Though BMW is still some months away from launching its i3 electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, the brand is already looking with an eye to the future of its electric car range.

At this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW is displaying the latest member of its i Series, in concept form for now. Dubbed the i3 Coupe Concept, we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the car follows the i3 hatch into production, especially if enough positive feedback is received.

The i3 Coupe Concept wears the latest version of BMW’s “stream flow” design language, which is most noticeable in profile. The car lacks B-pillars and features a radical rear window design, meant to open up the space for rear seat passengers.

As with the other i models, the i3 Coupe Concept is modular in design, using BMW’s LifeDrive architecture. The Life module, what other automakers may call the cabin, is built from Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP).

The Drive module, which consists of the chassis, the drive system and the energy storage unit, is made of aluminum. Combined, the LifeDrive structure offers both strength and light weight, ideal for electric car design.

Inside, BMW has focused on both occupant comfort and sustainability. The automaker claims the interior delivers a lounge-style ambiance, while using environmentally friendly materials such as wool, kenaf fiber and naturally-tanned leathers.  

Power comes from a BMW-developed electric motor, which produces 125 kW (170 horsepower) and 184 pound feet of torque. Though BMW isn’t telling us the size of the lithium-ion battery pack used, it does estimate range at approximately 100 miles.

BMW i3 Coupe concept

BMW i3 Coupe concept

Drivers will get a choice of three modes, including COMFORT, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+. COMFORT delivers the best performance, at the expense of range, while ECO PRO maximizes range by changing accelerator and climate control settings.

BMW claims that ECO PRO can boost range by up to 20-percent over COMFORT mode. If that isn’t enough, ECO PRO+ sacrifices comfort in the name of range, eliminating non-essential electrical draw to preserve battery charge.

The i3 Coupe Concept’s ConnectedDrive services also help to maximize range. Enter a destination, and the navigation system will calculate if you have sufficient range to get there, based on battery range, topography and traffic conditions.

It will also determine the most efficient route for a driver to take, further maximizing range. En route, the driver can check for charging stations or parking spaces, booking time at either via services like ParkNow.

We’ll bring you live shots of the BMW i3 Coupe Concept as part of our complete 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show coverage.


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