BMW gets plugged in

  @FortuneMagazine February 28, 2013: 9:05 AM ET
BMW18 bmw i8 green

Among the new models that BMW will introduce in 2013, two stand out. The first, a sports coupe named the 4 Series, is instantly recognizable as a BMW. A bit lower and wider than the 3 Series coupe it replaces, it will be built at BMW's Spartanburg, S.C., manufacturing complex and sell for prices starting at about $45,000.

The second vehicle, an all-electric city car called the i3, is unlike anything BMW -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has ever made. Its weight-saving carbon-fiber body is wrapped in layers of electronic services and smartphone apps designed to make life simpler and save time for the owner. Searching for a parking space? The i3 will help you find one at your destination -- as well as arrange to rent out your space at home while you are gone. Need a charge for the lithium-ion batteries? Another feature locates the nearest charging station and arranges for an emergency boost if you can't find it. Should you be planning a trip out of town, BMW will help you swap your electric car for a gasoline-powered one with a longer range.

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