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Geneva debut for BMW’s i3 electric supermini

BMW’s first fully electric car is expected to make an appearance at the Geneva Motor Show tomorrow as its nears production.

The battery-powered supermini, expected to launch later this year, will also appear alongside the i8 plug-in roadster, which is expected to launch in 2014. The pair  together make the first models planned for launch under BMW’s new electric ‘i’ sub-brand.

BMW i3 concept side

The German brand says its electrified models have been developed following extensive research into battery-powered models. Trials of its BMW ActiveE and MINI E vehicles in Asia, Europe and the USA have clocked up 12.5 million miles of testing and have produced three main findings; that electric vehicles were driven for an average of 25 miles per day, similar to a combustion car, on average users charged two to three times a week, mostly at work or home and that at the start of testing, although 70 per cent of users said that access to public charging stations was very important to them, in practice they used it for less than 10 per cent of all charging.

As a result of these findings, the i3 is designed to provide adequate range for commuting to work all week, charging at home or work just a couple of times a week in between.

Using a lithium ion battery and a 125 kW/170 hp electric motor, the i3 will achieve a range of around 100 miles per charge. With peak torque of 250 Nm, the car can accelerate to 37mph in less than four seconds and can reach a top speed of 93mph.

Intelligent performance

BMW i3 Concept interiorBMW also promises that its lithium ion battery will be less affected by temperature fluctuations than batteries available today, thanks to an intelligent heating/cooling system, which always keeps the battery at an optimal operating temperature. That will improve the performance and life expectancy of the battery and help ensure the car achieves its advertised range, no matter what the weather is like.

To help improve user experience, the car has three driving modes; Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+, to provide different driving and range characteristics. Eco Pro+ limits the maximum speed to 56 mph and switches energy-sapping devices such as heating and air conditioning to energy-saving mode.  As a result, the driving range is increased by approximately 25 per cent compared the more relaxed Comfort mode.

As the world's first electric vehicle to feature full connectivity, thanks to the inclusion of specially adapted BMW eDrive technology services, the car will be able to advise drivers which driving mode to use based on the journey entered into the internet-enabled navigation system. , provide drivers with a realistic range estimate for their journey before they even set out. The internet-enabled navigation system is based on a dynamic range display which takes into account all the relevant parameters for the planned route and is therefore able to provide precise, reliable range predictions.

The BMW i3 will also be available supplied with an optional range extender, which increases the driving range to approximately 186 miles.

Exact launch details and production levels remain unconfirmed.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: BMW

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