2014 BMW i3 Electric Car: Specifications And Details Released

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With the global unveiling of the 2014 BMW i3 less than three weeks away, BMW has revealed a few more details on its radical new electric car.

The i3 battery-electric five-door hatchback's 125-kilowatt (170-horsepower) electric motor can generate peak torque of 184 lb-ft.

The motor will accelerate the car from 0 to 60 mph in "approximately 7 seconds", BMW says, and the critical stop-light dash from 0 to 35 mph takes just 3.5 seconds.

In sales-ready form, the 2014 BMW i3 will offer a slew of new connectivity features that BMW has described in considerable detail. (We'll cover those in a separate post.)

BMW hasn't yet released the i3's EPA electric range rating, saying only that it will travel "80 to 100 miles" on a charge--and that using the "Eco Pro" efficiency setting can boost that by about 12 percent.

It says the battery pack contains "approximately 22 kilowatt-hours" of energy, and that in the European drive cycle, the car achieves more than 4 miles of range per kWh.

Strong regen

Unusually, the company gave considerable detail on its regenerative braking strategy.

Like the MINI E and BMW ActiveE prototype electric-car test fleets, the BMW i3 will provide strong regeneration when the driver lifts off the accelerator.

This offers largely "one-pedal driving," as did the original Tesla Roadster, but it's a different feel to most other electric cars. Those mimic the driving experience of a conventional automatic-transmission car, effectively coasting when the driver lifts off, providing only minimal regeneration until the brake pedal is applied.

2014 BMW i3 concept live photos, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

2014 BMW i3 concept live photos, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

(The company didn't specify whether the i3 will provide a "coasting" mode at an intermediate spot in the pedal travel between acceleration and regen, as there is on the ActiveE.)

The regenerative effect is speed-sensitive: It's reduced at highway speeds to let the car "coast" and avoid unnecessary slowing, but strongest at lower speeds.

The BMW i3's turning circle will be a low 32.3 feet, aided by the rear placement of the electric motor, powering the rear wheels.

The car offers "near perfect 50:50 weight distribution," BMW says, though it didn't provide an exact front:rear weight ratio.

Range extender

BMW notes that the optional 0.65-liter (650cc) range extender engine will maintain the battery charge at a constant level once it drops below a certain charge percentage.

BMW i3 Concept live photos, 2012 L.A. Auto Show

BMW i3 Concept live photos, 2012 L.A. Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

The 34-hp (25-kW) two-cylinder engine sits below the rear load deck, meaning there's no compromise to cargo volume.

Fitted with the range extender, the car's total distance (on a single tank of gasoline) increases by 80 miles.

For regulatory reasons in California, BMW has a strong incentive to keep the distance in range-extending mode lower than the battery-only range.

Still unknown is whether performance will be lower in range-extended mode than on the battery alone.

Lots of spy shots

Although spy shots of all-but-uncamouflaged i3 prototypes have been widely seen, the final design itself will be shown globally for the first time in New York City on Monday, July 29.

Designed for minimal weight to offset the extra 450-pound mass of the lithium-ion battery pack, the i3 represents a radical commitment to volume production of electric cars.

It makes BMW only the fourth high-volume car manufacturer globally to launch a dedicated plug-in electric car architecture, after Tesla, Nissan, and General Motors.

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Comments (21)
  1. " and that in the European drive cycle, the car achieves more than 6.4 km of range per kWh"

    22 kWh x 6.4 km/kWh = 141 km.

    On the same NEDC, the Nissan Leaf does 175 km and the Renault Zoe 210.

    That makes the range extender almost mandatory.

  2. I predict the i3 will have better electric range than the LEAF, based on the lighter weight and tall-narrow LRR tires. The batteries are almost the same size, so I am curious about the MPGe. Even so, I will probably get the optional REx anyway.

  3. I like the performance aspect of the car. (The regen mode might take a bit getting used to. I wish the mode had more driver select-ability.)

    My opinion of the looks remain the same: slab-sided brick.

  4. Douglas, considering your comments here (both this time and in the past) regarding the looks of the i3, do you feel the same about the Volt's appearance?

    I ask only because I drive a Volt, and despite loving the car overall, your description is close to what I'd use to describe the Volt. For the 13, I'm personally not sure yet. It may be somewhat awkward, I'd agree, but this is one vehicle I really need to see in person to really judge.

  5. Robok - Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, but I wouldn't suggest the Volt is brick-like. The i3 has an SUV look to it that I don't find appealing at all. Whereas the Volt has a wide stance, sloping rear-end and flared fenders, the i3 looks more like an appliance.

    But others will certainly differ. Some people like the look of the Leaf!

  6. Thanks! To be honest, my Volt is a love/hate thing for me in terms of aesthetics. The i3 looks nice from some angles and terrible in others to me, much like the Porsche Panamera. Some concept vehicle tricks won't make it to production, of course, so I look forward to seeing the real version later this month.

    And I'm appalled that some people like the look of the LEAF! Outraged, even... Not really, I can't stand it but you're correct, to each his/her own.

    I'll see what I can afford when my Volt lease ends in early 2015 and hope I can afford a Model S or the i3 looks better than I suspect it will.

  7. Ah, yes, the Model S. I haven't heard many dis the looks of the Model S. I certainly wouldn't toss it out of the garage.

  8. What is the top speed? Is it limited? Probably is. Hope it's nothing like the stupid 84MPH limitation of the Focus EV (I think), 93ish MPH of the Leaf, ~90MPH of the Chevy Spark.

    The Chevy Volt's top speed is electronically limited to 100MPH.

  9. My thinking is that if the owner wants to blow some electrons to the wind, let him or her do it. Of course the range gets shot to heck when you go over 65, but if the driver wants to do it, why does the manufacturer have to be a nanny about it?

    The Focus Electric will out accelerate most any compact from 70 to 80 mph. I mean it is quick right up to the stupid limiter. Ugh.

  10. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a single- speed transmission, allowing the BMW i3 to accelerate with an uninterrupted flow of power up to its top speed, which is limited to 150 km/h (93 mph) in the interests of efficiency.


  11. I noticed the doors lost a lot of the lower glass between the 2011 Frankfurt Show and the 2012 L.A. Show. I'm happier having the doors without the concept car windows. Curious about range and pricing. The Mini E had many good reports and the Active E had a couple good reports that I found. An EPA range rating of anything more than 100 miles would be great by me, price dependent of course.

  12. According to Autoblog the base price should be ~$35K based on the European pricing that supposedly starts at €35K.

    Considerably lower than predicted so far I think and even more surprising is the the price of the range extender that should cost only an extra $2K.


  13. Yes, but note that many think that the $35 K includes the $7500 fed discount. The true price is probably around $42K.

  14. Actually the €35K EU price really would translate to ~$35K in the US taking into account the exchange rate and the level of taxation (~20%)included in the EU price.

  15. Nice pictures.

    It is interesting how the REx fit in the rear. It looks like the rear deck will be fairly high and there will be a "frunk"?

  16. Prior reports and spy shot indicate a presence of a small frunk. There is some space set aside for the range extender next to the EV drivetrain. A small gas tank will be added in the font, and will likely encroach on the limited frunk space under the hood.


  17. gas tank in the front???? Interesting. I guess the fire risk during the crash is fairly low since it doesn't carry too much gasoline. But the rear deck is surprisingly high in the picture.

  18. Edmunds has a very positive first drive review of the i3 today, and I like a lot of what I've heard so far about it. I'd seriously consider buying one with the range extender if the price is right and if I get more favorable info when more details emerge. That said, the shape of the thing does remind me a bit too much of the Pontiac Aztec (aka Heisenbergmobile). Not appealing. I hope it's better in real life than some of the pics.

  19. John, thanks for the notice about the review in Edmunds, I'll read it later today. I agree about the external styling but the interior looked decent to me. I also will consider this versus the Model S and I'd need the range extender if I chose this.

  20. A range extender offering "80 extra miles" is a misprint. Right?
    If not, what in the hell is BMW thinking?

  21. @Kent: See my explanation above in response to other commenters explaining the range decision to qualify this car as a "BEVx," which is to say a battery-electric car with total gasoline range *less* than its battery range.

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