DETROIT -- BMW will boost the range of its i3 electric car by about half for the 2017 model year.
This summer, the lithium ion battery pack of the compact EV will be improved, "which puts it into a much more usable range," Ian Robertson, BMW AG board member for sales and marketing, told Automotive News at the Detroit auto show.
BMW doesn't have the exact figure yet, but a 50 percent increase means about 120 miles on a single charge, up from the current 81 miles. The i3 will get other improvements, which BMW has not yet disclosed.
The improved battery would give the i3 a better range than the Nissan Leaf, the top-selling electric car in the world, which can go up to 107 miles on a single charge.
But it will pale in comparison to that of the upcoming Chevy Bolt, which will have a range of 200 miles and cost less than $30,000 after federal tax credits.
The i3 went on sale in the U.S. in the spring of 2014 and has a base price of $43,350 including shipping. A model with a range extender is also available -- with about double the range -- and starts at $47,200 including shipping. Those prices are before tax credits.
BMW sold 24,057 i3s worldwide last year, an increase of 50 percent from 2014. In the United States, BMW sold 11,024 i3s, up from 6,092 in 2014. Nearly 60 percent of those were with the range extender.