The newly-revealed BMW i3 is an electric car for buyers looking for a little more luxury and performance from their EV, but can’t quite afford to lay out $70,000 on a Tesla Model S. Yet there’s still the problem of limited range (in this case up to 100 miles) and long charging times, which is why the BMW i3 includes a $3,950 gas-powered range extender option.
So instead of having to invest in a secondary car for long trips, the BMW i3 can be purchased as either a pure electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. The nearly-$4,000 option bumps the price of the BMW i3 from $42,275 (with the $925 destination fee) to $46,225, but also “doubles” the range of the electrified Bimmer. The 0.66 liter two-cylinder engine makes just 34 horsepower and holds just 2.4 gallons of fuel, and adds 330 pounds to the i3’s curb weight.
More importantly though, it means that you’re never completely out of fuel in the BMW i3, so long as you have access to a full jerry can. That said, the range extender isn’t meant for daily use, and BMW has yet to price the SAE Combo Charger option capable of fully-charging the i3 in just 30 minutes, nor firmly nail down the range rating. The 20-mile spread BMW keeps using means the i3 will either be about average, or pack-leading.
But the BMW i3 does have other things important to enthusiasts that could make it the EV of choice for car guys and gals. The i3 has a 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, packs 170 horsepower and 184 ft-lbs of torque, and is of course rear-wheel drive. The BMW i3 clicks off a 0 to 60 mph time of just 7 seconds, and there’s hope for a higher-performance model with an emphasis on acceleration, something electric motors excel at.
The BMW i3 goes on sale in the second quarter of 2014, and I for one look forward to the added competition.