BMW i3 And i8, On Sale In 2013
2013 is going to be an important year for BMW as they are going to launch their first i-branded models: the i3 and the hot i8. The first one will feature a light yet very resilient CFRP body structure and it will have a chassis made out of aluminum. The German automaker says that the car will have a curb weight of 1270 kg, which is 265 kg more than the entry-level Mini One.
The 5-door i3 is going to measure 3845 mm (length), 2011 mm (width) and 1537 mm (height), making it 120 mm longer, 326 mm wider and 132 mm higher than the Mini One. It will have a 105 mm longer wheelbase, measuring 2570 mm as well as wider tracks, making it bigger than the Mini but at the same time smaller than any of the models that wear the BMW badge.
The company has stated that the car’s center of gravity will be lower in comparison to the 1-Series thanks to the fact that the liquid-cooled battery, which is a lithium-ion unit, will be installed within the central section of the floor. While the i8 will be a hybrid, the smaller i3 is going to be an all electric car and its durability is tested at the moment in a fleet of 1-Series Active-E prototypes.
The BMW i3 is going to feature a compact electric motor which will be installed over the rear axle and it will draw its energy from the battery in order to provide drive for the wheels in the back through a 6-speed gearbox. The car’s engine will output 168 hp and 184 lb.-ft of torque, which should be enough for a 0-37 mph time of 3.9 seconds and a 0-62 mph sprint in 7.9 seconds, which is just about the same as the 118d. For protecting the charge of the battery, the BMW i3 will be limited to a top speed of 93 mph.
The German automaker has mentioned that recharging the batteries takes six hours when using a conventional 220v and it needs only one hour in order to fill the battery at 80% of their capacity. The overall range of the i3 is estimated to be between 80 and 100 miles, but BMW has said that the car will be available with a range extender powertrain for those that need to take longer journeys.
No word about the capacity of this gasoline engine but what we can tell you is that it will be installed along with the electric motor at the rear axle and it will be used for powering a generator that will maintain the battery charge. This engine won’t provide direct drive for the wheels in the back as opposed to the one in the sportier i8, which means that it will only serve to generate the necessary electricity for running the electric motor.
Moving on to the aforementioned i8 model, this one is also set to go on sale in 2013 and it will feature an all-new gasoline-electric hybrid configuration, which will allow the driver to choose between running the car on electric mode or a combination of the traditional combustion engine and the electric motor.
The i8 won’t feature the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder diesel power unit that we saw in the Vision ED concept as the German engineers have opted for a 1.5-liter gasoline engine with direct-injection, which will be found in the next generation of the Mini lineup as well as the FWD 1-Series which will be launched sometime in 2014.
This engine is going to output 220 hp and a peak torque of 221 lb.-ft and will work in tandem with an electric motor that provides 129 hp and 184 lb.-ft, creating a total output of 349 hp and 405 lb.-ft. Just like the Vision ED concept, the i8’s gasoline engine is going to be installed at the rear and it will drive the wheels in the back through a dual-clutch gearbox while the electric motor is mounted up front and provides juice for the front wheels via a twin-speed transmission.
The BMW i8 will be able to drive on electric mode for a distance of up to 20 miles and after that the gasoline engine will kick in. It will have a 0-62 mph sprint time of just 4.6 seconds, which is 0.3 quicker than the hot M3 coupe. It will need only 4.0 seconds to reach 75 mph from 50, on its way to an impressive top speed of 155 mph.
One of the major reasons why the i8 is going to be so fast is due to its low curb weight of approximately 1480 kg, providing a power-to-weight ratio of 236 hp / tone. They managed to keep the weight down to a minimum by using CFRP – carbonfibre reinforced plastic. Aside from this, BMW has implemented a very low aerodynamic and mechanical drag, which should be enough for a combined fuel economy of 104 mpg (UK) and CO2 emissions of only 66 g/km.
Taking into consideration that this will be a hybrid car, it will need a smaller battery in comparison to the all-electric i3 we’ve talked about. Charging time for this unit will be of about 105 minutes.
As far as the dimensions are concerned, we can compare the i8 with the coupe version of the 3-Series as it measures 4632 mm in length, 1955 mm in width and 1280 mm in height. The car is expected to have a 50:50 weight distribution and its center of gravity will be the lowest in all BMW’s current lineup. No details have been released as far as the overall range is concerned, but according to insiders the BMW i8 will be able to drive up to 400 miles, which is quite impressive.
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