BMW i3 Concept Revealed

By · July 29, 2011

BMW plug-in concepts

BMW held a press conference today and officially unveiled their concept i3 & i8 cars. It was great to see them finally show the world something other than a vague rendering. Tthese cars are way past the concept stage so I was honestly expecting something closer to what they are currently conducting real world testing in.

However knowing BMW, they always play close to the vest and the new i cars will be no different. Overall I think they will be very similar to what the concepts show, minus the glass roof and sides. The i3 for example will sport an unpainted carbon fiber roof. It will have a glossy, black carbon fiber look, not painted like the rest of the car. I have already seen pictures of the roof designed for pre-production models.

BMW plug-in concepts

Some i3 details that were revealed:

  • It will have 19” wheels that wear low profile yet narrow tires. This design was chosen to reduce rolling resistance. I don’t know of any small car like this that has 19” wheels.
  • The battery pack will charge in six hours from a standard European household outlet. This means the 16-18kWh pack that I have heard will be used is pretty accurate. They also say it will charge to 80 percent in an hour using a special high speed charger, but didn’t offer the details on that. That makes me wonder if they are going to employ the same Level 2 charging that the MINI-E has. I can charge 50 amps at 12 kW, which would charge a 16 kWh pack to 80 percent in about an hour.
  • It will go 0-60 in less than eight seconds, faster than the MINI-E or ActiveE, and be limited to 93 mph. (The MINI-E is limited to 95.) Either way, it’s fast enough for me.
  • Range is 80 to 100 miles depending on driving conditions. This is the first time I have heard anything less than 100 miles. I have had a lot of conversations with BMW people and they have all said it will have a real world range of 100 miles, just like the MINI-E and ActiveE. I’ll be following up on this with my BMW contacts for clarification.
  • There will be a range extender option. They call it “i-REx.” It will be a small gasoline engine that is mounted just behind the rear axle and next to the electric motor. It will not be connected to the drivetrain at all, and unlike the Chevy Volt, it cannot power the wheels under any condition, it can only sustain the battery charge. Although I’m sure it will be an expensive option, it would make an interesting vehicle. I think an 80 to 100 mile AER with the range extender will be an interesting combination. They didn’t go into detail about what engine they would use, but I’ve heard talk of a three cylinder gasoline motor for this use.
BMW plug-in concepts

Nick Chambers was actually at the press conference today so I’ll leave the heavy lifting up to him when he gets back. So what are your thoughts on what has been revealed so far? Will the i3 be a boom or a bust for BMW?

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.