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Culture / Cars

BMW Makes Solar Cool

New All-Electric Cars Give New Meaning to Island Time With Bermuda Push

BY Jim Shi // 05.16.16

When it comes to zero-emission mobility, BMWi is upping the notion that sustainability and sport can go hand in hand.

The eco-focused division of the German firm debuted a BMWi solar carport at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series challenge in New York this past weekend— one that will makes its way down to Bermuda in 2017 for the 35th America’s Cup championship race.

And while the vehicles on display at the New York leg of the race were a BMW i8 and X5 xDrive40e SUV, as global partner of the America’s Cup and official technology partner of race defender Oracle Team USA, Oracle Team USA members will have use of a fleet of all-electric, city-friendly i3 vehicles in Bermuda.

It all makes logical sense, really. The zero-emission car is perfectly suited to the island’s narrow streets, which restrict cars to a certain size and power-to-weight ratio. The warm island locale also means that there is much scope for expanding the use of renewable energies. With the installation of two solar carports, BMW, in collaboration with local energy supplier BELCO, is making a significant contribution to a pioneering energy concept.

“Thanks to our partner BMW, it’s not only in the development of our yacht that we benefit from the company’s great technological expertise,” said Grant Simmer, Oracle Team USA general manager. “We are delighted that we can travel sustainably and with zero emissions on land as well.”

This venture is just the latest example of these two powerhouse brands working together. Through it all, efficiency has been key. As BMW’s new motto is EfficientDynamics, the natural fit brings significant engineering and testing capabilities to the team — with the company even assigning dedicated engineers to Oracle Team USA for the entire competition. In essence, as boats get lighter and faster, technology has never been more crucial.

Interestingly enough, it was the experience BMW engineers gained in designing carbon-fiber race yachts that gave them the knowledge and know-how of producing and testing carbon fiber for its production cars. In fact, BMW used the same techniques in developing Oracle Team USA’s catamaran to help it create the i3’s rigid roof structure; a new carbon fiber weave technique resulted in such rigidity that three i3s can sit atop one another with no compromise.

As for the carport, designed especially for the America’s Cup by BMW subsidiary Designworks, it can hold eight BMWi cars. The cars are charged by solar modules attached to the roof of the car port. Sustainability also played the central role when designing the actual ports, which are largely made from “Laminated Veneer Bamboo.” A fast-growing renewable material that takes in a lot of carbon dioxide, bamboo has an extremely positive environmental balance.

A carport will be brought into operation at the Oracle Team USA team base in Bermuda in the coming weeks, and an additional carport will be installed in Hamilton, Bermuda.

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