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BMW holds i3 BEV pricing with new 120Ah battery

Range-extender out as BMW goes electric-only with i3 120Ah EV in Australia

30 Nov 2018

BMW Group Australia is set to drop the range-extender (REx) version of its i3 tallboy hatch next year, exclusively opting for the battery-electric (BEV) model that will extend its range in February with a new 120Ah battery.

Speaking to GoAuto, BMW Group Australia product communications manager Adam Davis confirmed the REx’s deletion from the local i3 line-up, although it will be available in 120Ah form overseas.

“The (REx) remains available to us in future, however for 120Ah and its improved range, we’ve determined to bring only BEV from launch for this market,” he said.

From the i3’s launch in 60Ah guise in November 2014, the BEV accounted for 21 per cent of its sales, but this share rose to 40 per cent after its 94Ah form was released in October 2016.

This sales momentum continued when the facelifted i3 LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) entered showrooms in February this year with the same 94Ah battery but a new sports-focused variant, dubbed i3s. As a result, BEV volume then improved to 55 per cent.

With its move to 120Ah guise, the BEV will now shoulder all of the i3’s load – a timely move with the recent launch of Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric and the imminent release of Nissan’s Leaf.

While the Bavarian brand claimed the 60Ah and 94Ah versions provided 160km and 200km of ‘everyday’ range respectively, the 120Ah model ups the ante to 260km.

Pricing for the BEV has held steady, at $68,700 and $69,900 before on-road costs for the i3 and i3s respectively, despite its larger battery and an increase in standard equipment.

Apple CarPlay support, wireless smartphone charging and keyless entry are now standard across the line-up, while adaptive Matrix LED headlights and high-beam assist have become optionally available.

Jucaro Beige metallic paintwork with Frozen Grey highlights has been added to the exterior colour palette, while the Loft, Lodge and Suite interior trim packages have been refreshed.

Other standard equipment includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen iDrive 6 infotainment system, satellite navigation with live traffic, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, speed limit recognition, parking sensors, a reversing camera and park assist.

The i3s adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a Sport driving mode and a specifically tuned electronic traction control (ESC) system, plus sports steering and suspension, among other features.

While both variants are motivated by an electric motor that exclusively sends drive to the rear wheels, the 135kW/270Nm i3s is more potent than the 125kW/250Nm i3.

As a result, the former continues to sprint from standstill to 100km/h in a hot hatch-like 6.9 seconds – 0.4s quicker than the latter can manage.

Charge times from zero to 80 per cent for the i3 and i3s are identical, taking as little as 42 minutes with a 50kW DC charger or as long as 19.5 hours with a 1.8kW domestic outlet. The pair is fitted with a Type 2 plug that supports single- and three-phase AC charging.

According to BMW Group Australia chief executive officer Vikram Pawah, the i3 remains at the forefront of the EV revolution following its latest update.

“BMW has once again demonstrated its technical capability in the EV space with the latest BMW i3 120Ah,” he said.

“Effectively doubling the real-world driving range from the i3’s 2013 global introduction, the newest addition to our BMW i stable remains a trailblazer.

“Beyond that, the constant evolution of materials and specification, as well as the i3s sports- focused variant, makes the car more relevant than ever.”

Sales of the i3 have taken a hit this year, with 95 examples sold to the end of October – a 10.4 per cent decrease over the 106 deliveries made during the same period in 2017.

Given its low volume, the i3 is the least popular small car in the $40,000-plus segment, which is dominated by internal-combustion models such as the Audi A3 (3584 units), Mercedes-Benz A-Class (3509) and BMW 1 Series (2165), among others.

2019 BMW i3 120Ah pricing*

i3 (a) $68,700
i3s (a) $69,900

*Excludes on-road costs

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