BMW i3 Electric Car Spotted Winter Testing In Northern Europe

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BMW i3 and i8 preview, New York City, November 2011, photo by Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 and i8 preview, New York City, November 2011, photo by Tom Moloughney

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Last week, we were 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle, putting the Volvo C30 electric through its paces

But we weren’t the only people driving electric cars in the Arctic Circle as our colleagues over at Motor Authority found out earlier today.

As our own Viknesh Vijayenthiran reports, Motor Authority has been given an exclusive spy-video of a camouflaged i3 being tested somewhere in Northern Europe. 

Due some time in 2013 as a 2014 year model, the all-new i3 will offer BMW’s usual level of build quality and luxury combined with a highly-efficient electric drivetrain. 

On electricity alone, it is expected to achieve a range of around 80 miles per charge, with a 0-60 mph time of 8 seconds. 

BMW i3 Concept, Nov. 2011

BMW i3 Concept, Nov. 2011

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The spy video shows the all-electric i3 traveling at speed around BMW’s winter test track, complete with the unmistakable whine of an all-electric motor. At several points, the i3 prototype is seen losing grip on the icy tundra, no doubt a result an enthusiastic test driver. 

What we haven’t decided yet -- and would love to know -- is if the i3 shown in the video is BMW’s all-electric base model, or the range-extended BMW i3 REX variant, complete with a small capacity, range extending gasoline engine permanently mounted on the rear axle.

As the months progress, expect to hear and see more from BMW’s first all-electric minicar. We already know the i3 is likely to make an appearance in pre-production form at the 2012 Olympics in London, but we’re sure it will appear elsewhere as well. 

Until then, check out Motor Authority’s exclusive video and let us know what you think of the BMW i3 in the Comments below. 


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Comments (11)
  1. The paint job has really gone down hill since the prototype.

  2. I love the look of this car and all of the new technology. I just wonder if I could live without the windows rolling down.

  3. Not to worry, looking at the test vehicle, the fancy glass doors are gone and conventional windows are back.

  4. Boy, that's great to hear. If they release this car in 2013 for $35K like they promised, I'm all over it.

  5. @Bret: I suspect the list price will be north of $35,000. There are, of course, Federal and local incentives of various sorts, but I'd be quite surprised if the 2014 BMW i3 carried a sticker price of $35K or less.

  6. John is right. BMW never promised it would be 35K. The only thing BMW has ever said publicly about the i3's price is that it will cost less than a 5 Series, so that puts it in the low to mid 40's. It is possible that it will be 35k AFTER the $7,500 federal tax credit, but not before.

  7. I can't wait to see the i3 in person, I'm a little disappointed with the reported range but I guess I'll just have to wait and see how it officially turns out. Oh and in the video it looked to me like the driver started out with the traction control off, this most likely was done on purpose.

  8. The i3 has achieved a 225km range using the FTP-72 European cycle. On that same test, the BMW ActiveE achieved a 240km range. The ActiveE then was rated at 94 miles per charge by the EPA so if you apply that to the i3, it should get an EPA rating of 88/89 miles per charge. I've been driving an ActiveE and my range is anywhere between 80 and 125 miles per charge conditions permitting. I'm expecting the i3 to be VERY similar, maybe 75 MPC in the worst conditions and 120MPC or so in ideal conditions. BMW has stated the range will be between 80 and 100 miles and based on my experience in their program, I think that is spot on. It's definitely going to have an EPA rating of about 10 to 15 miles per charge more than the Focus EV or LEAF.

  9. Tom, Thanks for your expert input.

  10. Thanks for the info Tom. And I'm still jealous of your ActiveE, I wanted to lease one but the limited test area meant I never had a chance.

  11. We seem to be entering a new age of the small car, and little wonder with the population and price of fuel. They are incredible cars, but will they be able to take my ski's and luggage up to the snow? I assume they will accommodate roof racks?

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