July 29

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Does the i3 Have It?

The Motorweb is all atwitter today with the official unveiling of the BMW i3, the first in BMW’s new line of electric “urban” vehicles. The i3 first appeared as a concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, where I got a chance to see it up close and in person:

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The i sub-brand of models (which, at the Detroit show, included the i8, a much sexier electric sports car) is BMW’s answer to Tesla’s rapturously received Model S, an electric car that lets you forget it’s an electric car.  BMW wants to be a significant player in the growing electric market, and the i3 is its shot across the bow. From a size and pricing standpoint, the i3’s direct competitors are the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

The production version of the i3, which we saw for the first time today, hews very closely to the 2012 concept. See a photo gallery here. And, according to BMW, the 2,700-lb. four-seater i3, with a 170-hp electric motor and an 80-100 mile range, will go on sale in the second quarter of 2014 with a base price of $41,350.

There’s all sorts of technological whiz-bangery that I haven’t had a chance to read about yet, so take this first impression for what it is: a first impression.

Seriously?

It looks like a puggle, farts around on pixie dust and costs as much as a 3-series. You can’t go very far or carry very much. And you won’t get anywhere very quickly. For the “young urban professionals” that the i3 and its ilk are aimed at, I’ve just gotta throw out there: WHY DON’T YOU BUY A BICYCLE? It is quite a bit cheaper and – AND – you get free exercise! Holy cats!

Just saying.

Now, for those of you who have range envy, DON’T WORRY. Allow me to assuage your concern. See, BMW is going to offer (as a no doubt expensive option) the use of an SUV for those long trips where…ahem…your carbon footprint…cough…is going to be a hell of a lot bigger. AN SUV! It’s hysterical! In Internet parlance, I’m ROFLMAO.

(Actually, it’s a pretty innovative concept on BMW’s part, and I do have to give them credit for that. But still. The irony is too good not to appreciate.)

Now I want to go do donuts in a parking lot.

To drink the official Kool-Aid, go here.

For more info on the i3, including real journalistic impressions, try here, here and here. For someone who agrees with me, go here.

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