Electric vehicles are finding a bit more traction in the four-wheeled world than in the two-wheeled market (see what I did there?), and as such we are starting to see more plug-in electric cars from established OEMs hitting the streets already or within a model year or two of being ready for public consumption.

One of the largest global OEMs, BMW is not keen to miss out on the next movement in people-moving, and thus  has been teasing its BMW i3 project for some time now. A plug-in electric with roughly a 100 mile range, BMW’s tests with the Mini E project show that most automobile drivers travel less than 100 miles in a day, but still a significant number of would-be buyers are put off by the low-range figures and daunting uncertainty about charging.

Following in the footpaths of cars like the Chevy Volt, the BMW has announced that the i3 will have an optional gas engine in it as well, serving as an electric generator to recharge the BMW i3’s battery pack. With BMW tipping that the engine will “come from the BMW family” and be in the 600cc range, we don’t have to rack our brains long to realize that BMW will be cross-polinating its electric car program with a motorcycle engine from BMW Motorrad.

Said to be a two-cylinder engine with SULEV properties, the prime suspect for the i3’s motorcycle transplant is sadly not the S1000RR, but instead the 647cc parallel twin of the C-series scooter. Revising the motor for automobile use, the engine will be fitted with an auto-stop feature, and be configured to run as undetectable as possible. Aside from ailing the fears of range-anxious buyers, the range-extender (REx) package will nearly double the BMW i3’s range, with an approximate 190 mile figure.

Already fitted with a compact 168hp / 184 lbs•ft electric motor, the BMW i3 boasts a 7.9 second 0-62 mph time, and tops out a 93 mph. Able to be recharged in to full in six hours (with a special high-speed charger, the BMW i3 recharges to 80% in one hour), the BMW i3 is more of a around-town vehicle, though as the charging infrastructure changes, longer trips could be made effortlessly with some careful recharge-point planning. Price? Roughly $35,000 base…or one BMW S1000RR superbike and one BMW HP4 überbike.






BMW C650 Engine:

BMW i3 Concept:

Source: Car and Driver & BMW Motorcycle Magazine; Photos: BMW

  • MikeD

    Way better than any pure electric vehicle, although a diesel engine would make more sense on this application…it would give it more needed range (never a bad thing on any EV of late, LMAO).

    Maybe the diesel is a bit too noisy for this application ? Perhaps even not “clean” enough for the USA market ? Is a fact the USA DOES NOT FAVOR Diesel cars…no matter how clean they have become.

    IMO, i think this is the way to go until batts can be recharged as fast as pouring gas and give the same range…on cars anyway.

  • Mike, I think the gas vs. diesel debate likely came down to how long BMW foresees EVs needing on-board generators to ease consumers. BMW doesn’t have a small diesel engine at the ready, so they’d have to design one and build an assembly line for it, for how many years of use?

    From what they’ve seen in the Mini E project, I bet BMW is counting on EVs needing generators for only the next few years. It’s already only an option, and as the range anxiety wears down, fewer and fewer buyers will want it. Diesel might be marginally better in this application, but it’s not cheaper to implement for BMW.

  • MikeD


    Fair enough. Specially since diesels are more $$$ wichever way you look at it…from planning to regular periodic maintenance.

    P.S: What a shame, after taking the time to write my comment for the GP13 Specs article i found it was closed…i know some of the guys got a bit too serious in it but closing it was a bit overboard. Maybe ?

  • TRL

    Love the rear glass. Finally a manufacturer that understands that some of us don’t want to feel like we are riding in a tank, we actually like to look out the window to see the world around us and maybe the occasional motorcycle in our blind spot… extra bonus more glass in the back makes rear passengers more comfortable even though the space is small.

    @MikeD, yer right, we’ve made a mess of diesels. I’ve got a urea pumping one now and I love the torque but the math says that between the urea, DPF, and every other damn device hanging off it along with the maintenance of all of the aforementioned, the next one will be gas. Too bad, in Europe where the emissions are arguably stricter but with a slightly different focus, the same engine gets 15-20% better mileage.

  • Shawn

    When I read the headline I was hoping for the K1600’s inline 6. That engine could make a nice little i3 without the electric motors though, so it was really only wishful thinking to use it in a city hybrid.

  • MikeD


    Indeed, diesels have gone from simple reliable workhorses to uber complicated powerplants, even heavy truck builders and it’s engine suppliers are having a tough time with all ever increasing emission requirements. A darn shame.
    I like my air clean as much as the next guy but some of those emission laws are just not realistic.

    @Shawn: HEY…that’s a great idea but maybe a bit MUCH to power this thing.

  • MikeD


    TRL, good observation. The lower belt line at the rear windows is a welcomed trend bucking change.

  • Alex

    “Aside from ailing the fears of range-anxious buyers”

    Shouldn’t that be “allaying the fears?”