BMW i3 EV WILL get BMW motorcycle engine as range extender

BMW’s head of R&D, Herbert Diess, has confirmed the BMW i3 EV will come with the option of a range extender engine.

BMW i3 EV image

Back in 2011, we asked if the BMW i3 – BMW’s stab at a luxury electric car for the city – would come with a BMW Motorad engine as a range extender to make it a properly viable (if costly) alternative to an ICE car. And now it’s been confirmed.

BMW’s head of R&D, Herbert Diess, has confirmed to Automotive News that when the i3 arrives in BMW showrooms at the end of 2013 it will be offered with a range extending engine as well as a pure EV.

The range extender engine will be housed in the boot and is derived from a BMW motorcycle engine, and will turn the i3 from a small EV, useful only in confined city environs with a range of around 40 miles, in to a small runaround that has a range of 250 miles.

Not only will the range of the i3 with a range extender engine be comparable to an ICE car but, just like an ICE car, the i3 EV range extender will be able to top up with fuel in a few minutes to get back on the road.

Interestingly, Herr Diess believes that the i3 with a range extender will account for 50 per cent of i3 sales initially, falling to just 20 per cent when buyers realise they never use the range extender capabilities.

But with BMW expecting buyers to stump up serious money for the i3 – expected to be as much as a decent 3 Series – we can’t see buyers opting for the limited-use i3 pure EV when they could have a premium-priced EV with the range of an ICE car.

We won’t know until the BMW i3 EV goes on sale at the end of 2013 which way buyers will go, but we’d be amazed if the vast majority of sales of the i3 aren’t the range extender version.

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