the BMW i3 as a versatile, sustainable vehicle,” said Christine Fleischer, Manager of the BMW i series for BMW of North America. “By virtue of its innovative design and construction from leading-edge materials, the i3 is a brilliant fit with the technology-driven research philosophy of the LAPD. This will be a valuable learning experience for both BMW and the Department.”
The i3’s internal structure and body is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). BMW made the i3 with CFRP in order to make it lighter. It believes the LAPD will benefit from the i3’s lightweight construction, compact size and agility.
Due to its CFRP construction and commercial potential, the i3 is widely considered a trendsetter in the automotive industry. The success of the i3, combined with the automotive industry’s increasingly strict lightweighting demands, has caused other automakers to follow suit by making carbon fiber parts.
The decision to test the i3 also has economic and environmental implications. According to a recent article by Yahoo, Los Angeles officials said they believe the implementation of electric vehicles, such as the i3 and the Tesla Model S, would cut operating costs by an estimated 41 percent per vehicle. The article adds that as part of its “Sustainable City pLAn,” the city also wants electric cars to represent 80 percent of municipal-fleet vehicle purchases by 2025.