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BMW Launches i3 City Car in New York

Maker compares impact of i3 on society to cell phone.

by on Jul.29, 2013

BMW rolled out the new i3 electric vehicle in New York today.

BMW launched what it described as a new era in “sustainable” transportation by unveiling its new mega-city vehicle, the i3.

“Innovation drives change and revolution innovation can change society. We are in the starting blocks for sustainability mobility,” said Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s chief executive officer, who compared the new vehicle to the mobile phone, which changed the way we communicate with the world and opened up new business opportunities.

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“We are entering a new era,” Reithofer added, during a press conference today in New York, adding that BMW’s research indicates that electric cars and sustainable and connected transportation are the wave of the future particularly in large cities around the globe.

The new BMW i3 is expected to cost a little more than $42,000.

“We conducted research in megacities around the world. The I3 is purpose built to serve the needs of our mega-city customers. It sets new benchmarks in sustainable.”

Ian Robertson, BMW board member for marketing, said as BMW kept in mind the demands of the customers that have made BMW successful over the years as it designed the i3. “They want driving pleasure with a clear conscience. We pursued sustainability with same attention we pay to quality and cost,” he added.

“Every material you will find around this car has been made with sustainability in mind,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s top designer, adding the i3 makes extensive use of recycled material. “For a design team, this was a very exciting project.”

The i3 is basically a five-door subcompact that will not look out of place on freeways anywhere in the world. But the car is slightly taller and uses lines sparingly, while the body is free of ornamentation, which indicates the car’s zero emission pedigree, Hooydonk said.

“Through design, we want to solve problems but we also want to offer people what they don’t expect,” he said.

Pricing for the BMW i3 electric vehicle starts at $41,350, before any federal or state incentives. The Destination & Handling fee in the U.S. is currently $925.

The electric motor powering the BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 170 horsepower and peak torque of 184 lb-ft. Its instantaneous power flows to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.

The motor sources its energy from lithium-ion storage cells integrated into the car’s floor section. The significantly lower center of gravity of the i3 – the result of the low, central placement of the battery units – and even weight distribution make an additional contribution to the car’s agile handling, BMW officials said.

The i3’s range is estimated at between 81 miles and 99 miles per charge, according to the technical information released by BMW.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, a member of the BMW management board, said the i3 also embraces new sustainable technology. The car uses carbon fiber and an aluminum chassis. The carbon fiber is 50% lighter than steel and is blended with plastic to produce the chassis parts and body panels at the BMW factory in Leipzig where the i3 is manufactured.

(Click Here to read about pricing for the new BMW i3.)

The process is substantially less expensive than the process used in building parts for high-tech racing cars using similar materials, added Schwarzenbauer, who noted the car is made in factory that use windmills to generate its electric power. The factory is also fully automated.

Schwarzenbauer, who is in charge of Rolls Royce, Mini and Motorrad brands, said the innovations used in the i3 will help insure that BMW is ready for the future. The BMW i3, the first series-produced model from the new brand, offers customers emission-free mobility in a premium car package, he added.

(China is set to become BMW’s largest market this year. Click Here for more.)

The BMW Group is pursuing an integrated approach, as embodied by the new BMW i brand, in its drive to achieve the necessary balance between individual needs and the global mobility requirements of the future. BMW i is committed to creating innovative vehicles and mobility services with a premium character that is defined squarely in terms of sustainability, he said.

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