Leaked: The Internet Unveils BMW i3 Electric Car

This is BMW's vision for cleaner driving in cities. It's also the warm-up act for the i8 all-electric supercar...

By Max Johnson, 25 July 2013

CT 2014 BMW i3 leak 1

Pictures of BMW’s first production electric car have leaked their way onto the web. If you want to see BMW’s vision for future urban driving, stay right where you are.

The i3, one of two cars BMW has been developing for its ‘i’ electric sub-brand, is due for an official unveil next week but pics of the fully production-ready car have been sighted online already.

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It’s a futuristic design but one that’s been toned down from the various i3 concepts we’ve seen over recent years. It’s a 2+2-door design with no B-pillars and stubby rear-hinged back doors much like those on the Mazda RX-8. The shoulder line drops significantly at the slim rear windows to give back seat passengers a better view out.

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This is a car designed for the city, using a 168bhp all-electric drivetrain and lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) bodywork panels to help reduce overall weight and achieve a range of 80-100 miles. But while we know electrified cars work well, we also know car park scrapes happen and CFRP isn’t cheap to replace.

Brisk-charging tech will be standard, with a 7.4kW charger replenishing 80% of the car’s charge in three hours. BMW can supply an optional (and probably expensive) matching wall charger, but we reckon it’s a better idea to get a generic one through the free government-subsidised scheme from Chargemaster and British Gas.

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BMW will at least be throwing in a 3.7kW slow-charger fitted with a household-compatible plug, which will at least double the charging time. For the fastest recharge time of 80% in 30 minutes you’ll need to buy a hefty 50kW connection, which comes with a cable so thick you could anchor ships with it. BMW only sees these being installed in public car parks where short, fast charges will be needed most.

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The electric i3 will have a top speed of 93mph, and there’s also a range-extender version on the way with a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine linked to the electric motors. The engine is likely to be based on one used in some of BMW’s motorbikes, but we’re still waiting on the full spec.

It doesn’t come cheap, though. The electric version will cost a fairly weighty £25,680 in the UK, and the rumour-mill says that the range-extender will cost a lot more. Let us know what you think in the comments. Would you buy one?

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