By Mark Kleis
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:47 am
 
The BMW i3 Megacity urban electric vehicle is shaping up to be a potential game changer for the German automaker, especially if the latest "leak" on pricing turns out to be true.

While Leftlane has reported many details of the upcoming i3 EV over the last year, but until now the question of price has gone unanswered. According to alleged sources located within the automaker's ranks in Germany, Car and Driver says that the i3 will come to market with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of approximately $35,000.

The outfit did not clarify whether or not that price takes into account federal tax subsidies offered on electric vehicles, but it seems as if they are suggesting the price does not involve any outside discounts. If so, the i3 would comparatively be a strong value in the fairly limited electric vehicle market, especially when considering the fact that it will be built largely out of carbon fiber.

The same "inside sources" also indicated that the car will come with about 150 horsepower from its electric drivetrain, sporting a range of 160 miles. If both figures are correct, the i3 would have a substantial range advantage over the Nissan Leaf and most other electric vehicles which seem to peak around a 100-mile range.

What we've found so far
BMW has previously been busy testing the i3 in frigid climate near the Arctic Circle. From the images, we can clearly see that the car follows the typical urban box shape. In many ways, it looks like a larger Toyota iQ, although the Megacity should have a larger back seat. Most of the car's details are obscured by heavy camouflage panels, as well as the blue-tinted psychedelic paint scheme BMW gives its test cars.

Still, its upright seating position and short front hood make it unlike any BMW before - aside, perhaps, from the BMW E1 prototype first shown at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Megacity, which could be called the i3, is unlike anything BMW has ever created before.

There is no doubt that the Chevrolet Volt has received its fair share of coverage for its range extending properties, but now it seems that German automaker BMW may jump into the arena with a range extended vehicle of its own. The news was given by BMW CFO Friedrich Eichiner, claiming an on-board gasoline powered range-extender will be available as an option, but the Megacity will also be available as a pure plug-in EV as well.

BMW first confirmed earlier reports of the production intent for the Megacity Vehicle in late April 2010, plotting the course for a 2013 release. BMW says the Megacity Vehicle will become the first truly mass-produced vehicle to make extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced material throughout the vehicle in order to reduce weight and improve efficiency.

According to BMW, the use of carbon fiber will allow for a weight savings of between 550 and 775 pounds compared to traditional electric vehicles - a substantial amount of weight that will drastically affect vehicle range and performance.

The Megacity EV will be a true zero-emission vehicle, launched as part of the "project i," and will be sold under a BMW sub-brand.

"With this innovative vehicle, designed from the ground up, we will be creating new benchmarks for electric mobility from 2013 on. Our Megacity Vehicle will be significantly lighter than conventional cars and, in terms of sustainability, will set a new standard across the entire value-added chain," said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG.

BMW says the Megacity Vehicle is targeted at the inhabitants of the world's metropolitan regions, and will provide a more efficient alternative to small electric vehicle currently on the market. BMW says the Megacity will be smaller than 1-Series or MINI.

BMW is making extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or ultra-light high-strength composite (CFRP). The material for the Megacity will be produced in a new plant located in Moses Lake, Washington.


References
1.'Electric BMW i3...' view
2.'Report: BMW Megacity...' view
3.'Elektroauto soll mit...' view



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