A recent BMW forecast predicted that electric vehicles will, within five years, offer double the range from a single charge they do today. If this statement was designed to get publicity for the company's soon-to-debut i3 EV, it certainly generated discussion, but not much in the way of agreement.
Analysts interviewed by the Detroit News on whether typical EVs would be able to approach the 150-200 mile single-charge range by 2018 using technology such as lithium-air batteries were optimistic about eventual advancements. They were less so about the timeframe.
The German automaker appeared to be backed by Ernst & Young partner Peter Fuss, but even he said BMW's timeframe may be off by a couple years. LMC Automotive analyst Al Bedwell said there was a "long way to go" before lithium-air commercialization, estimating that such improved technology at an attainable price was likely a decade off.
Frost & Sullivan analyst Nicolas Meilhan was even more pessimistic, saying that BMW's use of carbon fiber in the i3's frame was too pricy a way to reduce weight, and that the model would be attractive only to "rich" consumers.
IHS Automotive's Phil Gott hedged his bets saying that long vehicle recharging times would continue to dissuade potential buyers, but that typical driving distances will shrink as more people move to cities, making EVs more viable to a wider crowd.
In any case, for now, BMW will offer gas-powered loaner cars to take care of buyer's long-range needs. We'll see if the company needs to do this in 2018.