BMW reveals the i3. Read here for more. {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

1 Sep 2013

Now first of all – bear with us here. We know this isn’t the usual type of car we feature on the BOTB News Blog – it’s small, quite ugly and……. electric. But this is one of the most important new cars of the millennium, so we thought we had to share it.

BMW chose a worldwide simultaneous reveal to show the new i3 off, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We’ve known about the technical specifications for quite some time, but now we have the full picture of looks, tech and pricing we think BMW have a serious winner on their hands.

So what makes this EV any more interesting than the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe et al that are already on the market? Weight – or rather, the lack thereof. The i3 is constructed from carbon fibre – the monocoque chassis, the body panels, the bulkhead, everything is made from the superlight, superstrong material. BMW has invested massively in carbon fibre manufacturing facilities and has managed to make a full carbon car economically viable – that is worth us writing about it on its own.

We can now quite realistically expect more carbon cars to be released, thanks to BMW’s investment. So what does this mean for the i3? Well, the i3 weighs in (including a very substantial 230 kg battery lack) at 1195 kg – that’s 90 kg less than a base model BMW 1-Series. This means the batteries and motors don’t have to work as hard, which in turn means they last longer – a major issue with EV’s.

The base i3 comes with pure electric drive and produces a rather impressive 168 bhp – that’s another reason for it to be here! That means 0 – 62 mph is dealt with in 7.2 seconds, but the more important (for a city car) 0 – 32 mph time of 3.7 seconds. Range from the EV is realistically around 90-120 miles.

But should you want to go further, BMW is also offering a range extender model which uses a 650 cc two-cylinder petrol engine borrowed from BMW’s C650 CT maxi-scooter producing 25 bhp and 41 lb/ft of toque and mounted longitudinally at the rear next to the electric motor and a nine litre fuel tank sited within the floor at the base of the front bulkhead. There is no direct drive to the wheels, it is purely a generator. So configured, the i3 weighs an added 120kg at 1315kg and is rated at 471mpg for average CO2 emissions of 13g/km on the EU test procedure. The range with this variant is upped to 210 miles.

The i3 will make its public premiere at the upcoming Frankfurt motor show and is priced at £30,680, but with the £5000 electric car rebate it will end up costing buyers £25,680 in the UK. Alternatively, BMW is also offering the i3 on a three year lease scheme with a deposit of £2995 and 36 monthly payments of £369. The range extender variant is tipped to be around £2000 more, which to us seems like a much better value option as it offers so much more.