AMSTERDAM -- BMW set sustainability and technology targets early on for the i3 compact because research showed that potential buyers wanted more than just an electric car.
"We targeted sustainability not only in use but across its entire life cycle and production," says Manuel Sattig, project manager of the BMW i subbrand.
And from the start, BMW decided the design had to be distinctive "because people want to make a statement when they are driving an electric car," he says.
That translated into the use of materials such as carbon fiber, recycled plastic, lightweight aluminum and even natural fibers for the dashboard.
When Project i launched in 2007, "we were a team of seven that worked without any rules," says Sattig, who came from Mini and was part of a group given the mandate to develop what was then called a "megacity car."
Sattig and a small crew traveled to major cities -- including New York and Los Angeles in the United States -- to look at the lifestyle of potential customers. "We looked in people's fridges and accompanied them to their offices," he says.