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BMW builds buzz for electric i3 coupe concept

Published: November 28, 2012 | 9:08 am
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BMW wants to show how it can make a sexy electric car

BEVERLY HILLS — At a designer house in the Hollywood Hills, BMW provided a stunning backdrop for the debut of its latest concept car, the i3 electric coupe.

The car, introduced ahead of the press preview of the Los Angeles Auto Show, is meant to underscore the German brand’s new fascination with electricity as a way of powering cars.

BMW is building an i3 five-door electric sedan for sales in cities around the world, to be followed by an i8 electric sports car. For the moment, the i3 coupe is just a design exercise.

But the design of the concept is no slacker. With an aluminum frame and carbon fiber body, the car is so light that it has a throwback construction method, bolting the body to the frame rather than make a single unibody. Body-on-frame, as it’s called, allows for rear-wheel-drive without all the mileage-robbing extra weight that is killed the dwindling number of models around the world.

The car’s battery and electric motor is vigorous enough to get the car about 100 miles. A gas engine can be added to double the car’s range to 200 miles without a refill.

Why 200? Because BMW’s Jacob Harb, head of the i electric car program, says they have a study in brand that shows that people are most comfortable with 213 miles of range to reassure them they won’t run short of juice during the day.

The i3 sedan arrives late next year, and the i8 in 2014.


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