the 2019 bmw i3, a four-door electric hatchback, is getting a higher-capacity battery that offers up to 153 miles of driving range. combined with the optional range-extending gasoline used engine , the i3 could potentially approach the range in popular evs like the chevrolet bolt ev (238 miles) and entry-level versions of the tesla model 3 (220 miles) — though it still wouldn't get there on plug-in power alone.
both the standard and sport (i3 "s") version of the updated i3 now have a 42.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which provides a substantial increase in driving range. it's nearly double the battery output of the original i3.
bmw has made continual improvements to the quirky-looking i3 since it first arrived in 2014. when it was brand new, the i3 came with a 22.6-kwh battery with only about 81 miles of driving range. that put the rear-wheel-drive hatchback towards the lower end of the electric vehicle spectrum, below mainstream rivals like the nissan leaf.
when bmw increased the battery to 33 kwh in 2017, the i3's range climbed to a more practical 114 miles between charges. an optional range-extended model included a small two-cylinder gasoline used engine that was paired to the electric powertrain. when battery power was depleted, this used engine would engage and provide about 60 miles of added range — and with its lilliputian 2.3-gallon fuel tank, that was about all you could ask of it.
interestingly, bmw has not released the range figures for the 2019 i3 equipped with the range extender; this model is still awaiting epa certification. past versions extended epa-estimated range by some 60 to 70 net miles by way of 80 new gasoline miles minus 9 to 17 miles of reduced electric range due to the used engine 's extra weight. bmw says it expects range "to be similarly improved," but we'll have to wait and see.
bmw increased the power of the i3's electric motors in 2018 to provide extra performance, though it came at some impact to range for electric-only models. the standard i3 is motivated by a 170-horsepower electric motor that, according to bmw, propels the car from zero-to-60 mph in 7.2 seconds. the peppier i3s rides 20-inch alloys (versus 19-inchers on the standard model) and comes with a 184-hp motor, cutting zero-to-60 times to 6.8 seconds with a top speed of 100 mph. these figures remain similar for the 2019 model year despite the addition of the bigger battery. (range-extended variants, which weigh a few hundred pounds more, are slower.)
other changes include one new exterior color, jucaro beige metallic, along with extra interior colors for the mega world trim level and upgraded leather seating for models in tera world trim. despite the strange naming structure, dinosaurs are not optional in any trim level of the i3 (though perhaps they should be).
full-led headlights are optional on both the standard i3 and the i3s. the latest version of bmw's idrive multimedia system also now comes with the standard onboard navigation; the previous i3 lumped the system in with the optional navigation professional package.
other new tech options include wireless charging for mobile devices and a wi-fi hot spot that can link up to 10 devices. given the i3 has a seating capacity for only four adults, those will be some very well-connected occupants.
bmw has not announced any pricing updates for the 2019 model year i3, or the i3s. the 2018 model year i3 carried a base price of $45,445, including destination charge. the most expensive version, the i3s with range-extender, started at $52,495. both were eligible for a federal tax credit of $7,500 — an amount the 2019 i3's battery credentials should still secure — plus any state or local tax incentives in your area.
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