When we learned that the “first purpose-built electric vehicle made primarily of carbon fiber” would make its global debut this week, we dispatched writer Nancy Lazarus to take the UnBeige hovercraft (powered by orange peels and recycled periodicals) downtown for the big reveal.


(Photos Courtesy BMW)

“BMW’s i3 has unique proportions for the urban environment and is being sold for the mega-city, but it’s not out of place on the freeway,” noted Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s global head of design during Monday’s New York launch. BMW simultaneously unveiled the car at events in London and Beijing. The brand is counting on stateside sales when the car becomes available next year, since The U.S. is the leading market for electric vehicles.

“From sketch to street, it’s innovative in every aspect, including the customer experience. The i3 was designed for sustainable mobility,” added BMW board member Norbert Reithofer. He said the car provides solutions for urban lifestyles, such as easy access, smaller turning radius and more interior space. BMW is also eager to overcome skepticism about driving electric cars, mainly charging issues.

Design of the i3 started from scratch five years ago, according to van Hooydonk. “We pushed the reset button on colors and materials. Our new aesthetic is called ‘next premium,’ and the design language maximizes the effect with fewer elements. We used some familiar features, like the kidney-shaped grille, but also many new elements.”
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