BMW launched its first electric Series car in Munich on Monday with the unveiling of the i3. BMW claim more than 90,000 people have already registered for a test drive of the electric city car which will be priced at $44,950 in Canada.

The car is made largely from carbon-reinforced plastic and will be powered by a 170 hp, 184 lb-ft electric engine mated to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. BMW says the 22-kilowatt hour battery is good for up to 200 km of driving in conservation mode but will more often do around 160 km.

The battery can be charged in three hours using a 30-amp, 220-volt wall box, or via a normal 110-volt household outlet in 20 hours. BMW says a 20-minute option will be available.

BMW also claims superior handling thanks to low-mounted battery packs, and an impressive 7.2 second 0-100 km/h time.

There are also plans in the pipeline for a more aggressive, stylish and exotic car, dubbed the i8. BMW CEO, Dr. Norbert Reithofer, says those two are “a good start”, and the company will assess plans for larger versions later in 2014.

The i3 will be available to Canadian buyers in May of 2014.

BMW Press Release: The BMW i3.

The world, and with it the sphere of personal mobility, is in a state of ecological, economic and social upheaval. Global developments such as climate change, dwindling resources and increasing urbanisation call for fresh solutions. BMW i is finding those solutions. The brand stands for visionary vehicle concepts, inspiring design and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability.

In the BMW i3 – the first series-produced model by BMW i – zero-emission mobility in a premium car package proves to be a recipe for pure driving pleasure. The first BMW Group model running on electric power alone offers customers totally new and groundbreaking ways to experience driving pleasure, sustainability and connectivity on city roads. The visionary design of the BMW i3 showcases both BMW’s customary sporting capability and the efficiency of a four-seater with authentic clarity. Its innovative vehicle concept, including a passenger compartment made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), combines lightness, stability and safety with extraordinary spaciousness. Meanwhile, the driver assistance systems and mobility services from BMW Connected Drive and the 360° ELECTRIC services – all developed specially for BMW i – turn zero-emission urban mobility into a compelling everyday driving experience.

The electric motor powering the BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft). Its instantaneous power flows to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The motor sources its energy from lithium-ion storage cells integrated into the car’s underfloor section. The significantly lower centre of gravity of the i3 – the result of the low, central placement of the battery units – and even weight distribution make an additional contribution to the car’s agile handling. The battery gives the car a range in everyday conditions of 130 – 160 kilometres (81 – 99 miles) when fully charged from a conventional domestic power socket, BMW i Wallbox or public charging station.

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