First testing pics of BMW's radical new i3 electric vehicle that will be launched in 2013
16 March 2011

BMW has started pre-production testing on its radical i3 electric vehicle, spied in Sweden last week.

Known previously as the Megacity Vehicle, the i3 is built around a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell, which sits on a combined aluminium chassis and crash structure. It’s expected to cost well in excess of £30,000 when it goes on sale in 2013.

The electric motor — designed and built by BMW — develops “over 100kW”. It is mounted under the boot floor, driving the rear wheels without the need for a multiple-ratio gearbox. The battery pack — expected to be good for around 100 miles — sits between the aluminium chassis, under the floor.

Although BMW has so far only confirmed a pure battery-powered version of the i3, a senior BMW engineering source told Autocar that he was most in favour of a ‘range-extender’ version, using a small on-board internal combustion engine and generator to charge the battery pack for longer journeys.

Interestingly, this i3 prototype seems to have a cooling air intake in the nose, of the type required for such an onboard engine/generator.

Our Verdict

BMW i3s

Revised hatchback sets out its range-extended electric stall in a new, sportier tune

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Our Verdict

BMW i3s

Revised hatchback sets out its range-extended electric stall in a new, sportier tune

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week