BMW i3 is an electric car that has made a huge impact on the EV industry. It can be said with certainity that along with Tesla this car has helped Electric Vehicles make huge inroads in the automotive market. Compared to its competitors, the BMW i3 has a higher price range but it’s worth every cent.
The i3 along with the i8 are part of the BMW i project that was initiated in 2011. Despite coming late to the party (September 2013), it has knocked several EVs off the perch. Since its launch, the BMW i3 has won car of the year title from multiple awarding bodies.
To address the issue of range anxiety, the BMW i3 comes with the option of range extender, which is an on-board petrol generator.
The i3 has the both characteristics styling features that are the hallmark of a BMW along with its own unique interpretation of design. Like all BMWs, it has the kidney grill with a centrally positioned emblem. While not as striking as the i8, for an urban family car the i3 is still a head turner. Unlike most BMW’s, it has a higher ground clearance and a high roof. Some futuristic features include rear hinged back doors and absence of B-pillar. This gives easy access to the rear seats.
The interior of BMW i3 is also beautifully packaged. Four different theme options are available for the interior. All of them feature stylish seats, seat covers and carpet trims. Option for a dark oak wood dashboard panel is also available, which despite its uniqueness blends extremely well with the interior and gives the car a fresh feel.
Although sales for the i3 are strong but in future it will be seeing competition from much awaited Tesla Model 3. If Tesla are able to materialize their Model 3 dream, it will be cheaper (USD 35,000), will have more cabin room and will have a longer range (215 miles). However, there remains a big “if” on the Model 3 which is promised to be rolled out by the end of 2017. The BMW i3 on the other hand is here today and its manufacturer has a few tricks up their sleeve to beat the competition. Their new model will have additional range owing to a more energy dense battery pack. The new battery pack will be 33 kWh compared to the current 22 Kwh giving it an electric range of 114 miles (183 km).
Body and Chasis
BMW i3 has a carbon fibre body and aluminium chassis that helps it save weight. It has a kerb weight of 1195 kg and with range extender (REx) 1315 kg. This makes it almost 200 kg lighter than the Nissan Leaf (1493 kg). It was noted by veteran auto journalist Arthur St. Antoine that the carbon fibre body despite its light weight feels rock solid.
The BMW i3 insurance group is 21 in the UK, classifying it in line with cars of 1.9 litre engine category. This has been done based on vehicle power. Although electrical torque is different to IC engine torque as it is continuous, but equivalent mechanical power for BMW i3 has been deemed to be 170 bhp. Note that the range extender does not add any power to the drivetrain.
BMW i3 price table for various countries
|Country||Starting Price||Range Extender||Green Car Incentives|
|France||€ 34,990||€ 39,700||Yes|
|0-60 mph||7.2 sec|
|Top speed||93 mph|
|Drivetrain||Rear Wheel Drive|
|Charging Time||10 hours|
|Generator (REx)||2 cylinder, 1.5 litre, Petrol|
Although the acceleration from 0-60 mph is not impressive, but in the range of 0-30 mph, the BMW i3 would beat most sports cars. The coefficient of drag is only 0.29, which is an impressive number for high sitting car.
The BMW i3 comes with built in feature like Bluetooth hands-free system, DAB, Park distance control, Rear view camera. Satellite navigation and Electric folding mirrors are also standard.
A video review can be seen below ( courtesy: car buyer)
The 22 kwh battery could be charged overnight for merely £ 3.52 (~4 USD) based on an average electricity price of 0.16 £/kWh. Note electricity prices are generally lower during non-peak hours. Even if the i3 is run from REx petrol generator alone, the mileage listed is 50 mpg. The cost per mile of travel is only 4 pence. Compared to a petrol car which generally costs around 0.12 pence, BMW i3 is three times cheaper to run.
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