BMW i3: Battery Upgrade brings expansion to four variants

BMW i | March 14th, 2016 by 70
BMW i3 MR PORTER Design Limited Edition 2016 Genf Autosalon Live 01 750x500

In the second half of this year, BMW will unveil a facelift of the i3 electric car which will focus on technology updates versus design …

In the second half of this year, BMW will unveil a facelift of the i3 electric car which will focus on technology updates versus design changes. According to sources, BMW will extend the i3 line-up from two models to four.

So far, the i3 is sold as a fully electric car and one with a Range Extender, both using the same 18.8 kWh lithium-ion battery. BMW has always touted that the two models are perfect for typical big-city commuters fitting the typical urban driving profile – 20 to 30 miles of daily driving.

BMW i3 MR PORTER Design Limited Edition 2016 Genf Autosalon Live 08 750x497

However, heavy commuters are not being forgotten. A larger capacity battery in the i3 will allow for extended driving and it will arrive this year. Instead of opting for a battery replacement, BMW will extend the i3 lineup to offer two additional models – one fully electric with the new battery and the other a REx version with the same technology.

It’s expected that the new models will come with a four digit surcharge.

The current model consists of 8 x 2.7 kWh packs cells – each containing 12 x 3.75 volt, 60 Ah actual cells – wired in series for a nominal capacity of 21.8 kWh, 360 volts, of which 18.8 kWh are usable. The new battery is expected to have a 94Ah battery and the higher energy density will give the i3 an expected range of 120 miles.

The actual rating will be issued by EPA after testing. EPA currently rates the i3 BEV at 81 miles.

Stay tuned for further updates!

[Source: Bimmertoday]

70 responses to “BMW i3: Battery Upgrade brings expansion to four variants”

  1. Chris Llana says:

    Newer higher energy density batteries also cost less to produce, so they could put them in all refreshed i3s, keep the price the same, and make a bigger profit, but I guess not surprising that BMW plans to charge a hefty premium for the better batteries.

    • mckillio says:

      In their defense, they have spent a ton of money on these vehicles.

      • Chris Llana says:

        True, but that was years ago, and if you can believe their past statements, they have made a profit on every one of them. The improvement in battery tech (higher energy density at much lower cost, which we are seeing now, and which will continue) has been the promise of EVs becoming mainstream. I can see why manufacturers who are committed to traditional ICE would like to improve their profit margins on what they consider to be a niche vehicle, but car manufacturers who are moving ahead with mainstream EV models are going to exploit the cost savings in new batteries to attract the ever larger number of EV buyers. BMW had a five-year technology advantage when the i3; with this new marketing strategy, they seem headed toward throwing it away.

        If BMW had decided to use the new, cheaper battery tech in a refreshed i3 with the same battery capacity as the current one, they would have had a lighter (better performance, greater efficiency) car they could sell for less, and make the same profit.

        • mckillio says:

          I always forget how long ago it came out due to how few of them I see, good point. But as long as they are comfortable with the number they’re selling then I guess more power to them.

          This is my big question. Do they have a large inventory of the current batteries that they want to get through first? That would certainly make sense. Once they’re out of them then they could switch to the new battery but with the same capacity and then lower the price of the car a bit.

          • Tasikat says:

            Price will not get lowered because the larger batteries will cost more.

          • mckillio says:

            I’m not talking about the larger batteries, I’m talking about the current capacity with the new, cheaper battery.

          • Tasikat says:

            Why would they want to keep the same EV capacity if the new batteries are cheaper per unit energy, and probably smaller/lighter per unit energy? Do you really think 22 kWh is enough? It is not. Ideal is 45 kWh for a cheap EV.

          • mckillio says:

            To make more money of course.

          • Tasikat says:

            Let’s say the EV costs $35,000 with a profit margin of 10% with a range of 81 miles. The new batteries will be $2,000 less, for the same size. So they sell 1,000 a month and thus their extra income is $2,000,000 a month. On the other hand if the increase the range from 81 to 130 miles without increasing the cost, the sales go up to 2,000 a month. So the extra income = (2000 – 1000) * 10% * 35,000 = $3,500,000 a month. So they will make more money increasing the battery size without making the EV cheaper.

          • mckillio says:

            Okay, my point still stands.

          • Tasikat says:

            Just edited it, please read again.

          • mckillio says:

            Ya, my point still stands. I’m not saying they shouldn’t also sell a longer range variant as well.

          • Tasikat says:

            If you have an EV, you would know that 81 miles range is pretty useless. It is like buying a tiny 1,000 ft2 house in a huge expensive lot of $3,000,000. Is this a better deal or buying a 4,000 ft2 house for $3,500,000 ?

          • mckillio says:

            Why have so many people bought useless cars?

          • Tasikat says:

            Few people have bought EVs. Like 0.6% or less. US has about 40,000,000 newer cars and 60,000,0000 older cars. Only 250,000 of newer are EVs (including Volt).

          • mckillio says:

            Okay, that doesn’t answer my question. The answer is that they’re not useless to them.

          • Tasikat says:

            I am answering to your statement that “so many people” have bought EVs. The answer is that they have not. It is anemic. And the primary reason is range. And the secondary reason is lack of DCQC. Price is still a bit higher but with incentives, etc, the gap is bridging. You may think 81 miles range is a lot if you only travel 25 miles to work each way. No. You need 20 miles range always in reserve so you don’t feel range anxiety. So you are down to 61 minus 2×25. 11 miles ‘discretionary’ range left. That is too little. You really cannot do anything unscheduled or anything outside of your commute with 11 miles range.

          • mckillio says:

            Quit getting lost in semantics and trying to make this more complex than it is. I was not referring to “so many people” relative to the entire car industry, just the amount of people that have bought these cars.

          • Tasikat says:

            How can you talk in absolute numbers? Like saying wow Kasich is such a popular Republican candidate. He got 1,050,000 votes! Lol. How much do you know about science?

          • mckillio says:

            You’re so off topic at this point, I’m done.

          • Tasikat says:

            Lol — your communication skills need a bit of sharpening. :)

          • mckillio says:

            No, they don’t, you need reading comprehension classes.

          • Tasikat says:

            I have 3 college degrees. How many do you have? And are your college degrees in gender studies or what?

          • mckillio says:

            That clearly has nothing to do with your reading comprehension. You’ve shown multiple times on this thread that you didn’t understand what the person was saying. We could assume that the person didn’t communicate very well but someone with solid comprehension skills should still be able to figure it out.

          • Tasikat says:

            There was only one place I misread “competitive price” for “new vehicle price” below. And you commented on that. Otherwise I have been absolutey accurate everywhere else. On the other hand, you have difficulty understanding business concepts and statistical concepts. You are a HS kid, I am pretty sure.

          • mckillio says:

            Nope, you misread 181s comment, my reply about that, and you misunderstood my comment on the larger batteries, and thinking that I said they should/will keep the same range and you’re the only person to have written “new vehicle price” on here. I don’t have trouble understanding any of those things.

          • Tasikat says:

            You had trouble understanding half the stuff I wrote. Such as why absolute numbers are wrong. Then you said that BMW should cut the price instead of increase the range, having no business idea why that is wrong. You don’t even know what the dead zone of a battery is. Or what the unit for capacity is. Sorry, but this topic is not exactly gender studies or colonial studies and needs a bit of brains, you know. Do you know the difference between power and energy?

          • mckillio says:

            I didn’t have trouble understanding anything you stated. I did not say that BMW should cut the price instead of increase the range. How do you know I don’t know what the dead zone of a battery is, I never even mentioned it once. I also never mentioned unit capacity.

          • Tasikat says:

            In addition to playing high school level childish language games, are you also a liar? This is what you said: “Once they’re out of them then they could switch to the new battery but with the same capacity and then lower the price of the car a bit.”. Listen goofball, you argue not to establish the truth, but to put down the other side and get a cheap ego-boost that you can’t get elsewhere. Then you lie and call them names (“comprehension problem”). So please go back to your stupid women’s study class and don’t mess with us who live in the real world, and know something about it.

            I just guessed you would not know what battery capacity is – and did not say you don’t know. :P Now you try to avoid and derail the subject. So answer please: Q1) What is battery capacity and what is the unit, and how does it relate to power and energy? — Problem is you don’t know the answer and Wiki is not going to help you answer this simple question. You are just a fake playing cheap language games, with a huge ego deficit.

          • mckillio says:

            I’m not playing childish language games. How did I argue to not establish the truth with that sentence?

            You want to sit here and try and claim that I call you names? First off you have had trouble comprehending what I and others have written and I pointed many of them out, that’s not name calling. Second, you have called me goofball, a high schooler, say that I take women’s studies, that I have a degree in gender studies, claim that I don’t know things that I haven’t even addressed. So who exactly is name calling and lying?

            Those questions have basically zero to do with what I originally commented on.

            You claim I have an ego deficit, yet you’re the one bragging about your degrees and trying to get me to take pop quizzes and denigrate me.

          • Tasikat says:

            Bullshit and more lies. There was one item I misread at the end of the board, and I have quickly set the record straight. But since your reading level is that of a 15 year old, you have generally misread what I have written elsewhere because it is heavy in science and economics.

            But you being an illiterate in both science and economics, you have not understood what me and others have been exchanging. I challenge you to show where I have had “misunderstood” the debate. Until you show that, you will be considered a serial liar – as you have already lied when you wanted the EV price to be reduced but then you denied that calling other people names. Then you were shown your own quote, and you decided to STF up on that lie in embarrassment.

            Obviously you are a half-wit, unable to follow the discussion, and out of frustration you keep on yelping “that was not what I said …”, unable to even articulate what it is that you said. When I asked you what is battery capacity, the subject of this discussion, you got stuck. So how dare you even participate on this thread when you are so intellectually challenged and ignorant?

            Go finish your degree in womens and gender studies, and then go on welfare looking for a man so you can leech on his income. Language games and word salad will not get you a job or an income or earn you respect, in the real world.

          • mckillio says:

            Whatever helps you sleep at night cupcake.

          • Tasikat says:

            Lol — as usual content free. In the 30 or so comments on this article you have posted, have you said anything of value, anything of insight – anything that conveyed information that we could learn from?

            You are the equivalent of those narcissists that take selfies and post those eyesores for others to see – except you do that with words. A cocooned millennial full of herself who will blame everyone else (especially white men) when she finds herself on the welfare rolls.

          • mckillio says:

            Sleep tight bro.

          • IvanTrotsky says:

            Wow, you’re human garbage. What the fuck is wrong with you? Did a womens studies major shit on your precious little heart back in the day? Grow the fuck up dude.

          • Tasikat says:

            If you were a home builder, would you make more profit building a tiny house on a $3M lot, or a large house on a $3M lot? Tiny 1000 ft2 house = $200,000 construction cost. Large 4000 ft2 house = $500,000 construction cost.

          • mckillio says:

            This isn’t an OR issue/question.

          • Tasikat says:

            The point is that when you go from 81 to 130 miles range, your market explodes. This will not happen by just making the car a bit cheaper.

        • Tasikat says:

          Lol – 81 miles range of the current i3 is very problematic. Do you have an EV at all?

          • mckillio says:

            That of course is relative. It’s not problematic for the people that have bought them. If they can use the new battery tech at the current capacity then they can lower the price, opening the door for new customers. And the range would probably go up slightly due to the lower weight.

    • danwat1234 says:

      The new cells cost less per cell, despite being bleeding tech? Awesome if so.Wish Chevy would nod to 1st gen Volt owners to give them 50 miles EV range or so.

      • Chris Llana says:

        Battery costs have been dropping much faster than predictions. A Chevy exec recently stated that its latest battery cost is $145 per kWh, versus more than double that 1-2 years ago (and double that five years earlier). Rumor has it that Tesla’s Gigafactory will produce batteries, once it gets going, for $100/kWh (or less). Battery R&D has been more focused on new production processes that minimize cost. Mass production and vertical integration are also contributing to the drop in cost.

        Unfortunately, most car companies are focused more on selling new cars than on retrofitting cars already on the road (the traditional ICE model)—sell new cars and then service them. EVs should be more reliable, however, and software updates and new-tech replacement batteries could keep them viable for a very long time (not something some car makers are embracing).

        Brave new world. The next five years should be very interesting.

        • danwat1234 says:

          Here here! It is amazing the $145 rate from LG chem for GM. Used Leafs are at $8-10K on Craigslist, it’s crazy. (Volts for $10-17K) So many people aren’t aware of electric cars and won’t register it in their minds for maybe 10 years until they wake up somehow. Maybe because a lot more cars will be hybrid, maybe hybrid as standard by then. Carolla, Civic, Focus, who knows. and trucks/SUVs with auto start/stop being standard on every car.

        • Tasikat says:

          Except that the Chevy LG cells are so crappy that the dead buffer zone is 30% vs. Leaf’s 11%. So that $145 / kWh is effectively $184 / kWh.

          Battery prices are not dropping as fast as you think. All these 2017-2018 MY numbers are vaporware so far.

          • danwat1234 says:

            What is a dead buffer zone? The 1st gen Volt’s pack cells is LG chem and it’s super reliable, like off the charts. The Leaf, you get quite a bit of range loss after 100K miles. 25%+

          • Tasikat says:

            Volt is using only 60% of the battery capacity. So when its capacity drops due to aging or cycling, they cheat by going from 60% to 70%, thus keeping the useful capacity constant. This gives the false impression that the battery is not deteriorating, when it is. In other words, they hide 40% of the battery from you (the dead zone), and cripple the EV that you have paid for 100%, just so that it will not appear to you that the battery is deteriorating. You pay for their ‘cover my behind’. On the other hand, the Leaf only sets aside 11% as the dead zone buffer, and allows you to use 89% of the battery (vs. 60% for the Volt).

          • danwat1234 says:

            But that has not been proven. I asked a rep for the Chevy Volt and they said the buffer does not decrease as the battery ages to mask capacity loss. Has anyone does battery measurements to prove that they mask capacity loss on the Volt?

            The Leaf, I doubt it would decrease it’s already small buffer. Because, the Leaf does experience quite a bit of capacity loss after 100K miles and nobody’s discovered they could now use 100% of the pack AFAIK.

      • Tasikat says:

        What is your evidence the new larger cells cost less?

        • danwat1234 says:

          The $145/KWh is a figure GM let out. It has to be cheaper than previous cells. But, that is not necessarily the cells that will be in the new i3. That figure what for the Bolt. And that figure is an agreement between GM and LG so other manufactures might not have as good of a deal.

          Yeah also the question if the cells really are larger or just more energy dense.

    • Tasikat says:

      Not really. The drop in price has to do with cost per energy, and not cost per cell. Cost per cell will probably rise, especially if they are larger cells, which probably they are.

  2. 181 says:

    Wait what? Does this mean they will continue selling the 80 mile AER i3 into 2017 and beyond?

    That makes zero sense against the cheaper, longer range competition of 2017.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      I think it makes sense, Tesla did the same for a while. They might retire the first two after a while, but it makes sense for now to do this versus offering an expensive battery upgrade.

      • 181 says:

        Apples to oranges. Tesla did not have competitors at any price. You can’t sell LESS for MORE than everyone else. It doesn’t equate.

        The i3 doesn’t sell strongly even now while there isn’t 200 mi competition at lower prices. That 80 mi model will be decimated in the market.

    • mckillio says:

      Makes plenty of sense to me, as long as people keep selling them. They may very well end up selling it at a discount as well.

    • Tasikat says:

      Article says the longer range will be more expensive.

  3. Jørgen Mo says:

    are we sure this is the actual i3 facelift? I thought the facelift was due as 2018 model, available from summer/autumn 2017.

  4. Sam says:

    I think BMW needs to consider increasing the capacity for the same (or lower) price rather than an increase. They seem demand limited at their current pricing – so far they’ve only sold ~400 i3s in the US this year. The i3 is cool and has expensive tech, but the small size and quirky looks/features are limiting their niche market. I think they have class leading performance outside of Tesla among mainstream dedicated EVs. I enjoy my i3, but would prefer a true 4 door CUV with black leather seats, normal tires and pano roof.

  5. johnbl says:

    If they don’t become competitive in pricing the Model 3 and even the Bolt sales will leave BMW holding its…..!

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