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BMW Debuts Electric Car

The new BMW i3 electric car debuted in London, New York, and Beijing today.

The international premiere of the BMW i3 electric vehicle was held simultaneously in the cities of London, New York and Beijing today, July 29. The car, designed for an urban setting, will be available in Europe this November and will go on sale in the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2014. The base price in the U.S. is set for $41,350 while it will cost about 35,000 Euros in Europe.

“Innovation drives change. And truly revolutionary innovations can even transform society. There is a powerful idea behind them – and a strong desire to create something better for tomorrow,” said BMW CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer during the world premier ceremonies in New York City.

“This is why we are here today. We are at the starting-blocks of a new era — the era of sustainable mobility.”

The BMW i3 will be a megacity vehicle. Its small size allows it to easily maneuver and park on city streets, while the car's short front and rear overhangs make parking in tight spaces much easier. It has a sharp turning radius and nimble handling for city driving.

In the front, the driver may slide through the car and exit on the passenger side, to avoid exiting into a busy city street. This is made possible because of the absence of the transmission tunnel. The coach doors make getting into and out of the car much more practical by eliminating the B pillar and creating one large opening to enter and exit.

The all-aluminum Drive Module consists of a 22-kWh, 450 lb lithium-ion battery, electric drivetrain, MacPherson strut and 5-link rear suspension system, and structural components. The battery is mounted low and to the rear, close to the drive wheels to improve traction.

“Big changes start small. Looking back in history, we can find many examples of this. Today, the BMW i3 marks the beginning of a new mobility age,” Reithofer said.

The car’s navigation system can take traffic conditions into consideration and help route around any areas of large congestion, which is a huge benefit when living in a city with a lot of traffic. It can help maximize efficiency and cut down commute times in order to save you time. The same navigation system also remembers the owners driving style and can judge by that and the amount of charge left if a route is too long or if a recharge is necessary for the return journey.

The hybrid synchronous electric motor, which weighs 110 pounds, is developed and produced by the BMW Group for use in the BMW i3, with maximum revs of 11,400 rpm, generates an output of 170 hp and outputs maximum torque of 184 lb-ft on tap from the moment the car pulls away.

That propels the 2,700 pound car from 0-30 mph in 3.5 seconds, 0-60 mph in approximately 7.2 seconds, and to an electronically limited top speed of 93 mph (preliminary U.S. figures). Much like engine braking with a manual transmission, but even more effective, the accelerator pedal also acts as a brake when the driver lifts off the accelerator.

In order to reduce range anxiety, a rear-mounted 650cc, 34 hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle's range. When the battery gets to a certain level, the generator starts and maintains the battery's current state of charge.

BMW's iconic kidney grilles headlines the front end with the BMW i blue background. Under the kidney grille, silver layers sculpt the front apron. Contrasting black surfaces identify the functional load compartment under the hood and air inlets. Aerodynamic Air Curtains give an aggressive appearance to the car, while also helping to increase the range by minimizing air resistance and drag. It also features U-shaped, LED headlights.

“The car industry has waited well over a century for its own revolution. Today the wait is over. What the mobile phone did for communication, electric mobility will do for individual mobility,” Reithofer said. “From sketch to street, the i3 is unique in every respect.”

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