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Trevor Collett | May 4, 2016

BMW will soon add a new model to its i3 electric car range in overseas markets, but the new car will become the '2017 i3’ for Australia.

The name ‘i3 (94 Ah)’ - complete with brackets - will adorn the new i3, reflecting its increased battery power which also brings an improved range.

To crunch the numbers, the 94 Ah steps up from the current range of 60 Ah models, increasing the output of the battery pack from 22kWh to 33kWh.

BMW has achieved this by packing more energy into the new battery pack without increasing its size, but weight has increased (now 1245kg) as a result of the changes.

The 94 Ah increases the maximum range of the all-electric i3 from 190km to 300km, but BMW says around 200km is the realistic figure that owners can expect while running lights, heating or air conditioning and other electronic devices in normal day-to-day driving.

Power from the electric motor is rated at 125kW/250Nm, and the all-electric i3 can reach 100km/h from rest in 7.3 seconds. Top speed for the all-electric i3 is limited to 150km for “efficiency reasons”.

In overseas markets, the 94 Ah is a new addition to the i3 range but for Australian customers, the 94 Ah will eventually replace the current 60 Ah as the 2017 BMW i3; arriving late this year or early next year.

The range-extended i3 will continue in the line-up, powered as before by a 28kW twin-cylinder petrol engine which increases driving range by around 150km from a nine-litre fuel tank. Fuel consumption is rated at 0.6 l/100km.

The i3 ‘REx’ adds 120kg over the i3 94 Ah, and the 0-100km/h time increases to 8.1 seconds.

BMW is also adding new equipment to its i accessories range, with the most pertinent of these being a more powerful home charging station. Despite the denser battery pack, the 94 Ah can be charged in under three hours with the new charging unit.

Fast DC charging can also be used where available, which replenishes the 94 Ah’s battery pack to around 80 percent in under 40 minutes (up from 25 minutes in the 60 Ah).

Customers in overseas markets can choose to upgrade their current i3 to the new 94 Ah spec, but the logistics prohibit the option from being offered in Australia. Further enhancing the i program’s green credentials is a recycling program which sees exchanged battery packs overseas used as “stationary storage battery modules”.

Other changes include the addition of Protonic Blue metallic to the list of available paint finishes (pictured - as featured on the BMW i8).

BMW Australia has also confirmed that the loan car program for i3 owners has been discontinued.

As most i3 owners also own another BMW with an internal combustion engine, very few were interested in the program. Individual dealers may continue to offer loan cars to i3 owners if they choose.

The 2017 BMW i3 arrives in Australia later this year, with pricing yet to be determined.

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