Full details on new BMW i3

2011-08-01 09:58

BMW’s revealed the technical specification and configuration of its new i3 - a battery car for, essentially, city use.

Crafted from advanced composite materials, the i3’s carbon-fibre structure is so rigid it does without B-pillars, enhancing the car’s large side-glass area.


The i3’s proportions are unlike anything else BMW builds - it’s upright and dinky, not sleek and low-slung. Its dimensions (3.84m bumper-to-bumper, 2m across and 1.53m tall) makes its smaller than any other current BMW production car. It’s light, too, for a hybrid, considering the battery burden of 1 250kg.


Powering the i3 is a rear-mounted electric motor, augmented by a 600cc, two-cylinder, petrol engine. BMW says the internal-combustion element of the powertrain is not coupled to the wheels; it is purely a range-extending component to the electric motor.


The i3’s brushless electric motor is rated at 125kW and 250Nm, good enough for a benchmark 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.9sec, and a top speed limited to 150km/h in the interest of battery life.

As with all battery vehicles, range is crucial, and BMW claimed the i3 should manage 160km in an urban commuter role and 225km cruising between cities at highway speeds. With the range-extending 600cc engine utilised, BMW says the car should have an operational endurance of 300km.

Recharging, usually the bane of electric vehicle ownership, has seen BMW’s engineers manage to fashion a 220v system capable of powering up the i3’s battery pack to 100% h six hours while an optional high-voltage fast charge regenerates 80% battery life within an hour.

SENSIBLE SUPERCAR: BMW’s committed to enter the low-emissions supercar market by 2013 with this, the company’s i8…

If you need a two-door performance i-car BMW has not forgotten its core customers. The company’s i8 will be BMW’s first mid-engined car in three decades.

It's essentially a modern incarnation of that seminal BMW supercar, the M1, and is more of a plug-in hybrid than range-extender.

Featuring a mid-mounted,, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder internal combustion engine and front-mounted lithium ion-battery back and electric motor BMW says the i8 has perfectly symmetrical 50/50 weight distribution to render the most fluid driving dynamics imaginable – in true BMW tradition.

Its power and drivetrain interplay is rather clever. When cruising it runs as a pure electric drive front-wheel motorised vehicle (for optimal efficiency) whilst under more dynamic driving conditions the petrol engine powers the rear axle for a more rear-wheel biased all-wheel drive traction solution.

The i8’s performance is true to its 8-Series moniker’s heritage, with 0-100km claimed to be achievable in less than five seconds – thanks to the hybrid powertrain’s 160kW and 545Nm. Driven with restraint, BMW says the i8 will be good for three litres/100km, Using all the performance should balloon consumption to a worst-case scenario figure of seven litres/100km – still entirely reasonable considering the acceleration on offer.

BMW’s i3 is expected to go on sale during 2013 and will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany, where the company plans to invest the equivalent of R4-billion and create 800 jobs.

Although BMW has not provided prices or proposed production numbers finance director Friedrich Eichiner pledged that the i-cars would "make a contribution" to the group's earnings, instead of being a technology showcasing (and corporate environment policy appeasing) loss-leaders.

German media reports have spoken of 30 000 cars a year, which would be well below full-scale production levels, while analysts have warned the cars would not sell well if over-priced - a situation that has already dampened the market in the UK.

  • The Stig - 2011-08-01 11:11

    Just wondering if my kids are going to drive proper cars with these vegetarian crap, long live the V12.

      Nathan Berry - 2011-08-01 12:45

      How about a hydrogen powered V12, not a hybrid, but running exclusively on hydrogen.

      cek.king - 2011-08-01 15:08

      Ja, I bet it's going to be explosive!

      wehan.victor - 2011-08-01 16:41

      With Ethanol we can all still have our fun!

  • kike - 2011-08-02 09:18

    Will be so nice when you can charge your car at an illegal electrical connection...

      Deon Hamilton - 2013-07-31 04:32


  • Trevor B - 2011-08-02 10:27

    That’s a good design, now on the i8 BMW must throw away all those heavy batteries , motors and the 3 cylinder engine, and then install a high powered gasoline engine, then they will have a winner.

      Seperetla - 2011-08-03 08:54

      Agreed!! The Super car design is awesome... All they need to do is fit in that fabulous V8 in the E92 M3, a sports suspension and this will be one hot babe. Driving it would get you laid any day.

  • Dr. Zeek - 2011-08-02 14:29

    Where is the POWER gonna come from? Coal is dirty and nuclear unpalatable. Wind or wave in Jhb? No chance. Solar won't work at night, so no overnight charging. And what use is the 300km range? No more trips to Durban, Cape Town, Kimverley or even Bloem without an "overnight" stop. Electric cars are an answer to a question that doesn't exist.

  • pages:
  • 1