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BMW's i3 electric car is getting a bigger battery, 114-mile range

BMW's i3 electric car is getting a bigger battery, 114-mile range

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BMW's i3 electric car will have a little more juice for 2017, gaining a bigger battery to boost its electric range from 80 to 114 miles. It's all thanks to a 50 percent increase in battery capacity. Thanks to denser lithium ion batteries, the i3 goes from 22 kWh to 33 kWh without physically increasing the size of the battery pack.

The fuel tank on the Range Extender model, which uses a 650cc two-cylinder gasoline engine to charge the battery on longer journeys, also sees a small increase in capacity, going from 1.9 to 2.4 gallons. Somewhat oddly, BMW isn't yet releasing the total range of a fully charged 2017 i3 with the Range Extender. The old i3 could go 150 miles with a full charge and full tank.

Support for faster charging allows a full charge in 4.5 hours at a Level 2 charger. That's up from 3.5 hours in the old model, but, with the 50 percent increase in battery capacity, it's still faster on a per kWh basis. 50kW DC fast charging tech lets the new i3 charge to 80 percent of capacity within 40 minutes, up from 25 minutes in the old version.

Perhaps the best news of all is that the i3 will now be available (in the US) in the fantastic Protonic Blue metallic available on the stunningly gorgeous BMW i8. But as beautiful as the i3 is, it will face some tough competition later this year when the Chevy Bolt goes on sale with a 200-mile electric range (though without the gasoline-powered Range Extender), and then the Tesla Model 3 in late 2017.