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BMW has high hopes for i3

The BMW i3 can travel up to 160km on battery power or up to 300km with help from an optional range extender.
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BMW is bullish on the market potential for the i3, its battery-powered compact hatchback that is the first model from its new low-emissions i subbrand. CEO Norbert Reithofer said during the i3’s unveiling in July that BMW expected about 10,000 global sales of the car in 2014. The number is likely to increase because BMW said it received more than 10,000 orders for the i3 before it went on sale in Germany on Nov. 16.

Fast facts
What makes the i3 unique?
Because of its lightweight construction the i3 weighs 1,195kg, which is comparable to a gasoline-powered car. Most EVs are heavier than their similar sized fuel-powered rivals because of the weight of the battery packs.
Is the driving performance what you would expect from a BMW?
The acceleration is good (0-100kph in 7.2 seconds) and the car is fun to drive because the 125kW motor delivers the equivalent of 170hp and 250 newton meters of torque. Top speed is limited to 150kph.
How long does it take to recharge?
About 8 hours with a domestic 220V socket but less than 30 minutes at a 50kW fast-charge station.
Which charging cables are included?
The i3 comes standard with cables for both domestic and fast charges. The cables are located in the trunk under the hood.
What about range anxiety?
To gain 150km, customers can add an optional range extender, which costs 4,490 euros.
How does the range extender works?
A 34hp two-cylinder 647cc BMW motorcycle-derived engine powers a generator. The engine is housed below the trunk, which is under the hood, and gets its fuel from a 9-liter gasoline tank.
Any dedicated apps?
With BMW i Remote the driver can check the car's battery status and turn on the heat or air conditioning using a smartphone. MyCityWay helps plan and provides route guidance for intermodal city trips.

“If demand holds, which is what it’s looking like, we will soon have to invest more” to adjust capacity to meet demand, BMW Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said at the i3’s press launch in Amsterdam in October. Special developments by BMW for the i3 include its aluminum chassis and its lightweight body made mostly from carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

The Basics
Launch date: November (Europe); 2014 H1 (Asia and U.S.)
Base price: 34,950 euros (Germany)
Main rivals: Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, VW e-Golf
Annual production: More than 10,000 in 2014
Where built: Leipzig, Germany
Lowest CO2 emissions: 0g/km in EV mode (electricity consumption is 12 kW/hour per 100km in the EU test cycle); 13g/km using the range extender, which burns 0.6 liters/100 km

While BMW won’t say how much it has invested in the i subbrand, analysts estimate it has spent more than 2 billion euros. The next model from the i subbrand is the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. The two-seat coupe arrives next spring.

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You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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