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News of of BMW’s ‘i’ EV sub-brand has been circulating for a while now, or so it seems. There have been spy shots, passenger rides and motor show reveals; now we have the list of dealers that will sell and service the new range of electric BMWs.

The list comprises 46 BMW retailers, from Jacksons Jersey to John Clark Aberdeen. The first showroom, BMW Park Lane, currently has an i3 city car on display. It will go on sale later this year, with the i8 range-extender supercar due in 2014.

i3 in electric or range-extender forms
i3 in electric or range-extender forms
BMW calls the i3 a ‘megacity’ vehicle, and it will be offered with a choice of pure EV or range-extender powertrains. The electric motor in both is an evolution of that seen in the 1 Series Active E, producing 170hp and 184lb ft. Power goes to the rear wheels (it’s still a BMW, after all) through a fixed-gear transmission. Performance up to its 93mph top speed should rival junior hot hatches; carbon fibre allows for a fairly lithe 1,250kg kerb weight, and 0-62mph is completed in 7.2 seconds.

Like their combustion-engined counterparts, relying on the official range figures will only lead to disappointment with BMW’s electric vehicles. So whilst the i3’s NEDC total is 140 miles, BMW is claiming an everyday figure of between 80 and 100 miles. Harvesting kinetic energy whilst driving will provide some battery replenishment, and a full charge through a conventional plug will take six hours. An optional quick charger promises to restore 80 per cent of the battery pack’s energy in 30 minutes.

To alleviate range anxiety worries, the range-extender i3 will use a BMW motorbike engine as a generator for the electric motor. The 650cc engine is predicted to double the real world range to around 200 miles.

Initial estimates suggest the i3 will cost around £35,000 in all-electric form or £38,000 as a range-extender. Whilst the Vauxhall Ampera is perhaps the i3 range-extender’s nearest conceptual rival, it lacks the performance or advanced materials of the BMW. Its perhaps also worth noting a Nissan Leaf offers a similar range at nearly half the price of an i3.


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