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BMW i3 REx 'has no future,' automaker says

Battery advances have made the range-extender option obsolete in BMW's eyes.

BMW i3
We're nearing the end of the REx's life.

Electric cars are a tough sell. They were an even tougher sell in the earlier part of this decade, which led to some automakers plopping range extenders inside their machines to ensure there was always a plan B. The BMW i3 REx is one of those models.

Alas, BMW believes its time has nearly come and rang the death bell for the i3 REx at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Green Car Reports reported on Monday that the automaker believes the i3 REx "has no future." Those were the words from Jan Freimann, BMW's manager for connected e-mobility.

In a discussion about battery technology at the auto show, Freimann declared lithium-ion battery technology is advanced enough to leave range-extenders out of electric cars. Although they're still in their infancy overall, electric-car charging networks have grown in recent years to help make it easier to ensure a nearly full charge, too.

The i3 REx has already been discontinued in Europe, but BMW in the past has alluded the range-extending model still serves a purpose in some markets like the US. It's not discontinued here just yet, but the German automaker made it clear there won't be continued investment into the technology or specific model.

The regular BMW i3 is a far more capable machine than it was when it debuted. Today, it comes packed with a 42.2 kWh lithium-ion battery that will serve drivers for an estimated 153 miles of range. When the electric car bowed back in 2014, the battery was half as powerful and provided just 81 miles of range. This made the REx model attractive with a combined rating of 150 miles, thanks to a tiny two-cylinder engine providing extra juice when the driver depleted the battery.

The website reported that BMW affirmed the i3 REx will be around "for the foreseeable future," but don't expect any major improvements from the model. Instead, the i3 should receive another battery update in the short term, though other BMW electric cars will take priority over the company's first EV.

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