BMW Previews Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Concepts
The i3, previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, will be BMW’s first series-produced all-electric car. Designed for short, urban journeys it has a 167bhp electric motor mounted between and powering the rear wheels, giving a range of between 80 and 100 miles on a six hour charge.
Performance hasn’t been sacrificed, either – 62mph comes up in 7.9 seconds, and the i3 tops out at 93mph. BMW has worked strong, lightweight materials throughout the bodyshell to improve range, safety and cornering, and all-natural interior fabrics on the interior help shout about its green credentials. There’s space for four adults, with suicide doors at the rear for easy access.
Drivers can locate the i3 with a smartphone, as well as finding charging points, setting air conditioning and checking the vehicle’s status remotely. To get the best possible range out of the batteries, they can be pre-set to warm or cool to optimum operating temperature. The live trial of this technology begins later in the summer with a fleet of all-electric 1 Series Coupes.
Further up the range, the i8 Concept is BMW’s vision of a sustainable sports car. This 2+2 coupe features a parallel hybrid setup, with the option to charge its lithium ion batteries from a domestic plug socket to give a range of 20 miles on electric power only.
Performance is more of a priority on the i8 Concept. It has the same electric motor as the i3 Concept, but this time powering the front wheels, with a 220bhp, 221lb-ft three-cylinder internal combustion engine putting power to the rear.
These can work separately, or in tandem to give high performance with small car fuel consumption. The i8 Concept reaches 62mph in 4.6 seconds, while returning 104 miles to every gallon of fuel. CO2 emissions are incredibly low as a result – at 66g/km.
Like the i3 Concept, it’s designed to keep up BMW’s reputation for handling. The batteries are mounted in the transmission tunnel, giving a low centre of gravity and 50/50 weight distribution. Clever features also include a satellite navigation system that plans in advance how it will use its hybrid powertrain most efficiently through the route.
In preparation for the launch, BMW is working on joint ventures to provide the necessary infrastructure and additional services for its future range of electric vehicles. So far these include MyCityWay, which gives details of local amenities and public transport, and ParkAtMyHouse which it hopes will build a network of rentable driveway spaces to alleviate inner city parking problems.
The i3 joins the BMW range in 2013, with the i8 arriving in 2014.
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