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Car torque: BMW's first all-electric car gets closer

MOTORING

The list of BMW i-brand teasers is longer than a 7 Series options order form. And so it continues with the i3 Concept Coupe, although this time we’re dramatically close to the finished product.

The i-brand is intended to be BMW’s vision of a more sustainable future and the i3, which will go into production in late 2013, is the marque’s first all-electric car. As is tradition with BMW’s “Concept” models, the car you see here will be 90% of the way to the final version.

The body is carbon fibre, the cabin is packed with BMW’s so-called ConnectedDrive technology and the i3 is driven by a 125kW/250Nm electric motor and single-speed transmission.

Range is expected to be around 160km. Because the lithium-ion batteries are positioned so low in the car, BMW claims the i3 will also have “sensationally agile” handling.

And a sensational price, of course, for the company is very clear about its i-cars being premium products. Some industry commentators have suggested that the i3 could cost as much as a 5 Series.

Rediscovering Land Rover
The Land Rover Discovery 4 will feature a new 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and extra equipment for 2013.

The new engine replaces the 2.7-litre turbo diesel in the TDV6 variants: power is up from 180kW to 183kW, fuel consumption has improved from 9.3 to 8.8 litres per 100km and the 0-100kmh time is now 9.3 seconds instead of 9.6.

The TDV6 SE is the new value leader: it has 19-inch alloys, air suspension and seven leather seats for $99,500.

Volvo invests in Sweden
Chinese-owned Volvo is making more investment in Sweden with two major future-model projects. The SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) and VEA (Volvo Engine Architecture) developments will be based in Sweden and form the base for a range of future Volvo models.

SPA is a scaled platform system that can be adapted to virtually any future model. VEA is a new family of four-cylinder engines, including hybrid technology. The first new car to be based on SPA will be the all-new Volvo XC90, which is set for launch in 2014.

Volvo’s newest current model, the V40, is the last to be based on a platform from former parent company Ford. Volvo was sold to Chinese carmaker Geely in 2010.

Toyota is the one
Toyota New Zealand will end the year as the country’s No 1 new vehicle distributor. Naturally. It will be the 25th year on top for the brand, which now has a market share nearly twice that of its nearest rival (currently Ford).

To November 2012, Toyota had sold 18,918 new vehicles for a 20.33% share.

Ford is in second place with 10,421 (11.2%), followed by Holden at 8863 (9.53%).

The New Zealand new-vehicle industry also looks set to crack 100,000 vehicles this year.

The last time it hit six figures was in the heady pre-global financial crisis days of 2007.

More by David Linklater