BMW i3 and i8 electric and hybrid cars inaugurate i range

Heads up, posh hippies. BMW's dipped its toes into the world of ethically sourced, sustainably powered motoring with the advent of a new 'i' sub brand.

Heads up, posh hippies . BMW's dipped its toes into the world of ethically engineered, sustainably powered motoring with the advent of a new 'i' sub brand. The i range will be greener than standard BMW cars, as they'll be powered by electric and hybrid propulsion systems.

The first car to join the i ranks is the BMW i3 city runabout. Formerly known as the Megacity Vehicle concept, the i3 will be powered by a rear-mounted electric motor expected to deliver somewhere in the region of 150-170bhp. This will be powered by a set of lithium-ion batteries that provide enough capacity to give the car a range of approximately 100 miles.

The BMW i8, meanwhile, will be powered by a plug-in hybrid propulsion system comprising an internal combustion engine, an electric motor that can drive the car independently and batteries that can be recharged via the mains. Relatively little is known about the i8, other than BMW's promise that it'll "blend the sporting ability of a high-performance machine with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car".

With a bit of luck, it'll be based on the bonkers-looking BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept, which promised fuel economy of 75.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km via its 1.5-litre turbo-charged diesel engine and rear-mounted electric motor. Total power for the concept is rated at 356hp, which is plenty considering the car weighs a paltry 1,395kg.

Both the i3 and i8 keep their weight to a minimum thanks to a "revolutionary construction concept" known as carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), according to BMW. This, the firm says, cancels out practically all the extra weight added by the batteries, so the i3 and i8 will offer "superior driving dynamics" combined with significantly increased range when running on electric power.

In related news, BMW has inked a deal with New York-based company MyCityWay, and will use its mobile app to provide drivers with location-based services and points of interest, all of which are likely to be integrated into i cars.

BMW is expected to parade its i cars in their full glory at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show starting on 3 March. Crave, as ever, will be on hand to find out more.


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