Blog Post

BMW unveils its ultra-light electric i3 car [photos]

BMW unveiled their much-awaited electric i3 2014 at launch events in New York, London and Beijing on Monday morning, saying the car is a response to global trends of urbanization, and the need for decreased carbon emissions, and more sustainable transportation.

The car is important for BMW because it’s one of the first electric cars built from the ground up (not a traditional car stuffed with batteries), showing that BMW has put considerable time and money into making the car. Tesla’s Model S is one of the other electric cars that have been designed to be EVs from the beginning.

With a range of 80 to 100 miles, the i3 could be a competitor to Nissan’s LEAF, but it’s also super light, and BMW used carbon fiber-reinforced plastic for the car’s body. The i3 2014 also has an optional range extender engine (like GM’s Volt) and it costs around $40K — so competitively priced.

The only bad news is that you can’t get the car in the U.S. until 2014. It’s also focused on the “urban mobility market” which is still a little new to Americans.

I watched the event remotely live and these are a combo of photos from the live video and official photos from BMW:

BMW i3 launch live

The unveiling:

BMW i3 launch

The car unveiled:

BMW i3 launch

Side angle:

BMW i3 launch

The back angle:

BMW i3

The front:

BMW i3

The other side:

BMW i3

Official shots:

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 1.45.22 PM

An official shot in a “mega-city”:

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 1.45.34 PM

12 Responses to “BMW unveils its ultra-light electric i3 car [photos]”

  1. saurdigger

    Form follows the laws of physics and I’m sure a big part of the external curvature is to reduce drag and for stability.

    FWIW — I like how it looks. Our perception of design shifts depending on what’s in fashion to some extent. If it proves popular, it could change to being “cute” or “funky”.


  2. claybabe007

    It looks like what my 83-year old Mom would think an electric car would look like. It’s a funky looking car with its two-tone color scheme and the no-handle back doors–oh that looks horrible. Agreed on the motorcycle engine and light car engineering, but this car doesn’t leverage the BMW brand at all. Seems like a total miss to me.

  3. I am a huge fan of this car and followed its making for quite a while.

    I believe the biggest issue you can have with that car is that it is not compromising in the task it is designed for: a purely high density area car for short distance. Here in Germany they even introduced a service for the i3 buyers to rent a ‘normal’ BMW for long distance travels like holidays because they know that it is just not suited for other tasks. That’s in my opion also the reason why it is designed that small: it fits in every parking lot.

    It is rumoured that BMW targets 40000 units sold for the i3. So no, they don’t want to fail with it and that’s also why they price it that low.

    If you are interested to see whether BMW knows how good design looks like search the net for their i8…

  4. Interesting that Siemens lost its CEO today because of ‘green’ policies which lost billions in revenue and profits. Is this another German company betting on the ‘green’ religion? (Making carbon fibre bodies using solar/wind/hydro energy in NA and then shipping them to be assembled in Germany using oil/coal/gas for transport seems to be a zero sum game).

  5. kathleen hiraga

    Why would they create such an eyesore when they could have leveraged the mini-cooper success, and created an electric “urban” version? 40k and I would buy a cooper over this.

  6. Frank A NYC

    A lot of impressive engineering, but the exterior styling is awful. I actually like cars and like driving, so I’m all for more RWD cars. Hopefully EVs will bring back RWD in mass. I love the motorcycle engine as the range extender and the price is right there with the Volt. I will certainly test drive one, but as to buying, probably not.

    • yelmurc1

      My guess is that they really don’t want it to succeed. Almost all Electric cars look like crap. The only company’s that really have decently styled electric cars are Tesla and Fisker. Since they are all Electric car companies they actually want their cars to succeed.