BMW has been showing off the new electric i3 in production form for the first time. As well as its electric drivetrain, the BMW i3 embodies other important innovations such as the first extensive use of carbon fibre in a mainstream production car.
UK order books will open in August and i3s will arrive on British roads in November.
The BMW i3 is a about the size of a Golf, and prices – after allowing for the government’s £5000 plug-in car grant – start at £25,680 for a purely battery-powered car and £28,830 for the Range Extender model. That has a two-cylinder 650cc petrol engine capable of powering a generator that keeps the i3’s lithium-ion batteries topped up for longer.
The standard car is supposed to be good for between 80 and 100 miles on a full charge, although BMW says this can be improved upon by driving the car in the energy-saving ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ modes.
Thanks to the use of all that carbon fibre and other light-weight materials, the i3 weighs just 1195 kg, far less than most other electric vehicles.
The power output is 170PS so it takes the i3 just 7.2 seconds to sprint from rest to 62mph, although the Range Extender takes a tad longer at 7.9 seconds.
Top speed is 93mph – like other electric cars, the i3 develops maximum torque (in this case 250 Newton metres) at zero revs, so it steps off the line smartly but runs out of puff a bit at higher speeds.