By Andrew Ganz
Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 11:18 am
 

The launch of BMW's new i-badged EV range is less than a year away, and the i3 Coupe Concept revealed today at the Los Angeles Auto Show gives us our best glimpse yet at what's in store.

The i3 Concept Coupe differs from the more conventional-appearing i3 in that it features a far more expressive body designed to be a bit more production-ready than the utilitarian i3 city car. It was previously believed that the i3 Concept Coupe would be badged i4 to better match the automaker's intention to make its two-door models even numbers, but that's apparently not the case.

BMW told Leftlane that there are currently no plans for a three-door production i3; the model that will hit public roads in about a year's time will feature four doors that open in suicide style.

Riding on narrow 20-inch wheels, the i3 Concept Coupe is hardly a typical BMW in any way aside from its kidney grille.

The i3 Concept Coupe features a carbon fiber body that saves weight while adding safety strength. Carbon fiber is visible when the doors are opened, but the rest f the concept car is swathed in Solar Orange metallic paint and hints of Frozen Grey paint. The strong passenger cell negates the need for a traditional B-pillar, which BMW says gives the car an airier feel inside.

Speaking of the car's interior, a two-part steering column features the gear lever and starter button. Above the steering column but behind the instrument cluster sits a horizontally-mounted wood panel that gives the interior much-needed flair. BMW says that the panel was sourced from a sustainably-managed forest in Europe. Not surprisingly, an EV-oriented version of BMW's iDrive is on board. Two high-resolution displays relay necessary information to the vehicle's occupants.

A BMW-developed electric motor features 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque, which it sends to the rear wheels via a single-gear transmission. Underneath the concept car's floor sits a lithium ion battery, which sits low to the ground to improve the car's center of gravity for optimal handling.


Three driving modes - Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+ - set the mood for this EV. Unlike other BMWs, the emphasis here is not on sportiness now that the automaker associated with "ultimate driving machines" is moving in two distinct directions.