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BMW Confirms the i3 Will Continue to Survive

BMW Confirms the i3 Will Continue to Survive

That’s good, but it still looks like the i3 is going through an existential crisis

After all the mumbo jumbo surrounding the i3’s existence, the automaker has finally confirmed that the little electric hatchback will continue to live on. When the i4 was announced at the Paris Motor Show, it looked like a legit replacement for the i3; also because BMW did not address the i3. Now, however, BMW has confirmed that it has got future plans for the i3, according to The Drive.

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2013 BMW Concept Active Tourer

2013 BMW Concept Active Tourer

The BMW Concept Active Tourer is set to be unveiled at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, which begins on September 29th and it will debut with some all-new BMW technology. BMW sees the Active Tourer as its way to fit in with the 5-percent annual mpg growth required by the recently passed CAFÉ extension through 2025. Believe it or not, this compact crossover actually shares a small amount of DNA with the upcoming i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, which we will get into later.

The Concept Active Tourer is just as its name alludes to, a concept. However, it is a great glimpse into the upcoming technologies that BMW plans to add to its line up in the coming years. One brand-new item the Concept Tourer bears is the eDrive system, which we’ll describe in more detail later. The second new technology is the first-ever appearance by the much-anticipated BMW 3-cylinder engine.

As with any concept car that we see, we have to ask a few questions. First, is this concept a reality or is it a pipe dream that will likely never see the light of day in its conception form (See: Pontiac Sunfire)? Secondly, can this concept even compete in its market in both price and performance?

Click past the jump to read all about the BMW Concept Active Tourer and get the answers to these questions.

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A Look Ahead: The BMW i8 has the Potential to be a Flop

A Look Ahead: The BMW i8 has the Potential to be a Flop

We absolutely love the BMW i8, we really do, and we are excited to see exactly what BMW brings to showrooms with its anticipated 2013 release. As we sit back and ponder a little bit more about the i8, we begin to notice that the i8 has a pretty good chance of being an absolute flop. Now, before you BMW enthusiasts start picketing in front of the TopSpeed offices, hear us out, and understand that we are just saying there’s a possibility.

So BMW is touting around the 350 to 400 combined horsepower in the i8, but we often glance right past that “combined” word and only see the total output. In reality, the i8 only boasts about 220 ponies and 221 pound-feet of torque from its gasoline power plant. The remaining power comes from the two electric motors powering the front wheels. In addition, this combination is what allows the i8 to hit 60 mph in sub-5-second times.

From what we are told by BMW, the i8 can run on electric power only for about 20 miles and the electric motors are battery powered, which gains no regenerative power from the 3-pot engine in the rear. So once the batteries die, you’re stuck piloting this likely heavy car with only 220 ponies. This becomes even more of an issue, as BMW has kept rather mum on the topic of how far the car will actually go on the combined gas-electric power.

If the batteries discharge, you are not going to sniff a 5-second 0 to 60 time, as a lot of the torque responsible for such lightning-fast acceleration is provided by these electric motors. Sans those electric aids, you are likely looking at a 8- or 9-second sprint to 60 mph, which is rather disappointing in a car that is certain to crest to $100K mark when it hits showrooms.

Again, this is purely just a look ahead at what could potentially make the i8 a bust. We certainly hope that BMW has figured out a way to prevent this from happening.

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BMW i8's Three-Cylinder to be Built in the U.K., Could it Spawn a New 3-Series Engine?

BMW i8’s Three-Cylinder to be Built in the U.K., Could it Spawn a New 3-Series Engine?

We already know that BMW has officially approved the manufacture of its much anticipated hybrid sports car, the i8 and we are well aware that the gasoline engine behind it is a 1.3-liter three-banger that pops out a sweet 223 horsepower. When combined with the electric motor on the front wheels, the i8 hits a healthy 354 ponies.

BMW has just revealed yet another detail on its upcoming i8, and that is that the thee-pot gas burner that powers it will hail from Jolly Ol’ England… Hams Hall factory in Birmingham, to be precise. Head of engine development at BMW, Peter Nefischer, mentioned before that the boosted three-cylinder could find its way into the 3-Series in the future and the fact that this engine is being built in the same factory that manufactures the 3-Series engine could add some validity to this possible downsizing of the 3-Series.

With the 328i already coming stock with a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter, there is no reason that an extended fuel range model boasting this 223-horsepower, 1.3-liter engine cannot become a possibility. Granted, it likely wouldn’t have quite the drivability of the 2.0-liter, but the extended fuel range would help traveling business people a great deal, while still having a little pep in its step. In addition, those 223 ponies still far exceed the paltry 201 ponies pumped out by the Mercedes-Benz C250.

We can say with some certainty that a three-cylinder 3-Series variant will definitely happen, it’s just a matter of when it happens and how BMW tunes the engine to retain the comfortable feel that the 3-Series is notorious for. We’ll update you if any other news pointing toward a three-banger 3-Series pops up.

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Is BMW Working on a 7-Speed Manual Transmission?

Is BMW Working on a 7-Speed Manual Transmission?

When six-speed transmissions began becoming more and more popular throughout the mid-2000s, drivers began to adapt to them. For most drivers, the change from five to six speeds was a relatively simple one, as it was just one more gear downward. Now with automatic transmissions exhibiting better fuel economy than manuals, thanks 7- and 8-speed automatics, the manual transmission needs to adapt or die.

In true Darwin-like fashion the 6-speed evolved into a 7-speed on the most recent Porsche 911, so why hasn’t any one else followed suit? The truth behind it is that most experts decided that six speeds is about all that the average human can handle in a car. Well, BMW appears to be joining Porsche in proving the experts wrong, as according to patent drawings that surfaced recently, there is a 7-speed manual in development for BMW.

BMW isn’t trying to say that the experts are 100 percent incorrect, as all signs point toward electronic gating of the gears, which prevent a driver from accidentally shifting to 1st gear when going 70 mph and 7th gear when going 20 mph.

These drawings combined with electronic gating of the gears also bring about the possibility of a semi-truck-like 8-speed transmission option. An 8th speed would definitely place the manual transmission back into at least a 1st place tie with new automatics for fuel economy supremacy, but their widespread reality has yet to be seen, and the verdict is still out on the 7-speed variant of the 911. To date it seems like a winner, as it gives the driver six shortly spaced gears then a 7th wide, overdrive-like speed.

We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available on this patent drawing of a 7-speed transmission.

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Report: BMW 7 Series Getting a Diesel Option in the U.S.

Report: BMW 7 Series Getting a Diesel Option in the U.S.

It seems like since the beginning of time, Mercedes has offered a diesel option on its sedans to its U.S. customers, but BMW has always avoided putting these loud and relatively sluggish engines in its U.S.-bound cars. According to various reports, this is all due to come to an end in the near future, as BMW is prepping its 3.0-liter diesel power plant for U.S.-bound 7 Series models.

Nothing is definitive yet and we are still in the early phases of all of the speculation and reports, but we anticipate it to bear a 735d or 740d badge. We also do not know if BMW is planning to further tune the current 3.0-liter diesel engine to exceed its current 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque, but we certainly anticipate the German auto builder to pump up the horsepower to the 300 horsepower range to attract buyers.

As for fuel economy, we can expect the highway economy to jump from the 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway to roughly 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, given the fact that the much heavier and less aerodynamic X5 gets 26 mpg highway with the same diesel engine. This would make the 7 Series one of the most fuel efficient cars in its class, as the automaker strives to stay ahead of the CAFÉ curve.

Reports are pointing toward this new engine arriving in showrooms sometime in late-2013, but don’t be surprised to see it makes its way over here a little earlier. We will continue to monitor the details of this new engine and keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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BMW is planning to go small in a big way by 2012

BMW is planning to go small in a big way by 2012

Along with the rest of the automotive industry, the German luxury car builder BMW announced that they are planning to follow a recipe of downsizing and turbo charging their vehicle’s power plants in an attempt to meet the stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations that have been set forth by the U.S. Government stating that every automaker’s lineup must have an average fuel economy of 35 MPG by 2015. It was at last week’s Frankfurt Motor show that BMW North America CEO, Jim O’Donnell spoke with Automotive News about the automaker’s plans to sell four cylinder equipped vehicles in the U.S. by 2012.

The innovative German automaker sees the use of BMW’s next generation turbocharger technology along with smaller displacement engines as a way of generating output levels on par with today’s engines but with much greater fuel mileage and much less emissions. The CAFE regulations state that automakers must improve the fuel economy of their fleets by 5 percent every year leading up to the national standard of 35.5 MPG for the 2016 model year.

Across the pond, BMW already sells a European 3 Series with a four cylinder power plant under the hood, the automaker’s hope is that America will be just as accepting because they are planning on downsizing the drive trains of the next generation 3 Series as well as the X1 and X3 compact sports activity vehicles. O’Donnell sounds hopeful, saying “we see potentially a significant market that could get to 100,000 four cylinder engines” in the U.S. of course. If everything goes according to the automaker’s plans, then the Germans should be good by the year 2012, three years before the deadline set by Congress. Hopefully that will leave them some time to come up with a true 2002 tii successor.

BMW statement after the jump.

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BMW explains its diesel future in the U.S.

BMW explains its diesel future in the U.S.

Still confused about diesels in the U.S.? Let BMW’s diesel expert, Andreas Klugescheid help you out a little in a video from Kelly Blue Book.

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