Tag Archive | "hybrids"

BMW Start To Plug Their New i3


The media are abuzz about the impending release of BMW’s new four-seater hatchback EV – the i3. After the government’s £5k grant it should cost around the twenty five thousand mark which competes well with other premium brand electric cars.

First mooted in 2011, it is now in pre-production and should, all being well, be available to buy from November. In size, think of a funky, modern Mercedes B Class and you won’t go far wrong. New construction techniques mean the i3 does away with the B-pillars which means the doors open coach style.

This doesn’t detract from passenger protection however as the predominantly carbon fibre body is especially structured for class-leading impact protection. This is possible because the motor is situated low down within the rear axle allowing tons of room up front for structural integrity.

For an EV, the car is apparently light and is said to produce some 168bhp which, according to the mathematicians, equates to a power/weight ratio of 141bhp per tonne. That’s not much less than a Mini Cooper S! Torque is even better at 184lb ft (ten more than the Cooper S) and is instant. Put your foot down and go.

The 0-62 time is a nifty 7.2 seconds although top speed is limited to 93mph which is probably enough anyway unless you want to charge it every hour. The motor is automatically limited to just over 11,000 revs which helps protect battery charge and hence range.i3 BMW Start To Plug Their New i3

The i3 seems to have a high driving position and tall tyres, which, combined with the fairly long wheelbase hints at a comfortable ride. The interior looks pleasingly modern and uncluttered. Of interest to some potential buyers is that there will be a range-extender model. A two-cylinder 650cc petrol engine (out of a scooter, incidentally) is coupled to a nine gallon tank and acts purely as a generator to generate electricity when the batteries are getting low. No doubt there’ll be a slight CO² penalty.

This is a great idea because it opens up a version of this car to buyers who know they might just need a little more distance than the EV’s summer estimate of a one hundred mile range (winter is estimated at around 80).

That, as ever, is the as yet insoluble problem and is the reason that we are not all driving EVs at the moment. For many drivers, especially in the towns and cities, 100 miles is probably more than enough from day to day but the range extender will, for others, bring a bit of peace of mind, even if it is never used. Still, the BMW i3 takes the concept of electric vehicles another big step forward and is to be welcomed.

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