WOODCLIFF LAKE, New Jersey — The 2017 BMW i3 will come in a new version, called BMW i3 (94 Ah), with a more powerful battery and longer range.
Pricing and on-sale date at U.S. BMW dealerships have not been announced.
The new i3 (94 Ah) is so named for its 94 ampere-hour battery, which has a capacity of 33 kilowatt-hours. The standard i3 (60 Ah) is equipped with a 60 ampere-hour battery with a capacity of 22 kWh.
BMW and battery partner Samsung SDI were able to boost capacity by increasing the energy density of the lithium-ion cells, without increasing the physical dimensions of the battery.
The i3 (94 Ah) comes as a pure battery electric model or as a range-extended model, with a 38-horsepower 650 cc two-cylinder gasoline engine that acts as a generator to keep electricity flowing to the battery.
BMW estimates a combined city/highway range between charges of 114 miles for the pure battery version of the i3 (94 Ah). It did not provide an estimate of range for the hybrid gasoline-electric version, which has a 2.4-gallon fuel tank that is 25 percent larger.
Final EPA figures have not been released.
The i3 (94 Ah) has an electric motor developed by BMW that produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It delivers power to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. The pure battery electric version accelerates from zero to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds; the hybrid range-extended version takes 8 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 93 mph.
In comparison, the 2016 Nissan Leaf, which is on sale now, offers a choice of 24 kWh or 30 kWh batteries, depending on trim level. The electric motor makes 107 hp and 187 lb-ft of torque. The Leaf has an EPA-estimated range of 84 to 107 miles between charges.
Due out late this year, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has a lithium-ion battery pack with a range of more than 200 miles and an electric motor that makes 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, with zero to 60 acceleration in under 7 seconds and a top speed of 91 mph. The Bolt's battery, developed with LG Electronics, has nearly twice the capacity — 60 kWh — of the new BMW battery.
Another prospective competitor, the 2018 Tesla Model 3, is still more than a year and a half away from production. Tesla has released few specs on the Model 3, other than to say its standard battery will be less than 60 kWh and its range at least 215 miles.
BMW said the i3's new 94 Ah battery takes about 4.5 hours using a Level 2 charger, compared with 3.5 hours for the 60 Ah battery. The 94 Ah battery can be charged to 80 percent capacity in under 40 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for the 60 Ah battery.
Late this year, BMW also will begin selling a new residential charging station called Home Charger Connect that will enable faster charges than from a standard AC household outlet.
The 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) will be available in the exclusive Protonic Blue metallic exterior color. A power moonroof is now optional for the first time in the U.S.
Standard equipment on the 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) includes automatic climate control, LED headlights and a leather steering wheel.
Edmunds says: The revised specs look impressive on the improved version of the BMW i3 — at least until the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt arrives late this year.