2013 Los Angeles Auto Show: 2014 BMW i3 Makes Last U.S. Debut

By Jacob Brown | November 20, 2013
In early summer, we got our first First Look at the 2014 BMW i3 in the sheetmetal, er, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), taking in all that the 170-horsepower electric coupe had to offer. That was during the car's world debut that was held simultaneously in New York City, London, and Beijing. Besides looking for the dozen or so Korean journalists in New York to see which of them had iPhones versus Samsung Galaxys, we spent our time in the Big Apple asking as much as we could about the little hatchback. About the weight of the late-1980s BMW 3 Series--2,700 pounds give or take--the BMW i3 should be plenty capable of lithe, spirited performance and decent electric range. We'll certainly let you know after we drive it this week during the L.A. Auto Show's festivities. Our BMW i3 comes better-equipped than what most of the world has, and it comes in Mega, Giga, and Tera trim levels, signifying what all it has available. Starting price is right around $42,000; with the range extender, the price creeps up to $46,125, including $925 for destination and handling. That money gives you a built-in 650cc two-cylinder engine borrowed from BMW's Motorrad division that offers up 34 horsepower. It never powers the wheels. Instead, it provides enough juice to roughly double the BMW i3's 80- to 100-mile range with a two-gallon gas tank on board. Before the Los Angeles Auto Show, we hadn't yet gotten to see it or how it works.
For those hemming and hawing as whether or not to get an electric car, the range extender could be the best reassurance. BMW doesn't see its premium electric car as a Tesla competitor; rather, it's an alternative and a complement. Instead, the BMW i3 will more than likely compete with the Nissan Leaf and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive for shopper dollars. the 2014 BMW i3 will have a head start on the Mercedes-Benz, and we'll see how the two stack up to one another when we can get them in one place sometime early in 2014. We're just glad that, for now, we're done with making introductions for the BMW i3 after seeing two concept versions at previous Los Angeles Auto Shows and the worldwide reveal a few months back. Enough with the "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"-style ending. It's time to drive the car.