By on October 4, 2018

An altogether odd BMW model will drop one of its peculiarities for the 2019 model year, the automaker has announced.

The i3 — a short, tall, electric vehicle boasting clamshell doors, ultra-narrow wheels, and an optional eucalyptus parcel shelf dash — will dispense with the range-extended REx variant when the new model arrives. In doing so, the i3 drops the availability of a repurposed 637cc two-cylinder motorcycle engine designed to keep the car moving after its battery taps out.

BMW needed that two-banger to make the stock i3, which debuted with an 81-mile electric driving range, more than just a city car. Later updates brought that range up to 107 miles. Still, even when equipped with the generator, driving range only increased to “up to 180 miles,” according to the automaker. The diminutive powerplant paired with a tiny 2.3 gallon fuel tank.

The i3 went on sale in North America for the 2014 model year.

While the model retains its quirky bodystyle for 2019, battery capacity has increased to the point where BMW feels confident in dropping the gasoline-powered safeguard.

“The Range Extender i3 will cease production and we will only sell the pure-electric version going forward,” the automaker said in a statement. “With the gains in pure-electric range, together with the increasing availability of rapid charging facilities we believe the customer demand is shifting to an pure-electric model.”

Having enlarged the battery to 42.2 kWh, BMW claims drivers should achieve an all-electric driving range of 153 miles. This places the i3 two miles beyond the second-generation Nissan Leaf’s finish line. Power comes in two forms: a 170 horsepower base motor or a 181 hp version found in the sporty i3s model. The latter vehicle completes a 0-60 run in 6.8 seconds.

The timing of the announcement is strange, as BMW announced specs for the new i3 last week. In its U.S. release, the automaker stated, “The 2019 i3 REX model range is expected to be similarly improved, pending EPA certification.”

BMW sold 4,847 i3s in the U.S. in the first nine months of 2018, representing a 4.6 percent increase over the same period last year.

[Image: BMW]

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11 Comments on “Say Goodbye to the Two-cylinder BMW...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The range extender version’s 180-mile range is definitely an improvement over the battery-only version’s 107 miles, but the increase to 153 miles for battery-only makes dropping the range extender version logical. Still, these aren’t exactly flying off the lots.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This supports my recent comment about Mazda’s plan to offer a rotary-powered range extender – that concept is DOA.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2018/10/in-with-the-old-in-with-the-new-mazdas-rotary-return-might-leave-rx-7-rx-8-fans-disappointed/#comment-9622968

    The range of today’s (and tomorrow’s) BEVs pretty much eliminates the value of a having the complexity of a range extender.

  • avatar
    ahintofpepperjack

    Why didn’t they put in a 5-6 gallon fuel tank? It could have had 300 mile range….

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      There was some regulation (either US or Euro) that limited the fuel capacity if BMW wanted to keep the vehicle in the ‘alternative’ fuel class, or some such drivel.

      IIRC, the US cars had their 2.3 gallon tank software-limited to 1.9 gallon draw, and there were hackers who figured out how to extract that last 0.4 gallon.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        Did any of those hackers end up moving out of their parents basement?

      • 0 avatar
        The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

        It’s essentially a California Tax credit of around ~$8500. To qualify for it, a BEV with separate gas engine has to obtain a further distance on batteries only than it does with the ICE-assisted components. To achieve this, BMW gimped the car in North America by removing the hold state of charge mode, allowing the generator to only kick in when the battery hits 5%, and using a flap controlled by SW to limit the tank to 1.9 gallons of fuel vs 2.4. For 150 bucks, you can send your VIN in to a number of shops, and they’ll send you a USB key that you can reflash the ECU with to the Euro spec model, restoring hold state of charge mode and allowing the entire fuel tank size usage.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Good Ridance!
    No power; no range: $5K extra
    Next we need to get the Germans to dump their ity-bitty-battery electrics

  • avatar
    Ce he sin

    Don’t worry.

    BMW will continue to sell twin cylinder models. Twin wheeled ones admittedly.

  • avatar

    Goodbye!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I had the Rex for a couple of days. It’s a fun car. Much better handling than you’d think with those tires that look like they were taken from a Huffy.

    The problem was that I could smell gasoline when the 2 cyl kicked in. Maybe I got a dud to use, but there’s no way I’d consider getting one of these.

    Plus with the space constraints the i3 is for single people only.

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