As part of the grand opening of the world’s first BMW i Store on London’s Park Lane, BMW Group will present its i3 Concept with a new interior color and materials concept. Based on the original concept car which made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, the latest version of the i3 was developed using BMW’s “next premium” vision.
The German automaker says the new interior gives an impression of generous space enhanced by renewable raw materials including leather, wood, wool and other natural fibers.
The BMW i3 Concept is an all-electric vehicle that makes extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). CFRP technology is already fundamentally changing the car industry because its strength and light weight allow automakers to create vehicles that burn less fuel, thereby producing fewer emissions. BMW produces the CFRP for the i-series in Moses Lake, Washington at a plant operated as a joint venture with SGL Group.
The i3 has a BMW-designed, rear-mounted, 170-horsepower, permanently excited hybrid synchronous electric motor that produces 184 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 km/h (about 37 mph) takes less than four seconds and the 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time is under eight seconds. The top speed is an electronically governed 93 mph: BMW says higher speeds have a major impact on range. Speaking of range, BMW estimates the i3 can go somewhere between 80 and 100 miles on a full charge.
One of the key talking points about the i3 is recharge time: BMW says the car can be recharged to 80 percent of capacity in just one hour with a fast charger. Full recharge with standard household power takes about six hours, hours less than most competing electrics.
If that’s not enough, BMW will offer an optional range extender, a small gasoline engine that can charge the battery the way the Chevrolet Volt does.
Compared to the hybrid i8 that appeared in Mission Impossible–Ghost Protocol, the i3 is more compact for city driving. It’s nine inches shorter and two inches wider than a Ford Fiesta. In fact, the i3′s geometry is unusual in that the width is equal to more than half the length. Works wonders for interior shoulder room.
One of the downsides of concept cars is that they are most often just that: concepts. BMW, however, believes the i3 should not only be admired, it should be sold with a premium price tag. Therefore, the i3, with some changes to meet various government standards, is expected to go on sale in the European market late next year and in the U.S. in 2014. The closest thing to a price that BMW has offered is an estimated 40,000-euro price in Germany, which would be about $50,000 at current exchange rates, making the i3 about $10,000 more than the Volt.