BMW has officially unveiled the i3 all-electric car at simultaneous events in London, New York and Beijing. The car is the first mass production electric car by the Bavarian based auto manufacturer and flaunts a number of ‘first-time-ever’ features.
The technology packed i3 has a unique layout that enables the car to be as spacious as a 3 Series while still being a hatchback. BMW has named it design philosophy the ‘LifeDrive’ Architecture featuring a Life module and a Drive mxodule. The Life module refers to the pillar-less, CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) monocoque passenger cell. The Drive module is the all-aluminium chassis that holds the life module and houses the electronic wizardry of the i3.
The drive train of the BMW i3 consists of a centrally mounted 22KW lithium ion battery connected to a rear mounted electric motor that powers the rear wheels. The 172PS motor generates 250Nm of torque and clocks the 0-100kmph in a surprising seven seconds. The swift acceleration is courtesy of the advanced materials used in the car resulting in a 1225kg kerb weight. BMW also offers an optional 35PS, 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine that acts solely as a generator for the electric drive system.
The car will be available in three trims or ‘Worlds’ according to BMW; Mega, Giga, and Tera, all of which can be distinguished by its unique set of 19-inch wheels. The progressive feature list for the models will be available closer to the launch which is scheduled for mid-2014. What is confirmed though is that the top-of-the-line Tera model will be available with full-leather interior tanned with olive leaves! On a more serious note, the Technology and Driving assist package comes standard with all models while the Parking assist package is an optional extra.
Priced at 41,350 USD (Rs 24.74 lakh), the i3 is a more expensive option to its direct rivals, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. But with a total driving range of close to 320km clubbed with a whimsical feature list the car will most likely create a market for itself. If and when India becomes a feasible electric car market, which we hope is soon, the car will be a great addition to the BMW India line up.