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BMW shows production version of i3 electric car

Shown almost undisguised, the images reveal the concept’s distinctive swooping window line and silhouette are almost unchanged, complete with turbine-like 19-inch alloy wheels and low overhangs, while the rear doors are reverse hinged for easier access.

The concept’s three-dimensional daytime running lights are now housed in more conventional units with a plastic cover, while the rear lamps appear to still be integrated into the tailgate.

Drivetrain components are developed and manufactured in-house, including a lithium ion battery located under the cabin floor and 168bhp electric motor just above the rear axle. BMW claims this will offer between 81 and 99 miles on a full charge, boosted by 12 miles when in ECO PRO mode and the same again in ECO PRO+ mode.

Importantly, the car is designed to offer a 50:50 weight distribution front to rear, while stiff suspension, precise steering and a small turning circle keep it agile in town. The i3 will reach 62mph in 7.2 seconds on the way to a 93mph top speed, and when fitted with a two-cylinder range extender engine located at the rear axle it will cover 180 miles.

The bodyshell is made from strong but lightweight carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), with forged aluminium wheels and suspension links and hollow drive shafts to reduce weight. In turn, BMW says this extend its range, agility and improving its straight-line performance without resorting to heavier batteries or motors to boost power.

Inside, the i3 will feature a networked infotainment system including Concierge Services and an Intelligent Emergency Call function. Public transport connections and charging points are incorporated into its satellite navigation, and climate control functions can be adjusted via a smartphone app.

The i3 launches in the UK later this year, following a public unveiling to be held at the end of July.

Alex Grant

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