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BMW i3 on sale in US 2Q 2014, base MSRP $41,350 for BEV; $45,300 with range extender

BMW i3. Click to enlarge.

The BMW i3 (earlier post, earlier post) will go on sale in the US market in the second quarter of 2014. The battery electric model will have a base MSRP of $41,350, before any federal or state incentives, and before destination and handling fee (currently $925). The range-extender model will have a starting MSRP of $45,300. Again, this is before any federal or state incentives, and before Destination & Handling fee.

Studies carried out as part of BMW’s Project i, involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 12.5 million miles, found that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles. The BMW i3 will be able to travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge of its 22 kWh Li-ion battery pack. This can be increased by up to approximately 12% in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount again in ECO PRO+ mode.

The i3 is able to recharge in only 3 hours with the use of a 220V Level 2, 32-amp J1772 charger. The SAE DC Combo Fast Charging, which charges the BMW i3 up to 80% in 20 minutes, and 100% in 30, can be had as an option.

BMW i3. Click to enlarge.

The i3 is propelled by 170-hp, 184 lb-ft hybrid-synchronous electric motor (earlier post) with max. revs of 11,400 rpm. For those customers requiring a reduction of range anxiety, a rear-mounted 650cc, 34 hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle’s range.

When the battery gets to a certain level, the Range Extender starts and maintains the battery’s current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle’s wheels. The Range Extender adds roughly 330 lbs. to the vehicle curb weight and has a fuel capacity of 2.4 gallons.

The BMW i3 uses the BMW eDrive rear-wheel drive powertrain previously found on the BMW ActiveE. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. The i3 accelerates from 0-30 mph in 3.5 seconds, and 0-60mph in approximately 7.2 seconds (preliminary), with a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h), electronically limited to preserve efficiency. Its ultra-tight turning radius of 32.3 ft (9.8 m) is ideal for city driving.

Interior of the i3. Click to enlarge.

(In the front, the “Slide Through Experience” allows the driver to slide through the car and exit on the passenger side, to avoid exiting into a busy city street. This is made possible because of the absence of the transmission tunnel. The coach doors make getting into and out of the car much more practical by eliminating the B pillar and creating one large opening to enter and exit.)

The BMW i3’s tires are a unique 155/70/19 size on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, but the contact patch is the same of that of a more conventional 16-inch tire. To improve efficiency, they have low rolling resistance, and the narrow section width is a key factor in the BMW i3’s super-tight turning radius.

The BMW i3 features Brake Energy Regeneration, which, when the driver lifts off, the motor acts as a generator and converts the kinetic energy into electricity, which is fed back into the battery for a range gain. This Regeneration is speed-sensitive, which means that the car “coasts” for added efficiency at high speeds, and generates the strong braking effect at lower speeds.

The BMW i3’s accelerator pedal has a distinct “neutral” position. Rather than switching straight to energy regeneration when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to separate from the drivetrain and deploy only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 cruises using virtually no energy at all. This is another way anticipatory driving can preserve energy and increase the car’s range.

Vehicle trim levels. The BMW i3 comes in three different trim levels: Mega, Giga and Tera, all of which come equipped with a very high level of standard equipment.

  • The base Mega World comes standard with 19-inch extra-efficient forged aluminum wheels, BMW Navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive with eCall, the BMW i Remote, an alarm, 7.4 kW on board charger and LED headlights, DRLs and tail lights. The interior is donned in bright, lightweight Sensatec and sustainable cloth, which is made from recycled materials. It also features a leather trimmed steering wheel and grained dash trim.

  • The next level, Giga World, has all the features of the Mega World but with the addition of distinct Giga-specific 19-inch wheels and an interior wrapped in leather and wool cloth. A universal garage door opener is included for easy access to the i3’s BMW i Charging Station, which is usually mounted in the garage. It also has Comfort Access, a sunroof, and satellite radio. The leather-trimmed steering features contrasting stitching.

  • The top-of-the-line Tera World adds unique 19-inch wheels, a full leather, olive leaf-tanned interior with textile accents and contrasting stitching, and anthracite floors mats.

Available for every world is the Technology and Driving assist, and the Parking assist packages. The Technology and Driving Assist package adds a number of convenience and safety technologies to the BMW i3. It includes the wide-screen Navigation Professional with advanced real-time traffic and the new touch pad; Traffic Jam Assist; BMW Assist with Enhanced Bluetooth and USB with BMW Apps; Online Information services; Deceleration Assistant; ACC Stop & Go; Speed Limit info; BMW ConnectedDrive services; Forward Collision Warning; Pedestrian Protection; and City Collision Mitigation.

The Parking Assist package is ideal for living in the city and includes a rearview camera, Park Assistant, which helps take advantage of tight parallel parking opportunities, and Front Auto Park Distance Control. The BMW i3 full options list for USA will be released Fall 2013.

BMW ConnectedDrive. BMW ConnectedDrive is the interface between the customer, the car, 360 Electric, and the Premium Mobility Service. Connected mobility is the embodiment of an individual, sustainable, efficient and convenient form of urban mobility, BMW suggests, and is a crucial part of the BMW i and urban lifestyle.

An embedded SIM card in the BMW i3 is the key that unlocks the BMW ConnectedDrive services, available to the new electric model. A feature of BMW ConnectedDrive is BMW i Navigation, which can search for a nearby charging station, which should give the driver piece of mind, knowing that there is a station nearby. It can also give a real world range estimate and visualization of the estimate with the SpiderMap, Real Time Traffic Information and plan a route that avoids the traffic as best as possible.

The customer has access to personal assistance from a BMW ConnectedDrive agent at any time of the day or night. Concierge Service can help answer almost any of the driver’s questions. They can recommend restaurants, give information on destinations or guide the driver to the nearest charging station, among other things.

When an accident occurs, Intelligent Emergency Call (“eCall”) sends information like location, number of front-seat occupants, and even crash severity data to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Center, which informs the appropriate 911-dispatch center.

BMW ConnectedDrive can also connect directly with an iPhone with an original Apple cable that connects to the car and built-in BMW Apps.

The optionally available Driving Assistant Plus for the BMW i3 comprises Collision Warning with brake priming function, which is activated at speeds up to about 35 mph (60 km/h) and is able to respond to both moving and stationary vehicles ahead, as well as to pedestrians. It also comes with Active Cruise Control including Stop & Go function.

In addition to visual and audible warnings, the system is capable of braking the vehicle by itself, if required, with up to maximum stopping power. The Parking Assistant can also be found on the option list and performs the steering maneuvers at the same time as controlling accelerator, brake and gear selection, enabling fully automated parallel parking. Another optional extra is the Traffic Jam Assistant that allows drivers to delegate the tasks of pulling away, braking and steering to keep the vehicle in lane. Meanwhile, the Speed Limit Info system is also offered.

The BMW i3 will be featured at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November, 2013 and will arrive at BMW i centers in the US beginning in the second quarter of 2014.



Given the size, performance and range of the i3 (REX version) this could be all the car that many people need, especially singles or couples without kids. If BMW are still going to offer the loaner program for a standard ICE vehicle for those few occasions a year when you crave a bigger car for holidays etc then even better.

The range extender doesn't seem to be the most efficient unit going around and that's a little disappointing. At least it's an off-the-shelf solution that is cleverly integrated at the design stage.

That colour is rather nice, BTW.


'When the battery gets to a certain level, the Range Extender starts and maintains the battery’s current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle’s wheels.'

As long as this kicks in before the battery gets too low, there seems no reason why performance should be affected at all, so this would be far from a limp-home mode.

If so this would be all the car most need, especially when combined with the occasional loaner car.


$45,300 for the range extended version is pricey. A Volt can be had for $35,000 before tax credit.
Volt Price reduction anouncement

Although I have to admit, I like the i3 styling over the Volt.

Dave R

You know, if the range extender adds 330 lbs, that could have been used to add a good deal extra battery - you could probably double battery capacity.

On a Tesla, a kWh of battery weighs about 17 lbs. On a LEAF, a kWh of battery weighs about 27 lbs. Let's say you can add capacity at 25 lbs, you could add 13 kWh of battery increasing capacity by over 50% which would get you 150 miles of EV range.

Tesla charges $10k for 25 kWh (to go from 60-85 kWh) or $400/kWh - so 13 kWh of battery would also happen to cost about the same as the REX (~$5,200).

Coupled with QC infrastructure that would probably be more usable on longer trips than a 2.4 gallon range extender. Of course - there isn't nearly enough QC infrastructure available which I guess is the point of this REX vehicle for now.

Hopefully in 5 years time there won't be any need for a REX and the money spent on the REX will just be spent on adding more battery capacity.

Nick Lyons

I would be more interested in the REX version if the increased range weren't so limited--done this way to comply with diamond-lane sticker requirements, apparently. I am curious to know what the charge-sustaining mpg will be, considering the inefficiencies of the power conversions involved.


Apparently the RE is not as functional as I have been suggesting.
For some strange reason BMW have decided to make an emergencies only, weighty and expensive add on:

'Herbert Diess, global R&D boss for BMW, was recently quoted on the ReX range extender in Plastics News (in an article originally published in trade weekly Automotive News).

Diess explained the company's point of view, reinforcing the viewpoint cited at the launch:

The range extender is not intended for daily use. It's for situations when the driver needs to extend the range of the vehicle to reach the next charging station. Therefore, the i3 probably won't be the choice for customers with a need for an extended range.

Diess suggests that a plug-in hybrid is "a more suitable solution" for those customers who frequently need a car with range beyond that offered by the i3's battery pack.'

What a waste of time.
You can hire a lot of tow trucks for $4000, and not have to lug 330 lbs around with you to do so.


This car is an improvement over the Nissan Leaf; but, proves the point that we need high density traction batteries...NOW! Rex is not an answer.


You can bet there will be an after market for a bigger fuel tank.

Hopefully the price will drop as seen with other EVs. IMO this price point is going to hinder sales.

I like Dave R's idea, ER-battery pack(s).

Now if it could just be removable, rentable and if all BMW dealerships had SAE DC Combo Fast Charging stations, this might be much more attractive for the range anxiety issue.



Small fuel tank is due to CA regulations. European version will be with larger one. With larger fuel tank you do not need any leased car.


Why you bother about REX efficiency in case you are going to use once per year. Many Volt drivers are not using gasoline at all although AER twice shorter than BMW i3. Major concern REX cost and weight. Please visit or look at Volt OnStar system stats. BMW is just what people need. Just price should be lower.

Dave R

I would never exchange REX with larger battery. Rex completely eliminates range anxiety with very little cost and very very little gasoline usage.


EStorageGuy - I just saw advertisements in Michigan for Volts priced in the low $20k's (after rebates, etc).

Hopefully future Volt / ELR will have higher-power charger.


Its just a question of time (a few more years) before:

1. Quick and Ultra Quick charge stations are available most everywhere, at or near current gas stations.

2. EV batteries weight and cost 3 to 5 times less per kWh.

3. E-range on affordable EVs is equivalent to current gas guzzlers.

By 2020 or so, affordable EV will meet transportation requirements for most car users. Heavy pick-ups and truck users may have to use PHEVs or FCEVs.


@Darius said:

'Small fuel tank is due to CA regulations. European version will be with larger one. With larger fuel tank you do not need any leased car.'

BMW have indicated no such thing.
The car is coming first to Europe, and there is zero indication of a larger petrol tank, nor AFAIK any space to put a bigger one in the design.

Dave R

"I would never exchange REX with larger battery. Rex completely eliminates range anxiety with very little cost and very very little gasoline usage."

Seems that you trade EV range anxiety with GAS range anxiety when you only have a 2.4 gallon gas tank...

You're going to want to splash fill the tank basically any time the REX turns on.

Nick Lyons

This is a city car. You still need something else for road trips. Most of our mileage is 80 to 500 mile round trips these days. I really don't want to buy two cars, and renting is not practical where we live. Maybe we should just get a diesel...

Kit P

"This is a city car."

Not a very useful one. Old beaters are very useful for around town. I am not the least bit worried about where I park my old PU. If I had a $40k BMW I would worry about that.


Knowing the US tendency for lawsuits, I expect that the US version of the car will have a sign on the rear doors saying " Caution, this door only opens with front door open".

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