The Taiwanese company chosen to supply the 'range extender' two-cylinder combustion engine that will be optional with BMW's upcoming i3 electric car is an existing supplier to the BMW Group's motorcycle unit, just-auto has learned.

Taiwan-based KYMCO began as part of Honda but went its own way as a motorcycle parts supplier to the Japanese firm in 1963 and then began making its own range of scooters in 1970.

It has a main factory in Taiwan, three in China and one in Indonesia.

In early 2008, KYMCO was chosen by BMW to supply the engines for the G450X Enduro bike.

BMW sales and marketing head Ian Robertson said the automaker was extensively "tweaking" the base engine for use in the i8. He declined to say how much the option would cost.

The automaker has found in extensive real-world trials of electric Minis and 1-series models that 'range anxiety' diminishes once EV drivers settle into a routine and build confidence in the range of their vehicle in the context of their needs and in the availability of recharging points at workplaces. Some Mini drivers who travel only short distances daily do not even bother connecting up to their home charger every night, Robertson said.

The i3 should have a range of about 120km, extendable to about 150km if the driver-selectable 'econ' modes are used. The optional range extender combustion engine will take that to about 350km - it will only have a small fuel tank - but Robertson expects take-up to fall off as owners discover they can get their daily routine done on battery power only and make it safely to recharge points at home or work. As this is shared with other potential buyers, the number ordering the extender engine should fall.