BMW i3 94AH: bigger battery, better car

BMW has launched an improved battery for the i3 electric car. This new unit now offers 94 ampere hours compared to the outgoing 60 ampere hour model. This translates to a significantly increased range – 195 miles compared to 81 for the outgoing model.

The new battery pack fills the same space as the outgoing one but, thanks to changes to its internal structure and being built from more advanced materials, it’s noticeably more energy dense. In addition, the battery has been designed to last for the car’s 100,000-mile service life – something that will become more concerning as more electric cars are built.

The same boost in range is applied to the i3 Range Extender. This model uses a 38hp petrol generator – derived from a BMW motorbike engine – to add around 81 miles of range once the battery is exhausted. This means the total range with the added petrol engine is a Tesla-worrying claimed 276 miles.

The i3’s other strengths still remain and are as compelling as ever. The powerful 170hp electric motor catapults the little BMW to 62mph from rest in just 7.3 seconds or 8.1 for the Range Extender – comfortably into hot hatch territory. All of this is also achieved in the near silence afforded by the electric motor, helping refinement when you’re not testing the potent acceleration.

Despite the increased battery capacity, charging times haven’t been affected. In optimum conditions, the i3 can be fully charged in less than three hours. As before, buyers get a choice of a normal three-pin plug supply or the recommended optional BMW i Wallbox that, when fitted to your garage, boosts the charging output significantly.

The new model will go on sale in July 2016 costing from £27,830 after the £4,500 Government grant is applied. Models with the new battery also get a new ‘Atelier’ interior pack with new seat cloths and the option of a new blue paint finish borrowed fmor the i8 supercar.

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