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The German automaker will focus next year on starting production for its i-Series according to a statement by Dr. BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer.
The BMW i3 concept has been around for some time, but now we can speculate that BMW must be close to having a production car on their hands.
These newest spy photos show the i3 playing around in some snow in the European north, and looking like it could be ready for the road fairly soon. The i3 will feature a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic chassis to make it incredibly light, and along with the BMW i8 will be the first high volume production car to utilize such technology.
The nose on the i3 actually looks like it has changed a little bit since we last saw it in our first batch of spy photos. Clearly BMW is hard at work on the i3.
The fully electric i3 makes roughly 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque and thanks to a weight of roughly 2,755 lbs is expected to accelerate to 60 mph in around 8 seconds.
At the unveiling of the concept version at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, BMW announced the i3 would be in dealers by the end of 2013.
GALLERY: i3 Spy Photos
Marking a new era for BMW, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car and BMW i3 electric city car were first unveiled as concepts last year. Set for release in 2013, BMW will also launch a new complementing smartphone app that promises new levels of technological sophistication.
Previewed at the BMW i Facebook fan page, screenshots of the app display levels of smartphone-car integration that seem far more advanced than anything that currently exists. While the charging status and range information on your BMW i vehicle is displayed in ways similar to many current apps, the new app will introduce the additional ability to program routes into the car and schedule when the routes will be driven. Its full route planner will even allow time for walking and public transportation to be accounted for in the journey. A user could calculate more accurately how long a journey should take and how soon one should have left the house in order to arrive to the destination on time.
The app will also allow the scheduling of charging times so that the BMW i vehicle could take advantage of less expensive electricity rates during off-peak times. While the app is not yet available, it is expected to reach your smartphone before the BMW i cars are released.
GALLERY: BMW Electric Car Smartphone App
With the launch of BMW‘s next-generation i-models, the German car manufacturer is also looking for new ways to sell its lineup of green machines. Tim Abbott, BMW’s UK Managing Director, has expressed an interest in more flexible test drive times, a mobile sales force for the i-models, and turning to the Internet for online sales.
Abbott spoke about how test drives could become more flexible, with catering to customers at odd hours of the day and taking the vehicle to them for a test drive. But more importantly is BMW’s hope to turn online for future car sales for the BMW brand. “That could even stretch to selling cars online, with the back up of our existing dealers of course. eBay manages it, so why can’t manufacturers sell cars online too?” Abbott said.
Lastly, BMW is also looking into changing the usual three-year buying cycle around, possibly offering customers the ability to swap out their electric vehicles for a more flexible sedan (5-Series for example) when the customer wants to take a long trip. Essentially a system of car swapping could be possible with just a 12-hour notice.
Will BMW successfully spearhead the change of convention dealerships and having to deal with a physical salesperson to purchase a car? We sure hope so, everything else can be bought online these days.
GALLERY: BMW i3 and i8
BMW has developed two new hybrid vehicles that the German automaker says have redefined the understanding of personal mobility with a focus on sustainability.
The i3 concept, previously know as the Megacity, is an all-electric car that focuses squarely on the mobility challenges in urban areas. The i8 hybrid concept is a “forward-looking, intelligent, and innovative” sports car with both an electric drive system and a fuel efficient combustion engine. The i3 is built for four passengers, and BMW’s LifeDrive architecture conjures up a feeling of space inside the car more generous then even the latest conversion vehicles can offer. The i3 features wide-opening opposing “coach” doors, and trunk capacity of around 200 liters. The electric motor is over the rear axle and can produce 170-hp with 184 lb-ft of torque. The i3 can achieve a 0-62 mph time of just under eight seconds. The i3 can achieve what BMW calls an “everday” driving range of between 130 and 160km on a single charge, with a standard charge taking six hours, although with the right equipment, an 80 percent charge can be done in one hour.
The four seater i8 concept “embodies the vision of a sustainable contemporary sports car brought to life” according to BMW. The plug-in hybrid system combines the modified electric drive system from the i3 fitted over the front axle and a high performance three cylinder engine at the rear. The engine can produce 220-hp and 221 lb-ft of torque delivering a 0-62 mph time of just under five seconds. The i8 delivers 94 mpg or three liters per 100 kilometers. The i8 can also run purely on electric power, with a driving range of 35 kilometers (20 miles) and the battery can be fully recharged in two hours at a standard power socket.