Chicago Auto Show Blog

Are you ready to drive an electric BMW?

Posted by: Mark Bilek

The all-electric-powered BMW i3 will be hitting showrooms in the first quarter of 2014 but savvy car fans can get a look at the latest eco-wonder at the BMW Championship being held this weekend at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

For those of you that don't know, the i3 is an electrically driven vehicle like the Nissan Leaf. It has a 170-horsepower electric motor and a 22 kWh battery pack that provides about 100 miles of all-electric range. The i3 is unique in that it also offers an optional 650-cc two-cylinder gas engine that can double range to about 180 miles. Charging time is a trim three hours if plugged in to a 220-volt Level 2 charging station. Additionally, a DC fast charger can give the battery pack a full charge in as little as 30 minutes.

The vehicle was designed from the ground up to be an electric city car. At 2700 pounds, the i3 is perhaps the lightest electric on the market - the Nissan Leaf tips the scales at 3200 pounds. Extensive use of carbon fiber in the chassis helps keep weight down, as do plastic body panels that are also dent resistant. In addition, the i3 has a tight turning radius of just 32 feet curb-to-curb.

The i3 has two conventional-opening front doors and twin clamshell-opening rear doors. There's no B-pillar, made possible by the rigid carbon-fiber frame, so getting in and out is a snap. The interior features materials made from recycled materials and holds all of the expected technology goodies including a large display screen.

Prices have been set at about $41,000 for the electric version and $45,000 for the model with the range-extending gasoline engine. Regardless of model, all i3s are rear-wheel drive.

If you can't catch the i3 at the BMW Championship, you will certainly be able to see it at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show this February.

2014 BMW i3 exterior

2014 BMW i3 profile

2014 BMW i3 interior

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