BMW Unveils (Almost) Production-Ready i3

In United Kingdom on London’s Park Line the German automaker BMW opened up the first showroom dedicated to the i brand and for this occasion they brought an almost production-ready i3 concept, ahead of the car’s official launch which will occur sometime next year. The company’s head of design says that this concept is 85 – 90% production ready which probably means that there won’t be any big differences when the car will hit the dealerships. We should expect to see some modifications as far as the doors are concerned which probably won’t be transparent when the final production version will be out.

This i3 is an entirely new car built from zero by using two independent modules. The first one is the Structural module which is manufactured from aluminum and it incorporates the chassis, drive system and the battery. The other module is called Life and it is built from lightweight CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic). BMW says that the car will have a curb weight of less than 1,250 kg.

At the heart of the i3 will be an electric motor that produces 168 hp which will be installed over the rear axle, transmission, differential, as well as over the electronics system so that there won’t be any interior cabin encroachment. This motor generates 170 lb.-ft of torque while the power is sent to the rear wheels via a single-speed gearbox. It will need less than four seconds to sprint to 37 mph, while the 0-62 mph sprint will be done in about eight seconds, on its way to a maximum speed of 93 mph.

The necessary energy is provided by the lithium-ion battery pack which will be mounted under the floor so that the car will have a better weight balance. BMW has mentioned that the i3 will be capable of offering a range of 100 miles, and it will offer the car also as a range extender which they believe it will be more popular in terms of sales.

From a standard socket it takes 6 hours to fill the batteries, while using a high-power charging socket will fill the battery up to an 80% level in only one hour. Once you take off your foot from the acceleration pedal, the regenerative braking forces will commence, while the selectable coasting mode will be able to disconnect the electric motor from the car’s drive axle. When running in this mode, the BMW i3 is actually being driven by its own kinetic energy. Also available will be the Eco Pro mode which will lower the power consumption of the AC system and at the same time it will shut off other functions such as the heated door mirrors and also the heated seats.

The main controls of the BMW i3 will be accessed from the free-standing steering wheel column where the drive will find the gearshift level, start/stop button and the instrument cluster. Within the instrument panel will be the climate and audio controls, which means that there is no need for a conventional center console. The i3 will feature a generous 6.5-inch display along with an independent massive 8.8-inch display. There’s also a third display which will show the automatic climate control and audio system functions.

The interior cabin of the BMW i3 will use a combination of wood, leather, wool, as well as renewable raw materials along with natural fibers which will be a priority for the company on all of the models that will be launched in the i lineup. The instruments of the i3 will be made from eucalyptus wood gathered from various managed forests in Europe, while the leather trim is going to be tanned by using a dye from olive leaves.

The German carmaker has announced that the i cars will be available at approximately 10% of its dealers and all of the vehicles sold are going to be contracted through BMW instead of the dealer. The company has also declared that they will help buyers set up the home charging system, along with providing assistance for accessing public charging ports, as well as other servicing possibilities.

Source: BMW via Autocar

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