During a press event in New York, BMW took the wraps off its i3 electric car. The company has been developing the car over the last five years with the vision that it would represent the future of urban mobility.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

BMW maintains its signature kidney grille, even though the car does not have a traditional radiator. The front looks chunkier than conventional BMWs, with the thick bumper and grille suggesting a higher stance than a typical hatchback.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

The i3 is a five-door hatchback, although the rear side doors, which are rear-hinged, are very short. It looks like they can only be opened after the front doors are opened.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

A hatchback contributes to the i3's basic utility. And, of course, there is no exhaust pipe in the rear. However, BMW says it will offer versions with a range-extender engine.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

The body is made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, which are much lighter than steel yet still offer strength for passenger safety.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

The high stance of the i3 makes it look like a small crossover, similar to the Ford C-Max.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

Adhering to the lyric that "children are our future," BMW brought a young girl onto the stage to push the button that pulled the cover off the i3.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

With an electric motor at the rear wheels, the space under the hood will be reserved for power-management electronics and possibly some of the battery cells.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

Rear-wheel drive may give the car an edge over the competition, which is largely front-wheel-driven.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

BMW places the charging port at the right rear, which is inconvenient as most electric charging stations are at the front of parking spaces. Drivers will have to back into spaces or stretch the charging cable down the side of the car.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

BMW says the i3's 22-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack will charge in about 5 hours from a 240-volt source, or 30 minutes at a DC fast-charging station.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

Zero-to-62 mph comes in at 7.2 seconds, respectable acceleration but not remarkable. Top speed is electronically limited to 93 mph.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET
Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET
Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET
Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew / CNET

One of the i3's selling points has to be its premium interior.

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Instead of embedding an instrument cluster in the dashboard, BMW takes a cleaner approach with this stand-up LCD.

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The menu on the main cabin LCD will look familiar to owners of current BMWs equipped with iDrive.

Updated:Caption:Photo:BMW
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