Car Tech Video: 2014 BMW i3
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Car Tech Video: 2014 BMW i3

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CNET's Brian Cooley takes a look at the new BMW i3 at the LA Auto Show. It's BMW's first full, clean sheet EV and the company's first volley of its i division.

Well, here it is, BMW's first ground-up, high-volume electric car. Yeah, they got some electrified 3s running around, but this is the real deal. It's a whole new line that has spawned another company. It's the "i" division of BMW. This one's called the i3. Over my shoulder there, you see the i8. We'll do a video on that some other time when it's closer to production. That's a hot little plug-in hybrid sports car. Now, what's going on here is what they call a Mega City or Mega Urban Vehicle. It's highly urbanized, electric vehicle. It's got a lithium-ion pack in the belly. The motor is in the back. The rear wheels are driven. You get about 80 to 100 miles of range, unless you option into a range extender, two-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine. They can stick in the back. They will give you 70 miles more range, but it's not like a Chevy Volt where it just keeps going forever as long as you have gas. It's kind of in the middle ground. So, how's this different from a Nissan Leaf. First of all, it's got some BMW driving DNA in it. We're gonna check that out in a future episode of CNET on Cars, get this thing on the road and really find out. One of the biggest difference, as though, is this is a carbon-reinforced plastic construction. This car only weighs 2,700 pounds including a 450-pound battery pack. Inside, you're gonna find an all LCD cabin. You've got a small display right in front of you for traditional instrument panel and a great big 10- or 11-inch iDrive display on the right that is not much different than today's iDrive in top-end BMWs. So, the basic idea here is BMW has got a new line of cars that says they planted their flag heavily in electrification. Not hybridization, not so much diesel, not so much of anything that's gotta go in the hydrogen space. They are talking strongly about battery electric in these vehicles and a very different look and feel. Comes out Q2 2014. It's about 42 grand base before you get those various state and federal subsidies. So, they're not setting a new record for cheapness, but that's not what they do anyway.

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