BMW to launch all-electric car
London, July 30, 2013
German automaker BMW is set to launch its first all-electric car, hoping to stir demand for a pricey luxury model just as some other makers hit hurdles in selling electric propulsion.
The Munich-based maker will on Monday take the wraps off its i3 electric hatchback in a series of glitzy events in London, New York and Beijing.
Coming after an estimated $2.7 billion investment programme, the i3 launch is a milestone for the world's biggest luxury carmaker as well as the electric car fraternity.
The substructure of the passenger compartment is made from carbon fibre and the chassis is aluminum. The company said it will offer fast charging capability as an option, allowing i3 owners to regain up to 80 per cent of charge in about 20 minutes, delivering 80 to 100 miles of driving between charges.
BMW insists the i3's 160-kilometer range is enough for drivers based in urban or suburban areas. The car recharges in less than an hour at special stations and up to eight hours from a wall socket at home.
An optional diesel or petrol range extender kicks in when the battery runs low, allowing the i3 to travel 300 kilometers.
Aware that other EV manufacturers overreached with overly rosy forecasts, BMW hasn't given a sales target for the i3, saying only that it aims to be a significant player.
Output of battery-powered vehicles may more than quadruple to 787,000 by 2020, says market consultancy IHS, but this would still be less than 1 percent of global auto production.
Still, it remains to be seen how many BMW loyalists can be persuaded to go electric. The i3 accelerates from 0 to 100 km per hour in seven seconds - only 1.5 seconds more than a Porsche Cayman - so has plenty of performance to satisfy core customers.
The new model will be presented to the public at large at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany in September. - Reuters and TradeArabia News Service
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