BMW i3 electric car revealed

BMW reveals its i3 electric city car, set to go on sale in 2013

By Tim Kendall | 29th July 2011

BMW i3 electric car unveiled

BMW has revealed the i3, its first series-production pure electric vehicle. The i3 concept car will be officially unveiled to the public at the Frankfurt motor show in September, with sales starting in 2013.

  • BMW electric car on sale 2013;
  • 100-mile range;
  • six-hour charging time (80% fast-charge takes one hour).

BMW i3

i3 Performance and range

Sticking with BMW tradition, the supermini-sized i3 gets rear-wheel drive. Less conventional for a BMW is the electric motor slung out over the rear axle, which provides the i3 with 170bhp/125Kw and a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds – comfortably trumping the Nissan Leaf. Top speed is limited to 93mph, whilst extensive use of carbonfibre reinforced plastic (‘CFRP’), helps the lightweight i3 give a range of up to 100 miles.

Construction and innovation

BMW says the i3 offers excellent packaging and safety thanks to ‘LifeDrive’ construction. In a nutshell, this means the car is split into two separate modules – the aluminium ‘Drive’ module which houses the drivetrain, suspension and battery, and the passenger compartment or ‘Life’ module, made of CFRP. According to BMW, this lightweight material is incredibly robust and helps offset the weighty battery cells, giving the i3 a low 1250kg kerbweight. The battery cells sit under the floor for optimum weight distribution and passenger space.

Charging time on a standard socket takes just six hours, which is half the time it takes to re-juice a Nissan Leaf. Fast charging provides an 80% charge after an hour-long plug-in. BMW’s recent customer trials of the electric Mini E revealed range anxiety to be a persistent issue amongst potential EV adopters, so the i3 will also be available as a range extender, featuring a petrol engine which acts as a generator.

Amongst the technological innovations showcased by the i3 is BMW’s Traffic Jam Assistant, a radar and camera guided system which maintains a gap to the car in front in heavy traffic, and provided the driver keeps one hand on the wheel, can also help steer. A smartphone app will also feature, allowing owners to check charging progress via their phone, and pre-condition the interior temperature before a journey.

BMW i3 price

BMW’s electric supermini should cost around £30k before government subsidies, although officially it’s still a concept so this is unconfirmed. Production is set to start in 2013.

Filed under: Car News

By Tim Kendall
29th July 2011

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