2019 BMW i3 Boasts Bigger Battery, More Range

BMW brings its compact i3 up to date with a larger battery and some cosmetic tweaks.

WILFRIED WULFF—Wilfried Wulff

Year, Make, Model: 2019 BMW i3

Topline: With a new model year of BMW's i3 electric city car come tasteful touch-ups of its appearance and important powertrain improvements.

BMW

What's New: Adaptive LED headlights with matrix high beams that selectively deactivate zones of the high beam based on traffic conditions are now available. A new Carum Grey interior theme and Jucaro Beige metallic paint will be available for the 2019 i3 when it begins to arrive in November. Eventually, wireless charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot will become available as options, though BMW does not state whether these are due later in the 2019 model year or beyond.

Also in the cards is a sports package with lowered, retuned suspension, a wider track, and 20-inch alloy wheels that are hidden beneath widened fenders with black flares. BMW has not yet stated whether this will be considered an M Sport package or not.

A new, larger-than-ever battery pack of 42 kilowatt-hours is now the top option, which BMW says will return 162 miles (260 kilometers) of range on a charge. Independent testing by Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure promises more, up to 193 miles for the i3 and 177 for the i3s. The 42 kWh supersedes the smaller 33 kWh battery of the 2016 update, which in turn replaced the 22 kWh battery with which the i3 launched in 2013.

Peak charge rate is 50 kW, which can fill the 42 kWh battery to 80 percent in 42 minutes, or at just under 3.1 miles of charge per minute. Wall box charging at 11 kW can reach the same charge in 3.2 hours, and while a standard household outlet will also charge the i3, it takes 15 hours to charge up to 80 percent.

BMW

What You Need to Know: Despite the 2019 i3 proving BMW's electric powertrains to be technologically relevant, its still-miniscule battery size limits the model's usability outside of major urban areas or suburbs. It faces little competition in its class, as its only real electric vehicle competitor in the subcompact hatchback market is the downmarket Chevrolet Bolt, though the Chevy makes good use of a larger battery pack to have the i3 beat for range.

Whether the i3 will survive the anticipated introduction of the iX3 electric crossover is uncertain, as the two will be vehicles of similar size and price, but the iX3 will have a body style more attractive to consumers. The Drive contacted BMW for comment, and we will update when we receive a response.

BMW