BMW has unveiled a new version of its i3 electric vehicle – and confirmed the creation of the world’s first dedicated ‘i’ showroom in London’s Park Lane.
The new i3 Concept has been built to mark London’s hosting of the 2012 Olympics, and is claimed to be 85 to 90 per cent production ready.
And it comes complete with an electric bike BMW is calling the i Pedelec, which will allow urban buyers to cycle for the final part of their journey. Two i Pedelecs can be folded and mounted in the back of the i3, and their batteries recharged.
The radical cabin features a host of sustainable materials, with tweed-like wool used on the seats as a nod to its focus on British fashion. Wood also features prominently on the dashboard.
There are flat panels rather than dials, and the look is very minimal to make the car as intuitive to use as possible.
Head of design Benoit Jacob described the latest version of the i3 as “like a small loft on wheels inspired by urban living. And it is also like a laptop, in that so much of the clever technology is out of sight”.
The main design change before production will be the replacement of the see-through doors, with the i8 Concept Spyder which debuted at Beijing “providing a clue” as to what BMW might do.
Performance for the production car is set to be impressive, with an electric motor mounted over the rear axle giving the equivalent of 170bhp. The pioneering use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic panels and an aluminium spaceframe chassis will keep weight down, helping to deliver a 0-62mph time in under eight seconds.
BMW also unveiled a charging box which customers will be able to install at home to make recharging as straightforward as possible, and spelled out details of its 360 Electric programme for potential owners, which will also provide support by way of apps, public charging and rental of other BMWs for long trips.
London has been chosen as the perfect city to launch the company’s ‘I’ store showrooms due to the increasing global population shift to megacities.
‘As one of only three in the western world – the other two in the US – it is an ideal place for us to be,” said BMW board member responsible for sales and marketing, Ian Robertson.
The move reaffirms Britain’s central role in the project, following the news that the three-cylinder petrol engine that will help power the i8 electric supercar will be produced at the Hams Hall engine plant in Warwikshire .
Robertson confirmed that not all BMW dealers will be part of the ‘i’ network when the car is launched towards the end of next year.
He cited Germany, where around 45 of 200 outlets will be ‘i’ garages, as an indicator of how the company might roll out the project elsewhere.