BMW i3 Electric Car Unveiled Simultaneously Across The World

By · July 29, 2013

BMW i3 Unveiling />

After a long wait, BMW’s first all-electric production car—the BMW i3 city car—has been officially unveiled with three simultaneous press events in New York, London, and Beijing.

As previously teased by BMW, the heart of the i3 is a 125-kilowatt electric motor capable of producing 184 pound feet of torque. Weighing just 110 pounds, the i3’s motor can accelerate the car from zero to 62 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds—while a zero to 37 m.p.h. sprint takes 3.7 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 90 miles per hour. A 22 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery gives the BMW i3 an expected range of between 81 and 99 miles—at an efficiency of around 210 watt-hours per mile. The EPA has not yet designated its official driving range.

With a three-city simultaneous launch on three continents, it’s clear that BMW has high hopes for the i3, calling it a giant leap rather than an evolutionary step in electric mobility. Even prior to the first sale of the i3, BMW's first production EV, the company is trying to brand itself a leader in the electric car world, in an attempt to upstage other major plug-in automakers, including Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, and Tesla.

With its 45-page press release that accompanies the i3 launch, BMW certainly isn’t lost for words about its small electric car. But the event also came with major theatrics, heavily-scripted autocues, and the kind of presentation techniques normally reserved for German cabaret, and late night cable advertising, suggested that BMW is overreaching it its attempt to make a hit.

Today, on the day of the official i3 launch, BMW published this promotional video on YouTube.

The BMW i3 is a $41,350 (before incentives) four-seat compact electric car, with a design that departs from BMW's well-established attractive looks. It will enter an increasingly crowded space of electric cars, several of which are available for sale around $20,000 (after incentives) or for $199 a month to lease.

Range Matters

As expected, the 2015 BMW i3 will offer two modes of charging: a standard Level 2 240-volt charge, which should provide a full refueling in around eight hours, while a more expeditious charge to 80 percent is possible in around 30 minutes using a J1772 Combo DC quick charge station. (These stations have not yet been put into the field.)

For drivers wanting longer-distance capabilities, a range-extended 600cc gasoline engine can be added at the factory, which gives the i3 a combined gasoline and electric range up to 211 miles. Including the range-extender bumps up the pre-incentive price of the i3 from $41,350 to $45,200. It also adds another 260 pounds to the i3’s curb weight, increasing its drag coefficient and reducing its 0-62 m.p.h. time to 7.9 seconds.

The i3 is a four-seater. With four passenger on board, the car offers a modest 9.18 cubic feet of cargo space, while folding down the rear seats opens up an additional 29 cubic feet of space.

For trips beyond the range of the i3, BMW announced that it will make gasoline cars available to i3 owners as part of its BMW i3 mobility package. For situations when a customer runs out of charge and has no range-extending engine, BMW says Mobile Service vehicles will be able to assist stranded cars, carrying enough on-board power to safely get stranded i3 owners to the nearest charging station.

In addition to its low carbon footprint in operation, BMW will build the i3 with the lowest carbon footprint it can manage. This means powering the factory where the i3’s Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) chassis with hydroelectricity, while the factory in Leipzig, Germany, where the i3 production line will utilize electricity from onsite wind turbines.


· · 4 years ago

From what I've been reading BMW says the i3 has a 7.2 kilowatt charger onboard, claiming a full charge will only take 3 hours or less (on a 240 volt 32 amp source), not 8. And the price is very good you can't compare it's price to much because at this point no other luxury brand has an electric car yet, except for Tesla but the Model S is of course in the large sedan category.

· · 4 years ago

Yeah, same problem here as on GreenCarReports. BMW is apparently only teasing at the moment.... They must think that it will help their Stock Price. (Heck it works for Elon).

Both Videos I've seen have European Tags but the inset shots are for an American Audience. And describing charging with that combo FrankenMenekes plug means that, sans adapter cords or jacks, I'm gathering the thing charges just fine in 3 hours at 11 amps, 380 volts, 3 phase 50 hz. Marvelous. Except most American Drivers wont want to have their electricians install autotransformers and phase converters in their garage. And forget Public Charging. Right now there is no where anywhere in the USA these things can be used (unless you stumble into a private garage modified as the above.

· · 4 years ago

The video with the electrician having grown a beard installing the Bmw EVSE has a few problems:

The Video of the HUGE HOME CHARGING STATION (which I assume is for USA eyes because of the colors of the wires in the cable) shows the ‘electrician’ (Has the Nissan dude grown a beard now?) improperly installing either 14/2 or 12/2 mc cable, which is not good enough for 380 volts 3-phase 11 amps 50 hz (due to lack of a ground , or for europeans, “earth”), and its not good for the supposedly 32 amps required here since then 8/2 would be required. He also didn’t put in an ‘antishort’ nor secure the cable properly.

· · 4 years ago

Looks like the 7.4 kWh option is available with the BMW i Wallbox. One thing is kind of misleading in the Charging section of BMW i website –

First it says:

If you have your own parking space at home, you can easily charge the BMW i3 using the BMW i Wallbox. This charging station, which is mounted to the wall of the house or the garage, not only completes the unique design of the BMW i vehicles, it also charges the BMW i3 up to 30 % faster than the standard included charging cable – thus charging the BMW i3 to 80 % charging capacity in under 6 hours.

And then there's Wallbox Pure below where it says:

The Wallbox Pure is a home charging station that allows the private user to charge the BMW i3 quickly and easily. Depending on the available electrical supply at the installation site, a maximum charging power of 7.4 kW can be reached. If the grid is optimally developed, the BMW i3 can be charged up to 80 % of the maximum capacity in under 3 hours.

(16 Amps).

So maybe those 3 hours difference are a function of "If the grid is optimally developed" :).

· · 4 years ago

Without available fast charging network, I think i3 needs the REx.... It is a good decision for BMW to come out with that.

Now, the rest of the automakers need to do something about more fast DC charging network if they are serious about the combo charger.

· · 4 years ago


Yet another car manufacturer that doesn't proofread their advertising material.. First they say it takes 6 hours at 16 amps. Then they say it takes 3 hours at 16 amps. But the latter I think they mean Europe with 11 amps at 380 volts with the BMW Menekes connector cable.

I also noted the mistakes that the 'electrician' made on the video have been edited out on your link. HAHA.

· · 4 years ago

I like it. I like the looks. I like the 7.4kW charger. I like the optional gas generator. I like being able to choose. Just batteries or batteries plus gas generator.

I would LOVE a third choice. Forget the 260 lb gas generator system and throw in another 260 lbs of batteries. I bet that would get the range up to about 150 miles. Price it loaded for under $50K and I'll buy one.

The BMW i3 could have been the perfect tweener EV. We have lots of "Commuter EVs" that can go 50 to 70 miles. We have one marathon EV with a 300 mile range. We NEED an in-between EV that will go 150 miles for under 50K.

I like the attempt BMW has made. I do feel somewhat drawn to it. But after putting 21,000 miles on a LEAF and not a drop of gas, I would feel like a caveman again filling up its 2 gallon generator tank.

Keep working BMW.

· · 4 years ago

Why can't are so many Electric Cars limits are about 100 miles? The 2013 Tesla Model S with up to 265 miles. The Tesla is there but the price is not. I spent my $80K on the poor, just kidding.

· · 4 years ago

Good it comes with standard cable unlike ZOE, which Renault promises to provide with early 2014. We've attended ECO RALLY BULGARIA (part of FIA calendar) and a french guy with Tesla Roadster told me lots of people in France cancelled their ZOE reservations because is does not come wuth a standard cable. We had to bring a charging station with us to charge Kangoo Z.E. for example – van was brand new and still missing the standard cable as well (had only the Mennekes one, but it has standard cable). So to be able to plug BMW i3 in a wall socket is fine.

· · 4 years ago

couldn't' understand why the range is so low if this has a range extender. Couldn't' I theoretically just keep filling up the gas and keep driving it ?
Or is it that the generator isn't really generating 100% of the power i3 needs, and hence can go off only so far, before the battery is depleted completely and hence the car is stuck unless battery is recharged ?

· · 4 years ago

BMW says the idea is to use it to get to a charging station if you run out of juice, not to extend your range on gas, like Volt/Ampera :).

· · 4 years ago

I am not as knowledgeable as many of you. Does anyone else notice that the plug looks nothing like the one on a Leaf? Wish the mileage was over a hundred on and storage wasn't so small.

· · 4 years ago

I think the design choices on the BMW may have been driven by the knowledge that batteries in the next few years are likely to increase in energy density substantially.

This means that they can stick with their preference for a light car, but within this design cycle maybe by around 2017 may be able to up the power to allow 50-100% increase in range, to 120-160 miles.

This would cover many who would be dissatisfied with the present range, and retain the present city car packaging.

· · 4 years ago

"couldn't' understand why the range is so low if this has a range extender. Couldn't' I theoretically just keep filling up the gas and keep driving it ?"

B/c BMW is NOT trying to sell the REx as a range extender but rather a "limp mode" range anxiety remover...

It is limited to 34HP so it will NOT function well in long range driving (certainly NOT like a BMW). Also, it is designed to have less "series-hybrid" range than electric range so they can squeeze in the new CA CARB rule. In that case, the car will be considered as a ZEV or BEVx instead of the EREV/PHEV which qualify for AT-PZEV qualification. The ZEV/BEVx gives you more rebates and unlimited number of carpool access...

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