The BMW i3

Joseph Maduma
August 12th 2013

It’s official, the electric car is not a fad, it is simply the future. Just as in twenty years time our children will be mocking us for using a ‘keyboard’ and a ‘mouse’, they will also find it amusing and alarming that we didn’t manage to make the switch from petrol to electric a hell of a lot sooner.

It’s true that until recently offerings such as the Toyota Prius (as popular as it has been) just haven’t hit the bench mark of design and desirability that we expect and demand from a new motor. So often the problem with ‘green offerings’ is that the first models purely appeal to the core green demographic who put their zero-emissions values first, with looks and horse power coming lower down the list.

For the rest of the population however looks, speed, gadgets and power are very important. Just because a car has a battery instead of a petrol tank, that doesn’t mean it has to look like a people carrier for mums. Luckily for us, car manufacturers have caught up with this way of thinking and have realized that electric is indeed the future and therefore they need to build this into their core offering.

BMWi Cover photo

BMW i3 is BMW’s new entry into the electromobility space, offering zero emissions in a premium car package yet at an affordable price.

The BMW i3 is the world’s first premium car designed from the ground up to be powered by an electric drive system. The result is a vehicle that embodies BMW’s commitment to driving pleasure without compromise.

BMW i Wallbox will charge the car in approximatly 3 hours.

The use of lightweight CFRP for the passenger cell compensates for the extra weight of the battery, while the low, central location of the battery pack enhances the car’s agility allowing 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity.

The electric motor generates an output of 170hp, which allows the BMW i3 to sprint from zero to 37mph in a mere 3.7 seconds and zero to 62mph in just 7.2 seconds, while the lithium-ion battery gives a range of 80 –100 miles in everyday driving. This rises by approximately 15 per cent in ECO PRO mode and by the same again in ECO PRO+ mode.


As a point of reference, since 2009 BMW has conducted research on a global scale with the MINI E and BMW Active E programmes.  A UK government report found that the average commute was found to be 13.1 miles each way, and the average daily mileage 25 miles.

For customers particularly conscious of ‘range anxiety’, the BMW i3 is available with a range extender engine, powering a generator to maintain the charge of the lithium-ion battery at a constant level while on the move. This is performed by a 650cc two-cylinder four-stroke petrol engine developing 34hp and mounted immediately next to the electric motor above the rear axle. The range extender increases the car’s maximum range in day-to-day driving to around 180 miles on one tank of fuel.

All BMWi app info dispayed on the dashboard
BMWi app

If the vehicle is plugged into the BMW i Wallbox (the electric charger), the charging procedure can be controlled both remotely and using a timer function. The BMW i App can also be used to search for and select a navigation destination or a free charging station and then import it to the vehicle’s system, and the available charging stations along the route and in the vicinity of the destination are likewise visualised in the BMW i App, just as they are in the vehicle’s information display.

The app lets drivers see where they left their car parked at any time. Once a journey has been completed, customers are able to compare the efficiency of their driving style anonymously with that of other BMW i3 users. At the same time, they are given further efficiency-enhancing pointers as well as tips for honing the way they drive.

The interior feature sustainable materials such as sustainably sourced wood, natural fibres and naturally tanned leather.

The i3 is available with four different interior worlds: Standard, Loft, Lodge and Suite.  These allow customers to change the look and feel of the interior.  All worlds feature sustainable materials such as sustainably sourced wood, natural fibres and naturally tanned leather.

The price for the BMW i3 starts at £25,680 and £28,830 for the Range Extender. However, leasing is expected to be favoured by customers and the monthly rates are highly competitive. Starting at £369p/m for a 36 month contract and rising to £480p/m for an i3 Range Extender in Suite, the BMW i3 is a compelling package.

Fastned's new charging stations will mean a driver is never more than 50km away from a 15-30 min charge.

Of course issues like ‘range anxiety’ are still major factors for consumers to consider when buying an electric car. As things progress however and the relevant infrastructure is put into place these anxieties will become a thing of the past. In Holland for example Fastned, a Dutch company building a network of 200 electric-vehicle charging stations along highways in the Netherlands, has selected Switzerland-based ABB to supply the chargers for the network. This will mean a driver will never be more than 50km away from a 15-30 minute charge.

As it stands though BMW are expecting people to use the i3 for zipping around the city on shorter journeys, and they have made sure it is action packed and looking good whilst doing it.