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BMW i3 Electric Car Unveiled; Loaner SUV Tackles Longer Drives

Image: BMW i3 Electric Car Unveiled; Loaner SUV Tackles Longer Drives

By Clyde Hughes   |   Tuesday, 30 Jul 2013 11:35 AM

The BMW i3 is BMW's first foray into electric cars, and the German automaker says the new car can drive farther and accelerate faster than any electrical vehicle on the market.

Wired.com's Damon Lavrinc said the BMW i3, at 2,700 pounds, is the lightest on market, which makes it more energy and fuel efficient.

The vehicle goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in seven seconds and maxes out at about 93 mph.

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"In proper BMW fashion, 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque is delivered to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission," Lavrinc said. "That hybrid-synchronous electric motor mounted out back revs out to a (silently) screaming 11,400 RPM. And just like every BMW on the road, it has a perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution which provides that phenomenal handling that solidified BMW’s reputation as a driver’s brand."

Brad Tuttle, of Time magazine, said that while the typical electrical car can go as far as 80 miles on a single charge, the new BMW i3 can drive as far as 100 miles on a single charge, setting the bar a little higher for electric cars.

"That’s fine for many commuters, but insufficient for longer journeys," Tuttle said of the 100-mile distance for the BMW i3. "Extending the driving range of the i3 is as simple as purchasing the optional two-cylinder, 34-horsepower rear engine that runs on gasoline. That that basically doubles the vehicle’s range.

"BMW is also expected to give i3 owners access to gas-powered loaner cars during the days when they need a vehicle with longer driving range — on, say, a weekend road trip," Tuttle added.

The body of the i3, which will go for $41,350 to $45,200, is made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic with aluminum parts, instead of steel. The automaker told the Wall Street Journal that the body helps offset the heavy battery, a common engineering dilemma for electric cars.

"The BMW i3 heralds the dawn of a new era for individual mobility and for the BMW Group," said Ian Robertson, the carmaker's global sales and marketing chief. "With this leading-edge vehicle and attractive price, we will provide customers with a compelling offer for electromobility."

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