The German car company's first plug-in electric vehicle has scooped the top honor at this year's ceremony held at the LA Auto Show.
The award, which recognizes environmental leadership in the automotive field, is presented by Green Car Journal and of this year's five finalists, the BMW i3 was the only electric car in contention.
The other finalists were the Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel; the Audi A3 TDI; the Honda Fit; and the Volkswagen Golf.
The BMW i3 has a 170hp electric motor and a range of 130-160km on a single charge. What makes the compact city car stand out against other plug-in electric cars currently rolling onto the market are its handling and performance characteristics. It can hit 100km/h in just 7.2 seconds and thanks to a very low center of gravity offers the same driving dynamics as BMW's petrol powered cars.
In order to address "range anxiety", in other words, potential owners' fears that the car will run out of power in the middle of a journey, the car can be specified with an optional 650cc gas engine that can be used to re-charge the battery and boost range, but not as a replacement for electric power.
The company is also rolling out a program where owners can borrow a more traditionally powered BMW when they need to make a longer journey -- say a weekend break with the family -- leaving the i3 on charge for the daily commute.
However, its handling characteristics and efforts at eliminating range anxiety are not what tipped the scales in BMW's favour during the judges' deliberation.
The i3 won because of its zero emissions at the point of use and crucially because of the high percentage of sustainably produced materials used in the car's construction.