BMW Executives Detail More About 2014 i3 Electric Car

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2014 BMW i3 spotted in Chicago

2014 BMW i3 spotted in Chicago

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BMW might be working hard to encourage drivers to become electronauts in its Active E electric car trials due to start in the next few months, but the German automaker has already started to drip-feed details of its 2014 i3 electric car to the press. 

Just last month, BMW unveiled its latest concept i3 at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, confirming its 7.9 second 0-62 mph time, electronically limited top speed of 93 mph and range-extender engine option. 

Now consumer reports has detailed more about BMW’s first production electric after it got chance to chat with executives at a BMW event in New York City this week. 

When it came to the i3’s optional range-extending engine, BMW’s Chief Engineer Ulli Kranz didn’t want to talk specifics -- but when Consumer Reports’ Eric Evarts suggested that a motorcycle engine would be best suited to the task, it wasn’t what Kranz said that gave the game away. 

It was what he did. 

BMW i3 Concept

BMW i3 Concept

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“His eyes lit up when it was suggested that a motorcycle engine might be a perfect fit for such a car,” wrote Evarts. Given that BMW has previously said the i-REX range extender would be a tiny gasoline engine, we’re almost certain its G-series Motorcycle engine -- found in its highly popular G650GS dual purpose adventure motorcycle -- will be repurposed for the role . BMW has already hinted that the tiny engine wil be a twin-cylinder, but there's very little information beyond that at this time. 

Perhaps more interesting however, is BMW’s aim to produce a car which is 100% recyclable, including everything from the electric motor and battery pack through to its dashboard and seats. 

To aid this, BMW will use naturally grown fibers to make seat and dash components instead of oil-derived plastics, something it hopes will help the BMW i brand become a sign of luxury in its future cars. 

Moving onto the battery pack, Kranz confirmed that the battery pack would be made of prismatic lithium-ion batteries made by Bosch and Samsung. Totaling 32 22 kilowatt-hours in size, the pack should weigh around 500 pounds -- the same amount saved by building the i3’s chassis from aluminum and carbon fiber instead of steel. 

As a consequence, the BMW i3 should be one of the lightest electric cars available, and with its large battery pack, easily achieve the 100 mile range BMW is hoping for. 


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Comments (6)
  1. I thought the i3 was going to be an all electric. How can they call the i8 a hybrid and not the i3? An electric car does not have a gas tank or a muffler or emit pollution, and the i3 and the i8 will be doing both. I knew it was a big mistake for BMW to get tangled up with GM.

    I reckon I'll have to trade my wife for a Twizy instead of the i3. She is going to be disappointed.

  2. My understanding is that the i3 IS electric in "base version," but has the range extender IC as an option.

  3. Yes, George is correct. In 2013 the i3 will launch as an all electric BEV. It will have a 100 mile range. Later on (BMW hasn't announced when yet) you will be able to order it with a range extender option. The range extender will ONLY charge the battery and will have no ability to drive the wheels under any condition. It will have a very small gas tank, probably only 2 or 3 gallons and extend the range another 100-150 miles beyond the 100 AER.

  4. Hopefully by 2014 battery technology and infrastructure will have improved such that 500 lbs of batteries will provide enough range to forgo the range extender.

    Are there any hybrid or PEVs in the works with a diesel motor? I ran on 100% biodiesel for the last four years prior to the Leaf, and it sure would feel better if our second car had that option (but was primarily electric).

    Is it just me, or do those i3 seats look really uncomfortable? How about a little more cushion where it counts?

  5. A 32KWH battery...that's certainly a lot closer to the optimal battery size than Nissan's puny 24KWH battery which in my opinion is just too small to make the Leaf much more than a city/short to medium range commuter car and too small to cope with decreasing capacity over it's life span. It's also great that despite it's larger size the battery is substantially lighter than the Leaf's (660LB) if the 500LB figure is correct.

  6. Whoops, 22KWH...That's just too bad, though I might have guessed since it fits the range (which I don't expect to be anywhere near 100 miles in real life/EPA though) and weight numbers better. Just another city car then.

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