Confirming earlier reports, a BMW board member for sales and marketing told Automotive News at the Detroit auto show that the 2017 BMW i3 will reportedly see its all-electric range increase by 50 percent. Thanks to upgrades to the internals of the lithium-ion battery pack, the BMW i3 will be able to travel about 120 miles on a single charge.
Improvements to the software for the battery cooling system and electric motor also help the BMW i3 reach its new range plateau. The BMW i3 originally could travel 81 miles on a single charge, while the optional range-extending gasoline engine bumps that figure to 150 miles (71 miles of which is EV-only in EPA testing). According to AN, almost 60 percent of i3 models sold come with the range extender, suggesting that 81 miles of range simply isn’t enough to meet most people’s transportation needs.
Autocar has previously said that the new battery pack will also be available as a retrofit for current models, though BMW representatives were unable to confirm that as of publication time.
UPDATE: A representative from BMW will not comment on the retrofitting question. However we do now know that the existing battery offering up to 81 miles of range will continue to be offered, and the upgraded battery will be available as an option.
Although the upgraded range to the 2017 BMW i3 does vault it ahead of the Nissan Leaf and its 107 miles of all-electric range, it is still a far cry from the new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt. Revealed in production form at the Consumer Electronics Show and Detroit auto show earlier this month, the Bolt boasts an impressive all-electric range of 200 miles, even though it lacks the i3’s high-tech carbon-fiber body construction.
The BMW i3 may have the Chevrolet Bolt beat as far as interior pizzazz, but the Bolt packs a much more potent power punch. Electric power and torque for the Bolt top out at 200 hp and 266 lb-ft, against the i3’s 170 hp and 184 lb-ft.
The BMW i3 currently costs $43,350 including destination fees, or $47,200 with the range extender. Both figures do not account for federal tax credits. By comparison, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt starts at $37,500. After tax credits, the Bolt could go for as little as $30,000.