BMW is offering a longer-range i3 with 114 miles of range for the 2017 model year, beating out the 2016 Nissan Leaf's 107 miles, but below the Chevy Bolt's 200 miles. The new BMW i3 (94 Ah) achieves longer range by increasing the battery capacity to 33 kilowatt hours (kWh) from 22 kWh. The smaller battery capacity i3 (60 Ah) will be offered alongside the new i3 (94 Ah).
You'd think BMW would come up with a cleverer name that incorporates the battery capacity like Tesla, but listing the battery capacity in parenthesis is direct and to the point, I suppose. Personally, I would prefer something along the lines of BMW i3 eDrive94 to match its hybrid and plug-in hybrid offerings.
Impressively, the new battery occupies the same physical dimensions as the smaller capacity one. BMW increased range while maintaining the same foot print by increasing the amount of electrolyte in each of the storage cells.
The new battery maintains the existing eight module layout with 12 cells each, albeit with a 50% bump in total capacity. BMW worked with Samsung SDI to develop the i3 (94 Ah) battery technology.
Charging the larger 33 kWh battery takes 4.5 hours on a level 2 charger – an hour longer than the 22 kWh. DC fast charging is supported via an SAE combo plug. The connector is ready to accept up to 50 kW chargers.
BMW quotes quick charging times at 40 minutes to 80% capacity for the i3 (94 Ah), which is 15 minutes longer than the i3 (60 Ah). Those with range anxiety or just impatient can opt for the range extender (REX) that adds a 650cc 2-cylinder motorcycle motor producing 38 horsepower.
The REX increased driving range by 69 miles in the i3 (60 Ah) with a software limited 1.9-gallon capacity fuel tank in the US. The physical tank capacity in the rest of the world was 2.4 gallons, but the fuel pump would shut off after 1.9 gallons to appease the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and certify it as a battery electric vehicle with extender to limp home (BEVx), instead of a plug-in hybrid.
BMW claims the i3 (94 Ah) REX has the full 2.4-gallon capacity gas tank, but doesn't mention the gasoline limping range. It still qualifies as a BEVx since the extender adds equal or less range than the battery range, however.
Pricing on the new BMW i3 (94 Ah) will be revealed closer to the release date.