BMW has announced that the i3 and i3s are going to be getting bigger 120 Ah batteries, giving both vehicles a range of up 162 miles "in everyday use". That's a huge step up from the mediocre 114 miles promised by the current version.
It's still not enough to put BMW at the top table — Tesla and Chevy have already managed to eke over 200 miles out of their cars — but it places the i3 ahead of the 2019 Nissan Leaf with its 150-mile range. It's probably just about enough to keep the i3 a realistic option for anybody in the market for an electric car.
Not like BMW had much choice, though; the company may proudly boast that the i3 is "the world's best-selling electrically powered vehicle in the premium compact segment", but that's a pretty specific segment with little in the way of competition. Given how small the EV market still is, many electric-vehicle–buyers are more interested in the electric/non-electric divide than in conventional market segmentation, and can reasonably be expected to consider the whole (not exactly expansive) electric landscape before making a purchase. In that segment, the comparatively meager battery of the i3 was holding it back from taking the fight to its competitors.
Whether the quoted 162-mile range will carry over to the spec sheet in the showroom isn't quite so clear. The numbers are based on BMW's own measurements, and while the new Hyundai Kona Electric ended up with an official range even further than the company had claimed, the EPA could still go either way with the i3 and i3s.
In case improved battery technology isn't exciting enough for you, the i3 and i3s will both be made available in Jucaro Beige. A slew of new options, including adaptive LED headlights, an improved navigation system, greater connectivity options and a new sports package for the i3 (not to be confused with the i3s, i.e. the i3 with added sportiness) should also help liven up the range.
BMW claims the new changes will start rolling out in November, so if you're currently in the market for an i3, it might be worth holding out for a few weeks. Even if just for that more competitive battery.