BMW i3 brings power for the people
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The moment it was revealed to the Kiwi public it caused a stir and now that BMW New Zealand’s i3 electric vehicle has officially gone on sale it’s charging ahead of the competition.
While it was first on show to the public at BMW’s Auckland showroom in November last year, it officially went on sale on May 1.
In the six months that it has been silently driving around our roads, 20 i3 electric vehicles have been sold — with 80 per cent to Aucklanders and the remainder in Christchurch and Wellington.
According to BMW NZ’s communications manager, Edward Finn, for the first quarter of this year, the i3 is New Zealand’s best selling electric vehicle.
“We expect to sell another 20 through the balance of the year,” said Finn.
He said although the i3 was produced as a ‘‘mega city’’ vehicle, Kiwi buyers were finding that it was the “perfect car for city applications”.
The i3 is famously known as being “designed from the ground up” and is made of a carbon-fibre passenger cell and recycled thermal plastic panels, keeping weight down to to 1320kg to offset the weight of the batteries.
There is a 120kg, 96-cell, 360V, 22kWh battery pack in the floor to power a 230kg, 125kW/250Nm electric motor near the rear axle.
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To help conserve battery power, you can switch driving style from ECO PRO to ECO PRO+ which reduces your speed and eliminates such power guzzlers as the air con.
I’ve driven the i3 in Munich (minus the range extender, which caused range anxiety), plus a few days in it when it first landed in New Zealand and this week.
In the months since I first drove the i3 here, I’ve found that a few things have stayed the same — the galvanising of opinions on the shape of the hatchback and the headturning of commuters — but a few vital changes have happened.
I tested the two-charger station at Sylvia Park shopping centre during a weekday lunch break. Backing into the spot, I just needed to attach the built-in plug to the i3, turn on the charger — and find a restaurant.
Returning an hour later, the i3 had been topped up nearly 50 per cent — with my lunch guest suggesting that if I had added a shopping spree the i3 would have completed charged.
“And as you’re not paying for petrol or the electricity, then you actually have money spare to shop,” my guest laughed.
For more Kiwis, owning an EV is proving a cost-saving choice by charging it at home at night when electricity charges are low.