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BMW i3 Concept Coupe Debut

One step closer to production.

What's New

The last time we saw a BMW i3 concept, its four doors were transparent, with a look that was decidedly "There's no way it's going to look like this when it comes out." And that'd be a problem since BMW has ardently stuck to its plan of readying the electric i3 and i8 sports car to go on sale sometime in 2014. Now, however, BMW's electric brand is back with a new car, the i3 Concept Coupe, looking a little more ready for the showroom with two fewer doors, albeit they're filled in now instead of simply being glass. And while the car is "green," it's also orange—very, very orange.

Who It's For

Tesla has had too much fun with keeping the premium electric vehicle market primarily to itself. That car is aimed at a sports sedan audience; the BMW i3 Concept Coupe is more about chic urban mobility and the same sort of fun-to-drive nature other BMWs have had, except a little less speed-focused. You want technology? This thing has technology, from its carbon fiber body panels to its three-dimensional navigation display. If you want speed, get an M3. If you're cross-shopping a Nissan Leaf and a 3 Series, this would be the unlikely compromise between the two.

Key Features

The surprising thing about the BMW i3 Concept Coupe is that it's nearly ready for production, featuring many of the technologies already in BMWs you can buy today. Some of its more noteworthy features include:
  • A 170-horsepower electric motor that should be able to get the i3 to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds.
  • A "lounge style" interior with eucalyptus coming from a sustainable tree farm and wool yarn adorning the interior.
  • A 6.5-inch digital display in place of traditional gauges and an 8.8-inch ConnectedDrive infotainment suite housed in the center console.
  • An expected 100 miles of driving range, with a built-in network that finds nearby charging stations.

What We Think

Is 100 miles of driving what electric vehicle shoppers want? Have our expectations been raised higher? Can a BMW that's likely to command upwards of $50,000 straddle the premium market while still competing with cars like the Nissan Leaf? Large urban markets like Los Angeles and New York City are ideal for this car, as it promises to blend most of what makes a BMW a great driver's car with a more environmentally sound focus.

The BMW i3 Concept Coupe sheds two doors from the previous i3 Concept shown at last year's L.A. Auto Show; it picks up a look that's much more feasible for production. The car looks like it's going to be well-sorted when it comes out, but we're wondering if the market will be accepting of it.

Back to Auto Show Coverage: Los Angeles 2012