BMW unveils i3 electric car

The BMW i3, planned to go on sale next year, is the first electric car to go into full-scale production from an established luxury automaker.

BMW performance

bmw i3 rear

Related - Tesla alternatives: Four cheap electric cars

BMW has long been known for building cars that are fun to drive. The i3 will live up to that promise, according to BMW, despite being designed to squeeze through urban gridlock.

With its 170 horsepower electric motor, the i3 should be able to get to 60 miles per hour in about seven seconds, according to BMW. That's fairly quick for a small car.

To preserve battery range -- the car should be able to go roughly 80 to 100 miles on a charge -- top speed is capped at 93 miles per hour. The battery pack is housed lower in the car between the front and rear wheels which, in addition to keeping it safe in a crash, also gives the car a low center of gravity for better cornering.

As an option, the i3 will be available with a small range-extending gasoline engine that will generate electricity as plug-in power gets used up. The engine will only act as a generator, though, and will not power the wheels directly.

  @peterdrives - Last updated July 29 2013 01:53 PM ET