BMW's long awaited entry into the electric car market will start this July with the i3. Previously known as the Megacity concept, the compact electric vehicle or EV will cost from £35,000.
That's significantly more than other all-electric or range extended electric vehicles. Nissan Leaf, for instance, is yours for under £24,000, while the Renault Zoe (read our hands on here) can be had for less than £15,000, though that doesn't buy you the battery. That's an extra £70 a month in a leasing plan.
Anyway, the BMW i3's pricing comes from reliable car industry tome Autocar and is in line with previous expectations for the premium i3. So, can BMW justify it?
For sure, the i3 is a very advanced machine. It combines a passenger cell made of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), known as the life module, with an aluminium chassis carrying the battery, motor and suspension.
BMW says this not only compensates for the weight of the battery, but also gives a lower centre of gravity for improved driving dynamics and safety. BMW reckons the i3 will be the first series production car substantially contsructed from CFRP.
By contrast, the Nissan Lead and Renault Zoe are based on conventional hatchbacks, albeit heavily modified.
As for the specifics of the BMW i3's tech specs, final details have yet to be revealed. However, the numbers BMW provided for the i3 Concept provide a guide.
The i3 Concept was said to have a 170hp motor and be good for 62mph in under eight seconds. Quicker than the Leaf and Zoe, then. It's also rear-wheel drive, unlike the front-wheel drive competition, which will please driving purists.
And what of the minor matter of range? That's not known, though BMW has quoted up to 124 miles for the two-door i3 Coupe Concept. An range-extender package based on a very small combustion engine and adding another 80 miles is likely to be on the options list.
The i3 is also expected to have a very upmarket interior, with a mix of natural and synthetic mmaterials, and some serious in-car tech including seamless smartphone integration and remote control via the BMW ConnectedDrive Remote App.
Whether all this will be enough to win over buyers in a market that has yet to truly embrace electric cars is another matter. We'll find out this summer.
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