The i3 EV world premiere in New York was one of three simultaneous debut events (the others were in London and Beijing). According to BMW, the i3 will be unique in that it will be the first mass-produced auto with a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell mounted onto an aluminum chassis. For those not familiar with carbon fiber, it’s a lightweight material that is made up mostly carbon atoms that has a very high strength-to-volume ratio. The use of carbon fiber in cars means lighter vehicles which in turn allow for less fuel consumption and lower emissions.
The i3′s interior will be made with sustainable materials such as dashboard wood made of renewable eucalyptus.
The new 2014 BMW i3 electric vehicle will be powered by a rear-mounted 170-hp electric motor coupled with a 22-kWh lithium-ion battery. The range of the standard i3 will be 80-100 miles, but drivers wanting to go the extra mile, so to speak, will be able to opt for a two-cylinder range extender engine that will boost the i3′s range to about 180 miles. The new i3′s DC Fast Charger will be able to go from a fully drained battery to about an 80 percent charge in just 20 minutes when plugged into a public EV fast-charging station. And urban drivers will be happy to hear that the i3′s interior will be about the same size as a BMW 3 Series sedan, even though the i3 is a lot shorter and was specially designed to be a compact car. In addition to revealing the new model at this morning’s event, BMW will also be hosting a series of design panels and discussions about vehicle design, carbon fiber production, safety and recycling, and battery charging and urban infrastructure.
The 2014 i3 EV is expected to arrive in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014 and will have a starting price of $42,275 before any state or federal tax incentives. The pricing for the Range Extender model will be $45,200.