Has BMW, the maker of the ultimate (electric) driving machines decided to follow Chevrolet’s example?
Word from Munich today is that BMW’s head of electrical components, Dr. Christian Schmidt, said it is weighing the possibility of a range-extended engine to pair to electric vehicles.
For some time now BMW has said it would consider an array of gas-plus-electric possibilities. Its fully electric i3 prototype is on one extreme, and its mildly e-boosted 7 Series ActiveHybrid is on the other.
BMW’s pending i8 (pictured) is in the middle and closer to a range-extended car. With mid-mounted petrol engine plus one electric motor driving the front wheels and one driving the rear, it can go either all-electric around town or gas-plus electric for high performance.
The extended-range Chevrolet Volt couples a gas-powered generator to pick up when limited-range batteries would leave a driver stranded, and apparently BMW is seeing the logic in GM’s engineered compromise.
Rumors and conjecture abound state that battery energy density increases will make doing away with petrol power viable for cost-effective, longer-range, quicker charging EVs. One battery researcher working for EPRI, a non-profit utility company research arm, recently estimated a conservative doubling of power in the next 10 years.
BMW’s Schmidt did not say which BMWs could receive a range extender, but said the Mini E did not receive many range anxiety complaints. If BMW decides to go with a range extender, it will be one more gas-electric solution in its growing stable of partially electric vehicles.