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During this week's Innovation Day presentation in Munich, BMW's head of electrical components, Dr. Christian Schmidt, revealed that the automaker is considering adding a range extending engine to its future electric vehicles.
BMW has maintained from the beginning that its recently announced "i" program will include a variety of drivetrains, ranging from the current mild hybrid fitted to the 7 Series AcriveHybrid to a full EV in the form of the i3. A plug-in hybrid will be employed on the i8, with an internal combustion engine mounted amidships and two electric motors – one driving the rear wheels and another up front – allowing the i8 to run on electric power alone or use the combination of the ICE and electric motors to boost performance.
However, the possible implementation of an EV fitted with a range-extending motor (à la Chevrolet Volt) would allow drivers to run on electric power alone for short drives, with the range extending engine kicking in to feed the battery for longer drives. Conceivably, the powerplant could even sprout from the new series of three- and four-cylinder turbo engines under development.
Schmidt wouldn't elaborate on what vehicles could benefit from a range extender, but was quick to point out that during the Mini E evaluations, range complaints were minimal. However, each consumer's needs are different and a range extended hybrid is likely to be another cog in BMW's i Mobility plans.