Gallery: PHOTOS: BMW Unveils i3 Electric Car and i8 Hybrid Electric Veh...

All photos by Jill Fehrenbacher and Dan Mendes for Inhabitat
The BMW i3's laser headlights are brighter and much more efficient than LED headlights.

The BMW i3 concept is the company’s first electric vehicle designed from the ground up for mass production, and the auto maker has come out swinging with an innovative EV that looks set to take the luxury market by storm. The i3 will be one of the world’s first mass-produced vehicles with a body made mostly of carbon fiber – a material that can shave off 550-770 pounds of weight, resulting in increased all-electric range and better performance. The standard i3 will have a range of 80-100 miles, and BMW also announced today that it has plans to produce a REX (range extended version) of the i3 that can travel for 160 – 200 miles on electricity alone.

The i3 electric car is capable of traveling from 0-62 mph in less than 8 seconds, and its high-speed charger can power the vehicle up to 80% capacity in an hour flat. The spacious interior of the i3 is well equipped for daily driving needs – it seats four and has a boot capacity of 200 liters. The i3 also makes sustainable strides in terms of its material use – the interior is outfitted in renewable raw materials like natural fibers, and all leathers used are naturally tanned.

The BMW i8 concept is a sexy plug-in hybrid sports car built to bring drivers high performance thrills with a low-carbon footprint. The vehicle’s drivetrain combines a modified version of the i3’s electric drive system in the front with a high-performance three-cylinder combustion engine that produces 220 hp at the rear. This hybrid system gives the hybrid electric car impressive torque for a fast acceleration time of 0-62 mph in less than five seconds, while allowing it to travel for 20-30 miles in all-electric mode – perfect for making quick trips around town.

For longer trips, the i8’s combustion engine kicks in and works with the electric drive to allow the car to travel 250-350 miles on a single tank of gas. In terms of mileage, the i8 is able to eek out as much as 94 mpg, with customer fuel consumption expected to fall between 40.4 – 56.5 mpg when driven hard. The vehicle was engineered to have a very low center of gravity, an optimized 50/50 weight distribution, and an ultra lightweight set of components that cancel out the extra weight added by the electric drive system.

The BMW i3 is set for launch in 2013 and the BMW i3 is due for release in 2014.

+ BMW i Series

All photos by Jill Fehrenbacher and Dan Mendes for Inhabitat


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  1. KirstenJ March 29, 2012 at 5:27 am

    BMW said in a statement, the project will try to increase “the performance and capacity of lithium-ion battery cells through the use of new combinations of materials for cathodes, anodes and electrolytes.”

    The BMW i8 looks like something out of Tron! One of the best looking cars I’ve seen in a long while…

    Interesting to hear yesterday that BMW and Toyota are now collaborating to develop lithium-ion battery cells for electric cars.


  2. Bobberbow December 30, 2011 at 12:49 am

    I wonder when the i8 comes out?

  3. JordanB2710 November 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    PV solar cells wouldn’t contribute much to the powering the cars, they’d just be good to help with things like the A/C like on the Leaf. You have to be impressed with the fact BMW has researching how to make mass produced cars out of carbon fibre which no one lese has ever done so this is one of the reasons they haven’t released these two cars yrs ago as its taken them ten yrs to find out how to make them out of this material and not have to price them as highly as the supercars. Anyone that knows about carbon fibre will know its strong yet very light which is something you really want when you have a heavy powerplant like batteries.

  4. yourecofriend November 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I would love to see solar vehicles with pv panels on them. I don’t understand why they don’t have this, especially when we can use a thin skin solar…


  5. jtreske November 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    What happened to BMW’s argument that their path was to the more efficient gasoline engine? I thought they were not entering the electric market. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they have, but I feel like they could have done this several years ago already…

  6. electric38 November 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    The building of a consumer owned solar rooftop infrastructure could not have come at a better time! Charging these vehicles by using the free energy of the sun is a cool idea. Too bad the German engineers have not come up with an economy electric car priced for the present economy. Having more people eliminate their monthly power bill, along with their weekly gasoline costs will certainly help the economy.

  7. brownlace November 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    “…250-350 miles on a single tank of gas”, enough said! I’ve been drooling over electric/hybrid cars for the past few days. This is nice!

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