I saw one of these new plug-in electrics today in the parking lot of my supermarket, so–of course–I went over for a closer look. Just then, the owners returned to their car, so I was able to chat with them, and to view the interior.
This little buggy isn’t cheap (~$45k), but it is certainly innovative.
In addition to extensive use of carbon fiber in the interest of lightness, it features a small generator, which is called The Range Extender.
The claimed range on a full charge is 120 miles, but if you are starting to run out of electrical energy, you can active the Range Extender which is–surprise, surprise–a 2-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine connected to a high-capacity generator, and this gives you an additional 60 mile range before the gas tank for the motorcycle engine goes dry.
It certainly doesn’t look like a BMW, but the styling–IMHO–was classy as well as ultra cutting-edge.
The owner had been privileged to drive one of the prototypes for 2 years, and as his reward, the car has a few extra accessories and styling cues that aren’t normally available. When you open the doors, the sill plate displays the word “Electronaut”, as that is what BMW dubbed the drivers of their electric prototypes.
Definitely an interesting little car.