The range extender adds another 330 pounds to the i3, which has a curb weight of "roughly" 2700 lbs without the optional engine.
The design goal from the outset was to win the BMW i3 with range extender the designation of "BEVx," for battery-electric vehicle (extended), meaning that its electric range is greater than or equal to its gasoline range.
That, to the surprise of some, appears to qualify the BMW i3 for the coveted single-occupancy access to California's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or carpool lanes.
Preliminary performance specs
BMW quotes "preliminary" acceleration times of 3.5 seconds from 0 to 30 mph, and "approximately" 7.0 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.
Those figures will likely be obtained using the "Comfort" mode, one of three driving modes that adjust the vehicle's efficiency based on the driver's desire.
The other two are "Eco Pro" and "Eco Pro+," which restrict power output, adjust climate control, and make other changes in the car's electronically controlled systems to reduce battery draw and extend range.
The BMW i3's top speed is electronically limited to 93 mph.
With a weight distribution of close to the ideal 50-50, BMW promises the i3 will provide handling consistent with its "Ultimate Driving Machine" slogan.
Optional CCS fast-charging
As for charging time, the standard onboard charger can operate at up to 7.4 kW, meaning a full recharge on a 240-Volt Level 2 charging station will take 3 hours or less (if the station is rated at 32 Amps or higher).
The i3 will also offer an optional Combined Charging System (CCS) fast-charging coupler.
That will permit an 80-percent battery recharge in 20 minutes, and 100 percent in 30 minutes--once CCS fast-charging stations begin to roll out in Europe, the States, and elsewhere. It is not compatible with today's dominant CHAdeMO quick-charging standard.
BMW refers to its new i3 electric car as an urban vehicle, one that's intended only for city use.
It says that its MINI E and BMW ActiveE drivers averaged only 30 miles a day, well within the range of the i3.
And the images provided by BMW show the i3 electric car against any number of urban backgrounds, including recognizable locations in New York, London, and Beijing.
The concept of an urban car is somewhat foreign to U.S. buyers, however, who tend to buy cars for a wide variety of uses.
Executives have said they expect early i3 buyers to opt for the range-extending engine in greater numbers than later buyers.
Analysts and other carmakers will be watching i3 sales closely; as the first car in the world to offer an optional range extender, it will test the market for pure battery-electric cars versus those with gasoline-fueled range extension.
The 2014 BMW i3 will go on sale in the U.S. early next year.
To watch the live reveal as it happened, see the video below.