Potential bad news equals good news for the segment.
The BMW i3 has always been sort of an outlier in the industry for many reasons. First of all, it's crazy expensive for what you get. While that's to be expected when we're talking about a Bimmer, many gas-powered BMWs are cheaper and offer lots for your hard-earned money.
BMW has known full well for years that its i3 can't / doesn't offer the range of many competing EVs. So, the automaker offers a small, range-extending gas engine in an attempt to make up the difference.
Sadly, while the i3 only offers 153 miles of electric range — which is a nice upgrade from previous generations — it can only go some 200 miles with the range-extender (REX). Moreover, when you add the REX, the battery-electric range drops to 126 EPA-rated miles due in part to the added weight. In addition, as a reader mentioned, the REX kicks in when the battery drops to a low state of charge (6-7%). So, those final all-electric miles are not easily usable and not counted in the EPA range estimate.
As we've shared in the past, the i3's range-extending engine doesn't deliver much power. In fact, if you run the battery down and have to rely on the REX, you'll be in big trouble if you need to climb a hill, enter the freeway, pass another car, etc.
It seems the German automaker is well aware of all of this since it has now come to the conclusion that the REX is, thankfully, on the way out. Battery expert and BMW’s manager for connected e-mobility Jan Freimann shared at the LA Auto Show:
“It has no future.
The idea behind the range extender really helps people to get over range anxiety“With a range extender you always had the feeling like okay, I’ve got a backup solution.”
He noted that the increase of fast-charging stations makes it so buyers don't need to worry about range anymore. Thus, the REX makes much less sense, so much so that the need is no longer there. Not to mention that as the i3 enters its final life stages, another battery upgrade is in the works.