BMW Designs Their First EV, the i3

On July 29, BMW took the wraps off its first production-ready electric car, the i3. It has innovative technology and a stunning exterior design. The interior cockpit also presents a very upscale and high-tech look. It prices out many buyers with a sticker price higher than most EVs these days. More on that later.

Styling and Range


The striking exterior design will draw attention.


Styling of the BMW i3 is quite unique. It is one of the best looking electric cars, in my opinion. The hatchback design lends to the utility. BMW designed it for four passengers, and it is as spacious as the BMW 3 Series. Interestingly, the doors in the rear are half-doors that swing in the opposite direction as the front doors.

Range on the i3 is adequate, but not stunning. BMW quotes 80-100 miles on a single charge, which matches the competition. In fact, you’re not only limited to that much. You can option a Range Extender, which doubles your range to 186 miles. This implements a two-cylinder gas engine that generates additional electricity.

Charging this electric vehicle won’t take too long. On a 240 volt charger, it will take 5 hours to charge to full, and at a 480 volt DC fast charging station, it will charge to 80% in 30 minutes. BMW has not specified a charge time for a 120 volt household outlet, but you probably should not charge on one too often because it’s a very slow process.

Weight and Powertrain

Weight savings greatly contributes to better range on EVs. To help save weight, BMW has outfitted the body of the car with carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. This material lightens the car, without giving up structural rigidity.


 The rear carries over with a polarizing look.


The i3 uses a 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Power comes from a 170 horsepower electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Torque is rated at 184 pound-feet. The i3 accelerates to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds, with a top speed of 93 mph.



The interior is very pleasing to the eye.


This vehicle really shines in the interior. It looks better than many of the cheap interiors in some EVs, like the Nissan Leaf. Two screens sit atop the dashboard. The screen in front of the driver shows your range, speed, and such. The other LCD in the center of the dashboard controls navigation, phone, and audio features. You can run it with the familiar iDrive controller, found in many BMWs today.

In the end, this is definitely a vehicle you should add to your list when considering a new car. When it comes to market next year, definitely take it for a test drive, if you’re considering buying electric. Pricing starts at $41,000, but if you qualify for a federal tax credit, you can get a discount of $7,500. If you live in California, you can knock another $2,500 off the price of the car. The aforementioned Range Extender costs around $4,000 extra. I think this will prove to be a top contender in the EV space.

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