BMW will offer a two-cylinder motorcycle engine as range extender for i3 EV

Article by Anita Panait, on January 23, 2013

BMW AG is extending the range of its i3 electric car by offering a two-cylinder motorcycle engine and a generator to extend the range. According to BMW's head of r&d, Herbert Diess, the engine and generator package will be offered as an option on the i3 when the electric car is made available worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2013.

He, however, did not disclose how much a customer has to shell out to avail of the package. The i3 currently could travel from 60 to 90 miles on a single electrical charge.

Diess said during the Detroit auto show that the i3’s range could increase up to 250 miles once installed with a two-cylinder gasoline engine that is derived from a BMW motorcycle. The engine will be placed in the trunk and connected to a generator that recharges the battery. However, the two-cylinder engine doesn't transmit mechanical power directly to i3’s wheels.

Diess told Automotive News that he expects buyers to order the range extender to “cure” their range anxiety, only to discover later that they seldom need it. He expects the order rate for the engine option to surpass 50 percent with early buyers, and to stay steady at around 20 percent.

Diess remarked that an electric car caters to the needs of urban daily commuters, who would find the gasoline engine useful for longer trips on the weekend. He added that for consumers who plan a daily use of the range extender, it is better for them to acquire plug-in hybrid model instead of the i3.

A powerfully contoured apron, a distinctive interpretation of an enclosed BMW kidney grille, and headlights bordered by U-shaped LED light units – these elements define the BMW i3’s front-end design. At the rear, “floating elements” in the likes of U-shaped LED rear lights accentuate its large, fully glazed tailgate.

Despite its compact exterior dimensions, its interior gives a sense of spaciousness and freedom credited to its opposing “coach” doors and the absence of B-pillars and center tunnel (both of which are normally found in conventional vehicles). A feeling of “lightness” and contemporary functionality is primarily due to the lines and surface sculpting of its cockpit and door trim. The use of naturally treated leather, wood, wool and other renewable and recycled raw materials emphasizes the luxurious character of the BMW i3 and is complemented by the use of sustainable technology.

The BMW i3 also features lightweight seats with slim backrests and a slightly raised seating position that gives the driver optimum view over the city traffic. Projecting from the steering column is a control element shared by both the gear selector and start/stop switch. The BMW i3 offers a 6.5-inch or 8.8-inch Control Display with iDrive operating system which comes in free-standing display form, as with the instrument cluster.

Topics: bmw, bmw i3, electric car

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