BMW launched the i brand as a way to move the company into a more fuel-efficient, electrified future. The i3 shows off a future pure electric BMW model. Designed for cities, the i3's specs are typical for current electric-car technology, suggesting that BMW could produce the car with no further innovations.
To keep the vehicle light, and therefore enhance its range, BMW uses carbon fiber extensively in the i3. This concept version also uses clear plastic materials on the sides and hatchback, which would be unlikely on a production vehicle. The overall design is a small, five-door car.
The i3's electric motor is placed over the rear axle, which it drives, and the lithium ion battery pack is set in the floor, lowering the center of gravity. The motor creates 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, substantial for a car of this size, getting it to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds.
Range, at 80 to 100 miles per charge, is typical for current electric vehicle technology. Likewise is the charging time of 6 hours from a 220-volt outlet. BMW is not promising any breakthroughs with the i3.
The cabin of the i3 is very large, with wide, comfortable seats. The cabin's proportions are made possible by the placement of the motor and battery pack, which don't intrude on the cabin space. The lack of a B pillar eases access to the front and rear seats.
BMW envisions advanced cabin electronics for the i3, with navigation software that intelligently routes the vehicle based on battery level and charging infrastructure. The electronics can also enable car sharing.