BMW’s first fully electric car, the i3, officially unveiled

BMW fully unveiled its production version of its highly anticipated electric vehicle, the i3, earlier this week in three globally simultaneous presentations in London, New York and Beijing.

The official reveal showed that the i3 has stayed true to its concept designs (except has been reimagined as a five-door vehicle) and is indeed a rather contemporary hatchback that looks to shake up the traditional hatchback market.

The production-ready i3 is expected to be shown publically in September’s Frankfurt Motor Show and is priced at £30,680 in the UK (£25,680 after the £5,000 electric car rebate). Customers can also take up the option of a three-year lease scheme with a deposit of £2,995 and 36 monthly payments f £369.

Under the working title Mega City Vehicle, the i3 has gone through around €2 billion in research, development, testing and production. One of the most thought out implementations on the initial model is a lightweight inner body structure made entirely from carbon fibre.

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Such a development ensures that the i3 weighs just 1195kg, 90kg less than the current 114i, despite carrying a battery that adds 230kg alone to the overall weight of the BMW. Carbon fibre-enforced body panels ensure inherent strength and has allowed BMW to remove the need for conventional B-pillars.

A further comparison to the 1-series sees the i3 326mm shorter, 10mm wider and 158mm taller than the current entry-level BMW.

The vehicle is the company’s first to run solely on electricity to propel itself and uses traditional BMW rear-wheel drive for interior packaging advantages, low speed manoeuvrability and “class-leading” steering response.

A synchronous electric motor produces 168bhp and 184lb ft of torque and the power is sent through a single ratio gearbox. Drivers have the choice three modes: Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+.

Range will be an immediate concern for those still to be convinced, and it is thought that real-world range will be between 81 and 100 miles in comfort mode. Eco Pro+ should see the i3 reach up to 124 miles on a single charge. A range extender costing a premium of £2,000 can provide a 60 per cent increase in range, or around 211 miles in total.

BMW say that a charge of 30 minutes through a 5kW charger will enable the i3 to charge to 80 per cent, but eight hours on a conventional household socket.

The i3 will fully launch later this year and you can go to your local BMW specialist to find out more.