BMW’s compact electric vehicle i3 has been given a power and trim make-over which includes a 260km range – up 30 per cent on the current model – as well as a sports package.
Since the i3 was launched – it first appeared in Germany in 2013 – the range figure has doubled with the latest update increased to 120 ampere hours (Ah) and a gross energy content of 42.2 kilowatt hours (kWh).
The range increase is thanks to a new generation of high-voltage batteries which give the two models, the i3 and i3S, 120 Ah which translates into power consumption of 13.1 kWh/100 km and of course no emissions, while the sportier i3S has a combined power consumption of 14.6 – 14.0 kWh/100 km.
The i3, powered by a 125 kW/170 hp electric motor, accelerates in 7.3 seconds from zero to 100 km/h, while the i3s with 135 kW/184 hp completes the standard sprint in 6.9 seconds.
The important figure though is that 260km. It’s more than enough to allay most drivers’ range anxiety fears.
There’s also a new body finish, a new colour for the optional interior design Loft and adaptive LED headlights with matrix function for the high beam.
The sports package comes soon – BMW has not released timing for Australia – and includes black wheel arch surrounds and a sports suspension with specific dampers, springs and stabilisers, lowered suspension, a widened track and 20-inch light alloy wheels. The optimised guidance system in the iDrive operating system is now available along with what BMW calls the optional navigation system Business.
In future, they say, again with no dates, the options telephony with wireless charging and wireless LAN hotspot will also be available for both versions.
The high-voltage lithium-ion batteries are produced at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany and consists of eight modules, each with 12 storage cells
The standard charging cable plugs into a conventional household socket and can charge up to 80 percent of its full power in 15 hours with a charging capacity of 2.4 kW. Connection to a BMW i Wallbox gives rapid three-phase charging with a capacity of 11 kW and means 80 percent charging is achieved in 3.2 hours.
Out on the road using a supercharger, 80 percent of charge takes as little as 42 minutes.
Interestingly – and for those who like to say the process of making an electric car is worse for the environment than making an ICE car – BMW points out the i3 has a much more favourable CO2 footprint across the entire vehicle lifecycle – from raw material extraction and manufacture, through to use and recycling – and this makes for significantly lower global warming potential than is the case with comparable, ICE powered vehicles, say the Germans.
Prices for the new models have not yet been announced for Australia but based on current models expect them to come in at over $75,000.
Tony Bosworth writes for www.TheDriven.io and RenewEconomy.com.au. He has 35 years experience in journalism, and has been instrumental in launching and editing several automotive magazines including Which Car? magazine in the UK.