Launched simultaneously in London, New York and Beijing, the BMW i3 has won its first accolade even before it goes on sale next month, topping the ‘Electric & Hybrid Car’ category in The Sunday Times Top 100 Car list.
The Sunday Times Driving team said, “BMW has bided its time while others took their first tentative steps into the electric car market. The brilliance of the i3 comes not in revolutionary battery technology for there is none, but by being a car someone might consider buying for reasons other than it is electric.”
The first of two models to launch within BMW’s i-range, the i3 is BMW’s first fully-electric production car and is due to go on sale in the UK November priced from £25,680. The second model is the plug-in hybrid i8 £100k sports car.
BMW says the i3 will achieve a range of 130 to 160 kilometres. If desired, the BMW i3 is also available with a range-extender, which maintains the charge of the lithium-ion battery at a constant level en route. This is performed by a two-cylinder gasoline engine with 34 hp (25 kW), mounted adjacent to the electric motor above the rear axle. The range extender increases the car’s maximum range in day-to-day driving to around 300 kilometres.
At a launch in London, the sales chief for the world’s biggest luxury car manufacturer, Ian Robertson, said, “We’re not entering to be a niche player. This is a strategic direction for us, this is something that we’ve looked at very holistically and something I think the company will benefit from for many, many years to come.”
BMW is predicting the market for electric vehicles will grow to between 150,000 and 160,000 vehicles globally this year, from 7,000 in 2010. BMW’s home government – Germany – wants to have one million electric cars on its roads by the end of the decade. Tougher emission rules in the EU and California are also a powerful incentive.