Spend any amount of time talking with friends about electric vehicles (EVs), and the subject of range anxiety is almost guaranteed to come up. One tactic automakers have taken to minimize people's worry about running out of juice is simply to make EVs with larger batteries and increase the efficiency of their plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models. But, with 400-plus-mile range EVs finally making their debut (the Lucid Air was just crowned the longest-range EV available in the United States), BMW is now saying that it won't focus on an endless arms race for more range.
That's the take from BMW i4 project leader David Ferrufino, who told Australian media outlet WhichCar that BMW has decided that 600 kilometers (373 miles) is the high-end limit that the company is interested in developing and selling right now when it comes to all-electric models. BMW thinks there's a reasonable upper limit on plug-in hybrids as well.
"One thousand kilometers [620 miles] of travel range is not a target we have with our fully electric cars," Ferrufino said, according to WhichCar. "We are aiming for 600 kilometers [of driving range] for our fully electric cars, and 100 kilometers [62 miles] with our plug-in hybrids in everyday driving."
The reason is not that EV drivers suddenly don't care about going the distance, but that EV charging infrastructure has developed to the point where EV drivers can rely on public (and private) charging to get where they need to go. After all, plenty of gas cars offer only around 400 miles of range per tank. Ferrufino also said that the distance an EV needs to travel on a full battery depends on its type.
"The maximum range of the car is dependent on the segment of the vehicle where it is being offered," Ferrufino told WhichCar. "For example, we don't think a range of 600 kilometers will be suitable for a BMW i3 as an urban car, but when it comes to the BMW iX or i4, we think that around 600 kilometers is a very customer-friendly solution."
In the U.S., the all-electric 2021 BMW i3 has an official EPA range of 153 miles, and the plug-in hybrid 2021 BMW 330e can go 22 miles on electricity before the gas engine kicks in. The 2022 BMW i4 sedan has a driving range of 367 miles on a single charge in Australia, which uses a test cycle that is more optimistic than the one used in the U.S. This model will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2022, and BMW says it will have an "estimated range of up to 300 miles" here, using the EPA's tests. The upcoming iX compact SUV will have similar numbers and launch in the U.S. early next year.