Is the BMW i3 Range Extender the real future of Low Emission Motoring?

Finally there is a mass market electric car that will roundly beat the range anxiety issues that have erstwhile stopped many from even dipping their toe into the EV market. It is the BMW i3 94Ah Range Extender and on first view, it seems to be the perfect car for the urban-based commuter who should have one but won’t get one.

Last year saw a major upswing in the sales of EV’s and Hybrids across the world as the driving public finally started to get more comfortable with the technology and concept of plugging your car in to give it some more juice. Of course owners are generally attracted to the lower running cost of these vehicles but had otherwise been put off by the higher purchase price and the slow recharge times that would make a long distance trip all but impossible.

Yup, the old problem of range anxiety was putting customers off with the fear of not finding a suitable charging stations every few hundred miles, leaving the driver stranded and in need of a tow, not to mention the hour-long wait just to get an 80% charge into the battery. Of course this is not a problem for the everyday commute, assuming that you can park your ride in a charging bay at either end of your regular journey, but on long trips this would mean zig-zagging around the country and waiting at charging bays.

BMW is trying to answer this concern with the addition of the latest i3 94Ah to its fleet, which will give an improved 33kWh output from the same sized battery and thus boosting claimed battery range from 190 kilometres to 312, which is quite a step up. However, where they start to get a bit funky with it all is the addition of a 650cc petrol engine as well that acts as an on-board power station.

Sourced from one of their motorbikes and mounted in the rear, the two-cylinder engine is not used to power the wheels. It is there simply as a generator that charges up the battery as and when there is insufficient power left in them. With a titchy 9-litre fuel tank, the generator is only capable of squeezing out another 130 kilometres (claimed), but with the batteries as well, this is about 440 kilometres or four hours of highway driving in total. Still not an awful lot but ample for most trips.

Of course you could opt for the super range extender which is also known as a 20-litre jerry can stashed in the boot, but some hemp-trouser-wearing road warriors may think this is cheating.

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