BMW is reportedly cooking up a new i3 electric vehicle for 2017, increasing the car's range and updating its design.
Electric vehicles continue to gain momentum, but BMW hasn't been very successful in this segment of the auto market so far. While the automaker has been offering i3 electric vehicles for a few years now, it hasn't seen stellar demand.
Nevertheless, a neat redesign and a longer range could give the small electric vehicle just the boost it needs to become more successful.
BMW i3 Makeover
German publication Welt am Sonntag reports (via Reuters) that the BMW i3 model planned for next year will have both its front and rear ends redesigned. No images leaked just yet to offer a glimpse of the makeover, so it remains unclear for now just how the next BMW i3 will look like.
The publication further reveals that BMW will pack new battery technology into its next-generation i3, enabling the electric vehicle to have a longer range. The current BMW i3 can go for 114 miles on a full charge, but the range can be increased up to 180 miles via a "Range Extender."
Welt am Sonntag doesn't specify how long the new range will be, but it does note that it would be an increase of less than 50 percent. This means that the BMW i3 coming next year will still offer a mile range below 200 miles.
That's well below the range of other electric vehicles such as Tesla's Model S, but BMW's electric vehicles are more affordable than Tesla's. The Tesla Model S with a P100D battery, for instance, can run up to 300 miles on a single charge, but it starts at around $134,000 before incentives. The current BMW i3 with Range Extender, meanwhile, costs $47,450 (not including destination and other fees).
BMW Autonomous Vehicle Plans
The German publication also asked Klaus Fröhlich, BMW's head of Research & Development (R&D), about the automaker's plans for self-driving vehicles. Fröhlich said that BMW wanted to see a common standard for autonomous vehicles across the auto industry so that it could use the same systems and number of sensors.
As a reminder, BMW already teamed up with Intel and Mobileye earlier this year to create an open platform for autonomous vehicles by 2021. Mobileye also worked with Tesla on the carmaker's Autopilot system, but the two companies parted ways back in September.
It remains to be seen what BMW will offer next, but it may also look to score more partnerships to expand its offers. Fiat, for instance, partnered with Amazon to sell cars online, albeit the option is available only in Italy for now.