Faltering BMW I3 Gets Bigger Battery, Better Range for 2019

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
faltering bmw i3 gets bigger battery better range for 2019

Originally dubbed the “Mega City Vehicle,” BMW’s i3 garnered a lot of positive attention for its modern styling and adherence to alternative-energy powertrains when it launched in 2014. This did not translate into sales, however. As its former name implies, the i3 isn’t incredibly useful outside of an urban environment due to its meager range. Customers seem to have noticed. Despite moving 11,024 units in the United States in 2015, BMW looks to be on pace for half that volume this year.

For 2019, the automaker is offering the little EV with a new 42.2-kWh battery, which Bimmer says is good enough for 153 miles of all-electric driving. That’s a significant improvement over the the current 33-kWh model’s 115 miles of electric range and an absolute triumph over the i3’s initial 60 Ah (roughly 18.8 kWh) cell, which was only good for about 80 miles.

BMW intends to offer the new power source on both the standard i3 and it’s “sporty” variant, which comes with additional black cladding and a faster 0-to-60 time. The standard model will continue using a 170-horsepower electric motor that’s capable of 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds, while the i3s stays with its 181 hp mill and a 6.8-second time.

The slower-accelerating models that use range-extending gasoline engines should also be available for 2019, however, BMW did not say what improvements they might bring. We’d anticipate similar benefits to the pure-electric models: an estimated 30-percent addition to the maximum range. That should be sufficient to take the current i3, with a range extender, from 180 miles to well beyond 200.

While the bigger battery is the real star of the show, BMW also added a few visual enhancements that might help the new models stand out on the road. The automaker is offering a new color option, Jucaro Beige metallic with accentuations in Frozen Grey, while maintaining all previous paint hues.

New LED headlights with cornering lights and automatic high beams are also newly available, while the brand’s iDrive 6.0 infotainment system now comes on every vehicle equipped with navigation. BMW is also including Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity for up to ten devices and wireless phone charging.

Assembly of the of the 2019 BMW i3 commences in November. However, the automaker has yet to release an official launch date. Expect an announcement on that and pricing within the next month.

[Images: BMW]

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2 of 28 comments
  • George B George B on Sep 29, 2018

    Matt, you repeat a couple of points about electric vehicles that make no logical sense to me. First, you assert that the BMW i3 is primarily a city vehicle, but I can't even imagine a customer buying an EV if they don't have a house with a garage where they can charge it. They probably have to own a house with a garage if they want to install a 240V electrical connection for fairly rapid charging. No practical way to own an EV if you park in shared parking. Second, I can't imagine that range >100 miles but

  • W210Driver W210Driver on Sep 29, 2018

    An argument can be made that most i3 buyers are well off and probably also own a convetional car (or a Tesla) for extended driving. The i3 is their grocery-getter/city car; big enough for a week of groceries and small enough for ease of parking. For such a scenario the range is more than sufficient. If only it looked sharper.

  • Analoggrotto Another victory for Kia Telluride.
  • Oberkanone To V or not to V. If you going to own a Cadillac then you must V.
  • Oberkanone First production Hurricane Six came off the line November 2021 as reported multiple media outlets. Standard output over 400HP and HO over 500HP. So why is this engine not already available in pickups and SUV's?
  • FreedMike Would have been nice had the news organization that posted the original story had gotten some comment from the police.
  • Ajla This isn't especially surprising considering that the Hurricane is the replacement for the current generation v8. It's not like Stellantis was working on a secret new V8 somewhere.However I think the real test for the I6 is how it stacks up to GM's next gen engines, not how it compares to an engine family introduced in 2003 and last revised in 2015.Personally I think if they were sticking with ICE for awhile they should have made a new V8 family. There's no law saying you can't apply more modern technology to that configuration.