BMW i3 Poised For 2nd Battery Upgrade. Hopefully A Naming Upgrade As Well…


The 2018 BMW i3 Sport at the Frankfurt Auto Show. I had the opportunity to get an early preview of BMW’s cars at IAA last week.

Fresh off of the Frankfurt introduction of the new BMW i3 exterior refresh and new i3 Sport for 2018, BMWBLOG is now reporting that they have confirmation that 2018 will also bring a new, larger battery option to the i3, albeit later in the year.

In mid-2016, BMW introduced the current 33.84 kWh battery which was an upgrade from the 21.6 kWh battery previously available. That bumped the i3 BEV’s 81 mile range to 114 miles per charge. The new battery, which is being introduced sometime later in 2018, is rumored to have a total capacity of 43.2 kWh and offer an EPA range rating of 150 – 155 miles per charge.

Customers that opt for the range extended version of the 43.2 kWh i3 will have about 230 miles of total driving range without the need to stop to recharge or refuel. The increase in all electric range will place the i3 in a virtual tie with the new Nissan LEAF for the second longest EV range behind the Chevy Bolt, in the “everybody but Tesla” class of electric vehicles. That is of course, until Nissan launches the 60 kWh LEAF, which isn’t expected to be available until the 2019 model year LEAF is out. Audi and Jaguar are also expected to introduce their respective long-range EVs sometime in 2018, and they will also leapfrog the i3 and LEAF in range.

BMW i3 Battery pack

One thing I’d like to see BMW do when they introduce the new battery is stop referring to it by the amount of amp hours for each cell. It’s a completely useless metric, and one that only causes further confusion among potential buyers. No other automaker uses the amp hour (Ah) metric to identify their battery packs. It would almost be as if they started to distinguish their internal combustion engines by the bore & stroke instead of the traditionally-used displacement in liters. It just makes no sense.

Every electric car manufacturer today refers to their battery packs by the total amount of energy it can hold in kilowatt hour (kWh). However, for some reason, when BMW introduced the new battery option for the 2017 i3, they decided to use the Ah metric, and called it the “i3 94 Ah” instead of just the BMW i3, and then listed the battery pack as 33 kWh. They never called the original i3 the “i3 60 Ah”, so why change the designation when introducing the new pack?

Some critics claimed it was intentionally done to confuse buyers, and make the battery sound larger (94 is a bigger number than 33), and make it seem like it was comparable to Tesla’s battery offerings (75, 85, 90 & 100 kWh). Personally, I don’t agree with that assumption, I think it was just a case of BMW product planners wanting to distinguish the new battery as being better, and it was the first time they ever offered a new battery option, so they used the name that their supplier Samsung, uses without realizing the implications.

In any event, I’m happy to hear that BMW will be rolling out the second battery upgrade in two years. The i3 will then have used three different batteries in the first five years of availability, proving that BMW is continuously willing to improve the i3 as better battery technology becomes available.

An internet ad for a new BMW i3. There’s no indication of how large the battery is, only the amp hour rating for each battery cell (the i3 has 96 cells), which is totally useless to the consumer.

My advice to BMW product planners: Drop the Ah designation, please. It’s only confusing your customers, your client advisers and in some cases even journalists writing about the i3. Simply do what every other EV maker does, and call it by the total size of the battery pack, in kilowatt hour. It’s easy, most buyers understand it, and client advisers won’t have to attempt to explain energy density, voltage, cells, and modules to every potential customer that asks how the battery compares to the batteries of the other EVs on the market. EV terminology can be confusing enough for first time buyers, lets not trip over the easy stuff…

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73 Comments on "BMW i3 Poised For 2nd Battery Upgrade. Hopefully A Naming Upgrade As Well…"

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Maybe I will wait on ordering an i3s. However if it’s like the previous upgrade, the 94ah i3s may be lighter and quicker if they don’t further increase HP with a heavier battery.

FYI, looking at my window sticker, I see no reference to 94Ah at all. I just says “33kWh high voltage lithium-ion battery pack with advanced active thermal management system”.

Great Tom!

Ah has a meaning for 12V bateries in ICE, but for EVs the voltage is not standard, so it is meaningless

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“Ah has a meaning for 12V bateries in ICE”

Umm…. all the 12V car batteries I have seen are in CA/CCA.

You never have a 12 volt battery without Ah stated.

I had to google CCA to even know what that was. 😛

Cold Cranking Amps!

This is one of the most fun and underrated SUV’s out there.
But, you need a good BMW salesperson to sell it to you. BMW has corporate discounts, along with taking off the federal tax credit off the lease cost. Find a salesperson who knows how to move these cars. ( Mike at Princeton BMW, NJ. )

But, this is a great fun car, for city and suburban/country driving. The quietness of the battery in the floor, the torque of a small V8, and none of the noise or stink.

With a sophisticated suspension, that’s better then 90% of the cars on the road. And the new i3s gives the car more traction in turns, making it competitive in Porsches in city/suburban/country drives. Of course, the Porsche will still win at Watkins Glen. But, I don’t drive there too often.

Room for 4 adults, and no “Parking Anxiety” with this car, in cities. 99% of the time, the car leaving the parking spot will be larger than the i3.

Recommend leasing, to get the latest safety systems for the next 10 years. The safety revolution is running it’s course too.

I hope that I haven’t purchased a SUV! I don’t think that most people would categorize an i3 as a SUV which to me describes a much larger vehicle. But almost 3 years experience with our 2014 i3 BEV leads me to agree generally with everything else you wrote.

Early Morning, No Coffee….
How did EV turn into SUV???

But, it does sit nicely higher, with better visibility, like an SUV.

More or less same ride height as an X3. About the same space as an X1. It’s not a stretch (he he) to think of the i3 as a crossover ute.

i3 is nowhere close to any SUV… ::sigh::

The i3 is also very economic if you want it to be. You can easily get 4.6 miles per kWh in your driving if you put it into Eco-Pro mode, which is only a modest reduction in total power.

Some guys are getting up to 6.2 m/kWh though.

What is wrong with distinguishing between battery packs capacity by indicating, what Ah has a single cell used to build it?
As long as this is referring to the same vehicle model is as good as Sport->Comfort->Executive ranking the equipment in car.
What is really impressive and yet ignored in this article, is the fact that the cell supplier was able to double the cell capacity without changing the form factor which allowed BMW to use exactly the same manufacturing lines! (therefore no extra cost).
This is something!

BMWBLOg also mentionned this:

“At the same time, the high loads will be more efficient in this battery pack, so it will have better discharging curve, therefore leading to a higher than 25 percent range increase.”

So expect more then just 25% increase in range. These are all good news and Samsung SDI seems to meet its roadmap milestone.

While it’s great that they are improving the range, if the 150 mi variant came out THIS year, I would already consider it late to market. By 2018 it’s going to be woefully behind nearly all BEV competitors despite it’s significantly higher price.

I know the car well (owned a 2014) and am very aware of the other positive aspects, but I simply wouldn’t expect most buyers to get past the uncompetitive price/mile-of-range metric. It’s hard for me even as a former owner! Especially given the limited availability of (relatively) slow CCS charging plugs.

If BMW can get some manufacturing cost reductions on the later 2018 i3, and lower the MSRP on the extended range REx version, I wonder how many Nissan Leaf 2019 (60 kWh) fence sitters, would pull the trigger, late in the 2018 Model year, on the 2018 i3 REx?

Why wait a few more months, if it at all, for the 200+ mile 2019 Leaf (60kWh) to arrive, when the late 2018 BMW i3 REx could really be quite a compelling alternative. Just a little more cash per month (+$75.00 approx.) on a 30 or 36 month/36k mi. Lease payment, is probably all it would take to move a lot more BMW i3 REx.

I’m not sure Kwh has any more meaning to the average car buy than Ah. Driving range is the number that counts. For all I care they could refer to the batteries as Size A, Size B, and Size C.

The only metric that really counts is how far it will go.

Problem with now changing, you’ve gone from:
94Ah sedan
to a 60KW sedan…Now you may further confuse people into thinking the previous 94Ah sedan has more capacity…

Which brings us to the reason why BMW chose to list AH instead of kWh. IMO, it was a marketing tactic for comparison against Tesla. Model S 60, Model S P85, BMW i3 94. Frankly, I find this sleezy and that’s being nice.

I havent bought gas for over 5 years but very seriously considering a used 2014 Rex i3. I have a Leaf as my only car and it dosent have the options I want and I want to be able to make it to the auto train without stopping. Other than that the 75 mile AER is more than enough for my daily needs. hell, I may even go to the coast in the i3..Are there any issues with the little BMW gas motor or the Rex in general???? Anyone? Tom?? Bueller? anyone?

The Kymco scooter motor really baffles me. I have read false reports that BMW builds this little engine in Germany. In fact, it is produced in Taiwan by the well-known budget scooter company. I say no wonder people who rely on it are experiencing issues. Look at the price. This fellow who compares the handling to a Porsche is dillusional. I understand fandom, but gee whiz, folks, the i3 isn’t as good as these rose-colored glasses wearers say. I like how he lists the dealer and salesman… I really like the i8, even though from a practicality viewpoint it also makes no sense. Sports cars are emotional buys and they don’t need to make sense. On the other hand, BMW really asks far too much money for i3. Now they are forced to keep upping battery size just to barely keep up with a Nissan! – And i3 fans sound as if BMW is really onto something! We’ll see the MSRP then we can determine if BMW deserves anything more than the thought that they’re desperately trying to sell these things to pay off the R&D and all the expense the “new think” factory cost them. All this “Most efficient”… Read more »

I’d say if you end up running REX often, you got yourself a wrong car. i3 is best suited for the short distance city/ suburban driving with only occasional REX use. I live in a suburb of Baltimore- a fairly large city- ended up going through one tank in a year /12k miles. At this rate the engine will last forever.

did i see you friday at lunch time driving by the ball fields Ravens/Orioles? Grey i3?

I heard reports that the early REX cars had a fault with the fuel tank. The fuel tank has to depressurize before you can open the filler cap but if the problem does occur you open the frunk and find the green gas flap pull button on the passenger side in back (shown in the manual). Disengage the button and gently pull on it until the filler cap releases.

94Ah isn’t the rating of each cell. It’s the rating for the entire pack.

It’s about a 350V pack and this says it’s 94Ah pack.

350V * 94Ah is 32900VAh. A VA is a W, so that would make it a 32.9kWh pack.

I know people are used to kWh. And I’m not saying BMW shouldn’t use it. But Ah is a valid way to measure packs and in fact it’s the best way to do it, as the voltage on the pack changes as it charges and discharges. Thus when doing the design work the pack is surely specified in Ah. Every pack is.

But for marketing, perhaps you want kWh.

Anyway, I think a naming upgrade isn’t really what this car needs. It needs an appearance upgrade. And a remove those goofy doors upgrade. And a make the car drive like a BMW upgrade. And a make the interior be luxurious to match the marque/price upgrade.

I think the design is fine, but the price no longer is.


Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t most consumer electronic device batteries rated in Ahrs. I get that you would need to know the pack voltage to get to kWh. But isn’t the Ahr rating really a better indicator of capacity.

Ah has no meaning without the voltage.
Smart phones have all the same voltage, well more or less. It’s actually between 3.6V and 3.8V.
BEVs have mostly same voltage, but PHEVs have lower voltage.

Stating the Ah is like saying, the BMW consumes 10 Liter gas per hour without mentioning the speed.

So you will be confusing lots of people with this Ah nonesense. KWh is the unit for capacity.
That’s exactly what BMW is trying to do here: lie, cheat, deceive and confuse the customer. This is the only way to make good profits and they are succefull too!

“Every electric car manufacturer today refers to their battery packs by the total amount of energy it can hold in kilowatt hour (kWh).”

Tesla appears to be backing away from this, emphasizing range instead of battery capacity.

How about dropping the price?

For its current range and price,it’s a failure. Just because it has a BMW badge, does not mean they can price it like their ice cars. While I think the bolt bolt is fugly,and no leather delete on the fully loaded model,the range is impressive.

Actually other than Tesla, who actually puts a numbered badge (whether kWh or not) on their vehicles?

Tom – add me to the list interested in dropping the “Ah”

I’ve never been asked at a charging station what model I have – people ask me “What is that? How far does it go?”

IMHO just have i3 and i3 rEx and nerds like me will dig into the rest. Even the kWh numbers can be confusing because the efficiency varies so much – not just driver to driver but EV to EV.

I know – that’s a can of worms to open another time…

Honestly keep to kwh. It’s simpler. The epa rating underestimates how far a car will actually go, as many u.s. Drivers have found out. The nedc overestimates by around 15% as many European drivers have found out. Unless you drive on flat roads at 30 mph! So just using ‘range’ is misleading. Kwh makes it easier to compare battery capacity.

If this new pack is backward compatible with the original i3, like the current 2 pack types are, then that will be excellent. You might be able to pickup a cheap gen1 and replace the battery pack in an economical way. For all the carbon fibre (I assume they are still using that) and associated costs, it doesn’t seem to me that that i3 is getting that much more range than a non carbon fibre car. Maybe they should drop the carbon fibre and use traditional materials so the price can be reduced. Although, it is a BMW and that marquee commands a premium price where I live, so really no surprise. It’s not a Nissan! They’ve all got about a year or two to really pick up their EV game, and after that Tesla Model 3 becomes generally available, at similar price point, with much higher brand recognition and consumer lust. Everyone I know is aware of Tesla, they don’t really know what it is, but they all think it is something great. Mention any other EV and they have no idea. Even the Super Chargers are a talking point, “what are those red and white things?” Never get… Read more »

It’s a heck of a lot better than the Nissan Leaf, that I own.

I have the 2014, with over 62K miles on it. I just recently lost a bar on it.

I really want to drive that car for multiple decades, if I can help it. (I had my Honda Accord for 20 years).

I’d sure like to replace my battery with a much larger one when the time comes. BMW lets you do that, while Nissan says go buy a new car (at this time).

So for folks complaining, you have it easy compared to us Leaf owners.

A true test would be to race an i3 with the 2018 1\2 battery pack against a Bolt EV, Ioniq EV and LEAF II with American suspension tuning around a nice road course, like Road Atlanta or Watkins Glen.

The addition of a popular ICE hatch like a Golf (non-GTI) would set off the whole comparison for price vs. EV performance.

I long for such test to quell all the claims you hear on threads like these.

What would that be a true test of?

I don’t drive Road Atlanta or Watkins Glen to work and I’m not accelerating flat-out and braking full force like you are on a racetrack.

A true test to confirm or deny the blissful, glowing accounts of i3 owners and admirers who gleefully eat up every word that emanates from

If the i3 isn’t the fast performer they claim it is, then It’s just an electric car – an odd-looking box of an electric car that seats 4 and has awkward, extra cab pickup truck rear doors that trap people in the rear when in tight spaces and only open when the fronts are open and close in a dance that will confuse your rear passengers, especially kids.

At over $52,000 U.S. for the ReX, and well over $40,000 for the EV you get a nice, trendy but stark interior and the electric range of a LEAF.

If it were truly, The Ultimate Driving Machine, it may be worth the cost.

I detect ire and resentment in your post. Do you fume about two seater cars twice as much as four seat sedans? Not seating 5 is a design spec that makes the rear roomy and comfortable. Would it have been better to shoehorn a fake middle seat in the back like a Volt?

BTW, BMW rarely sells at the sticker price, unlike Tesla – so comparing MSRP is misleading.

Is “resentment” your takeaway because I only ask for truth?

Look, brand loyalty is a thing I understand.It’s something that isn’t always rational. I’m just commenting on responses like the ones above that paint i3 in a glowing light. Hey, I Don’t care what brand it is, To me, it’s an EV. In that respect, we EV fans like to and have every right to give our impression and opinions. Below, I list what I like about the car.

As for negotiable price, there should be wiggle room. Yet I have never seen an i3 that wasn’t a used car sell off the lot for LEAF, Ioniq or Golf EV money.

Tesla price metrics are hard to compare, as there are preorder and spec rollout issues abounding. You may agree with auto dealer associations that direct sales,are bad. I do not. As a former car salesman, I believe the horse trading system is extremely cumbersome and places many consumers at a tactical disadvantage.

Yes, the door setup is inconvenient when parked in tight spaces, but is very good for in other respects. I like it because it makes buckling up the kids easier. No need to run around the rear doors.

There are a couple things I do like about the i3.

It’s electric and even the ReX owners drive it mostly as an electric car.

It’s interior does only seat 4 but that may work for some people. Especially as a commuter and not a family car per se. Nuts to those that call it a CUV though -they just don’t accurately define that category of car. GM stretches that term to It’s limits when they tag Bolt EV as a CUV, but calling i3 one is silly.

i3’s interior does appeal to the designer in me. I like the simple, modern look of it and the lightweight seats are far better executed than Bolt’s controversial butt busters. Kudos to anyone for lightweighting seats, a great place to cut poundage.

Rear wheel drive. Any rear drive car handles in a.more logical and predictable way than a FWD. i3’s skinny and tall wheels just cut back on that benefit a good deal.

For simplicity and cost, I’m a rear wheel drive fan. If cost is no concern, AWD is my top preference.

“Every electric car manufacturer today refers to their battery packs by the total amount of energy it can hold in kilowatt hour (kWh).”

Err, no. Some of the biggest sellers refer to their battery packs by the usable amount of energy. Examples are Renault (ZE40), Kia (e.g. Soul EV) and, I think, Hyundai with the IONIQ.

Is the higher capacity battery compatible with earlier models like 2014 I3?

Was able to successfully return my 2015 using the lemon law.
Literally , the car wanted to visit the dealer every week.
I am surprised how a EV can have so many quality issues. So much more Happy with my Volt. works as it should