•  2014 BMW i3 "spy shots" shown
  •  Range anxiety plan gives drivers a gas car
  •  i3 expected to go on sale next year

BMW is doing its best to increase interest in its upcoming i3 before the electric car is launched later this year. The brand recently released several "official" spy shots, detailing the i3's styling. And to help buyers get over "range anxiety," BMW says it will provide i3 owners with a gas-powered car when needed.

Although BMW's official spy shots don't show many of the i3's styling details, they do offer an important look at the EV's general size and structure. The all-electric model - BMW's first - will feature a hatchback shape and up to four doors. Rear doors look smaller than the front entries, possibly suggesting a rear-hinged "suicide" door like the Mini Clubman's.

The spy photos also reveal that the i3 will offer unique bumper-mounted tail lights and - like other electric cars - no true grille opening. While the i3 is thought to be rear-wheel drive, the spy photos show the car driving in the snow. That could signal the possibility of optional all-wheel drive.

In addition to releasing spy shots, BMW also announced a program designed to make potential i3 buyers feel better about "range anxiety." The so-called term refers to the fear that an electric car might run out of juice, effectively stranding drivers.

According to BMW, the range anxiety combatant comes in the form of a gasoline-powered loaner car. The automaker says it will provide i3 owners with access to a conventional gas- or diesel-powered car for an "unspecified number of days" each year.

That means drivers who make occasional long trips that require a gas or diesel car can still leave the i3 on their shopping lists. Unfortunately, BMW hasn't announced exactly how the program will work or if customers will have to pay for the gas or diesel backup cars.

Undoubtedly, we'll learn more about the program - and see final photos of the i3 - as we edge closer to September's Frankfurt Auto Show, where the EV will make its debut. Production will start soon after, with deliveries likely to begin in 2014.

What it means to you: Shoppers interested in the 2014 BMW i3 can now see it in photos - and breathe a sigh of relief about range anxiety.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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