Greener Beemer - BMW launches its first full electric car

BMW new electric i3 shows a new design shift from the Germans

BMW has joined the elite club of electric car manufacturers with their new baby, the BMW i3. No, it is not powered by Intel, but instead it is powered by pure electricity.

Electric dreams

The new car does not share designs with their now iconic sedans. Instead, the company has opted to go radical, and designed it from scratch. The concept has been around for a while and leaks of the specs, size and even trim have sprung up on the web.

Comfortably seating four, the i3 is their first car that is designed around electric vehicle parts, rather than fitting parts into a standard car. Because of that, you have the plus of clean driving and also practicality in a car. BMW assures while that the car is electric, the company’s DNA and also their philosophy of ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ is instilled in the car for the enjoyment of the driver. 

While we have seen other electric cars on the market before (see the Tesla Model S in the US and the Nissan Leaf right here in Malaysia), most of them are designed around existing car designs, or car concepts - i.e. fitting batteries and electric motors into traditional car shapes. Not the i3. They took the Electric Vehicle parts, set it up and then build the car around it. Hence you get a roomy seating space for four, and even proper luggage space at the back - all in something that should be bigger than your average hatchback-sized car. 

Warp speed

If you are wondering how the engine works – there isn’t one. Instead, the car uses an electric motor that has roughly the same output as a VW Golf. The lithium-ion battery has enough juice to propel you from naught to 100KM/h in just over seven seconds, with a limited top speed of 150KM/h. Not bad for something that doesn’t use any dinosaur juice.

Safety is always a big concern for BMW – that is why they made the passenger compartment from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic. Nice and safe.

As this is an electric car, there are some range constraints that comes with owning one. With the i3, you get a range of 130-180 KM – just enough to go from the middle of KL to KLIA and back on one charge. There is also a model with a longer range, thanks to an optional 34 hp motor that will charge the batteries when and as needed.

Of course the big question is how the charging will be like, and will it cost a lot? BMW said that from you can juice it up from a conventional wall plug, or BMW’s own Wallbox Pure charging system. You will need to leave it overnight (about 6-8 hours) plugged to the wall, or just under 4 hours with the Wallbox Pure.

BMW will be launching the i3 in Germany and European markets by the end of the year, and other markets in the first half of 2014 for around £25,680 (RM 127,000) for the basic model, and another three grand for the Range Extender model. For Malaysia? No news from BMW Malaysia as yet, so we will keep you guys updated.


[via BMW International]