BMW i3 and the Audi A2
Two cars are in competition for the most energy and cost saving methods to change the face of the electric automotive world. The BMW i3 concept announced earlier this summer made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The i3 uses carbon fiber to provide lightweight material in the passenger compartment framework as well as the roof panel. It is expected to be a production car in late 2013, utilizing a new hydro power plant in Moses Lake, Wash., to produce the carbon fiber in a joint venture with SGL Carbon. The Audi A2 electric rival also debuted at the auto show and criticized BMW for using carbon fiber, which is costly and emits carbon dioxide during manufacturing. The A2 will not be produced until 2015 and the company is currently investigating alternate fiber material, possibly basalt, to mix with aluminum for light weight and cost-efficient parts. However, Audi is still using carbon fiber in sections of the A2, including the transmission tunnel and rear bulkhead.