BMW i3 in for a battery upgrade as CEO commits to extended production

Breathe easy, i3 faithful, the tiny electric car isn't leaving yet.

This little guy will die another day. But it will still die one day.

The BMW i3 isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Better yet, the automaker has some sort of battery upgrade prepared for its small electric car.

Newly minted BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that rumors of a production end date approaching are unfounded. His comments reaffirm the company's previous position when the Financial Times reported this past September that there will be no successor for the i3. Instead, the automaker says it will carry out production of this current model for several more years. The BMW i8 won't get the same grace and will expire this coming April.

"The car is already an icon today. Which car can claim this after only six years? Icons tick according to a different logic, they don't have a classic successor," Zipse told the newspaper. Again, he seemed to reaffirm the i3 doesn't exactly have a second generation in it, but it will stick around for awhile.

Zipse also told the newspaper there are battery upgrades planned for the electric car, though he didn't dive into specifics. Today, buyers will find a 42.2-kilowatt-hour battery in the car, which provides 155 miles of range. The automaker also sells the i3 REx, which includes a range extender in the form of a two-cylinder gasoline engine. BMW says the range extender will allow the car to travel up 200 miles.

Any battery upgrade may not necessarily mean a larger physical battery. BMW has continued to use the same battery and cells, but the latter are more energy-dense.

Meanwhile, BMW has plenty of new electric vehicles in the pipeline for when the time comes to retire the i3. The company plans to launch 25 electrified BMW models by 2023, and 12 of them are purely electric. The automaker bumped the timeline forward by two years this past June and said it's not rushing any new EVs, but it decided to build more of them. 

The next electric cars include a production version of the iNext flagship SUV concept and the iX3 electric SUV.

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