How BMW Slashed Tooling Costs For i3 – Video


This episode of Autoline After Hours investigates how BMW slashed the cost of making the i3:

“A look how BMW slashed the cost of making the i3, even though it uses one of the most expensive materials you can buy.”

Tooling Cost Comparison

Tooling Cost Comparison

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38 Comments on "How BMW Slashed Tooling Costs For i3 – Video"

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This helps explain why they were so cheap on the implementation of their frunk…

How so?

He was trying to be funny. I think.


Meanwhile from an actual i3 owner: “Overall I’m very happy with my i3 and there isn’t another car I’d prefer to have.”


But how does not having to buy steel stamp tooling have anything to do w/the frunk?

Cost reduced minimal storage tray that’s not secure from the elements or debris a vehicle is normally exposed to.

There is no excuse for introducing a car with a non-weather resistant frunk, as there is absolutely no excuse for fail to devise a free dealer-installed fix once the issue became known to people who bought the car. Installing weather stripping isn’t exactly rocket science.

Depending on how they designed the hood (and indications are that that frunk was just an afterthought), weatherstripping might not solve the problem.

They could just provide another plastic cover for the bin. Can’t cost more than a couple dollars. Better than getting all your stuff wet and dirty or having to find a separate bin/bag that fits that space well.

See here:

You are in for an (unpleasant) surprise if you thought that the i3’s frunk is actually a frunk rather than a weather exposed bin.

The i8 has the same bin in its hood, it just has even less cover.

I think autoline and Bmw have a very cozy relationship, as in autoline is a paid outlet for positive stories on Bmw products.

Interesting.. So it sounds like carbon fiber is good for low-production-volume cars, but maybe not so good for high volume?

I would have liked to see more of the cost breakdown. How did the savings on tooling up compare to the increased cost of using carbon fiber, and how would increasing or decreasing the number of units affect the per-unit cost?

Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂


They seem to be selling just fine at the current price.

Someone once said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” Not sure who first said it. It might have been a GM Exec, talking about their ELR? 😉

So this is an article about the BMW i3 and you are still trying to bring in GM hate?

It’s not hate. I just like to provide relevant context, history or examples, wherever useful. 😉

GM better hope it doesn’t take as long to dispel the bad image they made for themselves as it took them to grow and foment it.

Oft attributed to P.T. Barnum actually said by one of his rivals. Though Barnum uttered the famous: “You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

They are LEASING just fine at the Current Price.

In the beginning,,The Active-E drivers were offer the car at $960/month with a gimmicky, never seen before, “lease-like” package that had a ballon payment at the end. The Dealers were baffled ! There was NO Lease program !

That was as transparently phony as the claims about the cars superiority !

Now, you may Lease the car for $250/month with a bit of cash up front.

“They are selling just fine”

I don’t think so!

I think you’ve pretty much described the scenario for every EV on the market right now.


Don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel. 😉

I have driven an i3 on many occasions (have a close friend who owns one). It is a great car. Drives well, accelerates well, the REx is well thought out. It has a few defects – the back doors are more style than function. Futuristic and cool. Very far from a golf cart, caps notwithstanding…

Too bad it looks awful. Kinda like a golf cart, actually.

It looks like a concept car that drove right off the stage onto the streets. PErsonally I think it took brass balls to produce this car and I applaud BMW for taking risks and not making a car that looks the same as every other car since 1984.

I am impressed with the development of new construction materials and the weight saving these new materials bring.

That said, with a pack energy density of just 95 Wh/mi, this has the least energy density by weight of every current EV. If BMW had built as good as Tesla (233 Wh/kg) using the same amount of weight, they would have achieved 213 miles of EPA range.

If BMW wants to build a serious EV, they need to improve their battery considerably.

Where did you get the density figure for the i3? Is is pack or cell density? Remember that BMW uses pouch batteries.

If your numbers were correct, it would mean that BMW could achieve comparable range as the Model S at 60% of the weight. That seems unlikely to me.

Thanks for double-checking my work. It turns out my calculations for the Tesla pack were overstated. I went back and calculated the following based on the links provided.

I found the cells were rated at 130 Wh/kg from the manufacturer.

BMWs battery pack is 22kWh with 18.8 kWh usable. The battery pack weighs 450 lbs (205 kg)

This corresponds to a battery pack energy density of 92 Wh/kg (usable capacity).

However, I miscalculated the energy density of the Tesla. Rated miles on the Tesla 85 (RWD) are calculated as 286 Wh/kg, so it appears that there are only 75.8 kWh usable from an MS85 (265*286 = 75790 Wh)

Tesla’s battery weighs 1323 lbs (601 kg), so the Tesla density is 126 Wh/mi.

Given the ratios of the Telsa pack to the BMW pack, BMW could have achieved 110 miles with the same weight of battery pack but with Tesla’s better energy density.

Small units correction. The rated miles for the Tesla MS85 is 286 Wh/mi, not 286 Wh/kg.

That sounds more reasonable.

Another factor to consider is space density. I read somewhere that the Samsung SDI cells used by BMW have the highest space density in the industry. Using Tesla’s batteries might have forced them to make the i3 bigger (which would also result in more weight).

It seems inappropriate to me to consider battery pack energy density as a stand-alone characteristic. Other factors are more important. For example, Tesla battery packs have a liquid cooling system which obviously works quite well, considering that Tesla battery packs have proven to age quite slowly.

Should we compare that to the Leaf’s battery pack, which has no cooling system at all, not even forced air circulation… which has lead to premature aging of a lot of Leaf battery packs?

Obviously there is a lot more to choosing an appropriate battery technology than just energy/weight density, e.g. cost, size, safety, charge cycles, temperature tolerance, complexity of the modules, and many more. Each battery pack technology chosen by a manufacturer represents a complex set of engineering trade-offs (including the Tesla/Panasonic ones which have their own drawbacks).

Hmmm, on re-reading my post, I’m not sure I made my point clear.

The Tesla’s battery pack sacrifices some pack (not cell) energy density by incorporating a liquid cooling system, and also by using small cylindrical cells, which means every cell has some empty space around it. Contrariwise, the Leaf battery pack uses large flat cells which are stacked together, thus having very little or no space between the cells. Yet I doubt many who understand the tech would claim the Leaf’s battery pack is “better” just because it’s packed tighter! (Of course, Tesla also uses cells with a higher intrinsic energy density, so even packing the cells together, perhaps the Leaf’s pack-level energy density isn’t higher.)

I was also extremely disappointed by the i3’s range and I was really looking forward to this car. Hopefully, BMW will get their 200 mile range together around the same time as Chevy, Nissan and Tesla. Otherwise, they won’t be selling many i3s in 2017.

I love the performance, efficiency and advanced CFRP construction. However, the small battery, underpowered REx and quirky exterior styling leave a lot to be desired.

It’s always fun to listen to people who don’t own an i3 bash it. Yes, I own one and it’s a fantastic vehicle. I live in SoCal, have an L2 at home, and the range is perfect for 99% of my needs. It’s a game changer, not just for EVs, but for the whole automobile industry. Maybe it’s too soon for you to cut the gas pump hose, but there’s no need to bash the car or the manufacturer. The car delivers on its promises and the early adopters are fanatics about the cars. It’s every bit the ultimate driving machine. And as for the under powered REx, that’s not BMW’s fault. That has to do with US/state clean air legislation. The European owners have a different experience, as do those who have re-coded their US cars. So, instead of bashing the i3 because it’s not a Tesla, or doesn’t have the range of an ICE, just say it isn’t the car for you. It’s a great vehicle, has great technology, and it is so much fun to drive.