First pictures of BMW's electric i3

Time of article published Jul 24, 2013

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By: IOL Motoring Staff

BMW has already enlightened the world with the technical details of its advanced new i3, but until now we haven't been able to see the car in full production guise.

These leaked official pictures show that it retains the two-tone external colour scheme and basic (upright) shape of the i3 concept car, but loses its transparent doors and the eagle-eyed will notice many minor changes to the front and rear bumpers and lights.

Of course, it's not going to go down as one of BMW's prettiest styling efforts, but there is a lot of innovation going on beneath the surface.

Designed from the ground up as a premium electric vehicle, it's built around BMW's 'LifeDrive' architecture, which entails the use of a lightweight carbon-fibre bodyshell to offset the extra weight imposed by the mid-floor-mounted lithium-ion batteries that power the electric motor that nestles just in front of the rear axle.

Placing these heavy components in a low and central position allows for a low centre of gravity and perfect 50:50 weight distribution - all in the name of retaining that characteristic BMW agility.


Another BMW trait not lost is outright performance. It's no M3, but the i3 weighs just 1195kg and as a result its 125kW/250Nm motor can shift it from 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds. It won't embarrass itself in hot hatch territory then, until the battery runs out that is…

That's why BMW is quelling any range anxieties by offering an extended-range model that uses a small petrol-fed motorcycle engine to act as a generator to keep the battery charged when it runs out of stored current.

This version will manage 300km between charges and fill-ups according to BMW, compared to the 130-160km achievable in normal usage in the standard EV model.

Should you run out of battery power in the latter model, the car's sim card will hook up to the ConnectedDrive internet service and dispatch a roadside assistance vehicle complete with a 50kW on-board charger.

This is one of many services and functions offered by a really 'hooked up' ConnectedDrive and navigation system.

The official reveal of the i3 is set to take place on 29 July.


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