Third BMW i car to arrive post-2020

BMW i | March 15th, 2015 by 24
bmw i5 photoshop 750x500

BMW R&D chief Klaus Froehlich says the company will launch a third BMW i car but it won’t arrive until at least 2020. “We are …

BMW R&D chief Klaus Froehlich says the company will launch a third BMW i car but it won’t arrive until at least 2020.

“We are still in the strategic research phase where we brainstorm,” Froehlich told Automotive News Europe. “Teams that start with a white sheet of paper. They talk with customers, hold workshops, then present their ideas and we decide.”

Froehlich denies that the third model would be a fully electric X5 SUV. The company has unveiled a hybrid SUV. The R&D chief said the mission of the i brand is to emphasize low-emission cars, therefore there are no plans to re-package an existing BMW model and call it an i model.

bmw i5 photoshop 750x356


In his vision, the i brand should serve as a starting point for cutting-edge innovation which will be utilized in the future by the standard lineup.

BMW’s focus in the near future is with the battery technology.

“We have a minimum 20 percent battery density improvement every three years, thus over the i3 and i8’s life cycle, we will offer more performance, more range or a combination of the two,” Frohlich said.

Froehlich says that a battery retrofit is not feasible.  “I don’t think a retrofit makes sense. When better batteries are available, we could then offer models with a longer range or with the same range but at a lower price.”

He added that replacing the batteries is very complex because they are integrated and bonded into the chassis.

While BMW is not planning to launch another new i model until 2020, the expectations are that a special i8 will be unveiled next year.

[Source: AutoNews]

24 responses to “Third BMW i car to arrive post-2020”

  1. Icebreaker says:

    great. now make an 8 series coupe that looks like the gran lusso and future luxury concept. then make a supercar thanks NA V10 please.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      We can keep dreaming :)

      • Icebreaker says:

        :) Horatiu do you have any emails that i can contact BMW with like the ones from germany who look at customer feedback etc..btw I was watching a old video of the M6 GC it was showing engine development and M said they already had a new V10 ready for the current M6 and it was 90% complete however they decided to go with the TT V8. so im hoping that V10 that was ready has been worked on more and will be put back in the new M6 if that happens with AWD and how light it will be oMG BYE BYE R8

  2. Chris Llana says:

    If it turns out that BMW will not offer future battery replacements/upgrades for the i3 (and perhaps future EVs), that would be a big disappointment (and baffling). Cars made from CFRP, aluminum, and thermoplastics should easily last decades; electric motors last as long. I suspect someone at BMW will find a way, or they will have trouble selling their EVs.

    I had thought there would be a coupe version of the i3 on the way, but assuming MINI is planning to build a 2-door EV using BMW technology, that now makes less business sense. An i3 coupe and a MINI 2-door EV would fill the same (small) market niche, but making both would nearly double development and marketing costs. Building just one (the MINI EV) would yield lower costs, a cheaper car, and a bigger profit for corporate BMW.

    Ask that question.

    • SF Dede says:

      I have to agree that not being able to replace the batteries is a real problem if true. It will dramatically hurt residual value. I see that you can buy an extended warranty with the i3 to 6 yr / 100,000 mi. So if that battery fails before that for some reason you get a new car? Makes no sense.

  3. iDriver says:

    Hello – I have been reading BMW Blog with a lot of interest but never commented so far. This post was however so shocking and the worst news to learn about BMW lately.
    I applaud BMW for its visionary moves they made with the i3/i8, but now to see that they will “hibernate” while the rest of the market can catch up if not overtake on EV development (Audi R8 e-tron, Audi Q6 e-tron, Mercedes Ecoluxe, Tesla, Nissan/Renault 200+ mile BEVs, GM Bolt, Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche 717 etc.) sounds like almost self-destructive after investing multiple billions into project i – unless BMW got cold feet about the i-project.
    Given that battery cells are not produced by BMW but their supplier (currently still Samsung SDI?) and that the market is open with several suppliers competing (and advancing on energy density), it seems very poor that BMW would via a senior exec publicly state they only have 20% energy density improvement every 3 years. Indeed, other companies (e.g. Audi) are stating they are testing batteries with double density already and GM/Nissan/Renault seem capable of producing lower cost 200 mile BEVs by 2016/2017.
    Knowing where the technology already stands today, BMW should be able to launch a new i model with 200 miles range as BEV (not range extender) in the next two years. Not doing so is a very strong signal to the market – one of failure I am afraid – which I think could turnout to be one of the worst in the history of the brand.
    I do hope mr. Froehlich’s statements were made to trigger reactions rather than to reflect real plans.
    Putting project i in the freezer until 2020 simply does not make sense as the purpose of project i was to have a subdivision with highly innovative vehicles ahead of those technologies becoming mainstream. Launching a new i BEV model with longer range after 2020 will rather be playing catch up with the market.
    So if BMW values customer input into the future of project i – happy to provide that, based on excellent experience with my best BMW ever, the i3!

    • Chris Llana says:

      I’ve been following battery research closely for years, and BMW’s estimate of a “minimum” 20% energy density increase every three years seems accurate. (“Minimum” does not mean “only.”) That reflects what has happened to date. Anyone who claims to know the future of battery performance is just speculating. You can get very promising results in a lab, but making it commercially viable is quite something else.

      Many optimistic claims of battery energy density improvements are also misleading because they don’t provide hard numbers (that is, watt-hour/kg). They often say they will be using a new battery with double the energy density, but compared to what? Batteries used in EVs and hybrids today cover a huge range of energy densities. Tesla’s batteries are among the most energy dense, having double the energy density of batteries used in other cars. But batteries with substantially higher energy densities than Tesla’s are now in commercial development. Newer battery technologies also are showing less degradation over time (charge cycles), which will minimize the need for battery replacement.

      The other point is the matter of range. Range should not be taken as the measure of a BEV’s goodness. Once you’ve built in enough range to satisfy the owner’s daily requirements, any increase in battery capacity becomes a liability (in cost and weight). In the article, Frohlich was quoted, “we will offer more performance, more range or a combination of the two,” meaning they might use any improvement in battery technology to maximize range (keeping battery weight the same), to maximize performance (keeping battery capacity the same—lower car weight), or perhaps the best option, to opt for some increase in performance with some increase in range.

      • Horatiu B. says:

        Chris, awesome comment. Would love a post from you on battery technology :) It would be educational to all of us.

        • Chris Llana says:

          Thanks, Horatiu! But as I mentioned, any specific prediction of future battery advancements would be speculation. Complicating the issue is battery developers’ penchant for secrecy, once they enter development contracts with carmakers. You read about the technical specs for the new battery chemistry, and then some news about production methods being developed (if we’re lucky), and then everything goes dark. Car manufacturers want to keep their new technology developments to themselves. Even after a BEV is announced, there is little or nothing about the specific battery performance (other than capacity).

          But I will keep your suggestion in mind, and see what happens.

          • Icebreaker says:

            Chris i think you should apply for a BMW i Job in battery tech im sure you would get the job :D

      • iDriver says:

        My above comment has probably been misunderstood. I did not mean to discuss whether or not the statement on battery progress was technically correct or not. As you stated, that is very hard to scientifically check as there is a lot of unclarity around the detailed status of different cell producers.

        The point I wanted to share is my disappointment and concern about the commercial and strategic direction BMW seems to be taking, based on mr. Froehlich’s statements. Indeed, regardless of the technical details, it is clear that BMW is having a change of hearts about progressing the i division. Since 2011 it was mentioned that further i models were under discussion and several articles (including here on BMWblog) had reference to i5 or i7 models being developed and perhaps even ready to be shown soon (remember also the mysterious withdrawal of the hydrogen prototype at the last Detroit show). Of course there has been a change of R&D chief at BMW – perhaps mr. Diess had more ambitious plans to develop new i models? Hopefully BMWblog can provide us soon with some insights into this.

        My question remains: did BMW get cold feet about pushing electrification with the i division or are there any (technical/other) issues holding back BMW from launching more i models sooner than “after 2020”?
        Even as BMW fans (or especially as BMW fans) we should not ignore this change in direction, especially at a time when other car brands are more aggressively announcing plans to launch new electric models, showing concepts or making statements about battery improvements well beyond what BMW is declaring.
        The contrast between BMW’s statements and that of competitors is sad to hear, given that BMW must have built some great experience over the last decade with EVs (also before i3/i8). Giving up this head way seems not very sound from a business perspective unless there is no strong belief in the project itself anymore. That is the question I would hope to see answered on this site in the near future, hopefully with a positive note.

        Re: battery progress, just a few words though – again, not to start a technical discussion but to put things into perspective and why it is relevant to the commercial question I have raised above.
        When looking at what other car brands are stating recently, it is clear that “minimum 20% increase every three years” is not exactly something BMW can be proud of if the company wants to be seen as a leader in vehicle electrification.
        Just a few days ago, mr. Froehlich’s counterpart at Audi, mr. Hackenberg, mentioned that Audi will have double the energy density by 2020, compared to the current VW e-Golf battery cells (from 25 to 50 Ah, for same voltage and weight; the first all electric model will have 37 Ah cells by 2018 with a concept to be revealed later this year). One also does not have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that the Chevy Bolt will have a significantly better energy density of the battery cells compared to what the Chevy Spark has today, assuming that it will indeed deliver 200+ miles when produced around late 2016. Also the next Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe models will have 200 miles according to Carlos Ghosn (and this before 2020). Finally, also Samsung SDI (BMW’s own supplier) are making more bold statements about energy density improvements on their website ( Just to clarify why I still find BMW’s statements not in line with what we could expect from an industry leader in this field.

        But I sincerely hope I will be proven wrong and that it will all turn out more positive for BMW!

  4. johnbl says:

    High-voltage battery module..I01: i3: (2013-2015)..I01: i3 Rex: (2013-2015) cost $1715.60 order online at BMW Bridgewater. Selling the battery modules seems to indicate they are replaceable. Or again has Tesla outshined BMW in keeping it cars up-to-date and repairable. Look what Tesla did in upgrading its Roadster.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *