BMW'S newest electric car variant, the upgraded i3 with a 94-amp hour (94Ah) battery pack, has been awarded Car of the Year in the Green Car category by Australian automotive website Carsales.
The innovative electric car was put through its paces in a week-long test by the Carsales judges, impressing the experienced panel with its exemplary green credentials.
This latest take on the i3 features a new battery pack that doubles the car's emission-free range by up to 50 percent, reducing EV ‘range anxiety' and maintaining its production-to-recycling emissions footprint.
Speaking about the car, Carsales Technical Editor, Ken Gratton, said i3 represents a "brave step" for electric cars.
"It also shows BMW's willingness to think outside the box, namely with its clever construction and sleek Scandinavian-themed interior," Mr Gratton added.
As well as winning a major Australian motoring award the car has also been awarded a coveted 2016 ‘Golden Steering Wheel' by Germany's Auto Bild and Bild am Sonntag magazines, making it the first model taking part in the competition to have received the award for the second time in recognition of its ground-breaking lifecycle assessment.
The i3 first won the ‘Green Steering Wheel' in 2013 – before its formal world launch - for being the best new environmentally-friendly car. As it did back then, the car once again impressed the expert jury in a series of intensive practical tests to win the 2016 Golden Steering Wheel in the new ‘Alternative Drives' category.
First awarded in 1976, the ‘Golden Steering Wheel' is one of the most prestigious awards in the European automotive sector. Now in its 41st year, the competition initially involved 36 current models being voted on by magazine readers in Germany and 20 other European countries.
The BMW i3 finished first in its category in all 21 countries. The finalists were then put to the test by a jury of specialists including racing drivers, designers, technicians, digital experts, editors-in-chief and readers.
Since its global launch the i3 has been the world's most successful electric vehicle in the premium compact segment and, significantly, is considered a mainstream vehicle in some markets.
In Norway, for example, i3 has been BMW's best-selling model since 2015 while in Germany its market share for this year is an impressive 20.2 per cent. Globally, almost 85 per cent of BMW i3 customers are new to the brand.
The expertise gained in the development of BMW i cars (i3 and the sporty i8) is now having a technology trickledown into mainstream BMW models. Carbon fibre construction is prominent in the body structure of the new 7 Series, eDrive technology (plug-in hybrid drive) is appearing in some iPerformance models and a new 5 Series sedan with plug-in hybrid drive will be launched next year, as will the first plug-in hybrid MINI.
The average driving range of the i3 with 94Ah battery is 200 kilometres in everyday conditions and up to 300 kilometres in Standard cycle, 50 per cent better than the 60Ah i3 which is still available.
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