BMW i3 electric car prototype spotted cruising in Chicago

Residents of Chicago recently got an eyeful of the BMW i3 electric car when it was driven through a Chicago suburb, a year ahead of launch.

Automobiles

Residents of Chicago recently got an eyeful of the BMW i3 electric car when some eagle-eyed YouTuber with a camcorder spotted it being driven, sans camouflage, through a Chicago suburb -- a year ahead of its expected launch.

The battery-powered prototype was seen rolling stealthily down Chicago's Wacker Drive where it was shadowed by a large Ford pickup converted for filming. We're not sure what the footage will be used for, but the sensible money is it'll end up in a promotional video that'll make anyone driving a filthy petrol or diesel-powered vehicle feel like planet-murdering scum. 

As you'll see in the video, the BMW i3 has an uber-modern design and cuts a highly incongruous figure as it cruises through grimy-looking urban streets. We like it though. It's slightly menacing, but it's also undeniably cute -- like a zero-emissions Chucky doll on 20-inch rims.

The car will draw power from a liquid-cooled or heated lithium-ion battery pack of unspecified capacity, which can be recharged in about 6 hours from a normal power outlet. That's less time than it takes to charge a Nissan Leaf, which can go for around 100 miles on one charge. BMW has yet to confirm the vehicle's range, but our best guestimate is it'll also do around 100 miles or so on a single powerup.

That said, the BMW i3 should be noticeably more powerful than the 110hp Leaf. It's driven by a 170bhp electric motor positioned over the rear axle, which will help it sprint from a standstill to 60mph in under 8 seconds. It's limited to a top speed of 93mph, but that should give it ample overtaking capabilities while on the motorway.

The BMW i3 is due for release in 2012. Have a butchers' at the video for yourself below then let us know what you think of it.

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