Mike Stevens | Jul 29, 2011

BMW has revealed the first of its all-new alternative-energy i cars ahead of September's Frankfurt Motor Show, the i3 concept.

Set to make its market debut sometime in 2012, the i3 shown here is described as a concept, although, much like the 'M5 Concept', the i3's styling and technology is not expected to change a great deal before heading into production.

The i3 is built on what BMW calls a 'LifeDrive' architecture - the cabin and its occupants form the Life component, while the Drive elements are made up of the powertrain, the battery, the body and suspension.

Built purely as a 'city car', the i3 measures 3845mm long, 1537mm tall and 2011mm wide, riding on a 2570mm wheelbase. Weighing in at a relatively light 1250kg, the i3 offers seating for four. The EV's body is built from a combination of aluminium and carbon fibre-reinforced plastics.

bmw i3 i8 concepts 02

Power for the i3 is provided by an electric motor mounted above the rear axle, powering the rear axles (keeping the rear-wheel-drive BMW tradition alive). Energy is drawn from a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack that runs the length of the undercarriage.

Power for the i3's electric drivetrain is listed at 125kW and 250Nm of torque, with power transferred through a single-speed transmission. BMW promises a 0-60km/h time of 3.9 seconds and a 0-100km/h run of 7.9 seconds - quite spritely for a city car.

Electric vehicles live or die by their driving range however, and BMW says i3 owners - likely to be primarily urban dwellers - can expect to get between 130 to 160km from one charge.

A full charge on a standard home outlet will take around six hours, while an optional high-speed charger means an 80 percent charge can be achieved in one hour.

In the future, the i3 will also be offered with a range-extending 'REx' internal combustion engine, but details for that option have yet to be revealed.

TMR will be reporting on the i3 in greater detail over the weekend - watch this space.


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