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RPM TV Website | July 7, 2020

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Extended range boosts BMW i3’s appeal

Extended range boosts BMW i3’s appeal
Deon Schoeman

An extended-range version of BMW’s i3 electric car could make the futuristic hatchback a more appealing proposition for South African buyers.

The new model, which supplements the existing i3 range, benefits from an upgraded battery pack, rated at 94 Ah, as opposed to the current version’s 60 Ah.

The upgraded lithium-ion battery has the same dimensions as the existing pack, but offers a capacity of 33 kWh, which translates into a range of up to 300 km. That’s 110 km further than the current model’s claimed 190 km.

The rest of the drivetrain remains identical, with the 94 Ah version also featuring a 125 kW/250 Nm synchronous electric motor and direct drive. Performance remains sprightly at 7,3 sec for the 0-100 km/h sprint. Energy consumption is a claimed 12,6 kWh/100 km.

As in the case of the 60 Ah i3, a range extender version of the new, higher-capacity i3 will also be offered, stretching maximum range by another 150 km.

As the dimensions of the new, high-density Li-ion battery pack are identical to the original, existing i3’s could theoretically be upgraded to the new pack. BMW has confirmed that it will be offering an exchange programme in selected European markets.

While South African availability of the 90 Ah i3 has not been confirmed, the extended range of the new model would do much to enhance its appeal here.

The real-world range of the i3 is in the region of 120 km, while a shortage of charge stations means that careful commute planning and range anxiety are part and parcel of the i3 ownership experience.

Realistically, the 90 Ah i3 would achieve a range of closer to 250 km than the claimed 300 km, but the additional distance would greatly enhance daily usability if overnight charging is the only option.

BMW has also released a new three-phase AC quick charger with an 11 kW charging capacity to improve charging time to just under three hours. Conventional charging using a normal household power outlet requires 10 hours.

A high-speed DC charger with a 50 kW capacity that will charge the i3 to at least 80 percent of its capacity in just 25 minutes has also been developed, but is not currently available for home installation.

The pricing and availability of the 90 Ah BMW i3 in South Africa not been confirmed.

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