BMW rangeextender targets same species in NZ Autos Articles

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BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto

BMW range-extender targets same species in NZ

July 30, 2013, 8:35 am Richard Bosselman Yahoo! New Zealand

Class distinctions are likely to be set aside when BMW’s battery-predominant i3 commuter car reaches New Zealand.

BMW fans who would never contemplate cross shopping a Commodore against a 5-Series or a Captiva against an X5 might like to take BMW New Zealand’s lead and keep a ‘mere’ Holden – albeit one unlike any other – in mind when considering Munich’s incoming four-seater five-door.

In comment about the new i3, whose full production details were released globally overnight, the Auckland-based distributor says while its car will be pitched as a premium product – the world’s first pure electric prestige car — the $85,000 Holden Volt is nonetheless the barometer.

That’s simply because Volt is the only other car here now – and for the foreseeable future – with comparable technology.

The i3 comes in two forms internationally – pure electric or, like the Volt, with that powertrain backed up by a 650cc petrol engine (a 18kW two-cylinder from the brand’s motorcycle division) to generate electricity to feed, via the battery bank, the synchronous 1235kW/250Nm electric motor. That’s the one we’ll see.

“We believe the pure electric i3 would also be a success here, but the initial customer feedback has shown preference for the range extender, because of the additional peace of mind this brings,” spokesman Edward Finn says.

In exclusive comment to Yahoo! Autos about where the i3 will slot into the market, BMW New Zealand managing director Nina Englert made clear that while final pricing and specification was still being worked on, she anticipated it will be tailored to compete specifically with ‘similar’ product.

BMW NZ isn’t denying that this means the Volt, rather than an orthodox hybrid like the conjoined Lexus CT200h ($72,500) and Toyota Prius ($54,780) or a pure electric, like the $69,700 Nissan Leaf.

“The price of the new BMW i3 will still be competitive, especially when compared with other similar models in the market at present,” Englert offered.

There’s no escaping that the i3 is an expensive car to create and build, she conceded. “Taking into account the research and technology plus new tooling and manufacturing associated with building an all-new model from the ground up – rather than simply adapting an existing product – development costs are substantial. “

The i3 is smaller than the Volt, but is shaping up to be even more of a loss-leader. It utilises even more highly exotic build materials, with a chassis fully composed of aluminium. In order to serve as a safety cell, the body is rendered from carbon fibre.

Lightness is another aim: All up, the car weighs 1195kg.

The lithium ion eDrive components are the most advanced ever seen in a production car and are so good that the i3 will require full recharge every two to three days if used in an urban environment. Drive is sent through a single ratio gearbox mounted to the end of the electric motor, offering the choice of three driving modes: Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro plus.

The 22kWh lithium ion battery, produced by Samsung and bearing a warranty valid for up to six years or 160,000kms, comprises 96 individual cells mounted within the flat floor structure. It has been designed to allow the replacement of damaged cells on an individual basis.

Even with the petrol backup, it’s still primarily an inner city device. The range is just 300km – double that of the pure electric i3 yet still half the Holden’s — and top speed of 150kmh is modest for a BMW.

BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto

BMW NZ has made no secret that it intends the i3 to make a major impact, even the sales volume (or yet-to-be cited target) is modest, as it surely will be. Holden NZ has registered just a handful of Volts.

Could they do better? While maintaining belief previously expressed to Yahoo! Autos that the i3 is especially well-suited to New Zealand, Englert notes again the lack of Government support that exists in many other recipient countries.

“Given the high proportion of renewable energy available, Kiwi motorists are in a unique situation to take a real leadership position when it comes to sustainable motoring.

“New Zealand, as a globally promoted ‘clean green’ country, should be doing more to make green motoring more attractive to local motorists,” she continued.

“Many other markets are more progressive and offer incentives which encourage sustainable motoring, but it’s something which does not look like it is on the Government agenda here.”

As with Holden, BMW seems likely to restrict the car’s sale to select main centre outlets with specialist support.

“With it being such a specialised product we will be initially concentrating availability through limited sales channels,” Englert said.

“Further information regarding exactly what this looks like will be made available in due course, though will be in the very near future as these sites will need to undergo specific development in keeping with the corporate identity associated with BMW ‘i’.”

Ultimately the i3 will be followed by the i8, a larger, more flamboyant sister machine that uses traditional Prius-like hybrid technology. Set for global reveal next year, the i8 is more of a performance car and will likely cost around $280,000 or more.

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BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto
BMW i3 � Electric Car 127kW with Range Extender Auto

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