BMW i range to get new autonomous model as its flagship, marking major leap in technology

Article by Christian A., on May 25, 2016

BMW is currently one of the leading electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers. It has established its sub-brand, the BMW i, in 2011 that caters to the design and manufacture of these plug-in electric vehicles. At this point, BMW has two vehicles that have already been released: the i3 all-electric car and the plug-in hybrid i8; the concept versions of both have been released during the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Production of the BMW i3 started late in 2013 while the i8 was launched in Germany the year after. The BMW i Series has definitely captured the hearts of many as it was able to reach its 50,000-unit milestone earlier this year. And for all the success that the BMW i Series was able to accomplish, it is all but fitting to return the favour to its avid supporters by making improvements and updating the software found in the i3 and i8.

After being released to the public in 2013, the all-electric i3 has become BMW’s leading model by accomplishing global sales of 41,500 units. In 2015, it has been ranked as the world’s third best-selling all-electric car. The only downside to the i3 is that it lacks range compared to the EVs from other car manufacturers. Luckily, BMW realized this too and is in the works of giving the 2017 i3 a bit of a stretch. The upcoming 2017 i3 will now have a more powerful 33 kWh battery and will offer up to 114 miles of highway or city driving on single charge. Moreover, with the Range Extender i3, the 2017 i3 will have a 25% increase in its fuel capacity and is expected to increase the max range to more than the usual 150 miles.

Good thing BMW realizes that for it to stay in the competition, it has to up its game and one way is extending the range. We’ll just have to wait and see how this thing fairs with the rest of the vehicles in the EV arena once it gets into production.

The upgraded version of the BMW i8, on the other hand, is due to arrive late next year and is reported to have had a facelift. The updated version of the i8 is currently undergoing testing for its upgraded gas-electric powertrain. There isn’t much detail on this but we’re expecting it to produce more than the current 129 horsepower. There are no major changes with its 1.5-liter turbo gasoline engine except for a 10% boost in its power.

To improve performance times, the i8’s six-speed automatic transmission will be updated. BMW has also been reported to work on a revised battery pack similar to that of the i3 and an inductive charging system is in the works (probably as an option for the updated i8). And there’s also the chassis improvements and rumoured carbon fiber wheels. We’re hoping that these improvements shall contribute to the i8’s success. We’re crossing our fingers!

Just recently, along with the news of the i3 and i8 upgrades, BMW chairman of the board Harald Kruger announced a new member of the BMW i Series. The new i model called the iNEXT will serve as the flagship model of the i Series.

The iNEXT is not a hybrid supercar unlike its predecessors but will instead be the new face of the next generation EV. It will embody the “new innovation driver” complete with autonomous driving, digital connectivity and will come in an “intelligent” lightweight design upping the EV game. The exterior of the iNEXT makes it all the more appropriate to be named “the car of the future”. BMW is also playing with a bit of interesting technology for this one which makes the wait even more nerve-wracking. It is said that the iNEXT will change our view of an automobile as BMW introduces screens, wires and wireless signals inside the cabin for entertainment purposes. It will be built with a user-friendly interface which makes it all the more enticing. Now all we have to do is wait until 2021 to get a chance of owning a BMW iNEXT.

There are several things that consumers want from an electric vehicle but the range is the most common concern. Also, performance and charging convenience are part of the checklist for the perfect EV. BMW is slowly turning to that direction. So for the meantime, let’s sit back and relax while the world’s automakers race for EV supremacy.

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Topics: bmw, autonomous car

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