BMW i3 has been unveiled in London, New York and Beijing

BMW unveils its first fully electric vehicle

BMW i3, the first attempt of the German luxury car maker to set new trends in the electro mobility movement has been introduced today.

In three parallel events running in Beijing, London and New York, BMW has unveiled a vehicle that, with a driving range of 130 to 160km, is designed to meet the needs of most today’s city drivers.

For customers who expect to travel longer stretches, BMW has equipped the i3 car with a range-extender, maintaining the charge of lithium-ion batteries at a constant level once they drop bellow a specified value.

The extender makes use of a 25kW two-cylinder gasoline engine mounted next to the electric motor above the rear axle. With such an extender, the car’s range can be increased up to 300km in day-to-day driving.  

"Innovation drives change. The i3 is more than just a car. It's a revolutionary step towards sustainable mobility,” said BMW’s chairman of the board of management Nortbert Reithofer. “It is purpose-built around an electric power train to serve the needs of our megacity customers."

BMW says the vehicle’s running costs should be reasonably low. With the basic price being set at € 34,950 (£30,180), the running costs are expected not to exceed 40 per cent of those of BMW 320dA, BMW’s popular diesel-powered vehicle.

The BMW i3 introduces a plethora of technological innovations. The aluminium-made chassis is said to set new standards in the field of lightweight construction. With the curb weight of 1,195kg, the i3 is lighter than most vehicles in the compact segment, but offers a considerably more spacious interior.

The car's electric powertrain generates 125kW/170hp and offers a peak torque of 250 Newton-metres, which is immediately available from a standing start. It can accelerate from zero to 60 km/h in 3.7 seconds and from zero to 100km/h in 7.2. For efficiency reasons, the top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

"The BMW i3 sets a new benchmark for sustainable mobility in all stages of development and production, as well as aftersales," said Friedrich Eichiner, Member of the Board of Management of BMW.

The company said that during the vehicle's production in the Leipzig factory, only renewable energy from wind power will be used. The plant is already being hailed as extremely energy-efficient, using 50 per cent less energy and 70 per cent less water than the average BMW production network.

The i3 will be released in Germany and other European markets in November this year. The market launch in the USA, China, Japan and several other markets will take place in the first half of 2014.

The company believes the i3 is on track to become a hit among the customers at it has already solicited 90,000 test-drive inquiries.

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