The first vehicles from BMW’s new i division for sustainability and future mobility, the i3 electric hatch
and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car
, are nearing the end of their development phase and will be launched on the market in 2013 and 2014, respectively. However, BMW shows no signs of slowing the rollout of its new i models and is presenting at this week’s 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show the new i3 Coupe concept car.
As its name suggests, the latest concept is essentially a coupe version of the i3 we’ve been shown for the past year. BMW says the coupe body shows that even an economical car like the i3 can be emotive.
While the i3 Coupe is not destined for production just yet, the concept’s unveiling certainly demonstrates the potential for extending the i model range. Furthermore, this latest evolution of the i3 line of concepts gives us a better idea as to what the final production version will be like. Gone, finally, are the clear doors and impractical interior of past concepts.
The biggest distinction between this latest concept and past i3s, however, is the coupe roof line and the latest interpretation of the BMW i "stream flow" design that can be seen in the side window styling. The vehicle is also slightly wider than the regular i3.
Once again, lightweight carbon fiber is used for the construction of the body. The chassis, meanwhile, is mostly aluminum. On the inside, a sense of spaciousness is combined with an exclusive lounge-style ambience in the seats and natural materials used.
Additionally, the concept features the full suite of BMW ConnectedDrive functions
that have been devised by BMW i for use in production vehicles, including operation of the navigation system as well as the information transfer between the vehicle, the outside world and the driver's smartphone.
As for the powertrain, this is now quite familiar. Like all i3 concept’s we’ve seen thus far, the new i3 Coupe features a rear-mounted electric motor spinning the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. Its rating is 125 kW (170 horsepower) and 184 pound-feet of torque.
The electric motor draws its energy from the lithium-ion storage cells under the floor. Positioning the battery units here has the effect of lowering the centre of gravity considerably.
The range covered by vehicles with an all-electric drive is very much dependent on driving style, just as fuel consumption is in conventionally powered cars. The i3 Coupe helps the driver to optimize efficiency, however, by offering three driving modes, COMFORT, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+, with varying performance characteristics. BMW predicts the vehicle can cover a distance of around 100 miles on a full battery charge.
Stay tuned for live photos of the BMW i3 Coupe concept, and remember to follow our dedicated Los Angeles Auto Show hub
for our ongoing coverage of the event.