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BMW to use a motorcycle engine as an optional range extender in the i3

BMW has worked very hard to keep its upcoming i3 city car as light as possible. This includes such technological wonders as a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic chassis, a feature which, all by itself, will make the i3 more advanced than many other cars on the road. Less weight means smaller battery packs can be used while still achieving the desired range, and smaller battery packs means shorter charging times. But BMW recognize that some people will want more than the 60-90 miles of all-electric range that the i3 will be capable of,  and so will offer up an optional range extender.

This range extender could potentially have added quite a bit of weight to the car, but it has now been confirmed that the i3 will borrow its range extender from BMW’s motorcycle line, according to Green Car Reports. This relatively light option will take the form of a 600cc inline-twin engine, which will bump the car’s range up to about 250 miles. That’s a much shorter range than the bigger plug-in hybrids we’ve been seeing, but it’s not much less than that of gasoline-only city cars like the Smart ForTwo or the Scion iQ and their tiny fuel tanks. But more importantly, getting the highest range number is much less important for a plug-in hybrid than it is for a pure electric.

BMW is saying it expects about half of i3 buyers to opt for the range extender when the car goes on sale at the end of this year, with that figure eventually dropping down to 20 percent. That does seem to be pretty high for pure-EV sales expectations, but BMW probably won’t complain if more people are opting for the range extender, just so long as they’re buying the car.