The plug-in electric BMW i3 made its official debut on the web this morning, and shockingly — shockingly — it looks exactly like we thought it would when it was mildly disguised with blue camo tape.
Actually, I'll commend BMW for sticking so close to their concept car. It's definitely an eye-catching design that fits with the advanced technology packed inside it. It's the first car in their electric "i" sub-brand, which will also include their hybrid 911 fighter called the i8. I'm a little more excited about that one, but until then we'll make do with BMW's electric city car.
There's actually some interesting stuff on tap in the i3. Its pillar-less passenger cell, called the Life Module, is the the first mass-produced monocoque made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic for the auto industry. Thanks in part to that, BMW says the car only weighs 2,700 pounds.
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The car is motivated by what BMW calls the Drive Module, a 22-kilowatt hour, 450-pound lithium ion battery mounted centrally that sends power to a rear-mounted electric motor. A 650cc gas powered range extender is available as an option, but all it does is charge the battery, not drive the wheels. Like a proper BMW, it's rear-wheel drive, with power sent through a single-speed transmission.
With 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, BMW claims a not-bad zero to 60 mph time of seven seconds, although the car is electronically limited to 93 mph. They claim owners can expect an electric range of 80 to 100 miles.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I actually really like the way it looks inside. That steering wheel is... okay, but the rest of it is very modern and very classy, especially in that sexy brown leather/gray cloth combo. Nice.
There's only one problem, really: according to most early reviews, it's definitely geared toward urban comfort rather than backroad and track shenanigans. Let's hope that full tests prove it to be worthy of that Bimmer badge.
BMW announced this morning that the i3 will go on sale in the second quarter of 2014 with a starting price of $41,350. Anyone lining up to buy one?