BMW tried to challenge Tesla Motors in the electric car market when it launched the i3 – its first mass-market zero-emission vehicle – but the city car didn’t really pose a serious threat to the Model S, Tesla’s best-selling model.
The main reason behind the i3’s failure to become a strong rival to the Model S is the fact that it lags far behind Tesla’s all-electric sedan when it comes to driving range, which is the most important aspect for any electric vehicle.
Now, BMW wants to make its first truly electric vehicle more competitive in the global market, and to that end, it has announced that the next-generation i3 will boast a drastically longer driving range. The German automaker has released details on the new i3, stating that it is going to receive a major boost in battery capacity, resulting in improved mileage.
50% Increase in Battery Capacity
BMW has unveiled the 2017 i3 electric car, introducing a few key improvements over previous model years. The first and most important improvement is of course the boost in battery capacity, which has been increased from 22 kWh to 33 kWh. This 50% increase will reflect on the car’s range, which, according to BMW will be rated at 114 miles per one charge, a huge improvement over the older version’s 80 miles.
BMW says that the increased capacity is a result of the use of new lithium-ion cells, which are denser than the ones used on the previous model. The 2017 i3 gets 94 Amp-hour cells, as opposed to the 60-Ah cells the previous version was equipped with.
The bigger battery capacity also results in slightly longer charging times, as it will take 4.5 hours to recharge using a standard Level 2 charger, up from 3.5 hours for the older version.
However, it will also support DC quick charging, with allows the battery to charge to 80% of its capacity in 40 minutes.
Lots of New Standard Features
BMW hasn’t disclosed any information regarding pricing or a launch date, but based on some reports, the 2017 i3 is expected to hit showrooms this fall.
As far as specifications and equipment is concerned, the company did say that it will add a host of features that will be part of the standard package. For instance, the new i3 will come equipped with standard WiFi connectivity, allowing remote access to certain vehicle functions. Also, it will have advanced systems like park-distance control, dynamic cruise control, and real-time traffic information.
What’s more, unlike previous versions, the upcoming i3 will be offered with an electric moonroof in the United States.
With these upgrades, the i3 does seem a lot more appealing now, and it gets a chance to compete with some of the best-selling electric cars in the world at the moment, including the 107-mile Nissan Leaf, but it needs to be further improved before it can be ready to take on the likes of the Model S, or even the upcoming Chevy Bolt which is expected to offer an estimated range of over 200 miles, at a relatively affordable price.
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