BMW has opened the first of several new retail outlets focused on its i division and its associated electrified vehicles.

Called the BMW i Store, the first is located on London’s trendy Park Lane and will be followed by additional stores in other locations in the not too distant future.

To coincide with the opening of the new BMW i Store, BMW also unveiled an updated version of its i3 electric city concept that better reflects the production version due out next year.

Based on the original i3 concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, the updated concept gets a new interior built with more of the materials expected to feature on the production version. These include a number of natural elements such as leather, wood and even wool, all supplied by sustainable sources.

BMW is also giving us a better look at the complete interior of the i3, or ‘Life’ module as it likes to call it. There's no center tunnel bisecting the cabin, and the interior creates an open and airy impression. Full-width seat benches in the front and rear allow passengers to swap easily from one side of the car to the other and climb out comfortably, making it easy to get out of in tight parking spots.

One of the defining features of the cockpit is the freestanding steering column. Other units, such as the controls for the audio and climate control functions, are integrated into the instrument panel, eliminating the need for a center console and freeing up space. Together, the freestanding 6.5-inch instrument cluster on the steering column and the 8.8-inch central information display show all the relevant information, the latter also providing the link between the driver and various connectivity applications. A third display below the CID shows the functions of the audio system and automatic climate control.

As for the car’s propulsion system, the so-called ‘Drive’ module, BMW is relying on a compact electric motor spinning the rear axle and powered by a lithium-ion battery located in the vehicle underbody. Peak output should be 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, while the driving range on a single charge should come in somewhere between 80 and 100 miles. Thanks to mostly carbon fiber construction, overall weight of the i3 should come in at less than 2,800 pounds.

Along with the updated i3, BMW also unveiled the new i Pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) concept. It can be folded up almost and stored in the back of the i3.

As for the new BMW i Store, the outlet is similar in concept to the new BMW Brand Store opened by the automaker in Paris, France, recently. The stores are designed to reach out to customers with the objective of allowing them to experience the brand in their chosen environment, rather than in a pressured environment such as a dealer. The stores will also include an Apple-inspired ‘Product Genius,’ a person with in-depth knowledge of BMW’s lineup of cars and new products.

BMW i Pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) concept

BMW i Pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) concept