By Nick Palermo
Ahead of its simultaneous triple debut on three continents, BMW announced pricing for the first electric vehicle from its i sub-brand: the new i3 starts at $42,275 before any EV tax incentives. BMW expects an all-electric range of 80 to 100 miles for the lightweight, four-passenger hatchback, or 160 to 180 miles with an optional 2-cylinder gasoline engine.
Pricing tops other small EVs by a significant margin. The i3 is about $5000 more than its next-highest-priced competitor, the lease-only Honda Fit EV, and more than $12,000 pricier than the Nissan Leaf. But it’s also the only premium brand in that group; the much larger Tesla Model S starts at $71,070.
While the i3’s pricing demonstrates some confidence on BMW’s part for the U.S. market, the brand stumps observers by offering the i3 at a surprisingly low 29,370 euros before tax in Germany. That puts it on par with an uplevel Nissan Leaf. And it is an unusual pricing strategy, as BMW models are typically more expensive on their home turf than here in the U.S. It confirms what we’ve heard: Within BMW, there is considerable concern about the i3′s sales performance in Germany and Europe.
The i3 is unique in its design, with a three-plus-two-door arrangement that requires the front doors to be open before accessing the back seat through smaller, rear-hinged doors. Aluminum and carbon-fiber construction contribute to a svelte (for an EV) curb weight of 2630 pounds, according to BMW. A 170-hp electric motor is mounted just ahead of the rear axle and drives the rear wheels. The 22-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, resting under the passenger compartment, provides energy. An optional, range-extending 650-cc gasoline engine can be fitted adjacent to the electric motor and does not compromise cargo space.
- Prototype Drive: 2014 BMW i3
- Instrumented Test: 2013 Fit EV
- Comparison Test: 2012 Chevrolet Volt vs. 2012 Fisker Karma EcoSport
Driving dynamics are unique, too, not only among BMWs but even among electric cars. In normal traffic, the i3 can be controlled with only the right pedal. Lifting off the pedal induces a coasting mode; back off farther and regenerative braking kicks in.
When it arrives in the second quarter of 2014, the i3 will give drivers that want a premium nameplate and zero tailpipe emissions a more affordable choice than the Tesla Model S. And with an extended-range gas option, the BMW also offers a premium-brand alternative to the Chevrolet Volt. While it may not convert performance-minded 3-series owners to EVs, the i3 could attract others that aspire to go electric—and can afford it—to choose BMW.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver