Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

BMW i3 – quick guide

bmw-i3-moving.jpg The BMW i3 is available as a pure electric vehicle, when it has zero tailpipe emissions, or as a Range Extender, with a 650cc, two-cylinder petrol engine, when it has an official NEDC fuel economy figure of 470.8 mpg, equating to emissions of 13g/km CO2.

The official NEDC range of the pure electric version is 118 miles, or 211 miles for the Range Extender model. Because official NEDC figures are acknowledged to be misleading, BMW offers its own ‘customer-orientated electric range figures’, designed to give a more accurate figure for real-life use: 81-100 miles for the pure electric version, or 75-93 miles for the Range Extender, with the Range Extender offering a further range of 75-93 miles on petrol power – resulting in a total range of 150-186 miles.

Both BMW electric cars produce 170hp, with the i3 having a 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds, and 7.9 seconds for the Range Extender model.

The i3’s battery sits under the floor of the car, with the resultant low centre of gravity promising impressive handling. As well as essentially being a mid-engined car, it’s also rear-wheel drive.

The i3 is constructed from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), which is very light, resulting in the i3, even with a 230 Kg lithium ion battery, weighing just 1250 Kg.

The production of CFRP is energy-intensive, however BMW has established a joint venture with a supplier in America that produces carbon fibre using energy that is 100% generated from renewable hydro-power.

BMW has also installed four wind turbines to provide electricity for the i3’s Leipzig plant in Germany – the company claims that these generate more energy per year than the factory requires.

Such initiatives are a key factor in how BMW can claim that the i3 is not only a car with zero tailpipe emissions, but that it has one of the lowest ‘ whole life carbon footprints
‘ of any car on sale.

Like any electric car, the i3 is most likely to be charged at home. BMW has developed its own wallbox, which can be installed inside a garage, or on an outside house wall. This wallbox enables the i3 to be fully charged in just three hours. The i3 can also be recharged from a fast charger, which enables the car to be fully charged in around 30 minutes.

If you buy an i3, BMW says it will offer you the opportunity to change your electricity supply to one that is generated from 100% renewable energy. BMW is also offering a range of ‘mobility services’, such as the ability to use a conventionally-engined BMW for longer journeys.

BMW seems to be planning on the majority of people buying the pure electric version of the i3. The company expects that the perception of range anxiety will drive some people to order the range-extender version at first, but after a time people won’t see range anxiety as a real issue, and the pure EV version will account for even more sales.

The i3 will always be sold as a complete car with the battery, making residual values easier to forecast.

The price for the BMW i3 starts at £25,680, and at £28,830 for the Range Extender (after the £5,000 OLEV Government grant), or it can be leased from £369 per month.

The BMW i3 qualifies for a full 100% discount in the London Congestion Zone.

The BMW i3 launches in the UK on 16 November 2013.

Paul Clarke


The BMW i3 – the world’s most sustainable car?