Car giants like Volkswagen, Maserati and even Toyota have recently signaled shifts in their strategy toward a more electric future: But BMW has already been there for years with its i3 electric vehicle. Despite this, its EVs have generated little to no buzz, something that could change drastically after BMW announced this week that its i3, slated for 2017, is getting a big makeover and range increase of up to 50%.
BMW earlier this year released a battery pack upgrade to the i3 EV, at 33 kWh, but the announcement was overshadowed by more dramatic upgrades to mid-range electric cars done by Ford, with its Focus Electric, and VW, with its e-Golf, according to Electrek. An all-new design, however, is likely to make bigger waves in the EV industry.
Welt am Sonntag, a German publication, broke the news of the design refresh and confirmed that both the rear and front ends would receive a makeover. But according to Tech Times, no preview or specific details of the redesigned BMW i3 was given.
In terms of range, the current BMW i3 on a full charge can go up to 114 miles, or 180 miles with a "Range Extender." Even with the upgrade, however, Electrek reported that other EVS such as the Tesla Model 3, Nissan LEAF and Chevy Bolt EV would still exceed the BMW i3's range, as they can go over 200 miles. The selling point of the i3, however, is that it can be bought at more than half the price of a Tesla EV.
Either way, an electric renaissance may still be awaiting the German company, as it recently approved a battery-powered mini and SUV X3 for production. Its head of Research & Development, Klaus Fröhlich, also confirmed to German media that it was putting more effort into self-driving cars, having partnered earlier in 2016 with Intel and Mobileye for this purpose.