BMW's new i3 electric luxury compact car will go on sale by year's end, and is expected to seriously shake up the current EV market. With typical Germany luxury and craftsmanship plus the sporty yet refined ride that can only come from BMW, the i3 city car should prove a hit with early adopters.
The i3 will be able to travel for between 80 and 100 miles on electric power alone thanks to a 175-horsepower, 184-lb-ft.-torque electric motor sending power to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. Optionally, a range-extending two-cylinder gasoline engine derived from BMW motorcycles will double available range while maintaining outstanding efficiency, used only to charge the battery pack rather than drive the wheels directly. BMW expects an 80% take rate for the range extender option.
To help address the issue of limited range, BMW's ConnectedDrive interior tech suite will feature standard GPS mapping, pre-loaded with a constantly updated database of public high-speed charging stations, using DC power to quick-charge the battery to 80% capacity in around 30 minutes. BMW promises charging in 6 hours using a "standard power socket", though U.S.-spec charge times will presumably be longer without a home 240V charging system.
The i3 has made the rounds on the auto circuit in both five-door hatch and three-door i3 Coupe concept forms, though it is not yet known which will see production. The final car will most likely be based on the three-door shown in the video, the more recent of the two body styles. What we do know is you'll be able to pick your own by the end of 2013.
Pricing should start at around $50,000-$60,000 before tax credits, with the full $7,500 Federal EV tax credit applicable in addition to state incentives.