This car is essentially the production version of the EfficientDynamics concept first seen in 2009. This 2+2 coupe uses a plug-in hybrid system that combines battery power with the same 1.5l direct injected three cylinder that will be used in the next 1-series and Mini. Despite its size, the engine produces 220 hp and 221 ft-lbs. of torque, which is mated to an electric motor that makes 129 hp and 184 ft-lbs. of torque. The gas engine is mounted in the back, providing power to the rear wheels via a dual clutch manumatic transmission, while the electric motor drives the front wheels through a 2-speed transmission. All-electric range is about twenty miles, and the electric and gas motors can be used in tandem to functionally make the car all-wheel drive.
The car is slightly larger than a 3-series, and is expected to match the M3's 4.5 second 0-60 mph time. An aluminum frame and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic body keep weight down to 3,300 lbs, slightly less than the current 3-series.
BMW has said the battery can be charged using a normal 220v outlet in about two hours, eliminating the need for a separate charging station. Production of the car will begin in 2014, with an MSRP expected to be around $240,000.
The BMW i3
While the i8 will lead the brand as a halo model, the i3 is aimed at mass-market sales. Initially available as an all-electric car, a plug-in hybrid version will join the lineup sometime in the future.
The car is about a foot wider and six inches longer and taller than the Mini. However, there are no plans for parts or technology sharing between the i3 and the BMW-manufactured Mini E electric car. Like the i8, an aluminum chassis and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body are used to keep weight down to just 2,800 lbs. Like most electric cars, the battery is in the center of the car below the floor, offering a low center of gravity and even weight distribution.
A single electric motor will drive the rear wheels up to a top speed of 150 kph (93 mph) with a 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) time of 7.9 seconds, almost a second slower than the Nissan Leaf. The battery will provide a driving range of 80-110 miles on a single charge.
Production of the i3 will begin in 2013. BMW executives have said the price for the car will be about the same as a high-end 1-series. Based on the current MSRP of the range-topping 1-series M coupe, this would put the i3 at around $45,000.