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Originally named as the MegaCity concept, the BMW i3 will be the first vehicle produced under the i brand when it arrives next year. Two structures make up both the i3 and i8’s LifeDrive architecture – predictably, the Life aand Drive modules.
As its name would suggest, the Life part of the equation is what contains the driver and passengers, and the platforms have been individually developed for each model. In the case of the i3, a lightweight body structure is made up of a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, with the Drive module mounted underneath, obviating the need for a transmission tunnel and allowing BMW to install two bench seats for four occupants in the front and back while providing 200 liters (7.06 cubic-feet) of storage.
Underneath that lightweight body lies the Drive system, comprised of the suspension, battery and drivetrain, along with structural and safety components. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery back spans the undercarriage and supplies juice to an electric motor mounted directly above the rear-drive axle. Yup, this a rear-wheel-drive EV hatchback, with the motor putting out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque through a single-speed gearbox. BMW claims the i3 can reach an electronically limited top speed of 93 miles per hour and make the run from 0-60 in under eight seconds.
An available PRO ECO mode tweaks the throttle and electronics to boost efficiency, and braking regeneration feeds kinetic energy back into the battery pack. Remarkably, BMW also claims that you can charge the battery back to full in six hours using a standard power socket and the i3’s batteries can get to 80 percent in one hour using a high-speed charger (we’ll be getting more details on both very soon).
i8 – Vision Concept
This car was first released in 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show as the Vision Concept and was spied in Northern Sweden in 2010-2011 (Yellow Snow Edition)
Unlike the standard i3, the i8 will be a plug-in hybrid, with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder powerplant mounted up front and putting out 220 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the electric motor, the run from 0-60 mph is claimed to blow by in under five seconds, with fuel consumption estimated at three liters per 100 kilometers and seven liters per 100 clicks when driven like… well, a BMW.
The three-pot works in tandem with a lithium-ion battery pack and front-mounted electric motor pulled from the i3 and driving the front wheels, allowing an electric-only range of up to 20 miles on a charge. Put both systems together and you’ve got a front-wheel-drive vehicle for maximum efficiency, a rear-driver for maximum fun and all-wheel drive for maximum grip. And if that isn’t enticing enough, the i8 has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
Today, BMW announced the new sub-brand which will market all future electric vehicles from BMW. The sub-brand is simply called “i” and the first vehicle to come to market is the Megacity urban car.
Megacity Vehicle will carry the “i3″ branding and will be followed just a year later by the production ready variant of the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept unveiled back in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
“i was born today, February 21st, 2011″ could be BMW’s new slogan and the beginning of a new era. According to BMW, letter “i” stands for innovation. It started with “i-drive”, in 2007, Project-i came to life. Now, an evolution of premium mobility, innovative and integrated, the new “i” sub-brand will offer premium products and services as an independent brand.