BMW Launches New Green Car Brand, Adds Optional Range-Extending ICE to Its Upcoming i8 Megacity EV


Image via BMW

Range anxiety, that fear of going for a lovely country drive in your green electric vehicle, only to get stuck miles from home after the battery gives out, is being eased by BMW. The company is adding an internal combustion range extender to its Megacity EV, a concept car expected on the market in 2013. The addition will double the range of the car from 50 to 100 miles. BMW Adds Optional Range Extender to Its Electric Car
Focus reports, that the additional ICE will be an optional upgrade for customers, which will essential work as a small engine that recharges the battery for long trips.

"A Range Extender is a small internal combustion engine with generator power for the electric drive of the car delivers. This will resolve the main problem with electric cars: the short range. Around 100 km all-electric cars can travel at full battery today, then be recharged. That would probably the way to work and back, but not for spontaneous trips. The Range Extender increases the reach of a few hundred kilometers. BMW board Eichiner said of the planned vehicle 'will go on holiday to get so comfortable. It will thus be a vehicle for urban areas with extremely low operating costs.'"

The New York Times reported back in July, "Battery technology has "reached the point where it really makes sense to drive electric," said Ulrich Kranz, director of the project's team, who previously led the BMW team that revived the Mini brand in 2001. BMW has crash-tested prototypes of the chassis and frame of the electric car, and this month it will break ground on a factory in Moses Lake, Wash., to produce carbon fiber for a lightweight passenger compartment. Auto industry specialists said they were encouraged by the developments."

Of course, battery technology may be developed enough for electric cars to be an option for drivers, but our electricity infrastructure isn't quite advanced enough yet for electric car charging to be an option for just anyone with a garage and an outlet. The new EV is due out in 2013, and we'll need to see some better grid solutions for being able to charge a car at work or at home if the car is to make a big splash on the market.


Image by BMW, via Wired
BMW Launches New Green Car Brand

While it might take a few years, we'll get there, especially when we read this in the NYT:

"The departure from fossil fuels is an irreversible trend," said Kai Petrick, a BMW marketing and product strategist.

And Wired reported yesterday, "BMW announced the "i" -- yep, just like Apple -- brand today, promising to deliver an electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid by 2013 while also branching out into "mobility services." The company promised to offer a "seamless network" of services, including intelligent navigation, vehicle connectivity and even parking solutions."

The i3 and the i8 (shown above, previously called the Megacity Vehicle) will be under this new i brand. And as far as services go, BMW is already on the move.

The company's i Venture venture capital division is fueled by $100 million to start, and is on the look out for better EV technology. It has already invested in New York-based My City Way, a smartphone app that provides information on transit, parking availability and entertainment in over 40 cities. Perhaps the app will soon provide details on parking spots with plug-in charging...

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Tags: Concepts & Prototypes | Electronics | Transportation

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