Electric cars are on the march and critical to their appeal are advances in battery capacity, or in other words, how far you can drive them on each charge. BMW has made new efforts to ease range anxiety among future owners of its premium i3 EV, packing more battery density inside for an extended range of up to 260 km (160 mi) in everyday conditions.
Since it first emerged in 2013, the BMW i3 has actually been a useful indicator of the progression of EV batteries. From humble beginnings as a 60-Ah battery-powered vehicle offering 81 mi (130 km) of range, the i3 now comes in variants offering a real-world range of up to 200 km (124 mi), drawn from a 94-Ah battery pack.
BMW has now taken another leap forward, fitting its upgraded i3 with a 120-Ah battery pack built deep into the floor. Made of eight modules each packing 12 storage cells, the new battery ups the gross energy content from 33 kWh in the 94 Ah model to 42.2 kWh, all while maintaining exactly the same size. An 80 percent charge capacity can be reached in around 15 hours from a regular wall socket, while BMW’s i Wallbox can cut this to 3.2 hours.
The powertrain also remains the same, with the electric motor providing 170 hp (125 kW) and shuttling the i3 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.3 seconds. The punchier new i3s, meanwhile, produces 184 hp (135 kW) and completes the 100 km/h sprint in 6.9 seconds. Power consumption for each is listed as 13.1 kWh per 100 km and 14.6 kWh to 14.0 kWh per 100 kilometers, respectively.
A sports package comes standard on the i3s and is available as an option for the i3, adding sports suspension with a wider track and a stance lowered by 10 mm (1 cm). This also includes 20-inch light alloy wheels in Jet Black or Bicolor, with black wheel arches another point of difference. A new color option is also available, with “Jucaro Beige” and grey accents added to existing options of Mineral Grey, Imperial Blue, Melbourne Red, Capparis White, and Fluid Black.
Inside, buyers can also opt for a new upholstery finished in grey with brown accents. BMW has made adaptive LED headlights available too, which selectively switch to low-beam when a front-end camera detects an oncoming car. There is no word yet on the pricing for the updated i3 and i3s, though BMW does say they will become available globally in November 2018.