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by Brett Davis

BMW has unveiled the all-new, all-electric BMW i3 Concept at a BMW i brand unveiling in Frankfurt. This is the first time the new model has been shown in detail, showcasing a futuristic design that will be the basis for an upcoming production version.

As reported yesterday, the BMW i3 Concept features an all-electric powertrain offering reasonably high levels of performance and specifications. It features a 125kW/250Nm electric motor, and a lightweight chassis and body, consisting of carbon fibre and thermoplastics, presenting an overall weight of just 1250kg.

The BMW i3 Concept is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds and has a top speed of 150km/h. The i3’s range is rated at 130km t0 160km depending on the driving conditions and style of driving. As far as we know, the BMW i3 will be rear-wheel drive, as seen in early prototype testing videos. However, the production specifications may change.

This lightweight nature is not only indirectly beneficial to the environment – requiring less power to propel the car – but also more directly environmentally friendly thanks to the use of recycled materials. BMW says that up to 25 per cent of the thermoplastics used on the i3 are recycled, while up to 10 per cent of the carbon fibre is also recycled.

The total emissions lifecycle of the i3, when recharged using an ordinary power outlet is up to a third lower than a conventional fuel efficient petrol engine. BMW says these total emissions can be further slashed by 50 per cent if the i3 is recharged using renewable energy-sourced electricity.

The BMW i3 Concept also features a number of power-saving technologies when the car is driven in ECO PRO + mode. In a normal electric vehicle, power is sapped from the engine to run auxiliary features such as the air-conditioning and the radio.

When the i3 is driven in this mode, to make sure the driver reaches his or her destination without running out of juice, the i3 will shut down these creature comforts according to priority when in heavy traffic.

The production version of the BMW i3 will be hitting the market towards the end of 2012, according to reports. It will be interesting to see how much of the Concept design will be carried over into the production car.

Full specifications of the BMW i3 Concept are as follows:

Length/Height/Width: L 3845 mm, H 1537 mm, W 2011 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Number of seats: 4
Kerb weight: 1250kg
Output: 125kW/250Nm
Top speed: 150km/h
Acceleration: 0-60 km/h 3.9 seconds, 0-100km/h 7.9 seconds, 80-120km/h 6.0 seconds
Electric range: Everyday range: 130-160km, FTP72 cycle: 225km
Battery charge time: Standard: 6hr for 100 percent charge, Optional: 1hr for 80 percent charge
Luggage compartment: Approximately 200 litres