We knew a technology upgrade for BMW’s i3 was on the way, we just weren’t sure how the German automaker would market the changes.
BMW Blog is reporting that instead of just updating the i3’s battery for both the hybridized (range-extending gas engine paired with an electric motor) and full-electric versions and calling it a day, the automaker will offer two battery sizes: the same 60Ah configuration as at present, and a new 94Ah setup. Since both batteries will be available in both versions of the i3, BMW will actually be selling four i3 variants.
Additionally, a facelift is planned for the 2017 model year that is debuting later in 2016, and with it will come new software and improved electronics. As a result, the larger battery i3 pure-EV will achieve a range of 120 miles, which is an improvement of about 40 miles over the current model.
Related: BMW Has Big Plans For Its i-Series
Since BMW will be breaking out the i3 into battery designations, pricing will vary accordingly. The current all-electric version starts at $42,400 before incentives while the range-extender goes for $46,250. Therefore, we can probably expect these two variants with the smaller batteries to drop a bit in price to make room for their 94Ah battery counterparts.
Considering how many pure electric vehicles now best BMW’s i3 in drive range, the move for larger battery packs is essential, but the automaker may have trouble with sales unless pricing is competitive. Obviously, Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 is a big concern with its planned 200+ mile range and $35,000 starting price, but even the Chevrolet Bolt’s 200-ish range will be a threat when BMW can only offer 120 miles maximum.
The official premiere of the refreshed i3 is expected during the Paris Motor Show in October of this year. Sales of the 2017 model will kick off before year’s end in an attempt to exceed the 24,057 units delivered in 2015.