The BMW i3: Ultimate ZZZaaaap!!

According to Bloomberg News, BMW has decided to ramp up its production of the new i3 all-electric city car by 43% in response to increased interest in the new German luxury PHEV. Interestingly, although the U.S. market rollout for the vehicle is not slated for its debut in major urban cities such as New York and LA until sometime later in Q1 2014, the Euro version is still being produced on the basis of an innovative hybrid U.S./Euro manufacturing scheme.

In this progression, i3’s carbon-fiber bodies are fabricated at a plant at Moses Lake Washington, and shipped to Landshut Germany where final integration of chassis, powerplant, transmission, and running gear are mated to create the finished product. This manufacturing approach lends additional credence to the car-maker’s previous commitments to the U.S. market since according to BMW Production Chief, Harald Kruger, “…the U.S. will be the largest market for the i3.”

The small urban-centric vehicle boasts blazing acceleration for its class, offering a 0-60 mph time of just over 7 seconds. According to BMW designers, this characteristic will bode particularly well for those who spend most of their time in squirt and point traffic conditions. Along with the car’s quick performance, and luxury interior appointments, new BMW systemic amenities will also apply, including a host of integrated telematic systems BMW has branded ConnectedDrive.

This suite of systems include iNavigation, a value that not only serves as a mobile GPS center, but also automatically locates and alerts the driver when likely charging locations are handy; iRemote, a porting value that directly integrates the i3 with the driver’s smartphone, and a TeleServices matrix including the delivery of real-time, and/or lifestyle information similar to Ford’s Sync or GM’s OnStar commercial communications products.

2014 BMW i3

In order to make the entire package roll on command, the i3 incorporates a 125 KW/170 HP electric motor, producing 184 foot pounds of torque, mated to a proprietary BMW single-gear transmission. The vehicle is energized by means of a BMW Li battery package, integrated with an internal cooling/heating system that insures that the system continually maintains its optimal temperature.

Full-down charging times are in the range of 80% for 6-8 hours, although BMW also offers an optional garage-based, quick-charge Wallbox Pure unit that will reduce that value by up to 30%. Baseline battery range for the vehicle is said to produce 80 – 100 miles to-the-charge, although BMW also offers an optional range extender that creates and additional 70 – 150 miles.

Once the i3 is finally introduced, the U.S. MSRP is projected to be $41,350 (U.S.) per copy. Nevertheless, there’s a lot riding on its performance, “BMW invested a lot of money,” says Stefan Bratzel speaking for the University of Applied Sciences at Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “It was a bold move (and BMW) need(s) to make this work.”

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