BMW has probably rolled out the most luxurious electric car this week. The company has unveiled globally a production version of its electric car i3. BMW has said that a complete range of alternative drive models will be sold under the tag of i brand. Three presentations were held simultaneously in London, New York and Beijing. The members of the BMW board have revealed that the new electric car which is a styled hatchback is similar in appearance to the i3 concept that was revealed at the event of 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The only difference being that the concept was a 3 door car while the production model has adopted a 5 door body style on the grounds of ‘practicality’. The car has been developed under the title “Mega City Vehicle” which shows that the car is highly focused on enhanced urban driving. It has been reported that BMW has spent around €2 billion which is more that Rs 15,000 crores, in research and development, testing and production of this new car.
The initial model of BMW i brand has a light weight inner body which is made up of carbon fiber completely. The BMW i3 weighs 1195 kg which is around 90 kg less than the existing 114i although it is equipped with a battery that is claimed to be around 230 kg in weight. The carbon fiber body panels are being supported by a strong assembly which has made possible the use of conventional B pillars and make way for rear hinged style doors in the back. The i3 car is 3999 mm long, has a width of 1775 mm and a height of 1578 mm. On comparing the i3 to the 2nd generation 1 series hatch back, i3 is shorter by 326 mm, wider by 10 mm and taller by 158 mm. The car has a wheel base of 2570 mm which is 120 mm shorter than the present entry level model. This has given the i3 a short front overhang of 707 mm and a rear overhang of 722 mm.
i3 is the first BMW series ever that will completely rely on electricity for its power requirements. The company has opted to design a rear wheel drive system for i3 instead of an all wheel drive to have better interior packaging, ease of maneuvering and as described by the BMW officials ‘ class leading steering response’.
The car is powered by an electric motor placed above the rear axle with an aluminium assembly. The power unit built under the banner of BMW edrive offers a power output of 168 bhp and a torque of 25.4 kgm. The single ratio gear box is located at the end of the electric motor and offers 3 driving modes. These have been named as Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+. Electricity is provided by a 22kW Li ion battery manufactured by Samsung. The battery has a warranty of upto 6 years or 100,000 miles (whichever is reached earlier). The battery is placed in the carbon fiber body, as low as possible. BMW claims that by doing so, they have produced a center of gravity lower than X1. As per the EU electric power consumption test, i3 will need on an average 12.9 kW/100 km which will give the car a range of 190 km in the Comfort driving mode. In the Eco Pro+ mode where the top speed is 80 km/ hour, the company has claimed to have 0 local emissions range of up to 200 km.
A range extender option is available that powers up the Li battery while on the run. This can increase the range of Eco Pro+ mode by 60%. This will use a 650 cc 2 cylinder petrol run engine producing a power of 25 bhp and a torque of 5.6 kgm placed next to the motor in the rear and a 9 liter fuel at the front bulk head base. The addition of REX will add 120 kg to the car weight taking it up to 1315 kg. The i3 can attain the speed of 60 kmph in 3.7 secs and 100 kmph in 7.2 seconds. The top speed that i3 can reach is 150 km/hour.
The battery, as claimed by BMW, can be 80% charged in less than 30 minutes on a charger of 50kW. It is easily available at public recharging stations in UK. The car has 19 inch wheels with highly narrowed (155/70) profiles. The buyer can opt for 20 inches wheels as well with a different profile.
The i3 on the inside offers seats for 4 passengers. The seats can be manually adjusted. Th cabin endorses a contemporary style, similar to the i3 concept. As compared to the 1 series, seat in i3 are mounted 670 mm higher. The boot capacity is modest at 260 liters which is 100 liters less than 1 series.
BMW will manufacture i3 at the Leipzig plant and will have both right hand as well as left hand drive models in its lineup. The cars will go on sale this week and the first cars will be delivered in UK in November.