What the BMW i3 is:
The BMW i3 is a small and light all-electric car being released for sale by BMW in 2014. The i3 is powered by a 125 kW motor and has a top speed of around 95 mph. It will be available in purely electric form with a 18.8 kWh battery, and also with a range extender, which is a small 2 cylinder engine that is used as a generator to recharge the batteries when they get low on power. The car should travel around 80 to 100 miles before the range extender (if equipped) kicks in. The range extender has a small tank and won’t massively increase the vehicles range, but should remove some of the typical electric car range anxiety.
Why the BMW i3 is important:
While the i3 is not BMW’s first car made with carbon fiber, it is their first car with a chassis made out of it, and it is also the first car in its price range to be made from the material. The car weighs in at around 2800 lbs, significantly lighter than other electric vehicles such as the Nissan LEAF. The car has been designed to be sustainable and is made from recycled and renewable materials such as recycled plastic that has been turned into fabric, fibers from the kenaf plant that have been turned into door panels, and eucalyptus wood that is used for the dashboard and instrument cluster.
What Autobytel thinks about the BMW i3:
On our short test drive the BMW i3 seemed quick and nimble, despite its relatively narrow tires. The ride was firm, but comfortable on the roads in Las Vegas. Before we got into the car we were warned that the regenerative braking would take some getting used to, as it is set to slow the car down quite rapidly (enough so that the brake lights are illuminated whenever your foot is not on the accelerator). We quickly got accustom to this, and found that the lack of crawling when the brake was released (unlike a normal car with an automatic transmission) was actually harder to get used to. Most driving can be done with just the one pedal, and the fact that the car basically stops itself as soon as the pedal is released can be a safety feature, as we found out when a pedestrian stepped out in front of the almost silent car. Overall the car was very well sorted, every bit the BMW people will expect it to be.
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