It wasn't that long ago that every major sports car manufacturer scoffed at the idea of inserting hybrid-electric powertrains into their track-tuned road-rockets. They reasoned electric motors simply don't light anybody's fire. Even if you don't particularly like that argument, it's a fair one. There really isn't anything like the sensation of unleashing a howling V8 on the open road, or near a gaggle of awestruck teens in the neighborhood. Performance cars exist to arouse a multitude of senses. Their engines sound amazing.
Not so fast, driverless cars. In the future, we might combine the aristocratic with the automated in a robotic chauffeur. This combo pack of Nao robot and electric BMW is available to drive you around for $9,990, provided you can fit into a tiny electric BMW, and you're willing to teach the robot how to drive it.
BMW isn't entirely new to electric vehicles, or EVs; the company has been testing an electric Mini Cooper for awhile now, and we actually wrote about the i3 two years back, when it seemed like just a concept. But now the i3 is officially seeing a release, and it's the first BMW that was designed from the ground up to be an electric car. The benefits are pretty obvious: it's the lightest EV out there, with one of the quickest charging times and excellent performance. And it looks pretty weird, just like an electric vehicle should.
Every year, the Design Challenge - formulated by and for the LA Auto Show - asks the automotive industry's most advanced design labs to speculate on possible futures as they pertain to the continuing evolution of the automobile. This year's theme: highway patrol 2025. Entries from the likes of GM, Subaru, BMW, and Honda naturally show a lot of imagination, but more than that they show a degree of agreement between the industry's brightest creatives that the future is going to be crowded, full of traffic jams, and above all very, very automated.
When BMW rolls out an all-new 3 Series, it's big news, since these have been the benchmark of German sedans for the last 30 years or more. It also sets off a tectonic shift in the entry-level luxury market, with the Mercedes-Benz C Class, Audi A, not to mention the Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G and the Lexus GS suddenly called upon to step up their game to follow along.