A BMW official has confirmed that the range-extender engine to be offered as an option on the battery-powered i3 supermini will be a two-cylinder gasoline unit sourced from the brand's motorcycle division and not the upcoming, larger displacement 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engine developed for the Bavarian group's automobiles.
Speaking to Autonews during last week's Detroit Motor Show, Herbert Diess, BMW's head of Research and Development, said that the range-extender engine option will be offered when the new i3 goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2013, but he avoided to say how much it will cost.
The regular i3 combines an electric motor producing 168hp (170PS / 125kW) and a constant peak torque 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) with a lithium-ion battery package, said to offer a cruising range between 60 to 90 miles to 160km (97 to 145 kilometers) on the production model.
When opted with the two-cylinder engine which acts like a generator charging the batteries on the go, the driving range is expected to be boosted to around 250 miles (~400 kilometers) on a single tank of gasoline, according to Diess. The motorcycle engine will be mounted in the trunk and will not transmit mechanical power directly to the wheels.
Diess said that BMW expects more than 50 percent of early buyers to opt for the range-extender, with that number to stabilize to about 20 percent later on.
"I imagine many buyers will order the range extender to cure their range anxiety, discovering later they need it very seldom," he told Autonews. "For those who plan a daily use of the range extender, probably the i3 is not the right choice, with a plug-in hybrid model being a better suitable solution."
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