More Electric Cars Than Ever, Still Not Available Everywhere

Where the electric cars are

As more manufacturers introduce electric cars, these battery-powered vehicles are becoming something people see on the road every day. At least in some parts of the country, they are.

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The number of purely electric vehicles offered in the U.S. will grow to a dozen by the end of this year. Many of those EVs are available only in a small number of states, however, with California being the epicenter of electric-car sales.

By Rick Popely | March 11, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 BMW i3: First Drive

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Electric vehicles have been around for several years now, which means that we're starting to see more automakers jump into the segment, like BMW. Its 2014 i3 is a subcompact four-seat EV from an automaker better known for its luxury sport sedans than its environmental friendliness. Work on the Mini E and the 1 Series-based ActiveE has bought BMW a significant amount of EV experience, which combined with a radical new manufacturing method to birth this little city car. The i3 is designed from the ground up as an electric car, instead of a modified version of a traditional gas car like the Fiat 500e, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric or even the Nissan Leaf.

What makes the i3 different from every other car on the market is under the skin — it's almost entirely made out of plastic. This is no ordinary plastic, mind you — it's carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. It's basically the same stuff used to make Formula One cars and stealth bombers. What's remarkable about the i3 is that it's the first mass-market car made out of carbon fiber. There's no metal in the car's body - all the bumpers, doors and skins are plastic as well. The only major metal parts are the drive unit and suspension components. The result is a four-seat, four-door city car that weighs only about 2,700 pounds — or nearly 500 pounds less than a BMW 1 Series.

By Aaron Bragman | November 27, 2013 | Comments (2)

2014 BMW i3 Up Close, Photo Gallery

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I keep forgetting the BMW i3 is a real car.

It's not that my brain can't distinguish between concept and production models, but I was thrown for a loop when I learned this electric car will be on sale in the U.S. in early 2014. After all, we've been hearing about it for more than two years now.

This realization hit home as I stared at the little runabout in front of the practice range at the 2013 BMW Championship golf tournament in Lake Forest, Ill., last week.

It was an opportunity for BMW to show off not only the i3 but also the new 4 Series and redesigned X5 SUV.

The i3 was the stunner in the group for many reasons, and I just couldn't help but think BMW has an electric hit on its hands.

By David Thomas | September 17, 2013 | Comments (10)

Top 10 Worst Auto Industry Names

SkyActiv

The auto industry has its share of bad names, and we're not talking bad car names. No, these are bad industry names: drivetrains, technologies or trim-naming schemes that leave car shoppers scratching their heads, rolling their eyes or just plain laughing. Our editors racked their heads for the choicest bungles, and here are our top 10. Some are marketing missteps; others are engineer speak that marketers should have rescued.

Read on.

By Kelsey Mays | August 15, 2013 | Comments (6)

2014 BMW i3: First Look

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  • Competes with: Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt
  • Looks like: Pablo Picasso's vision of a Fiat 500L
  • Drivetrain: 170-hp electric motor, rear-wheel drive, 22-kwh lithium-ion battery
  • Hits dealerships: Early 2014

The first round of electric vehicles has been here for a while — the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and a few others have been on sale for a few years. Now we're starting to see the second-generation of EVs, and the first out of the gate is the new 2014 BMW i3, unveiled in production form earlier today.

The i3 is the first vehicle from BMW's new i sub-brand, which the company plans to use to focus on cutting-edge alternative transportation like the four-seat city car seen here. Unlike other alternative energy vehicles like the Volt, the i3 is a completely new design built around an electric powertrain. It consists of two parts — the "Life Module" passenger compartment and the "Drive Module" powertrain, and both are extremely advanced.

By Aaron Bragman | July 29, 2013 | Comments (0)

BMW Prices Electric i3

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BMW originally promised a 2013 on-sale date for its i3 electric car — turns out it'll be a bit later. When the compact electric car goes on sale during the second quarter of 2014, it'll start at $42,275, including a $925 destination fee, but exclusive of any state or federal tax incentives.

The wedge-like, four-passenger hatchback looks straight from the future; BMW says it uses the industry's first mass-produced carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body mounted on an aluminum frame. Inside, the automaker claims it offers 3 Series-like space, though its body is several inches shorter.

By Jennifer Geiger | July 22, 2013 | Comments (3)

BMW Hopes Customer-Service 'Geniuses' Are Smart Move

BMWGeniusesEverywhere

BMW is taking a page from the successful Apple playbook as it prepares to staff its dealerships with "geniuses" to help car shoppers navigate the potentially intimidating technicalities of trim levels, specifications and features.

According to marketing-industry publication AdvertisingAge, the BMW Genius Everywhere program will follow the same strategy as the Genius Bar at Apple retail stores, with specially trained workers — generally college students — patrolling showrooms equipped with an iPad and a thorough knowledge of the stock. The biggest differences are that BMW's geniuses will inform customers about cars, not computers, and will wear white shirts instead of blue. BMW geniuses, salaried as opposed to commission-compensated, will only provide information and will leave the selling to the salespeople, AdvertisingAge reported.

BMW's program is being tested and launched in Europe, and the automaker expects to have it up and running in the U.S. by early 2014, in time for the rollout of the i3 electric car, according to AdvertisingAge. Cadillac and Lexus already have similar programs at their U.S. dealerships, and Ford has implemented a similar program to help familiarize customers with its MyFord Touch multimedia system.

Related
BMW Adapts Apple Genius Model in Its Dealerships (AdvertisingAge)
Ford Still Committed to My Ford Touch
More BMW News on Cars.com
By Matt Schmitz | February 13, 2013 | Comments (3)

BMW i3, i8 Caught in Chicago

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BMW unveiled the i3 and i8 last month, but today our staff arrived at Cars.com’s headquarters in Chicago to find messages from friends and contacts about a commercial being shot a few blocks away with some “odd”-looking BMWs.

Staff photographer Ian Merritt grabbed his gear and headed down to see what the hubbub was about. It turns out BMW did indeed ship its early prototypes for these two electric models to Chicago for a photo shoot. We love Chicago’s architecture as much as anyone, but it’s surprising that the company would go through the expense to put them on our streets just for a series of publicity shots.

Their pain is our gain. Check out the full gallery below.

By David Thomas | August 11, 2011 | Comments (7)

BMW i3 Concept: First Look

BMW i3 Concept

  • Looks like: BMW is proudly attaching its emblem to this little electric
  • Defining characteristics: It’s an full-blown electric car, gunning for the Nissan Leaf 
  • Ridiculous features:  Expensive carbon-fiber bodywork usually reserved for sports cars
  • Chances of being mass-produced: 100% confirmed

BMW has been hyping its electric-vehicle platform for a few years now with the likes of the BMW ActiveE and Mini E pilot vehicles, but today we got the closest glimpse of the automaker’s first production-intent all-electric car — the i3 concept.

The BMW i3 concept, previously known as the 2013 Megacity EV, will be optimally equipped to operate in city environments, the automaker says. The four-seat i3 concept has an estimated 93-mile range and can be charged to 80% of its capacity within an hour when using a quick-charging unit.

What’s different about this EV compared with the Nissan Leaf is the use of lightweight carbon fiber materials and what BMW says are more driver-centric focused ride and handling attributes.

By Colin Bird | July 29, 2011 | Comments (4)

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