Bimmer Today has broken news about a new 120 amp-hour (Ah) BMW i3 that the early entrant into the electric vehicle market will introduce in the coming years. The news came through a source who claimed the new battery configuration would be arriving in a matter of months in 2018 or in early 2019 at the latest.
Compared to the current 94Ah / 33kWh battery in the 2018 BMW i3, the new 120Ah / 42kWh BMW i3 would be able to achieve around 150 miles (241 kilometers) of combined highway/city driving per charge on the EPA test cycle, assuming no detrimental impact from a major increase in weight for the extra batteries. The extra range keeps the BMW i3 competitive with its growing peer group of electric vehicles, which are coming in with 150–200 miles of range. This is because lower battery prices allow more range in electric vehicles at the same price point.
When it comes to range, the BMW i3 has leaned on the crutch of the internal combustion range extender (REx) since its inception, but with range well over 100 miles per charge, the larger battery could be the death knell of the REx option, freeing up some room and weight for the additional batteries. Eliminating the REx would also send a signal to the world that BMW’s electric vehicles are ready to cut the tie to internal combustion engines and head off on their own, once and for all.
The big factor that will dictate the competitiveness of the new build will be the price point for the long-range i3. As battery prices have fallen in recent years, storage has become more affordable, but this does not scale to every battery chemistry or every deal between an automaker and a battery company.
If history is any indicator, the march forward towards lower pricing and higher energy density will allow manufacturers to offer more range at the same price. Typically, increases in battery capacity come at an extra cost and are slowly integrated into base models as battery pricing continues to improve. Whether or not that happens with the 120Ah i3 or if it becomes available in the base model, we will just have to wait to see.
Related: BMW i3 REx Long-Term Review
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