BMW Quietly Confirms Longer-Range i3 Electric Car Set To Debut in UK This July, With £1,350 Price Increase On Existing Model

For some time now, we’ve heard some pretty consistent rumors suggesting a longer-range BMW i3 was in the works, replacing the current 22 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack found in both the BMW i3 EV and BMW i3 range-extended EV with a more energy-dense, next-generation pack capable of dramatically improving range and efficiency. Confirmed multiple times in different interviews with BMW executives, the longer-range BMW i3 was promised to arrive by the end of summer, pushing the BMW i3 over the 100-mile range barrier for the first time.

Today, via a mass mailer sent to existing BMW i3 owners in the UK, we can confirm these rumors to be true.

The BMW i3 will get a range increase this summer of up to 125 miles per charge.

The BMW i3 will get a range increase this summer of up to 122 miles per charge.

Enter UK BMW i3 owner Shaun Wooten, who shared with the BMW i3 Facebook group earlier this morning that he had received a mail shot advertising the arrival of BMW’s refreshed 2016 i3 electric car, complete with a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery that BMW claims could deliver “up to 50% more range.” Following his posting on Facebook, other UK BMW i3 owners confirmed that they too had received a mailing from BMW about the new model, discovering at the same time that there appears to be two similar but not identical versions of the mailer being sent out. Sadly, we’ve been unable to fathom out why — although we suspect it has something to do with lease versus hire-purchase customers.

We're guessing a similar announcement is due in the U.S., too.

We’re guessing a similar announcement is due in the U.S., too.

Designed to encourage existing BMW i3 customers to ring their local BMW dealer rather than give all the information in one go, the mailers say that the new BMW i3 will have “Up To 50% More Range” than existing models, and informs interested customers that they will be able to benefit from the new BMW i3 with higher-capacity lithium-ion battery pack from July.

As for that extra range? BMW includes a disclaimer on the bottom of both mailers, remaining customers that its 50% more range claim is based on “provisional data and may be subject to change.” In addition to giving BMW the necessary legal protection against pre-rating range claims, it means that we’ll have to wait for official EPA or NEDC fuel economy figures to see just exactly what we can expect from the new battery pack.

That doesn’t stop us from guessing though. If BMW’s claim is right, we should be looking at a range of 121.5 miles on the EPA test cycle for the BMW i3 EV, and 108 miles on the EPA test cycle for the BMW i3 REx. In the real world however, we’re guessing both figures could be a few miles less, aggressively placing the BMW i3 ahead of the 30 kWh Nissan LEAF.

What it won’t do however, is make the BMW i3 compete against the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is due to launch a few months after the 2016 BMW i3 offering 200+ miles of claimed range from $37,500 before incentives.

Although the original BMW sales mailers contained very little information, a BMW salesperson from Oxford stepped into the thread too, adding a little context to the refresh which gives us an idea about pricing.

This particular color won't be available any more though

This particular color won’t be available any more though

“The car will cost £1,350 more than the existing car and include DC rapid charging as standard,” salesperson Steve Holmes explained. “The new battery will be in both BEV and REX models.

“The car itself will be in effect the same car visually and the main difference will be that Solar Orange will no longer be available and a new colour Protonic Blue will be available,” he continued. “The official announcement will be on the 2nd May, but the original existing BMW i3 customers that were early adopters of the new technology have been informed first.”

As for existing owners looking to upgrade to a new, more energy-dense pack? That’s unlikely to happen. As Holmes explained, retrofitting the new, larger-capacity pack into an older BMW i3 would — just like the larger-capacity battery pack for the Nissan LEAF — require a whole lot of modifications and a whole lot of new parts. Doing so, he suggested was possible but would cost “close to £10,000” in parts and labor, making the whole process far from economical.

While BMW has not officially confirmed the planned launch of the longer-range BMW i3, we’re hoping to hear more on May 2nd. And as always, when we have more information, we’ll share it with you here.


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  • Chris O

    Considering that i3’s relatively limited range boost doesn’t go a long way in making it competitive with the upcoming 200 mile cars I think a price decrease rather than increase is in order.

    • Michael Thwaite

      That’s not unfair! Though, the price increase will, at least, help used values a little.

      • Chris O

        I’m not optimistic about i3 residual values as used i3s will have to compete with new Model 3s that have far better spec and start at $35K. In fact I think to pay the reported average $48K sales price for i3 at this point, and even substantially more for the upgraded model is tantamount on financial suicide, I would recommend leasing cars like that which the disruptive force that is Tesla will soon render obsolete.

    • vdiv

      The best range extender is the DC fast charging network, without it no range will be enough. There has been a tremendous growth of the CCS network thanks to BMW/VW coming to their senses (others not so much, hopefully not just yet)

      Also let’s keep in mind that the i3 concept was called the Megacity car, though Pam and her sidekick have disagreed with that stereotype taking theirs on trips through the countryside.

      • Chris O

        I think BMW needs to prepare for the Model 3 age. People already pay on average $48K for i3 (according to Edmunds) which is $6K more than the average price Tesla expects for Model 3. The number of people who will pay a premium like that for a smaller, less attractive car with far less range and no access to systematically rolled out quickcharge support like the Supercharger network is bound to be negligible.

        One would have to be mad frankly.

        • vdiv

          Or not like Tesla, gasp! 🙂

        • Michael Thwaite

          I like that “the Model 3 age”

  • Daniel Lynch

    I have an i3 and whilst a bit more range would be nice I use mine to get to work and back (30 miles per day). That’s what they are meant for. I don’t see me rushing out to get a new one. Range is not the problem 99% of the time – a 100% reliable charging network is the problem!!! I don’t go on long journeys in my i3 because to depend on a single CCS charger at a destination being free is not work risking. Just take the petrol car and avoid the hassle.

    • Michael Thwaite

      I hate to say fall back on the petrol car but how about “fall back on the car with the available charging infrastructure.” It just happens to be gasoline unless you drive a Tesla.

  • Stephen Noctor

    120 miles of EPA range would be great. Having driven an EV with an EPA rated range of 113 miles for 3 years I’d say that’s going to take care of the vast majority of every day needs, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a region with a well built CCS network life is going to be good. On top of that, experienced EV drivers will probably get much much more than 120