2017 BMW i3 To Enter Production This July – EPA Range Of 125 Miles Expected


The BMW i3 (shown here in limited Shadow Sport Edition),.

The BMW i3 (shown here in limited Shadow Sport Edition),.

BMW i3

BMW i3

The significantly improved 2017 BMW i3 will enter production starting this July.

Changes for 2017 include the addition of some new (undisclosed) colors and slight exterior tweaks. So, basically just a slight makeover, but in the battery department there will be a significant upgrade, as we previously predicted.

Sources are confirming that the Model Year 2017 i3 will get a range bump from today’s 200 km NEDC rating to 290 km NEDC. For reference, the 30 kWh Nissan LEAF is rated 250 km on the NEDC test cycle (107 miles EPA).

Doing some simple math reveals that the 2017 i3 BEV should get rated at approximately 120 to 125 miles on the EPA test cycle, which is a vast improvement over the 2016 i3’s rating of 81 miles.

With production starting in July, first 2017 i3s could be available before the end of Summer.

We’re still waiting for pricing and other information on the 2017 i3.

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107 Comments on "2017 BMW i3 To Enter Production This July – EPA Range Of 125 Miles Expected"

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With a fully “unlocked” (which should come from the factory now) gas tank the REX version will be BMW’s “200 mile EV” for the next few years.

With a larger battery size and range, do they even need to “lock” the gas tank anymore?

Drat, I somehow missed your parenthetical.

Any hint on the kWh size of the battery pack? Roughly 30kWh like the Leaf?

A simple extrapolation comes to 34KWh, but with efficiency loss for the extra weight, I’ll bet it’s 36KWh. They will need 55-60KWh to hit 200 miles.

(22 KWH / 81 Miles * 125 Miles = 33.95KWh)

There is also reserve capacity, which I didn’t account for.

The battery will have 96 cells with 94 Ah and 3,75 V each.

96 x 3,75 V x 94 Ah = 33,84 kWh

In 2017 there will be another upgrade with 120 Ah cells.

96 x 3,75 V x 120 Ah = 43,2 kWh and 160 EPA miles range.

The gas range extender will become obsolete with further battery upgrades.

Thanks Pedro. That makes it pretty clear.

Pedro, not that they sound unreasonable, but I’m curious, what’s your source for the details?

I wonder whether a 120-125mi AER (EPA) will be enough to let the car get used easily for long-distance highway trips with DCQC pure-battery trips; although BMW could increase the size of the REx gas tank over 2.4gal without running afoul of the CARB req that gas range < BEV range, presumably they won't.

The source of 120 Ah cells succeeding the 94 Ah cells, was Samsung SDI at NAIAS in 2015.

Samsung SDI are the OEM for the current cells (60Ah). They launched the production version of a 94Ah cell in the same form factor recently (slated for full production April/May) which lines up with the timeline. They also showed 120Ah cells in that form factor at a couple of trade shows that are due to go into sampling later in the year. My personal opinion is that BMW would save the 120Ah upgrade for a more substantial refresh of the i3.

BMW could esily offer a much bigger battery even now, by putting additional cells in the space reserved for the IC engine in the REx version, but they will not do that, for some reason.

They’d have to expand the cooling/heating system to cover those batteries, for one. Also, would such a change require recertifying for crash testing and such? I think it may be harder than just tossing some batteries in there and plugging them in.

They wouldn’t need to expand the heating/cooling system for the batteries.

A higher storage capacity battery of the same chemistry doesn’t generate more heat when used.

The only reason you would need to expand heating capacity would be because there is more battery mass to heat. The new 94Ah cells are the same dimensions as the current 60Ah cells.

The only reason you would need to expand cooling capacity would be because the batteries will be producing more power. This is not the case. The 2017 i3 is still rated at 170HP.

Do to the higher energy capacity of the battery, you will simply have more stored energy available. Nothing else has changed.

The reason is quiet simple, we don’t have an ev able to do 400 miles of 80 mph autobahn driving and 500 KW fast chargers yet. As long as that can’t be provided, it is logic to give the option of a rex for the ones that have that requirement. What they should do however is a much smaller size rex with the same power but using for example direct free piston technology, recuperator micro turbine, rotating pistons or other super compact combustion generators.

I think BMW is struggling with their design philosophy of driving dynamics. They had no choice but to go with a more expensive carbon reinforced plastic passenger cell so they could shed weight and be able to use a smaller pack which saved some money but not as much as the extra cost of integrating this novel low-volume material. This kept the i3 light enough to be a lot more nimble and quick than the other lower cost EVs. What’s puzzling however is how they stuck to their concept design for lower profile, huge diameter wheels which is an aesthetic choice and actually hurts driving dynamics because of the narrow profile. It will be interesting to see how they reconcile the new larger and heavier pack with the barely adequate tires on the current version. This will be very important especially in highway driving. We have both an i3 and a new Volt and it’s night and day on how they drive at top freeway speeds. The i3 with its tall narrow profile and skinny tires is pretty punishing at highway speeds. Hopefully they will reduce the wheel size by an inch or two and give the tires a little… Read more »

The car only has a 5.5 inch ground clearance.
But, yes, maybe a bit wider tire would be appropriate.

Have you actually driven an i3 hard? With the stock tires it has plenty of grip in the corners. Never once did I think the tires were a weakness in the sporty character.

They won’t do that because the REX sells better, and that is because it offers unique advantages to any BEV.
You have the option to use it as a pure BEV, i.e. wait and charger, or, for operation outside the battery range, you can just put gas in it and continue driving.

So, you’re suggesting that the AER will be as follows:

MY 2016: 81 miles
MY 2017: 120 miles
MY 2018: 160 miles


That seems crazy, but to keep pace with the rest of the market, they might just have to do that.

That’s the plan.

BMW could even introduce a 200 EPA miles range i3 right now if they were serious about EVs.

Cells with volumetric energy density above 800 Wh/L already exist. Tesla will use them in the 100 kWh battery version.

Why should they keep the same number of cells? With higher capacity cells, they can also reduce the number of cells to reduce the costs and price and weight.

Because voltage matters. 96 cells in series is the perfect number.

All cells are connected in series, none in parallel. BMW i3 has an excellent KISS battery. As simple as it gets. Less cells would mean less voltage.

I do think that the best batteries don’t have cells in parallel, only in series to get the needed voltage. Less cells also means less complex battery management systems and less “vampire” energy losses.

“I do think that the best batteries don’t have cells in parallel, only in series to get the needed voltage.”


I don’t know a single EV packs that aren’t configured in a series/parallel configuration where a bunch of cells are in series to make into a modular pack section and each pack section combines in parallel to get the current requirement for the torque for the entire battery pack….

I take that back, I guess it is possible if you have large format cells that can provide higher current per cell and handle the heat.

No, you were right the first time.

If you connect all batteries in series, the entire pack will fail when just one cell fails.
The original comment was just dumb.

“Because voltage matters. 96 cells in series is the perfect number”

96 cells at 4V each is about 384V.

125kW/384V is 325A in series. That is a pretty high current cell which would generate a lot of heat if the cells are all in series..

Examples of batteries with cells only in series: BMW i3 and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Yes, they are relatively small pack.

Will that continue with larger kWh?

Will they just increase the current rating per cell? I guess they can do that with large format custom cells.

The BMW C Evolution scooter is built with 3 BMW i3 modules in series, so it also technically qualifies.

Since 2013, Zero has built their batteries with a 102V “brick” architecture, where each independent brick is a series of 28 large-format cells. The bricks are wired up in parallel, but on the X bikes each brick has its own BMS and can even be operated at different SOC.

96 is the perfect number?
What are you talking about?

There is no perfect number.
Battery packs are designed for the purpose for which they are to serve.

Some battery packs only need to be 3V. That’s why you only have 2 cells in your flashlight.

Higher voltage means more torque. If your application requires a certain amount of torque, you design a pack in combination with the motor/transmission design, to achieve the required torque.

You connect batteries in series to get more voltage.
You connect batteries in parallel to increase the amount of current the pack can supply.

The final arrangement of the pack is driven by the requirements of the design.

There is no perfect number.

ASIC/FPGA Engineer
Control System and Brushless Motor Controller Specialist

The gas range extender will always be needed if the owner doesn’t want to keep an ICE vehicle. There are many parts of the US where chargers are few and far between.

The “range extender” is an ICE.

It can be whatever produces electricity but even if an ice it is a dedicated simplified ice and one that run and only run when there is no other practical way, or affordable way, to finish the trip.

Sorry. I guess I should have specified “to keep a second, ICE-only vehicle, for trips beyond the AER of this BEV in areas without QC every few miles.”

A battery capacity increase will not make the REX version obsolete. The REX version offers a major advantage over any pure BEV. It gives one the option to stop and charge, which will require that a charging station first be found, then you must wait for your car to charge. One must often wait for other cars to charge first due to limited EVSE availability, or find yet another charging location due to equipment being out of service.

With REX, you can choose to avoid all of that, put gas in it, and continue driving.

I will never own an electric vehicle without this, until batteries can be charged in the same time it would take to fill the tank with gas.

If the upgrade is implemented by replacing the current 60 amp-hour Samsung cells with the same number of 94 amp-hour versions (apparently the physical dimensions are identical), the resulting battery pack’s capacity would be 94/60 x 22 = 34 kWh.

Less than 50kW in 2016 is ridiculous.

True, 50 kW motor is very weak!

“Less than 50kW in 2016 is ridiculous.”

It is just ridiculous that a Tesla fan boy can’t tell the difference between 50kW and 50kWh…

But if the base Model 3 comes with only 50kWh, what would you say again? Oh, at least Model 3 has 50kWh? LOL.

kWh of course. I was sleeping…

Well, try and wake up,…

50KWh is NOT ridiculous.

If the EV had a capacity of 100KWh, someone would say that is ridiculous.

It is NOT ridiculous for the same reason it is NOT ridiculous for a car to have a 13 gallon gas tank.

The car was designed as a Mega city vehicle, i.e. that means short range vehicle for those of you in Rio Linda.

Most people drive less than 40 miles per day. The i3 was designed to satisfy the daily usage requirements of most people. I happen to think it does a pretty good job at that. If that is not a good fit for you, then you should consider another vehicle that is.

The car was not designed for cross country driving. You can do that, but the car is not optimized for it, in the same way a Honda Civic is not optimized for off-road travel.

Awake now?

Since no one is coming out with 150 mile BEV, the only choice is the bolt.

Or you could have 120 miles AER *and* the flexibility of using gas for longer trips or emergencies. As a Volt owner, you know that 120 miles AER is going to cover 98% of most people’s driving.

Im not saying the 120 miles + REx is a better option than Bolt, btw. I’m just saying it might be better for some people, especially in areas/regions with less-than-stellar infrastructure.

Your right, most people only need 100 miles. I could get by with Chevy spark ev with all these new fast charging stations near me.

I did a worst case scenario for my 80 mile commute and it came out to 150 miles. 10 year ownership, driving 75 mph, very hot day, car sitting on asphalt and 71% battery degradation.

I may need to rethink how much range I need. Maybe I’ll wait and pickup a used bolt. My volt has been a champ, giving me 4 miles per 1kwh.

I would definitely rather have 120 miles+Rex as compared to 200 miles with no Rex.

I would agree unless of course there was an ever growing Supercharger network involved. Unfortunately there is only one automaker for that option.

In a two car household a 200 mile BEV or even a 120 BEV combined with a very capable PHEV like the Volt covers pretty much all bases and 95% or more of driving needs all on electricity.

But you’re right if it’s a one car household and you’re not buying a Tesla then a 120 mile BEV with a powerful enough Rex for highway driving is the best solution.

I sure wish BMW had of released the i3 with 125 miles of AER two years ago. They could have killed it in sales. Instead, they came up with the miniscule 22KWh battery and a 28BHP REx. What a huge opportunity lost.

With the Bolt and Model 3 on the horizon, I don’t think 125 miles of AER is going to be nearly enough. They had better come up with 200 miles soon.

I believe with battery prices where they were 2 years ago and cell technology where it was at, that the weight of the pack and the price would be too high to be desirable.

Bret said:

“I sure wish BMW had of released the i3 with 125 miles of AER two years ago. They could have killed it in sales.”

Well, if it had a bigger battery pack, then it would have a higher price. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but BMW decided to use exactly the same battery pack capacity as the industry sales leader: The Leaf.

BMW is clearly playing catch-up with other EV makers. That’s too bad, because with their lighter CFRP car body, they could zip ahead of every other auto maker, with the possible exception of Tesla.

Of course, as with all other legacy auto makers, the main problem isn’t that BMW can’t make and sell compelling long-range plug-in EVs in large numbers; it’s that they don’t want to do that, because it would cut into sales of their own gasmobiles.

Hopefully they redesign the rear end done down the two tone of the front end as well.

But seriously, the i3, at it’s current price point, should really be a 200 mile EV. At that range, it’s an OK to Buy, because depreciation is not that critical, since it can meet ‘normal’ daily driving needs for many years to come. Plus a great second hand car for sale or for a new driver.

But sub 200 miles, it’s still going to be a temporary vehicle, impacted heavily by depreciation, with the owner needing to get to 200+ miles for the long term.

30 TO 33 kwh pack would get you 125 miles in an i3. moving from the 60ahr cells to the 94ahr cells. My i3 lease is up this fall (24mo) I will at least give the 2017 i3 good consideration.

That’s what I’m going to most likely do. That should do me nicely until the Model 3 comes out.

My hope is that it will make the price of a used i3-Rex drop so that I can afford one. While the new range would be great, with the existing i3 Rex I would imagine it would be in EV mode 99% of the time. I can live with that.

i3 prices are already dropping pretty far. I’ve seen ultra-low-mile (like ~2k miles) BEVs going for $25k, so you can imagine that’s going to fall even further when higher-range i3s/Bolts/etc. come out.

I just leased a low mile i3 executive demo for $290 per month plus tax. The car is loaded. Chevy had no deal that even came close. My 30 month bmw lease to retail value was .0055 percent. Love the i3. Great car. Can’t wait to do this again in 2018.

I expect the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf with improved range to come before the BMW i3.

It will have 36,63 kWh and 123 EPA miles range.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is now a walking dead in the USA. Only 103 available in cars.com


Fallout from the “Big Stink” continues as VW even considers writing off the U.S. It’s in the wind, and dealers are not happy, but with more litigation and the DOJ looking into VW, things are not good for the German automaker.

Unless VW gives up on US Market… They just pushed their USA boss out the door. A well liked guy.

VW Toys With Giving Up the U.S. Mass Market, and Dealers Fume


VW cannot walk away from the US market. Not with the investment they’ve made to the Chattanooga plant. They also have new models in the pipeline, specifically for that plant. I think the CrossBlue could sell well if it’s well positioned, including the PHEV model.

That’s true, they really can’t leave the U.S,
But they are certainly circling the wagons back home:

Would be such a pity – I love our 2015 VW eGolf, it’s amazing for the price.

Nice to see some other e-Golf lovers out there. This is an underappreciated car (I have test-driven a Volt, Leaf, and Tesla) and there is too much VW bashing (some deserved).

Yeah, I think the eGolf looks pretty good.

I do not understand what VW is exactly selling in North America anyway. I have driven extensively in NA and would never buy a VW there despite the fact I have owned many VW’s in Europe. They are in my view the only reasonably priced cars that are built with the German highways and Euro winding roads in mind. Meaning they remain composed enough at 90mph+ and very balanced why cornering. It makes long distance driving at high speed not strenuous. I would have no use for those qualities in the US. On the contrary there are many more comfortable, more reliable and reasonably priced cars that can be bought in the US like Toyota’s, Honda’s etc…In my opinion that guy is right. I can’t see a market in the US for VW, and much less now with diesel gate.

Will be interesting to see how BMW i3 vs. Tesla Model 3 ( with Tesla Supercharger Network) plays out.

The frumpy BMW i3 next to what I expect to be a good looking Tesla Model 3 will be interesting.

Model 3 will likely still have more range, vastly superior charge network, and far greater performance. Also, no motorcycle engine!

Vastly superior charging network? I could argue the opposite that the i3 Rex has a vastly superior refueling network.

Yes, I’m sure that gasoline stations are better, however myself, like many who read this, have no desire to support a gasoline industry.

I’ll leave that to you.

Fanboys cheer from the queue while I zip back n forth in my ‘frumpy’ i3. Hang tight. I’ll be sure to drop some popcorn and noisemakers off for the big roll out in a couple years. I’ll set a reminder in my calendar now.

Every i3 owner I know (and that’s more than 20) will be putting down a Model 3 deposit on April 1st. Including me.

Good plan since the current i3 is getting hammered in sales.

I think both BMW and VW are intentionally reducing imports of the current models so that they don’t get stuck holding the bag when the longer range models hit the showrooms in 6 months time. After all, there are still some 2015 e-Golfs sitting around on dealer lots many months after the 2016’s became available.

That’s probably true, and likely why sales are falling.

All thanks to the Chevy Bolt at the various auto shows for truly putting other EV makers on the spot to make their offerings better!

This is why “affordable” BEVs with 200 miles are so important to the EV movement.

Let the range war begin!

I would add don’t forget to thank Tesla, but then I don’t want you to gag. j/k

I said “This is why “affordable” BEVs with 200 miles”

Until Tesla can show an “affordable” BEVs with 200 miles (aka Model 3), it is just talks. On March 31st, I will add Tesla to that “affordable 200 miles BEV” list.

Well you mentioned importance to the ev movement, and since Tesla is the most important car company in the ev movement I will just consider it an oversight.

+1 ffbj

GM began the EV movement with the EV1 in the past century. Tesla Motors started up later as a second “importance to the ev movement”.

+1 ModernMarvelFan

If any company has to be thanked, given the Bolt is a reaction to Tesla, Tesla should be thanked first. Model 3 had always loomed as the “affordable” 200 mile EV, well before the Bolt.

In reality, this is more similar to the 30kWh Leaf, which is a natural evolution of cell chemistry. I doubt it as developed as a reaction to the Bolt, since Samsung SDI had these cells on their road map well before the Bolt concept was unveiled (same with AESC and the Leaf).

It is the other way around. Anyone can publically announce a special veuicle, but GM did it for real and quietly in their labs first. The concept Bolt came out January 2015, so it was years ahead of Tesla Motors.

The Model 3 hasn’t been even pictured yet!

I’m glad to see BMW improve the AER of the i3. Let’s hope they will double AER with Rex and triple AER on the BEV 2017 model.

Hopefully the larger pack will allow them to increase the motor power slightly for a sub 7 second 0-60 !

The BEV already does ~6.5 seconds 0-60… but I agree with you in principle! Might need more traction, though. The i3 is already clearly software limited from a stop to keep from spinning the tires.

Dream On…

For someone who doesn’t road trip, I still find (3 years, 44K miles later) that the 100-120 mile range of the RAV4EV is perfect. 200 miles is nice, but it’s just superfluous for us. My only complaint is the lack of quick charging, but I’d only use it twice a year, so it’s not a terrible flaw.

Too bad our delightful RAV is the last of the breed.

For some reason, Toyota has decided to totally ignore BEV and betting its future on hydrogen fuel cells. I wonder how that bet is going to pan out.

For the outcome perhaps they could look at Kodak or Baldwin locomotives.
Seriously there are different scenarios.
Either they start to push the next plug-in Prius further on ev range in this generation or the fifth generation, either they come up with a pure ev from scratch.
There are still enough ignoring people around so that they can still sell significant numbers of cars to stay afloat for another decade but they will need to have one in 2026 or it is going to be the great plunge.
To be ready by then they must start working on it in 2020 or 2021 at the latest. So they can in a way still wonder around and do fool things like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for about 5 years. After that they need to get in serious ev business if they want to survive post 2026 (and even their stock being severely hammered starting in 2021).
If they go the improved plug-in Prius way, they need to at least match the Volt in ev range and switch to an i3 like serial system with even more ev range on the fifth generation. By the sixth generation they can start to propose a pure BEV plug-in Prius.

I’m with you on the range comment- I am driving a 2016 Leaf with a 30 KWh pack – the only thing stopping it from being a perfect car is the lack of a reliable diverse DCFC network that you can rely on. I really don’t have range anxiety anymore since moving from the 24 to 30 KWh range – but I want to do more regional travel to further destinations. Once you break the 100 mile mark you are pretty good to go wherever – assuming a good DCFC network.

Yes, I can see that 100+ miles of range like in the 2016 LEAF would open up a significant amount more range anxiety free driving. Now the challenge like you said is reliable fast charge infrastructure.
Here is something I wrote recently on that:


The only problem with the LEAF when doing multiple quick charges in a row is the pack temperature starts to skyrocket. And the temp doesnt go down for many hours. This is where the unusual refrigerant cooled BMW pack has a huge advantage in temp control.

There’s a CHAdeMO conversion for the RAV4. If the Rav4 is so perfect why don’t you get the conversion?

All these range increase is good but we still need to have one single communication protocol.

1. Available charging stations (7/14).
2. Status of each vechicle using the charger (10 minute remaining).
3 price ($.22/kWh)
4. Type of charger (chademo, CCS)
6. Charge time limit.
7. Charge parking fee for going over the charge limit.

The Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) is the national entity to establish standards for all land vehicles. Tesla Motors went out on their own (propietary). GM, Ford, BMW, M-B, and many others will follow the SAE J1772 standard. Nissan and TM are the “rebels”, so who will follow them?

I remember how long the progression took with the 286, 386, 486, and Pentium improvements along with disk capacity for PCs. I remember when I got my first 386 computer with….are you sitting down???? a 30MB hard drive. Wow. I was so happy…

I really hope they make the Rex driveline bulletproof this time.

Can you elaborate on your comment? I have heard some rumblings that the Rex may lack in the reliability department, but have seen nothing specific.

No one knows yet, but i think Nissan will bring a Leaf 2017 (first generation) with around 150-160 miles and cheaper than the Bolt to bridge time until End 2017 when Leaf 2018 comes out.

Nah, the 2016 Leaf with 30kwh pack was the bridge to carry the first gen through. Very much doubt the first gen gets another boost in range. Rather they will compete on price to clear out inventory during end of 2016 and into 2017 before the Gen 2 Leaf comes out, which I expect will be middle of 2017.

This would have been my next car, had they only bothered to put 5 seatbelts in it.

Then buy the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV which does have five belts and five full seats, too, with a flat floor that reaches to the door edges. Rewatch all the images and videos of the January 2016 presentation of the Chevy Bolt EV and see why it is (and will always be) a better BEV than the BMW i3.

HELP! please?
I need a graph showing the Wh/miles for 10mph, 20mph and so on.

Thanks very much!

Of the current i3 BEV !

Technically, the gas tank is artificially low to meet CA emissions requirements for an electric car (rather than a lesser hybrid classification). With a greater electric range, they could technically increase the size of the gas tank accordingly as long as the ratios remain consistent. That could turn into a 250 mile range…. With more quick charge stations along major highways like I95, that would make long trips quite feasible as you are only stopping every 3-4 hours to fill up on both gas & electricity.