BMW’s revolutionary i3 electric hatch is set to be revealed on the 29th of this month, and in the lead up the German automaker is drip feeding us some juicy information in addition to several new photos. Unfortunately, we still don’t have photos of the final car although our own spy shots leave little to the imagination.
If you're still unfamiliar to the i3, the car is essentially a rear-wheel-drive electric hatch due in showrooms early next year. It will be the first model from BMW’s i division for eco-friendly vehicles and feature innovative technology (for mass-produced vehicles) such as carbon fiber construction and new levels of connectivity.
Power for the i3 will come from a rear-mounted electric motor, rated at 125 kilowatts (170 horsepower) and 184 pound-feet of torque. The electric motor weighs just 110 pounds and is said to have linear power delivery through its rev range (up to 11,400 rpm).
The 0-60 mph sprint should take just 7.0 seconds while top speed is limited to 93 mph, quite quick for a minicar, and the range on a single charge of the i3’s lithium-ion battery should fall somewhere between 80 and 100 miles with moderate driving. An ECO PRO mode, which sets the car’s regenerative braking system to its maximum setting can help boost this range approximately 12 percent, according to BMW. Charging is claimed to be quick, too, with a high-speed DC charger juicing the lithium-ion battery pack to 80 percent in just 20 minutes.
If desired, the i3 will also be available with a range-extender engine, which maintains the charge of the lithium-ion battery at a constant level while on the move as soon as it dips below a specified value. This role is performed by a 650cc two-cylinder gasoline engine developing 34 horsepower. It’s mounted adjacent to the electric motor, above the rear axle. With a full tank of gas (2.4 gallons) and the battery at 100 percent, the i3 with the range-extender should be able to drive a distance of up to 180 miles.
For longer jaunts, such as road trips, BMW will be offering its i3 customers an exclusive vehicle loan program, details of which will be released at a later date.
To ensure the i3 remains sporty (BMW insists it’s still the maker of the Ultimate Driving Machine), a lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic body was devised, helping to achieve an overall curb weight of 2,630 pounds. The weight saving of the body helps offset the added mass of the battery, which itself is mounted low and in a central position to improve the center of gravity. A perfect 50:50 weight distribution has been maintained and four adults should be able to sit comfortably.
Underpinning the car is an aluminum supporting structure that also incorporates other lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and magnesium. MacPherson single-joint suspension is used up front and a five-link setup in the rear. The wheels are 19-inch forged aluminum and weigh just 15 pounds apiece. Standard tires are low rolling resistant and are sized at 155/70. BMW says the turning circle is a tight 32 feet, which requires just 2.5 turns from lock to lock.