There are very few watershed moments in the automotive industry – but every once in a while, something revolutionary comes along. Such will be the case with the new BMW i3. This little electric sedan is going to make such a big splash in the market place, and you can expect to see it first take hold here in California.
This vehicle is going to be market gold for a variety of reasons – unique and revolutionary styling – a modern interpretation of BMW signature look, that manages to be both identifiable and new ( you saw a version of the design in concept form in Tom Cruise’s last Mission Impossible 4 movie). It is wildly fuel efficient – lithium battery range will get you 80 to 100 mile per charge – putting it in Tesla competition – at half the price ( $41,350 US Dollars). Neither the Nissan Leaf nor the Chevy Volt can compete with that. If you still suffer from “Range Anxiety”, you’ll have the option of adding a small 650cc motorcycle engine, discreetly tucked away near the right rear wheel, that on a full (small) tank will extend your range to 180 miles. But what will perhaps be this car’s winning trump card, will be the handling. Unlike the Toyota Prius, this is a car you’ll actually want to drive. A driver’s car, if you will. This is, after all a BMW.
The Battery packs, like the aforementioned Tesla, are stored out of the way in bottom of the car’s chassis. Rather than a converted electric car designed first for a combustion engine, this design pays big dividends, handling wise. With the weight of the car concentrated nearest the ground, the sheer physics of the car with the lower point of gravity means throwing it into an on ramp will provide you with a sure footed and flat curve at any speed. BMW’s excellent steering provides exacting confidence, while regenerative braking brings things to a stop quickly, while capturing the otherwise wasted energy.
What most people will talk about is the design. Futuristic, without looking too concept-ish, it feels modern and fresh, but not too far out as to be outrageous. The two front doors open to reveal and another set of opposite opening smaller doors to provide access to the rear seats. The green house is upright and airy, and plenty of storage is to be found in back or up in front under the hood. The instrumentation is easy and modern, but thoroughly BMW in its execution.
Make no mistake – this is the future of mass transportation, and as always, the trendsetters of Los Angeles will ensure this is a car you will see in copious amounts on the city streets and highways. Expect waiting lists and stares….