Ian Robertson, BMW's boss for sales and marketing, told AN the upgrade to the i3 "puts it into a much more usable range." The company has more tweaks in store for the 2017 model but doesn't want to discuss details about them yet.
Rumors late last year hinted that the extra range for the i3 would come thanks to a higher-density battery, improved electronics, and new software. The changes could push range to over 124 miles on the European testing cycle. BMW would also offer the improvements on the i3 REx range-extended model, and the company would even allegedly allow current owners to purchase the upgrades. The German automaker wants to offer these updates every three years to keep the EV fresh.
If BMW can achieve 120 miles of range, then the electric i3's driving distance would come significantly closer to the current REx's EPA-estimated 150 miles. Of course, the range-extended model can always be topped up with a tank of gas to keep its wheels spinning further. The i3's rumored boost would also still put it short of the roughly 200 miles that Chevrolet promises from the Bolt when that model arrives late this year. In any case, it's an exciting time for proponents of electric cars.