This fall, the BMW i3 electric vehicle will make its world debut. The megacity EV is the first model to emerge from the BMW i sub-brand and will be followed in 2014 by the BMW i8 hybrid sportscar. (First Drive: BMW i8)
These new spy photos from China give us a look at a still pretty heavy camouflaged prototype which features special wheels with tires size 155/70 R19 a the front. In the back, 175 mm wide tires are being used. The photos also reveal side mirrors with integrated signal indicators, a common design element in most of the new BMW models.
The i3 models are propelled by an electric motor which develops a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft), and channels its instantaneous power delivery to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The electric motor draws its energy from the lithium-ion storage cells under the floor. Positioning the battery units here has the effect of lowering the center of gravity considerably, which gives the car and agile and sporty driving experience.
BMW i3 Concept accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h (37 mph) in under four seconds and from still to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than eight seconds.
For those concerned with driving range capabilities, the i3 will be offered with a two-cylinder motorcycle engine and a generator to extend its range. The extended range package will be offered as an option to the standard electric drivetrain which has a range of 60 to 90 miles on a single charge. The two-cylinder engine comes from the Motorrad Division and will extended the driving range to 250 miles on a tank of gasoline.
The engine is housed in the trunk and connected to a generator that recharges the battery. The engine doesn’t transmit mechanical power directly to the wheels.
In a recent interview, BMW USA boss Ludwig Willisch said the i3 will likely quality for a $7,500 federal tax credit, although a BMW spokesman said the company has not completed discussions with the federal government. The base price of the i3 is rumored to be around $40,000 in the United States.