The i3 range extender may be going away, but not in the U.S. market.
Just a week ago, BMW revealed the updated 2019 i3, which now boasts a larger battery and a longer electric range. The i3, thanks to its new 42.2 kWh battery pack, can now go 153 miles on a charge. This is a nice improvement over the previous model's 115-mile range and enough to justify killing off one of the i3's variants (at least in some markets).
Autocar reported that the i3 will no longer be sold as a range extender model. The i3 range extender houses a 650 cc engine to provide additional range. BMW didn't provide any range estimates for a new range extender model when it revealed the 2019 i3 and now we may be getting a clearer picture of why.
Interestingly, BMW has reached out us, saying that this news was market specific and that the i3 range extender will continue to be sold in the U.S. market. So if you live in the U.S. you will still be able to buy an i3 with the gasoline range extender. Unfortunately, there is still no official word on what the range will be.
BMW initially said the range extender model would benefit from the same 30% range increase as the regular i3, putting it around the 225-mile range mark. Unfortunately, BMW says the added range of the 2019 model was enough to justify getting rid of the range extender, at least for certain markets. For reference, the 2018 range extender model had a combined range of 180 miles.
BMW issued a statement saying: “The Range Extender i3 will cease production and we will only sell the pure-electric version going forward. With the gains in pure-electric range, together with the increasing availability of rapid charging facilities, we believe the customer demand is shifting to a pure-electric model.” As we stated earlier, this statement only applies to certain markets.
BMW then issued a second statement saying: "In 2015 we saw a worldwide share of REX versions of the BMW i3 of 61%. Since the battery update in mid-2016, the share has dropped significantly to date, with the current level at less than 40%. In Europe, we started with a REX share of 50% in 2015 and now we are at just 25%. For this reason, we have decided to not to offer REX in countries where the demand is low. The REX remains available in countries like the US and Japan."
Even without the range extender, buyers will still be able to choose from the standard i3 with a 170 horsepower electric motor or the i3S with 180 hp. This is an interesting move for BMW considering the range extender made up over 60% of i3 sales. We like the idea of the range extender because it eliminates range anxiety as long as you have gas in the tank - unfortunately, some markets will no longer be able to buy it.