With BMW‘s futuristic i3 officially unveiled to the public, the future of electric car technology is arriving before the end of the year.
The i3 is the first in a series of BMW’s upcoming fully electrically powered range of premium models. For the German brand, this model represents a milestone in their illustrious history and a progression in automotive technology.
Entry level i3’s receive an electric setup capable of a range between 80-100 miles. According to BMW, these figures will increase by 15 per cent whilst driven in ECO PRO mode, and a two-fold increase in ECO PRO+ mode.
For sufferers of range anxiety, an upgraded Range Extender will also be available offering an improved 160-186 miles for an insignificant premium. The Range Extender will couple the 22kWh Samsung lithium-Ion battery with a 650cc two-cylinder four-stroke petrol engine developing 34hp. Coupled with a single tank of fuel, the range is quoted to improve by 180 miles.
Crucially for Eco-minded buyers, the standard i3 offers zero emissions, whilst the i3 Range Extender offers a modest 13g/km of CO2. With a full charge costing in the region of 2€, and a zero to 80 per cent charge achievable in three hours, the i3 will certainly raise eyebrows amongst frugal city commuters.
Power from the synchronous electric motor, mounted within an aluminium sub-assembly above the rear axle, provides a swift 170bhp and 250Nm of torque. Acceleration is impressive enough, propelling the i3 from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and 7.9 seconds for the i3 Range Extender. Top speeds of 93mph are more than adequate for the average commute of potential customers.
Despite the immense 230kg burden of the batteries, the lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic and aluminium body only weighs 1195kg, 95kg less than the current 114i. The i3 is also 326mm shorter (3999mm), 10mm wider (1775mm) and 158mm taller (1578mm) than the current generation 1 Series. With a centre of gravity lower than that of the current X1 and an equal 50:50 weight distribution, the handling should prove class leading.
Besides the addition of two extra doors, the general design edge appears similar to the groundbreaking concept design unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011. BMW’s trademark grill and current generation headlight design brings a sense of brand familiarity to the otherwise daring new design ethic displayed around the rest of the exterior.
Well established BMW architecture checks its baggage at the door at this point in place for daring new curves and colour schemes. The front end establishes itself as conservative, yet somewhat revolutionary with the black on a separate body colour combination. A contrasting mix of an angular bonnet design, with a curvaceous front bumper are almost symbolic of BMW’s focus on contemporary design, combined with their foresight and new feat in Eco technology. A rather unconventional dip around the C-Pillar adds to the new daring design edge, and certainly adds an element of surprise. To top it off, the rear end follows the same colour scheme as the bonnet, combined with a rather demonic rear light cluster, which is striking to behold.
With first orders hitting showrooms shortly, the new BMW i3 certainly promises a bright future for electic motor technology. Furthermore, the entire package appears much more affordable and realistic for real world ownership. Finally, the BMW brand brings a sense of prestige which realistic rivals cannot afford.
Should this be out of your price range, BMW also offer a stunning range of conventionally powered models, offering excellent fuel economy figures. Great deals can be found on various second hand sites, including Carsales.com.au, where you can begin your search.