First introduced as the “Megacity Vehicle”, the i3 will be BMW’s first series-produced all-electric car, and is expected to hit the market in 2014.
Primarily designed for urban areas, the i3 is based on the new LifeDrive architecture concept – also adopted on the i8 – which consists of two separated parts: the “Life” module, that houses the passenger compartment, and the “Drive” module, which integrates the powertrain.
In the i3 the two modules are arranged one on top of the other. The Drive module mainly consists of the large battery, which is located in the underfloor section, which contributes to lower the center of gravity and achieve a better weight distribution.
The electric motor powers the rear axle and delivers an output of 125 kW/170 hp and a torque of 250 Nm (184 lb-ft), allowing the i3 to accelerate from 0 to 60 km/h (37 mph) in under four seconds and from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than eight seconds.
The side view is characterized by a dynamic wedge shape, underlined by the large greenhouse that tapers towards the rear, the rearwards-rising door sills and the “stream flow” – a dynamic stroke descending from the roof into the C-pillar.
The flowing silhouette and the long wheelbase hint at the generous levels of interior space, while the “coach doors” with opposing construction and no B pillars makes it easier to access the cabin.
“The design reveals the driving pleasure on offer with electromobility. And you can add to that a large and practical interior.” says Benoit Jacob, Head of BMW i Design Team.
Extensive glass surfaces and black elements like the window surrounds and door sills give the vehicle a feeling of lightness and, together with the exposed carbon structures, draw attention to its low weight.
At the same time, the lack of B-pillars ensures a seamless transition between the two doors.
The result is a large, homogeneous glass surface, which gives the car’s flanks a very transparent look.
Large, narrow 19-inch wheels add further impact to the dynamic side profile of the BMW i3 Concept.
Their slim construction allows them to reduce the car’s drag and rolling resistance, and to avoid encroaching into the interior. And that means more space for the passengers.
The front end of the BMW i3 Concept has a very clear and uncluttered design and is dominated by the kidney grille, which has the hallmark BMW i blue background and – thanks to the car’s all-electric drive system – is totally blanked off.
“The precise, vertical edges of the front apron element serve as the vehicle’s side borders and reinforce its powerful stance on the road.
“Black surfaces identify the functional areas of the front end, such as the load compartment under the bonnet and the air inlets.
“Along with the kidney grille, the U-shaped LED-backlit lines form an important part of the arresting new BMW i face. The minimalist interpretation of the individual headlights underlines the efficiency and lightness of the BMW i3 Concept and lends it an individualist, outward-looking and reputable air.”
Its large glass area allows the rear window to offer unbeatable rear visibility. The rear window is also home to the tail lights, which are U-shaped (like the headlights) and appear to be floating in the glass.
Behind it lies an extremely versatile boot area, whose capacity can be further increased by folding down the rear seats.
The wide, silver-colored rear diffuser marks the body’s lowest edge and increases the aerodynamic efficiency. Bordered by a blue layer, the diffuser tapers heavily towards the road and appears to continue underneath the car.
The form of the diffuser underlines the car’s powerful stance. A sportier version can be found on the BMW i8 Concept, forging a link between the two models.
Among the features are the use of renewable raw materials – such as the natural fibers used for the instrument panel and door panelling.
The naturally tanned leather of the seats contributes to the lounge-style ambience and provides a contrast to the clear, “floating” forms of the instrument panel and door elements.
Given the absence of a center tunnel, the two front and two rear seats are connected with each other by a continuous seat surface, which also allows for ease of entry and exit via the front passenger side, when parking close to walls, for example.