BMW launched its long-awaited electric vehicle today via not one, but three rather lavish events in London, New York and Beijing. All three locations were hosted by BMW big cheeses and streamed live to an audience of potential customers, journalists and interested parties via the World Wide Web.
Images of the futuristic city car had already circulated many news outlets prior to the big unveil so the overall design wasn't so much of a big surprise, the minute details however make for interesting reading...
BMW's foray into all-electric city transportation will set punters back £30,680 but with the government's £5,000 electric car subsidy, it brings he cost down to £25,680 in the UK. Alternatively, customers can lease the i3 with a deposit of £2,995 and 36 monthly payments of £369.
BMW top dogs revealed that the i3 weighs just 1195kg, despite its battery pack weighing a portly 230kg. Weight is kept down thanks to liberal use of carbon fibre in the body panels and a special carbon weave in the lightweight inner body structure. It is the first time any automotive company has used such a large amount of the expensive material in a production car.
The i3 measures 3999mm in length, 1775mm in width and 1578mm in height, meaning that it is just slightly smaller in all dimensions than the 1-Series hatchback. Despite its dinky exterior, the i3 is, in fact, larger than the current generation Mini hatch.
The i3 was originally going to be a battery-only affair but BMW has added a range extender into the line-up. The small petrol engine lifted from a BMW C650 CT scooter provides a 60 per cent increase in the i3's predicted range- increasing it from a real-world figure of 81-100 miles to a claimed 211 miles. It also adds around £2,000 to the overall price.
The little i3 boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 151bhp per tonne in electric vehicle configuration, kicking out a similar amount of horses as the powerful Mini Cooper S. As with all electric vehicles, torque delivery is almost instantaneous and power is pumped through the rear wheels. The official 0-62mph acceleration time is 7.2 seconds and the top speed is limited to 93mph.
Customers will be able to recharge their i3 via a standard wall socket but BMW recommends the special 50kW chargers that can be found at most public charging stations. 80 per cent charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes via this method or eight hours via a domestic socket. Kinetic energy from the brakes is also harnessed and fed straight to the battery, adding up to 50kW of charge during aggressive driving.