Oliver Zipse had made it clear in October that BMW is planning something new with the i3 electric car until further notice. Now there’s also a hint for how long – and clearly beyond the premieres of the iNext and i4.
“We will continue to build the i3 until 2024,” a BMW spokesman is quoted by local newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung. But not in the current version with the 42.2 kWh battery. Due to the extended production period, the i3 should receive another update of the battery and the operating concept. The speaker did not mention a start date for the model maintenance.
For the investment in a further update to pay off, a start at the end of 2020 or 2021 seems probable. Then the i3 would be manufactured in the final drive configuration for just under three years. This would mean that the i3 would be available for eleven years, with the usual seven years.
BMW launched the i3 in 2013 as a pure electric car with 125 kW output and in a version with a range extender. The gross capacity of the battery at that time was only 22 kWh, the NEDC range 190 kilometres. In 2016, the first battery update to 33.2 kWh gross took place, and the NEDC range rose to 312 kilometres. This was followed in 2017 by the 10 kW more powerful i3s (range: 280 km). Since November 2018, the current version with a gross energy content of 42.2 kWh has been sold; the range now specified according to WLTP is between 285 and 310 kilometres – with this update, the sale of the Range Extender in Europe was also discontinued.
However, there will not be a successor after the end of 2024. That BMW does not plan a direct successor, leaked in September. At that time, however, it sounded like a much shorter-term end to production, which is why BMW boss Oliver Zipse contradicted the rumours in October, describing the car as an icon. Over the years, the sales figures of the i3 have risen steadily with the increasing range and better distribution of charging stations. Around 180,000 units of the compact electric car have been built in Leipzig since the start of production in 2013.
BMW has thus sold almost 200,000 i-series vehicles, as the 20,000th i8 was produced in Leipzig this week. The anniversary vehicle is a roadster of the Ultimate Sophisto Edition, limited to 200 units. However, many will not be added; the production of the i8 will end in April 2020. Rumour has it that a new i8 will be launched in 2022 – so there is a threat of a production break of almost two years. This will continue to be a plug-in hybrid, but with more powerful engines.
From 2021, the iNext in Dingolfing will be added as a further electric car, followed later by the series version of the i4. The iX3 is first built in China.
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