Wednesday, May 4, 2016

BMW i3 Is Getting An Energy Boost From Larger Battery

The BMW i3 is scheduled to get an upgraded battery and more range soon. The increase is thanks to slow but steady improvements in battery technology. When it was first introduced, the i3 had a 22 kWh battery that could power the car for about 80 miles of driving. The new battery is rated at 33 kWh — a 50% increase — but fits in the same space as the original battery.
BMW i3 in Protonic Blue
BMW says range with the upgraded battery will be 114 miles. In addition, for those who order the REx version of the car with the 2 cylinder, 650 cc range extender engine, the size of the gas tank has been bumped slightly from 1.9 gallons to 2.4 gallons. Range for the REx car was listed as 150 miles total. That suggests the total range for the new car should be somewhere close to 200 miles, although BMW has not released any official figures yet.
The new version of the car will also feature faster charging of the battery. Previously, the 22 kWh battery needed 3.5 hours to recharge using a Level 2 240 volt charger. The new battery needs 4.5 hours, but keep in mind it is has 50% more capacity. If a DC fast charger is used, the new i3 can get to an 80% state of charge in 40 minutes. That is a few minutes longer than the 24 minutes needed in the current version of the car, but still an improvement in charging speed per kWh.
BMW has not said exactly when the i3 with the new battery will be available in the US, but when the time comes, it will offer the car  in the same Protonic Blue featured on the i8, the world’s best selling plug-in hybrid sports car. No one is sure what the word Protonic means, but the color looks awesome.
Even with all this added goodness, the BMW i3 will face increasingly stiff competition from the soon to be introduced Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. Those cars will both list for less than the i3 and have greater range. The larger battery has created speculation about whether current i3 owners could swap in a new battery in place of the original. BMW has not said anything specifically about battery swapping, but it’s a good guess the price would be too high to make swapping worthwhile.

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