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i3 Prototype Showcases BMW's Future

BMW i3, BMW, i3 Concept Coupe
BMW i3 Concept Coupe. Photo courtesy of BMW.

Last year, the BMW i3 Concept Coupe was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show. BMW i is a new subdivision of BMW that will introduce electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to the automaker’s lineup. BMW released a statement last December confirming that production of the electric i3 will start by the end of 2013. Elaborating on the release date, Car and Driver reports that the i3 will hit U.S. dealers in early 2014.

Some sources have detailed a couple ways that BMW will combat range anxiety with its new electric vehicle. Edmunds reports that a fully charged battery will give the 2014 BMW i3 a range of about 80 to 100 miles. An optional gasoline engine is available to extend the i3’s driving range by another 80 to 100 miles. BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch spoke with Edmunds at the 2013 New York Auto Show, and said that the gas engine "is an auxiliary generator than can charge the battery if it has been discharged to such a level that you won't make it home."

BMW i3, BMW, i3 Concept Coupe
BMW i3 Concept Coupe. Photo courtesy of BMW.

BMW also plans to ease concerns about range anxiety by offering gas-powered loaner vehicles to i3 owners for longer trips. WardsAuto reports that the loaner program will be integrated into the i3’s price, which should start in the mid-$40,000 range.

When it arrives next year, the BMW i3 will compete with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles like the 2013 Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf. The Focus Electric starts at $39,200 and has an EPA-estimated range of 76 miles, while the Leaf starts at $28,800. Nissan estimates that the 2013 Leaf can travel about 75 miles on a fully charged battery. The i3 will also compete with plug-in hybrids such as the Toyota Prius Plug-In, which starts at $32,000 and Chevrolet Volt, which starts at $39,145.

In the market for an electric or hybrid car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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