Photo: Alex Davies
Yesterday, BMW brought its BMW i Born Electric Tour to New York City. At the daylong event, it hosted panels on the future of mobility, particularly in cities, and discussed ways to move toward a sustainable future.It was the perfect venue to introduce the convertible version of the i8, a plug-in hybrid BMW first unveiled in 2009. It’s a gorgeous, attention-grabbing car that delivers a whole lot of power.
More impressive to me, however, was the i3, the purely electric car that was tucked away in a corner. It is less obviously cool than the i8 Spyder, but appealing in its own way. More importantly, it’s the practical one of the pair, with room for four people and luggage.
Between them, BMW has covered two approaches to developing the electric car market: Going after luxury buyers who want speed and beauty, and targeting families looking for a practical vehicle that eliminates the cost of gas.
Peter Miles, Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy and Operations at BMW of North America, stressed the concept of “purpose built,” meaning that these cars are made from the ground up to be electric cars, rather than conventional cars with a battery instead of an engine.
And while that idea is not unique — Tesla makes only electric cars, so everything it does is “purpose built” — it’s clear that BMW has produced two very impressive cars. And with an automaker as formidable as BMW entering the electric vehicle market, others are likely to follow.
The i3 and i8 are headed for production in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Although BMW released images of the Spyder in April, they pulled a cover off it yesterday to add some flair to the event.
Because the i8 coupe is made from strong carbon fibre, BMW did not have to re-engineer the i8 coupe. It just cut the top off.
The stats are impressive, especially for an electric car: it has 356 hp, goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 155 mph.
Its pure electric range is just 20 miles, enough for short commutes. The full range is more than 300 miles.
The more practical electric option is the i3, which goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and has an 80-100 mile range.
But he did open up the coach doors. The i3 is not as stunning as the Spyder, but it's an attractive car.
Like the i8, the i3 has a simple interior. It includes two screens and an unusually placed cup holder.
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