BMW has fitted the all-electric i3 with a bigger battery pack in a bid to quell range anxiety.
Scheduled to arrive in time for the 2017 model year, the updated i3 ditches the current model’s 22 kilowatt-hour battery pack and adopts an improved unit rated at 33kWh. The pack benefits from lithium-ion cells that boast a higher density, meaning it offers more juice even though it’s the same size as the pack it replaces.
The 33kWh pack allows the i3 to drive for 114 miles on a single charge, even with electricity-sapping features like the heater or the air conditioning turned on. In comparison, the model that’s currently found in showrooms runs out of electricity after about 81 miles. If that’s not enough, the i3 remains available with an optional 650cc two-cylinder range extender that automatically kicks in when the battery’s charge is nearly depleted. The twin is fed by a bigger 2.4-gallon tank, but BMW hasn’t disclosed how many miles it adds to the i3’s driving range.
Equipped with the bigger battery pack, the i3 takes four and a half hour to fully charge, an hour more than the 2016 version. It tips the scale at 2,961 pounds, a figure that represents a 300-pound increase over the outgoing model. The extra heft has no effect on performance, and the compact EV still reaches 60 mph from a stop in a little over seven seconds thanks to an electric motor rated at 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
Moving beyond the drivetrain, the 2017 i3 gets a new color called Protonic Blue (pictured) that was previously only offered on the plug-in hybrid i8 coupe. The list of standard equipment includes dynamic cruise control, automatic A/C, LED headlights, HD radio, parking sensors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and buyers can pay extra for a power moonroof for the first time ever.
The updated 2017 BMW i3 will go on sale in the coming months. Pricing information will be published in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date.