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World's First Look: BMW iBrand i3 and i8 Concepts - VIDEO ENHANCED

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

FRANKFURT, July 29, 2011. Today I was in Frankfurt where BMW presented the iBrand concept models of its first electric and first plug-in hybrid vehicles. The new sub brand for sustainable mobility of the Bavarian car manufacturer will introduce the production models of the compact electric i3 and the plug-in hybrid sports car i8 on markets world wide in 2013. The development of the i3 started in 2007 under what was internally called Project-i. The first car that was part of the development process was the electric Mini E. It was presented at the LA Auto Show in November 2008 and in 2010 a fleet of test cars hit several big cities worldwide in 2010.

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By the end of this year a second vehicle will be used for tests: the BMW Active E. The outcome of the use of the Mini E was beneficial for the development of the i3, since it confirmed BMW’s idea that a range of around 80-100 miles would be sufficient for use in the so-called mega cities. Drivers testing the Mini E usually did not go any further than some 25 miles per day. BMW’s goals has always been a range of 90 miles. The name Mega City Vehicle was used as the work name for BMW’s first electric vehicle, the one that now has been presented as i3 Concept. The design of the production model will be somewhat different, but Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s vice-president for design, said that “it is pretty close.” That is also is the case with the i8 Concept which is the forebode for the 2+2 sports plug-in hybrid sports car.

Watch the BMW iConcept animated demo

How the iBrand works)

The i3 Concept has an electric engine on the rear axle. It delivers 125 kw/170 hp and 184 lb.ft of torque, which is available from the standing start. Acceleration takes 7.9 seconds for the sprint from 0-62 mph and 3.9 s for 0-37 mph. The acceleration which is important for overtaking (50-75 mph) takes 6 s. The top speed is (legally) limited at 93 mph.

Fully charging the lithium ion battery pack takes 6 hours through a house hold socket and fast charging for an 80 percent load costs only one hour.

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Fully charged the range of the i3 will be between 80 and 100 miles. Drivers who need to have a longer range will get the option to have their BMW i3 fitted with the REx range extender, a small gasoline engine that drives a generator to maintain the battery charge level to ensure the vehicle can continue to drive on electric power Energy is recuperated by deceleration and braking. A special coasting facility provides a user-friendly character by means of the unique “single-pedal control’: when the driver eases off the pedal, the electric motor’s zero torque control keeps the drive train disconnected as long as the pedal is in this position. The vehicle now coasts without consuming power, driven by its own kinetic energy. The i3 seats four and also takes their bags or (small) suitcase in the 7 cu-ft luggage compartment and the additional space up front.

   • SEE ALSO: The complete press conference video with text report

The electric vehicle has a wheelbase of 101.2 inches, while length, height and width are 151,6, 60,6 and 79.1 inches respectively. The car’s curb weight is 2.755 lbs.

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In the i8 Concept the modified electric motor of the i3 is placed on the front axle. It delivers with 96 kW /129 hp less power, but the same amount of torque (184 lb.ft) .

It is combined with a BMW’s own newly developed 1.5-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine with turbocharger, good for 164 kW/220 hp and 221 lb.ft of torque on the rear axle. The combination generates a total power of 260 hp and 406 lb.ft of maximum torque.It provides sports car performance, but with the fuel consumption of a small car. With both system working simultaneously, the i8 has in fact four-wheel drive. The Concept has a top speed of 115 mph, sprints from zero to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and accelerates from 50-75 mp in 4.6 s. Fuel consumption is approx. 94 mpg in the European cycle (2.7 l/100 km) with a CO2 emission of 66 g/km. Thanks to the lithium-ion battery, that can be fully charged in two hours via a house hold socket, the sports car can drive in electric mode only for some 22 miles.

BMW uses mainly plastic that is reinforced with carbon fiber (CFRP). The material is very light, adding to a lower energy consumption and thus extending the range.

It is also used for the LifeDrive architecture of both cars. In the i8 that has been modified to accomplish a sporty character. The electric engine up front is connected by a so-called ‘energy tunnel’ with the combustion engine in the rear, also providing an ideal 50/50 weight distribution.

The interior is light and roomy, also thanks to the Life module and is executed with raw materials that are visible in the instrument panel and the door panels. The overall feeling is that of a modern environfriendly car indeed.

Stay tuned at The Auto Channel for the back ground information that will be provided during several workshops later this day.

BMW iBrand Preview

BMW Introduces New Sub-Brand Monday Feb 21, 2011

Complete BMW i Series Introduction Press Conference
Live From Munich (February 21, 2011, 45 Minutes)