BMW Sales Chief: Next i Car Is In “Final Stages Of Consideration”


The next BMW i vehicle, expected to be a crossover i5, is apparently “in the final stages of consideration,” according to BMW sales chief Ian Robertson.

Robertson made this statement at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show where he told press the following:

“We have a number of options that are in the final stages of consideration.”

“The i unit will continue to develop.”

It’s not entirely clear as to what will power the i5.  Some sources say it will be hydrogen fuel cell powered, while others suggest it will be a PHEV like the BMW i8.  There’s no indication that it will be a BEV at this time.


Separately, BMW’s chief financial officer, Friedrich Eichiner, stated:

“We don’t think it makes sense to load up cars with hundreds of kilos of battery power in order to get the long ranges. That’s not a solution. We think battery capacity is going to double for the same amount of weight before long.”

We don’t expect the i5 to launch until 2018 or so.  In the meantime, BMW will likely make minor tweaks to its existing i cars: the BMW i3 and BMW i8.

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32 Comments on "BMW Sales Chief: Next i Car Is In “Final Stages Of Consideration”"

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If BMW has any sense, they’ll makke it 200+ miles range BEV to compete against Bolt/Model3, maybe with small range extender as option like i3.

Yeh or a 200 mile i3 and since this is an i5 then put 85 kwh’s in there.

What BMW said is bull. We saw the other day that these cells are priced NOW at 150$/kwh.

There is no reason you can’t load up with them at that price. Especially since you are paying a premium for a BMW.

The weight issue is bogus also.

Yeah especially as they’re presumably going to carry on using CFRP which offsets a lot of the battery weight, even if it was an issue.

I think it’s just the usual case of them not having a long range BEV so saying that they don’t make any sense. Once they do have one it will of course make perfect sense.

BMW doesn’t like compromise, and current batteries have loads: cost, mass, volume, and recharge time. If BMW can figure out how to make a long range BEV that meets their high standards, they will do it. BMW is not afraid of making BEVs (see the i3) but they aren’t afraid of hybrids or FCEVs either.

I think BMW will not make any larger EV until they can put 150 kWh into a car with less than 2000 kg weight.

As long as their cars have a baseline EV range of 100+ miles, and are available with optional range extenders (gas or Hydrogen) they will continue to do fine.
– The mistake would be to go the Toyota route, and sell the cars without plugin-ability. If you can use the cars on your ‘normal’ days without going to a gas/Hydrogen filling station, it really doesn’t matter much if you need to fill preferably gas on longer trips.

I wonder how they can make Hydrogen fuel cell a viable economic solution though.

All cars have compromises, including the i3 and i8. As much as a love those two cars it’s deluded to they only didn’t do a long range EV because they won’t compromise.

You only need to look a at Tesla to see what’s possible, and that’s from a startup. If BMW had pursued the same path I’m sure they would be much further along by now.

To be fair to BMW, the $150/kWh only applies to the high density NMC/NCM cells from LG. BMW’s battery partner is Samsung SDI and they have indicated similar chemistry from them will not be ready until 2019:

GeorgeS said:

“What BMW said is bull. We saw the other day that these cells are priced NOW at 150$/kwh.”

Hmmm, actually, what we saw were a couple of claims that GM was paying LG Chem $145 or $150 per kWh for their new battery cells.

That doesn’t mean that LG Chem has sufficient production to supply BMW too; nor does it necessarily mean that BMW could negotiate such a low price with LG Chem, assuming that’s really the price GM is paying. GM has been buying cells from LG for years, so they may be getting a “preferred customer” price.

I also think we should be more skeptical of the $145-150 per kWh claim. EV makers have kept the actual price they pay for cells as a trade secret, to prevent competitors from knowing exactly how much they’re paying; why would GM suddenly make this info public?

SparkEV –

I agree with your comment. I’m thinking that with battery cells now at $150/kWh, they could put 70kWh ($10.5K) in the i5, get the range over 200 mi, price the car at $50K to $60K (nice margins), and give Tesla a real bad time.

I also agree with George S’s comments: range extenders are quickly becoming obselete.

I’m puzzled about the continuing interest in hydrogen. With $150/kWh batteries, that should soon be in the rear view mirror.

If by “quickly”, you mean an industry average of 14% per year improvement in cost per kWh for commodity cells?

Yes, things are improving nicely, but I’m not sure that is quick enough to eliminate the need for PHEV’s in the time frame this story is talking about.

“That’s not a solution” ??? Wrong…

Its proven few times to be a solution, many a times quite an attractive one.

You should read “thats not a solution for BMW cars” (which might be true, especially for BMW follower)

…not read “thats not a solution for a lot of people” (which would be wrong)

re: minor tweaks – What about an exterior option without that black hood/back panel? It would make the car a bit less ugly (beauty being in the eye of the beholder, of course)

Maybe a 150 miles extended range car? Something like a i3 i8 crossover, with the i3s battery pack with double the energy density, as he hinted, but a more powerful 3 cylinder (but less than the one in the i8) as a range extender. That could provide near abundant electric range, while being able to drive long distances without any fast charging stations required. It might be rather expensive though.

At 150$/kwh range extenders are becoming obsolete.

And they burn / use hydrocarbons in some form, so still not a solution.

Waiting to have the market label you as outdated and against electromobility just to wait fo the costs of batteries to go down, seems like a myopic and highly risky product strategy. Others willing to fully embrace BEVs will be given a significant business advantage…

It’s not that simple. It’s not all about the batteries matching the cost of the ICE range extending cost.

It’s more about the speed, simplicity and convenience of being able to fill up on longer trips.
That will still be worth a lot to many people.

Not to underestimate cheaper batteries though which will severly increase the market share and number of people choosing BEV.

“speed, simplicity and convenience”?
Electricity is simpler and more convenient. Its available in your own home. No need to go to a gas station or charging station.
For longer trips you can use a quick charge. Batteries are such that you should be able to change any size battery to 80% in 20 minutes given a sufficiently powerful charger. 20 minutes is a great stop after a few hours driving. Not inconvenient. Fast enough.

As you mentioned: “if a decent charger…”

BMW will do it (Rex -> pure BEV only) when the global highway charger with 150 kW (Chademo or CCS) are deployed.

I wonder how you think someone should charge up at home during a long distance trip. Extension cords? 😛

And if you don’t see why a majority would prefer the massive advantage, speed and simplicity of filling up from an already built out network of gas stations when on a long distance trip compared to a much slower, less frequent, poorly working charging network then I can’t help you.

Range extended EVs will be here for a long time after the battery price goes down to equal the ICE cost for a Tesla-esque range.

BMW is more interested in drivers, and that’s why EREV i5 shouldn’t surprise.

There needs to be PHEV racing formula, with not just KERS, but batteries that can show up full.

BMW/VW/Porsche already have better electric power figures, per supplied kwh. A more practical 3rd “i” car is likely to continue respecting the challenges of energy density, and avoid the 2-minute over-heats that BEVs experience. They just need to approach the i3’s range, and then they won’t have to build a DCFC network.

The only challenge, like George S is getting at, is how quickly engine + battery no longer makes $$ sense, and the fundamental fact you can’t give your customer the same space in a PHEV.

I don’t really buy that. How many people in their target segment for the “i” cars will take an i3 or an i5 to a track (esp. a crossover version)?

There may be other considerations, but I don’t think track driving is one of them.

Well, a lot has changed for BMW. AWD has taken over, and you’re right that 5-series buyers are no longer the track types. We’ll see what BMW wants to market, for its next “I”. All (two) of them come in a REx version, so far.

All BMW shall perform at least ok on the track. A poor driving BMW won’t sell.

I would make it a 100 miles real life ev range car with a rex that can start from the very beginning if you know you are going for a long trip. Of course it would have a proper size fuel tank of 10 gallons and four normal doors. As an extra the rex would be able to export electricity as well.
For higher quality I would integrate a Bose type electromagnetic active suspension system able to lift the wheel in front of an electronically detected pothole.

I would actually have to say that would be a fairly enticing option – 100 miles EV with a decent REx option – but it must maintain a reasonable onboard charger of at least 6 KW and have DCQC option as well.

I love my Leaf, and am a bit up in the air yet for when my lease ends next August. A 2016 Leaf with the 30 KWh battery seems like a reasonable option. I don’t like the idea of the 2016 Volt due to its 3.6 KW OBC and no fast charging. But a mix between the two would have me quickly sold as long as it didn’t have the suicide doors like the i3 and had at least the seating and space of the Leaf.

Last month, wasn’t BMW telling everyone the i Program was on hold until 2020 and no new models would be introduced? Now BMW is releasing “news” about the i5. This feels like PR (propaganda re-invented) trying and counter backlash from Volkswagen.

Try not to make a weirdmobile or an extremely expensive car that few can afford.

For 99% of my driving my BEV i3 is great, but my occasional longer trips it would be nice to have more range but the same performance. Looking forward to larger batteries that weigh the same but have more storage. I would like it if the BEV used the space where the REX goes as a place to plugin a booster battery(s) as an option. It would never weigh more than a REX. With it not plugged in, I would still get my great performance during short trips, because I could remove it but if I am going further, I could plug it in and get an extra 30-70 miles and get performance similar to a REX. These batteries could be swapped for fully charged ones as well. Perhaps utilizing multiple modules so they don’t get too heavy. The big advantages of this over the REX is that we only carry the extra weight when I need it, it won’t pollute, it is quiet and the swappability brings flexibility. This would also not require the infrastructure that Tesla’s battery swap system requires. The hole where the REX goes on the BEV seems like wasted space! Finally I hope BMW forgets… Read more »

I’m afraid this won’t be a BEV or BEVx, but just another PHEV 🙁

That would be disappointing . . . but any plug-in addition is appreciated. If it is a PHEV, they better give it decent electric range.