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BMW to use a two-cylinder motorcycle engine for one of their cars

Now this is something you don’t hear very often, a major car-maker has confirmed that they will actually be putting a two-cylinder gasoline engine from their motorcycle division into one of their cars – as a range-extender for an electric model.

The battery-powered i3 supermini was thought to get the 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engine, however it has been confirmed that instead, the motorcycle division will be the source.

During the Detroit Motor Show, the head of BMW’s Research and Development, told reporters that the range-extender engine option will be on offer when the new i3 goes on sale in the fourth quarter for 2013, however there was no mention as to the cost.

The regular i3 model already combines an electric motor producing 168hp and a constant peak torque of 250 Nm with a lithium-ion battery package – this is said to offer a cruising range between 60 to 90 miles to 160km – somewhere between 97 to 145 kilometers – on the production model.

When you’ll opt for the two-cylinder engine, it will work as a generator meant to charge the batteries while you’re already driving, this is expected to extend the driving range to around 250 miles – about 400 kilometers – on a single tank of fuel. The engine will be installed in the trunk and it will not transmit any mechanical power directly to the wheels.

The head of Research and Development said that they are expecting more than half of the early buyers to opt for this range-extender option, with the number then stabilizing at around twenty percent later on.

This is due mostly on a psychological reasoning than anything else, because people will want a sort of ‘cure’ for the limited-range anxiety, however odds are that they will discover they only seldom actually need and use it. This is more of a stop-gap measure, those individuals who will need a range close to what the extender would provide will be much better served by a plug-in hybrid.

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