Take a look at BMW's all-new electric car! This is the i3 – a compact 1-Series-sized MPV that shows the way forward for the German firm's new 'i' sub-brand. And Auto Express has the world-first pictures of the new model.
Caught testing in Scandinavia where BMW was doing some filming for its new "Born Electric" campaign, the zero emission i3 is a remarkable sight. It gets a distinctive body shape with short front and rear overhangs, a raised body and a narrow, low rolling resistance tyres.
Under the skin lies an innovative new rear-wheel drive architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, with lightweight but strong carbon fibre-reinforced plastic for the passenger cells. Due on sale in 2013, it has targets of a range of around 100 miles and a 0-62mph time of 10 seconds.
The i3 will be assembled at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany – along with an i8 supercar – where the firm has invested £336million, allowing component crossover for the electric motors and batteries, cutting costs significantly.
As you can see from this prototype, it looks very different to regular BMW models. Behind the disguise lies a blue-rimmed version of the trademark kidney grille, large but narrow wheels for better aerodynamics and a ‘stream-flow’ C-pillar design which supersedes the Hofmeister kink.
The i3 and the i8 are just the tip of the iceberg, with the separate ‘i’ sub brand being used for a new New-York-based venture capital company, which will invest in a host of services aimed at revolutionising the way that people use cars.
The venture capital company is intended to allow the use of BMW Group’s wealth of resources, while also allowing the ‘i’ firm to make faster investment decisions as technology progresses.
One of the first priorities is investment in mobile connectivity, which will take four different strands – parking solutions, smart sat-navs, different types of transport and even ‘premium’ car sharing.
The firm used a press conference at BMW Welt in Munich to demonstrate the MyCityWay app, which is one of its first investments - showing that the firm is keen to invest in comapnies which aren't necessary car-related.
The example of booking a table at a restaurant was used to show that, as well as recommendations of different places to eat, the app calculates the best mode of transport to travel by, including traffic updates for roads and service disruptions on public transport.
If you elect to travel by car, the app also advises you of where to park and any restrictions that may be in force. Future developments include a car sharing feature, which would allow drivers of ‘i’ cars to give each other lifts to common destinations.
The app currently has 500,000 users in 40 cities in the US, with 40 more coming on stream soon.