2012 Los Angeles: BMW i3 Loses Two Doors, Reborn As i3 Concept Coupe

We first saw the BMW i3 last year, but the conceptual electric city car continues to gestate before our eyes. BMW showed its first i3 concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, but then offered an updated version of the five-door EV this past summer. Now, it’s rolling out a three-door version – dubbed the i3 Concept Coupe – in time for the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Although BMW’s press release contains a good five pages dedicated to the i3 Concept Coupe’s form, allow us to summarize for your convenience. The Concept Coupe sheds a pair of rear-hinged doors, adopts some flashier wheels, and dons a coat of bright orange paint. Its wheelbase remains unchanged, as does its overall form. Arguably, the biggest break from the previous i3 lies with the rear quarter panels – they still boast a daylight opening that archs down towards a strong belt line, but instead of seamlessly merging with neatly merging with the front window glass, it comes in several inches below before kinking up to the same level. If that conjures images of a Honda Odyssey quarter window, you’re not far off from reality.

In lieu of the i3’s original rear bench seat, the i3 Concept Coupe places a pair of bucket seats in back, each boasting backrests that neatly curve into the rear interior trim panels.  The remainder of the interior – including the swoopy wood dash trim panels and large eight-inch LCD infotainment screen – resembles previous iterations of the i3, although the grey-on-grey color scheme feels less vibrant than the last two i3 concepts.

Beneath the skin, the i3 Concept Coupe is identical to its other siblings. Power for a 125 kW (170 hp) electric motor, which drives the rear wheels, comes from a lithium-ion battery pack packaged beneath the floor. BMW’s release suggests the i3 Concept Coupe has roughly 100 miles of range on a single charge, which mirrors the automaker’s previous real-world range estimate for the five-door i3.

BMW still anticipates rolling the i3 into dealers worldwide by the end of 2013. Does that gameplan include a three-door version of the i3, like this Concept Coupe? We await a definite answer, but seeing as BMW wants to move nearly 100,000 i3s annually worldwide, adding a few variants to attract more buyers certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Source: BMW

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