|This i3 spy shot clearly shows a plastic tray separating the two rear seats.|
|The i3 concept coupe rear seats|
"If you can't fit 3 people in the rear seat, it will significantly reduce the propensity of a Volt owner to switch. If this is true, it would be an unforced error in terms of understanding the (American) consumer." He also said:
"The #1 reason I hear people aren't buying the Volt is the lack of seating for 5. Not the ONLY reason, but the single most frequent one. GM knows this, so the Volt 2.0 (2015 model, launched in 2014) will fit 3 people in the back seat."
Anton is speaking from experience, he drives a Volt. He makes a very good point about a Volt owner switching to an i3.
Both the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF launched in December of 2010. So anyone that was an early adopter and rushed out to get one of the first Volts or LEAFs took delivery in the end of 2010 to the beginning of 2011. Many of these people took the attractive 3 year lease options offered and guess when all those leases are expiring? Yep, pretty much exactly when the i3 will be launching. The i3 is the perfect next step for existing Volt and LEAF owners because it offers more electric range plus a range extender, a combination no other EV does. I have personally received dozens of messages and emails from people in this position wanting to know if I had inside information about the exact launch date because they want to transition directly from their LEAF or Volt into an i3 but don't know if the i3 will be available when their lease expires.
|The original concept had rear bucket seats|
As Anton mentioned, it's rumored that Chevy is going to make a 5 seat Volt for the 2015 model. If so, they will sell both a 4 seat Volt and a 5 Seat Volt when the redesigned Volt 2.0 is released later next year. So apparently the Volts lack of a 5th seat was a significant issue, enough for GM to redesign the battery tunnel to allow for a center rear seat. Since the i3 doesn't have a battery tunnel in the first place, and appears to be about as wide as a Volt there must be other reasons BMW elected to make the back seat only for two passengers. Weight considerations could be the main culprit I suspect but regulatory issues and crash test ratings could be possible reasons also. We know how hard BMW worked to keep the i3 weight as low as possible, shedding every pound that wasn't absolutely essential. A lot more goes into adding the third seat than simply adding an extra seatbelt. The suspension would also need to be modified which would add weight and make for a stiffer ride. I wonder if BMW will do what they did with the MINI Countryman and offer a third seat option at a later date if this becomes a bigger issue than they expect.
Taking all that into consideration, BMW still hasn't revealed the exact width of the production i3. They did reveal the length in the recent press release which surprisingly will be 6 inches longer than the original i3 concept was. The original concept was 151.4" and the production i3 will be 157.4". It will be interesting to see what the width actually is. If it's wider than 67" (which is about what a 5 passenger Honda Fit is at 66.7") then I may agree with Anton about it being an unforced error unless BMW gives a proper explanation why adding the fifth seat would not have been a good idea. I'm sure offering the i3 as a 5 passenger vehicle compared to a 4 passenger vehicle would open it up to a much broader audience of perspective buyers. After all, virtually all of the top selling passenger cars in the US are 5 passenger vehicles for a reason.
|This is probably the best interior picture of an i3 available. You can see it appears there is plenty of rear legroom|