While most people are tightly focused on the state of the economy this election year, the recent devastating storm system that caused billions of dollars in damage across the east coast of the United States has people also considering the importance of protecting the environment and working together against climate change. We may not know if the environment is something we can ever ‘fix’, but we do know that cutting down on our fossil fuel consumption is both good for the planet and for our wallets. That combination has seen a rising frequency of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles on the roads. Toyota’s Prius leads the way in the hybrid market, but several other manufacturers are working on an answer, and who those brands are may surprise you. BMW has been touting the upcoming release of an electric vehicle for quite some time now, and eco-warriors interested in getting a closer look will have that opportunity at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
BMW’s venture into the world of alternative fuel vehicles was first uncovered back in the spring of 2011, in an online report published by Tom Moloughney. The plan was focused in on two different models, the i3, which would be a 100% electric vehicle, and the i8, their hybrid ‘supercar’ that was plug-in capable. Both ideas were incredibly appealing. After all, if the luxury car buyer could be persuaded to also ‘go green’ the benefit on our roads would be significant.
So what will these vehicles be like? Only a few details have emerged in advance of the car show, but it seems like both models will draw a ton of attention. The i8 will clearly start out as a niche vehicle, boasting a sticker price in the low six figures. But both the i8 and the i3 are larger than previous hybrid and electric vehicles, meaning they could appeal to a percentage of the country that has avoided alternative fuels to this point. While both the i3 and the i8 will head to the manufacturing plant in late 2013, the most encouraging announcement may involve the i4.
Even less is known about BMW’s i4, a sedan that may bridge the gap between the small and sporty i3 and the highly-specialized i8. The i4 will be larger than Nissan’s popular Leaf model, although with a 2015-2017 production date there is still plenty of time for the specifications to adjust. But according to comparisons with the i3 and the numerous speculations from various web outlets, the i4 will be similar in look and feel to the smaller model.
Digging deeper, drivers could expect a 0-60 acceleration time in the neighborhood of eight seconds. Not bad for an electric motor sporting less than 200-horsepower. Drivers will be able to choose between a range-extended hybrid electric drivetrain or a plug-in 100% electric model. The hybrid would run off a 600cc, twin-cylinder engine, which should be plenty for this vehicle, especially since the body will be constructed of carbon fiber. The i4 will also be even sportier than the i3, meaning it could receive attention from a larger group of drivers. The i3 is expected to retail for around $50,000, so interested BMW fans should only put up their Honda cars for sale if they can afford something north of that.