BMW has essentially kept the same vehicle lineup since 1975. This lineup was based on the standard sedans and eventually added SUV’s. These were all made to preform to a demanding sports car standard. The world we know today has changed with a majority of the people living in large urban environments which has led to a explosion of small "city" cars. These cars whilst being small enough to park in a shoebox are known to have the driving dynamics of an office chair on a cobblestone road. Now, can you imagine the utility of a city car with that uniquely BMW traits of phenomenal engineering and handling combined with a peppy engine. It’s enough to make our mouths water.
These BMW models known as the i3 and the i8 (due to be introduced in 2013 and 2014 respectively) were described by BMW as "[concept studies..[and] the sports car for a new generation — pure, emotional and sustainable." These concept studies represent a huge technological push for BMW as the i3 is their first purely electric car and the i8 is a gasoline/electric hybrid. Inside Line points out that this electric car (i3) is going to bring sport into this previous dull electric vehicle market. For example, the i3 will use carbon fiber extensively to fend away the unnecessary weight ( it weighs 600 pounds less than its main competitor the Nissan Leaf.) Under the bonnet you will find a 125 KW electric motor that will move this 2,756 lb car to 60 mph in an astounding 7.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 93 mph. Although most electric cars have a range that can be measured in blocks rather than miles, the BMW manages a fantastic range of 93 miles between charges.
The innovation continues with the i8 which is powered by a 3 liter gasoline engine and an electric engine that develop 349 horsepower and 406 lbs/ft of torque. This will propel the full size sedan (182.6 inches long) to 60 mph in "less than 4.6 seconds" and onto a governed speed limit of 155 mph.
Here at TopSpeed we do admire for BMW for making this market segment more geared towards what we call "eco-sport" cars. We think the combination of zero emissions and performance will make the i3 a instant hit. The i8 however will face tough competitor from the Honda CRZ sports hybrid. The one complaint we have with both these cars is their overall look. Both these cars look a little too much like they escaped from the set of "I, Robot." We believe this could be a "Concorde moment" and invigorate the electric car/hybrid market and show the way to the future.