BMW has increased the battery capacity of the i3, allowing it to travel 153 miles on a single charge. That range may not be competitive with the Tesla Model 3 or even the Chevrolet Bolt, but it’s a considerable improvement from the current i3 and nearly double that of the original.
When the i3 launched in 2014, it could travel 81 miles on a single charge, and it packed a high voltage battery cell capacity of 60 ampere hours. For 2017, BMW upgraded the i3 to 115 miles and a battery capacity of 94 Ah. Now for 2019, the i3’s battery capacity has expanded to 120 Ah. Gross energy content has increased to 42.2 kilowatt hours, up from 33 on the previous version and 22.6 from the original. Expect battery improvements for the range-extended i3 as well.
The battery has changed, but power output has not. The city car continues to make 170 hp, or 181 hp on the i3s. The rear-mounted electric motor sends power to the rear wheels through a one-speed automatic.
For the new model year, BMW adds a few convenience and cosmetic features to the i3. Wireless charging is now available as well as full LED headlights with cornering lights and automatic high beams. New Wi-Fi hotspot can accommodate up to 10 devices. And a new exterior color joins the palette: Juraco Beige Metallic with gray accents.
Production on the updated i3 will begin this November. But it’s unclear exactly how much longer the pint-sized EV will be around. In January, BMW executives expressed to Autocar some uncertainty about the long-term fate of the i3 and i8. BMW i design boss Domagoj Dukec commented at the time: “For i, there won’t always be an i3, then an i3 after—i is not a parallel universe of BMW.”
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