BMW unveils electric i3, i8 concept cars

BMW has unveiled its i3 and i8 concept cars, the company's first electrically-powered production cars under the "i" sub-brand that the company plans to launch in 2013.

Nothing stirs our heart more than a sexy new electric car that actually has a reasonable shot at mass production.

BMW on Friday unveiled its i3 and i8 concept cars, the company's first electrically-powered production cars under the "i" sub-brand that the company plans to launch in 2013.

It's the kind of thing that gets an engineer's heart all aflutter.

The i3 is built on a zero-emission electric drivetrain and carries a 125-kilowatt electric motor pushing power to the rear wheels. It has a range of about 93 miles, or 150 kilometers, and a high-speed charger manages an 80 percent battery charge in about an hour.

(Too short, you say? BMW is positioning the cars for use in "an urban environment.")

With a carbon "passenger cell," the i3 tips the scales at just 2,755 lbs. (1,250 kg), packs four seats inside the chassis (with luggage compartment!) and is intended as an everyday commuter. (Albeit one that manages 0 to 60 m.p.h. in under eight seconds.)

I'll have two, please.

Meanwhile, the i8 is BMW's barn-burning sports car, a hybrid model that manages 0-60 m.p.h. (0-100 km/h) in less than five seconds). With a 260 kilowatt electric motor, the four-seater manages just 22 miles (35 km) of range, but it's a fast trip, that's for sure.

But let's be honest, we can't bear to drive a car like this just 22 miles, so a three-cylinder gasoline engine picks up the slack to take the vehicle to its electronically-governed top speed of 155 m.p.h. (about 250 km/h).

Inside, there's tons of smart car tech, including intelligent navigation systems, location-based information through the dash, route planning, car-sharing schemes and more. BMW has invested a lot in mobility solutions, and these concept cars are packed with its latest offerings.

Both vehicles will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany. To underscore the sustainable goals of the "i" line, vehicle production will be carbon-neutral and use renewable resources.

And then there's the carbon bodywork, the first volume-produced car with the material, shaving up to 750 lbs. off the curb weight.

The BMW i3 will hit the market in 2013. The i8 will be available in 2014.

In a video, here's a look inside the i3:

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com