BMW launched its first all-electric car, the BMW i3, simultaneous events in London, New York and Beijing. The i3 hatchback allows BMW to join Renault-Nissan in wagering that electric vehicles could gain acceptance from a wider consumer base despite their high price and limited range.
Henner Lehne, an IHS Automotive analyst, told Automotive News Europe that BMW needs to be at the “pinnacle of technology” to remain ahead of Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
He remarked that the i series is "a true halo project for” BMW, noting if the project succeeds, it will firm up the carmaker’s lead on innovation. The i3, the first car for BMW's i sub-brand is a four-seat urban compact with a squat front end and plastic exterior. BMW will launch the i8 hybrid supercar in 2014, with more i models planned. BMW has already trademarked i1 through i9, according to Ian Robertson, BMW's sales chief.
Analysts estimated the BMW poured at least EUR2 billion ($2.7 billion) on developing the "i" series. BMW developed the i3 from scratch instead of converting an existing model. The i3 hatchback is built around a carbon fiber-based shell and an aluminum chassis to make it lightweight.
According to, the i3 boasts of a range of 60 km range, enough for drivers who are living in urban or suburban areas. A driver could recharge the i3 in less than an hour at special stations, and up to eight hours from a conventional power socket. BMW could avail of an i3 variant that comes with range-extending engine -- a two-cylinder, 650cc gasoline engine derived from the C 600 Sport scooter. The i3 variant boasts of a range of 300 km.
LifeDrive layout and BMW eDrive drive technology provide an outstanding degree of freedom when it comes to design. Surely, the arrival of the BMW i3 is as unforgettable as the feeling of space and driving experience on board. With a body measuring 3,999 mm in length, 1,775 mm in width, and 1,578 mm in height, the BMW i3 exhibits a unique size whose dynamism and compactness highlights the vehicle’s speed in urban use.
The short overhangs of the BMW i3 are also a direct pointer to its agile driving qualities. Large glass surfaces infuse the i3 with a riveting lightness and, along with its noticeable carbon structures, offer a peek into the vehicle’s low-weight build.
The utilization of the light yet extremely sturdy material CFRP in the building of the passenger compartment permits it to move away with the B-pillars, providing access to the two rows of seats with extreme ease.
One of the trademark qualities of BMW I models is their “black belt”, which expands from the bonnet over the roof and into the rear of the vehicle. Another invention of the stand-alone BMW I design language is the “stream flow” sweep of the side contours, which permit greater side window surfaces at the rear and accentuate the lavish feelings of space inside the vehicle.
The front-end design of the BMW i3 is well-defined by a heavily-built contoured apron, by the distinguishing rendition of the BMW kidney grille as an enclosed element, and by headlights enclosed with U-shaped LED light units. The U-shaped LED rear lights are combined as “floating” elements into the huge, fully glazed tailgate.