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Longer-legged BMW i3 lands

Blue is the new green: If you see a BMW i3 dressed up in the i8’s Protonic Blue, it is being powered by a new 94Ah battery.

BMW plugs in Range-boosted i3 94Ah city hatch priced from $95,900 BOCs


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16 Aug 2016

BMW’S proliferating electrified vehicle line-up has grown with the arrival in October of a brace of longer-range i3 compact hatchback variants, priced from $65,900 before on-road costs.

With a 94 ampere hour (Ah) battery, the new i3 pure EV (BEV) and i3 Range Extender (REx) boosts pure electric range of both versions to 310km, compared with the 200km of the 60Ah versions, which will continue to be sold alongside the new i3.

Like the BEV 94Ah, stepping up to the REx 94Ah adds a $2000 premium over the 60Ah equivalent taking the asking price up to $71,900 and extending its range to 390km when its twin-cylinder petrol engine lends a hand.

The increased battery capacity was made by advances in lithium-ion technology and a greater energy density of the power pack, but despite an almost 50 per cent gain, the 94Ah unit is no larger than the 60Ah version.

Working with its technical partner Samsung SDI, BMW increased the battery capacity by optimising the 12 cells with more electrolyte and an adapted active material, boosting total battery energy to 33kWh.

A full charge time is unchanged at three hours when using the standard 7.4kW single-phase mains socket, but with a larger capacity, the amount of energy that can be loaded into the battery per hour is greater than the outgoing version.

When plugged in to a DC fast charger, the new i3 can take an 80 per cent charge in just 40 minutes or 4km of range per minute, to put the figure into perspective.

The figures of 310km was established under the NEDC rating, but BMW says 200km is possible under real-world conditions including unfavourable weather or using the air-conditioning or heating. Range Extenders can manage approximately 320km under the same conditions.

Unlike some other manufacturers, BMW guarantees all its hybrid and electric vehicle batteries for degradation. The new i3 has an eight-year battery warranty or 100,000km although BMW says the pack has been designed to last the “service life” of an i3.

At the centre of the i3’s powertrain is a 125kW/250Nm electric motor on the rear axle that can accelerate the pure electric version to 100km/h in 7.4 seconds or 8.1s in the case of the Range Extender, which carries a 120kg weight penalty.

If the battery is exhausted, the REx’s rear mounted 650cc petrol engine cuts in to top it up and the nine litre fuel tank carries enough petrol for an extra 120km of driving under everyday conditions. BMW reports that many REx drivers are finding the electric only range of their i3s to be sufficient and the petrol engine is rarely required.

With the new battery mileage factored into total fuel efficiency, the Range Extender uses 0.6 litres of fuel per 100km, but since the petrol engine will not automatically intervene until the battery is discharged a figure of 7.5L/100km applies when the i3 is using petrol power.

Owners wanting to advertise that their i3 has the new larger capacity battery can option their car in Protonic metallic blue which, until now, has been the preserve of the i8 sportscar.

Other than the battery update, all other i3 features are unchanged including the 260-litre boot which expands to 1100L with the rear seats folded, BMW’s range of ConnectedDrive Services and the choice of natural interior customisation materials.

Pricing of the 60Ah i3 is unchanged at $63,900 for the EV and $69,900 for the Range Extender.

2016 BMW i3 pricing*
i3 (a) $63,900
i3 Range Extender (a) $69,900
i3 94Ah (a) $65,900
i3 94Ah Range Extender (a) $71,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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