Electric vehicles have been around for several years now, which means that we're starting to see more automakers jump into the segment, like BMW. Its 2014 i3 is a subcompact four-seat EV from an automaker better known for its luxury sport sedans than its environmental friendliness. Work on the Mini E and the 1 Series-based ActiveE has bought BMW a significant amount of EV experience, which combined with a radical new manufacturing method to birth this little city car. The i3 is designed from the ground up as an electric car, instead of a modified version of a traditional gas car like the Fiat 500e, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric or even the Nissan Leaf.
What makes the i3 different from every other car on the market is under the skin — it's almost entirely made out of plastic. This is no ordinary plastic, mind you — it's carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. It's basically the same stuff used to make Formula One cars and stealth bombers. What's remarkable about the i3 is that it's the first mass-market car made out of carbon fiber. There's no metal in the car's body - all the bumpers, doors and skins are plastic as well. The only major metal parts are the drive unit and suspension components. The result is a four-seat, four-door city car that weighs only about 2,700 pounds — or nearly 500 pounds less than a BMW 1 Series.