2013 bMW i3
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BMW engineers are busy putting their new line of i-branded vehicles through the winter-ringer, and in addition to testing the i8 hybrid halo, the i3 has been spied taking to the snow.

The shape of the i3 decidedly un-BMW, with its upright, pedestrian-friendly nose, slab sides and bulbous back end. The taillamps fitted to the prototype obviously aren't production-spec, while the thin tire and wheel combo are doing double-duty, blending winter grip with low rolling resistance. The overall shape is rather anonymous, but we're digging the sloped roofline and massive greenhouse, which should make visibility that much better.

Although BMW has confirmed that the passenger cell will be made of carbon fiber, the rest of the chassis is likely to employ plenty of aluminum to keep the curb weight in check. What we don't know is what kind of powertrain is fitted underneath and which wheels are driven. Our sources indicate that the i3's architecture will be rear-wheel drive, but there's still some question whether the smallest i will be a hybrid or an EV. If it's the latter, expect a 0-60 mph time of around 10 seconds and a range that tops out near 100 miles. Sales are slated to begin in late 2013, right after the range-topping i8 hits the market.

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