BMW: Next i Model Coming After 2020 – Improved Battery For i3 & i8 Coming Soon


It appears as though we’ll be waiting until at least 2020 for the next unique BMW i model.

According to BMW Group research and development chief, Klaus Froehlich, the automaker is still in the brainstorming phase for its next i model.

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

All i models are and will be ground-up designs.  BMW has no intention of re-packing an existing model and calling it an i, says Froehlich.

Froehlich adds:

“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.”

So, expect to see both the i3 and i8 get substantially updated within two years or less, since both have already been on the market for quite awhile now.

An often-asked question was tossed Froehlich’s way.  The question was whether or not current i3/i8 owners will be able to upgrade when better battery tech comes.  Froehlich’s answer was no:

“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.”

Source: Automotive News

Categories: BMW

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36 Comments on "BMW: Next i Model Coming After 2020 – Improved Battery For i3 & i8 Coming Soon"

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A retrofit battery doesn’t make sense for BMW, but it makes sense for many current i3 owners, especially the BEV version!




I always assumed that EVs will last longer than batteries, so many i3 cars will at some stage need a new battery, and at that stage it makes sense to buy the latest technology.

Totally agreed. Too bad phone manufacturers don’t take the same approach 🙂

They do… Unless the consumer for some uneconomic and environmentally irresponsible reason buys a phone model which doesn’t have a user-replaceable battery.
(A smartphone will easily do the job for 3-4 years… Its battery will typically lose 30% capacity after 18 months)

BMW are not interested because it is their business to sell new cars, not prevent new car sales by retrofitting older cars with the latest battery tech.

However, this creates an interesting opportunity for a creative startup to offer battery upgrades. By the time the battery needs replacing the warranty will have run out anyhow. They could even use the old battery for grid storage and make money selling power stored at night back to the grid during peak hours.

Yeah, it “doesn’t make sense” to BMW ‘cuz they’d rather sell you a new car than a new battery pack.

It’s the EV market version of forcing you to buy a new copy of the same software you’ve been using for years, instead of rewarding loyal customers with an upgrade at a minimal fee.

I’m not so sure about that. It would be quite expensive to upgrade the battery, would you really want to throw away a fully functioning battery for a modest upgrade that you might not even need in most cases? That would significantly increase your cost/mile calculation!

I think most people that are satisfied with the car today (i.e. has learned to live with the range they already got) would find that it’s an unnecessary luxury. Now, when the battery reaches its end of life naturally, that’s another story. At that point I do think people would gladly buy the larger battery but that is far off in the future.

BMW actually has a project to use old batteries from EVs for energy storage. So when swapping a battery pack for a newer one there is no need to trash the old batteries.

Part of the EREV (or REx) argument was having a fallback, when the gas mileage percentage begins to creep up. There will be plenty of home storage systems…powered by Leaf batteries.

BMW is using policies derived from selling ICEVs for too long. EVs are a new ballgame and require new thinking. If BMW doesn’t offer upgraded traction batteries for the older models, you can bet an aftermarket group will. And, it might be Tesla.

By setting this policy in the hope of selling more new cars, they may actually be selling less cars because people want to know their cars will be supported in the long run. Even ICEVs, are on the roads for an average of about 16 years. The average for EVs may be even longer because of lower maintenance requirements.

This is a bad policy call by BMW.

Obvious he’s another one of these BMW executives how has his head in the clouds…like the guys who call the i3 an urban car yet don’t include extension cords for all the folks who live above the second floor.

His attitude makes this the first and last EV I purchase from BMW. I’ll just wait for the Model 3. At least we can can rely on American ingenuity and Tesla to retrofit batteries as they improve.

Glad to hear they are going to expand the batteries on the i3 and i8. Both need it.

I feel a little sorry for the current owners but that is the price of being an early adopter. I’ve certainly had a lot of my stuff go obsolete fast. 😉

No need to feel sorry for me. Our i3 BEV’s range is sufficient for us and will always be so (we live on an island).

I wouldn’t spend money on an upgraded battery pack until our battery pack degrades enough to make our i3’s range insufficient assuming this occurs after the 8-year battery pack warranty has expired. If a new EV of a similar size and weight is not available at that time, I would buy an upgraded battery pack from a 3rd-party vendor which almost certainly would be less expensive than anything sold by BMW.

This same pattern is occurring with those of us who own early Honda Insights whose battery packs are now out of warranty. Honda sells only rebuilt battery packs made of used cells. 3rd-party vendors sell less expensive battery packs with new, higher-capacity cells. I expect the same to occur with all mass-produced EV’s.

+1 Art

I fully expect a healthy selection of after-market batteries, especially for high volume EVs, like the LEAF and i3. As soon as the 200 mile EVs hit the market in a few years, demand will be there to retrofit older EVs.

I remember that Inside EV’s had a story that the i-miev and the Honda Electric Car use the lowest density batteries that are half the density of the Nissan Leaf. If BMW is going to be raising the energy density of their batteries by 7% to 20% every three years. It would make sense to swap out the batteries in a Honda EV and Mitsubishi i-miev in that you would get a double benefit. The first benefit is by swaping the battery on the Honda which as if now the Honda gets 80 if you doubled the power or doubled power and added 20% to that the range would go up to 170 miles in a existing EV. If you did this for the i-miev the range would rise to 150 miles on a charge.

If I could do something like this for $2000 to $3000 I would be willing to if I like the car in that I once had a transmission rebuilt on a 1985 Corvette.

The auto industry is in the business of selling new cars, not retrofitting old ones. Tesla is a bit of an oddball here, but I wouldn’t expect that to last forever either.

It depends what you mean by “auto industry”. I consider the vendors at SEMA as part of the auto industry

Imagine if the i3 REx came out in 2013 with a 150 mile electric + 150 mile extended on gas.

The Isetta 3 that could! 😉

“It appears as though we’ll be waiting until at least 2020 for the next unique BMW i model”

Some name suggestions:

iThink We Missed the Boat
iM Sure We Lost Market Share

Come on BMW, make a midsize 200+ mile BEV already.

You have to give it to them though, considering all of the peculiarities the i3 has sold quite reasonably well. BMW has a lot to offer, hell, they have everything to offer, but yes, perhaps sooner is better than later.

LOL, kdawg’s Friday comedy.

According to Klaus Froehlich,
“All i Models ARE AND WILL BE GROUND-UP Designs.”

This has not worked well:
‘Ground’ here is used as a past participle from the verb ‘grind’ meaning to turn into fine/small pieces.

Having ground the cost out of every area of car manufacturing with the i3, they produced
a dated, compromised product.

Let’s hope that among the lessons learned BMW will: 1-Recognize that it makes more sense to improve the car, allowing it to sell itself, rather than wasting money in advertising, where they have been forced to “out spend” the Industry. 2-Decide what they building, a $30,000 car, that they attempt to sell for $60,000, didn’t work.
So, are they to be the King of the $35,000,
EV market or the Honest competitor to the Tesla? 3-listen to the discerning comments from EV advocates, who have purchased Other cars.

No question that there will be high quality higher capacity batteries from 3rd parties as soon as the market is big enough to support it.

From engines to transmissions to carburetors to alternators. They all get rebuilt. Battery will be one of the highest value rebuilds of all time. said:

“No question that there will be high quality higher capacity batteries from 3rd parties as soon as the market is big enough to support it.”

Certainly. But two caveats:

1. Low (or at least lower) production volume in battery packs means higher cost.

2. Installing a 3rd party battery pack will void the car’s warranty.

So it makes more sense for an aftermarket battery pack to be installed by the buyer of a used EV, rather than the initial owner to upgrade while the car is still under warranty.

I think Lensman is right here. Although 3rd party battery enhancements will eventually hit the market, it still might not happen for a while. Only the Leaf or Tesla has sold enough cars to *maybe* warrant it . . . but the Tesla doesn’t need it and the Leaf market is probably still not big enough yet.

I think before we see actual 3rd party full replacement packs, we’ll see folks figuring out how to retro-fit newer packs into older cars.

Maybe more powerful used i3 packs from, something like a wrecked 2018 i3 (or whatever ends up getting a more powerful battery from the factory).

Or battery pack rebuilders like the folks who rebuild old Prius packs with newer battery cells for people who have batteries fail.

But I agree that it won’t happen until we see people already past their eight-year, 100,000 mile warranty period. Until then paying full price to replace a perfectly working battery will be hard to justify vs. trading in on a new Bolt or Model 3 (or S).

50K for a decent i3 worth upgrading, plus 25K for a replacement pack with more range, and you’ve got enough money to buy a pretty nice Model S 70D with 3 times the usable range

A 20% improvement on i3 range would put it over 100 miles EPA. That would be a welcome change, and would make the BEV version more appealing, for sure. The i8 won’t benefit much from 20%. It needs like 100% range improvement.

Also, just because BMW isn’t going to be building any more i series cars until 2020 does not mean that it won’t be producing more PHEVs of existing models. I’m under the impression they have a lot of PHEVs in the pipeline.

If BMW comes out with a 100 mile i3 in a couple of years to compete with the 200 mile LEAF, Bolt and Model 3, they aren’t going to sell very well. They need to be thinking about doubling their BEV range, not increasing it by 20%.


Indeed. A 20% boost might be fine for next year or maybe the year after that. But beyond that, the Model 3 & Bolt should be on the market or at least massively hyped such that 20% boost will look like peanuts then.

I think that statement is typical BMW conservatism. They want to maintain their credibility.

I personally don’t have a problem with them pivoting and focusing on putting out some of their non-“i” PHEV’s that they’ve been talking about over the next couple of years.

Their SUV and 3-Series PHEV’s seriously need to come to market soon. The success of the REX in the i3, and the success of the i8 show that they have a good market opportunity for PHEV’s. I know it doesn’t make the BEV purists sparkle, but BMW really does need to prioritize putting out some more conventional bodied PHEV’s really soon.

If they actually do that, I’m not going to throw any stones at them for waiting to build an i5 until later.

Yeah, I have to believe there will be a big market for 3rd party drop in battery upgrades. The structure and peripherals in an i3 BEV should be good for the longer haul. Can’t wait for this!

If this means the i5 with 4 doors, 5 seats, a proper trunk and a normal 10 gallon tank won’t be there until 2020, then BMW can be considered to be actively blocking the ev cars to protect its pure thermal conventional lineup. This is an effective drag feet war tactic against ev, exactly the same as as been waged for decades by the oilies.

The strategy is cristal clear, deny, suppress, drag feet, compete to undermine profits from true players. BMW is an hypocrite.