Brain Teaser: The BMW i3 Electric Car Will Have an Optional Gas-Powered Motorcycle Engine in It

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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