BMW has announced the specs, features, pricing and release date range for the all-new i3 all-electric vehicle. From concept and 2011 i sub-brand news to today's worldwide debut, the four-door BMW i3 focuses on snappy all-electric urban mobility and safety. It will be available in America the second quarter of 2014 for a base MSRP of $41,350 - three trim and tech packages available.
Powered by a 110 lb, 170hp, 184 lb-ft hybrid-synchronous electric motor, BMW claims a real-world EV range of 80-100 miles - a Motor Trend i3 First Drive claimed a 0-60mph time of around 7 seconds. The i3 utilizes the BMW eDrive rear-wheel drive powertrain found on the BMW ActiveE. A single-speed transmission delivers uninterrupted zero-emission power to the wheels. Performance and range hinge around what BMW is calling its LifeDrive architecture concept, which comprises of a "Life Module" or passenger cabin and "Drive Module."
The i3 has footprint the size of the 1 Series. It boasts a small turning circle of 32.2ft due to narrow 155/70/19 sized tires on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, which are claimed to have a contact patch of a more conventional 16-inch tire. 50-50 weight distribution and electric power steering also help create a vehicle that is extremely nimble in tight city situations.
Iconic kidney grilles mark the front end along with Aerodynamic Air Curtains that minimize drag. A rear diffuser, which is the lowest part of the car, also aids in aero. U- shaped LED headlights front and rear highlight a fresh take on BMW light design. A large rear window then increases driver visibility.
The all-aluminum Drive Module consists of a 22-kWh, 450 lb lithium-ion battery, electric drivetrain, MacPherson strut and 5-link rear suspension system, and structural components. The battery is mounted low and to the rear, close to the drive wheels to improve traction.
For those interested in further driving range, an optional rear-mounted 650cc, 34hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle's range. At a predetermined battery level, the Range Extender turns on and maintains the battery's current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle's wheels. It adds roughly 330 lb to the vehicle's curb weight and has a fuel capacity of 2.4 gallons.
The i3 features Brake Energy Regeneration, which aids in EV range by converting kinetic energy into electricity. When the driver lifts off the pedal at higher speeds, the decelerating motor acts as a generator that routes electricity into the battery. At lower speeds the regeneration feature is disabled to allow the car to coast and generate a strong braking effect.
On the acceleration end, the right pedal has a "neutral" position to preserve energy and increase range as well. This means that when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to separate from the drivetrain and utilizes only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 cruises using virtually no energy at all.
A leading reason for the claimed 2,700-pound i3's efficiency is its Carbon Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) Life Module passenger cabin design - an industry first for mass produced automotive passenger cells. CFRP is equally as strong as steel at 50 percent the weight. It is also 30 percent lighter than aluminum. The lightweight passenger cabin, which features the interior space of the BMW 3 Series, lowers the center of gravity for improved handling characteristics.
Emphasizing safety is CFRP's ability to absorb impact energy. Crash-active aluminum structures in the front and rear reinforce the exterior too. The low battery position also was purposely placed away from common impact areas. To minimize the threat of battery fire, in the event of a crash, it is disconnected from the system and discharged when the passenger restraint system is triggered. This prevents the possibility of a short circuit, which could cause a fire. After an accident, driver and passengers also can depend on an automatic Intelligent Emergency Call (eCall), which quickly sends location, number of front-seat occupants and crash data to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Center who then routes the information to a 911 dispatch center.
While head turning looks may not be the main selling point, BMW made aspects of the car more inviting with a focus on technology. For instance, the navigation unit not only tracks detailed live traffic conditions but also driving style for better prediction of route in relation to remaining battery life. An embedded SIM card unlocks BMW ConnectedDrive services that can search nearby charging stations, connect to a 24/7 Concierge Service, alert authorities in the event of an accident and Driving Assistant Plus Services.
The optional Driver Assistant Plus features Collision Warning (audio/visual alerts) with a brake priming function, which is activated at speeds up to an estimated 35mph. It can respond to both moving and parked vehicles, and pedestrians by braking the vehicle without driver input. The Parking Assistant makes parallel parking fully automated. Traffic Jam Assistant allows the i3 to delegate the tasks of pulling away, braking and steering to keep the vehicle in lane. A Speed Limit Info system is also available. A BMW i Remote app then allows users to link their phone to their car.
Complementing the interior technology are driving controls that are ergonomically placed for easy driver access. The instrument panel spans across the entire interior. The freestanding steering column features the instrument cluster, start/stop button and gear shift selector. Motor Trend had this to say about the interior of the i3:
"The interior isn't the usual dark, brooding, uber-serious German hunting cabin, but a place of bright, playful fun. Atop its wave-shaped dash are twin, freestanding displays. They essentially perform the same duties as BMW's current two dash-imbedded ones, but perch airily like a couple Kindle Fires on stands. When you open the doors, portions of its naked carbon-fiber passenger cocoon are risquely displayed. This enclosure is one of the i3 bright spots."
The i3 will come in three different trim and tech packages, which BMW refers to as "Worlds."
- "Mega World" is the base model offeirng: 19in extra-efficient forged aluminum wheels, BMW navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive with eCall, BMW i Remote, alarm, 7.4 kW onboard charger and LED lights, DRLs and tail lights. The interior features lightweight Sensatec and sustainable cloth, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and grained dash trim.
- "Giga World" offers all of the features of the Mega World model while adding: 19in wheels (specific to this trim), interior in leather and wool cloth plus contrasting stitching on the leather steering wheel, garage door opener, Comfort Access, sunroof, and satellite radio.
- "Tera World" includes all the before mentioned features but adds: full leather interior, olive leaf-tanned interior in addition to textile accents and contrasting stitching and anthracite floor mats.
Available in all three trims is the Technology and Driving Assist in addition to Parking Assist packages. The Technology and Driving Assist package includes: wide-screen navigation, Traffic Jam Assist, BMW Assist with Bluetooth and USB with BMW apps, Online Information services, Deceleration Assistant, ACC Stop & Go, Speed Limit info, BMW ConnectedDrive services, Forward Collision Warning, Pedestrian Protection, and City Collision Mitigation. The Parking Assist package includes: review camera, Park Assistant, and Front Auto Park Distance Control.
- Pricing (before federal or local incentives) starts at $41,350; $45,200 for Range Extender model. $925 Destination & Handling Fee not included
- On Sale Q2 of 2014 in the USA
- BMW's 360 Electric electro mobility services
- BMW i Remote app, which connects with the car
- BMW Navigation is standard
- BMW Intelligent Emergency Call ('eCall"), Anti theft alarm and Rear Parking Distance Control are standard
- BMW 1 Series external footprint with BMW 3 Series interior space
- Three vehicle trim levels: Mega (standard in US), Giga, and Tera
- 170hp, 184 lb-ft hybrid-synchronous electric motor with max. revs of 11,400rpm
- 80-100 mile real-world EV range
- 0-30mph in 3.5sec, 0-60mph in approximately 7.0sec (preliminary)
- Top speed of 93mph, electronically limited to preserve efficiency
- 3 drive modes: Comfort, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+
- Near 50-50 weight distribution
- Turning radius of 32.3ft, which is ideal for city driving
- Macpherson strut front and 5-link rear suspension setup
- Single Pedal Driving Concept with Brake Energy Regeneration, which feeds power back into battery
- 450 lb 22-kWh lithium-ion battery
- 3 hour 220 V @32 amps charging time
- Optional SAE DC Combo Fast Charging allows for 80 percent charge in 20min; 100 percent in 30min
- 650cc gasoline powered Range Extender optional
Chassis and Body:
- Life Module or passengers cabin, constructed from Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP)
- Drive Module is made from 100 percent aluminum
- Magnesium cross-member for instrument panel saves 20 percent weight vs. steel
- Adaptive Full LED headlights and LED taillights (standard in US market)
- Weight an estimated 2,700 lb
- Pillar-less design with rear coach doors allow for easy entry and exit to rear seats
- Standard 19in light alloy wheels with unique 155/70 all-season tires. 20in light alloy wheels optional
- No transmission tunnel and low console allows for Slide-through Experience, which benefits urban driving by the ability to exit from the passenger side
- Made with sustainable, renewable materials
- Instrument panel surround and door trim use fibers from Kenaf plant
- Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic roof panel is made partially with recycled CFRP from manufacturing process of other components
- 25 percent of plastic used in interior comprised of recycled materials
- Dashboard wood trim crafted from responsibly-forested eucalyptus?
- CFRP components are sustainably produced in Moses Lake, WA, where the factory uses hydroelectric power
- The Leipzig, Germany assembly plant uses wind-generated electricity
- Olive-leaf extract is used to tan interior leather surfaces
- Bio-polymer key is based on castor oil pressed from castor seeds *Provided by BMW