The range extending two-cylinder motorcycle-based engine planned for BMW’s pending i3 will be built by Kymco in Taiwan.
Kymco is an existing BMW motorcycle division supplier with main operations in Taiwan, three factories in China and one in Indonesia. In 2008 it was chosen to assemble BMW’s G450X Enduro motorcycle engines and now it will apparently supply its electrified new car.
Prices for the range extender and its specifications were not given by the publication just-auto.com which reported the story yesterday after speaking with BMW sales and marketing head, Ian Robertson.
What is divulged is a small fuel tank will be used. On electric power alone, the i3 may have around 75-93 miles (120-150 km) on EV power and this could be stretched to 217 miles (350 km) with the small petrol range extender.
As previously reported, the thinking is this is a “range extender” in a stricter sense than found in the Chevy Volt, which in fact has dual power sources, and can run indefinitely on gasoline generator power alone, without ever needing to plug into electricity.
BMW’s range extender is more akin to a true backup, like a spare gas can, or even, if you’ll pardon the analogy, training wheels. Tests with prototype Minis and 1-Series have shown the range extender is only there to build confidence in budding EV drivers learning new habits.
Once they get a feel for their actual range, and learn not to run the batteries out, they do not need the gas backup so much, and learn to plug in as needed. Reports have that it existing EV test drivers are so in the groove already, they do not even plug in every night between daily commutes meaning their EVs have sufficient range for the limited duties they are called to do.
Robertson echoed previous BMW statements that early i3 sales will see more range-extended versions chosen, but this will taper off as the car becomes familiar in the marketplace. Fewer people will want the range extender in time, it is believed.
Kymco started life as a part of Honda, but went on in 1963 to become an independent motorcycle part supplier to Honda, and in 1970 it began designing and building its own range of scooters.