BMW Testing New 33 kWh (94 Ah) Battery Retrofit Into Older Models In U.S.


BMW i3

It’s just in the trial phase now, but BMW i3 owners in the U.S. may soon be able to upgrade from the 60 Ah (21.6 kWh) battery pack to a new 94 Ah (33.2 kWh) in the near future.

Back when BMW launched the longer range 94 Ah i3, it offered a retrofit program in Europe for owners of the 60 Ah i3. That program never made its way to the U.S though. That is, until now.

As BMWBLOG reports:

“BMW North America has been working on bringing the same European program across the Atlantic.”

“We heard rumors of BMW NA retrofitting some older i3s with the newer battery. Now, though, we’ve gotten confirmation from BMW NA that there was such a program being conducted. According to our sources, there’s been a pilot program where 10 off-lease BMW i3s were retrofitted with the 94 Ah battery. So BMW is clearly looking into bringing that program to American customers in the future. We don’t know for certain if it will come here but it’s clear BMW NA is toying with the idea.”

2017 BMW i3 Battery


The swap won’t be cheap. In Europe it’s  7,000 Euros ($7,846 USD), which is a whole lot of spare change. It doesn’t seem likely that it will be all that popular here, considering how many i3s are leased versus bought, but for some this will make financial sense, especially those who want to buy a cheap used i3 and restore its range to beyond its original listed EPA rating.

There’s still no official confirmation from BMW though as to whether or not it will move forward with this battery upgrade program in the U.S.


Categories: BMW


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23 Comments on "BMW Testing New 33 kWh (94 Ah) Battery Retrofit Into Older Models In U.S."

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Considering how cheap an off lease i3 can be purchased for, a battery replacement would not be a bad deal.

This is great news. Hello Nissan, are you listening? Absolutely NO good reason Nissan haven’t done this with the Leaf already. An old 24 kWh battery as a replacement shouldn’t even be an option. They should be selling 30 kWh for whatever is reasonable (considering they get to keep the old 24 pack and use for energy storage) like $5k or less and promoting it as a way to upgrade an older Leaf.

Get with it Nissan!

From what I’ve heard, there are some changes that need to be made beyond just bolting a new pack into the Leaf that make it impractical, especially given how low the prices are.

Nissan claimed upgrading pre-2016 Leafs to 30kWh batteries was impossible because the battery was incompatible (even though the pack has the same dimensions as the body did not change between 2013-2017 model years). From what I’ve seen (don’t have a link right now, so take the following with a grain of salt), older Leafs are incompatible with the current Leafs because of the old software (I read about someone who tried to replace the battery himself, and the BMS just kept freaking out, not knowing how much charge was left — again, unfortunately can’t find the link). That sounds like something that Nissan could figure out, for a price. They managed to get 2013+ batteries into 2011-2012 Leafs, even though that required retrofitting the car’s hardware, and updating the BMS sounds like something a lot more straightforward — they already have that software on the 2016-2017 Leafs.

I hope that once 2017 Leafs are no longer sold as new, Nissan will realise that they can make money off us pre-2016 Leaf owners (especially since a lot of those Leafs are currently being bought used), and offer an option to upgrade the battery.

This may not be an option for everyone. It’s certainly not cheap….but there is this company that doubles the LEAF 24kwh to 48.

Ps I have not done this to my LEAF.

I agree if Nissan wants to keep all the leaf owners from switching to Model 3, just offer an upgrade to the new 44 kwh battery like Renault Zoe did.

i3 are listing for about $17K in Craigslist now. Then you’d be getting 120 miles range EV for about $25K. That’s more than brand new IoniqEV and FFE, both $20K after CA subsidy. Sure, it’s BMW and i3 performance, but a used car of similar range costing 20% more than new car is hard to justify.

Meanwhile, used SparkEV are about $7K, bit cheaper than i3 battery upgrade.

I think it will take much cheaper used i3 ($10K or less) for many takers for battery upgrade.

I would say it is pretty easy to justify for some especialy in the north where they salt the roads and the carbonfiber i3 wont have any body or frame rust in 20 years from now when those two will be sitting in junk yards rusted out…
Plus it is an EV so no transmission and ICE problems with used cars so not much risk there…
Plus it is a BMW vs Ford or Hyundai…

The battery upgrade is expecting to add $3,000 to the price. At that price point, BMW will continue to do the upgrades.

They are testing the water to see how much more the upgraded cars sell for on the open market.

Perhaps BMW will consider tossing this upgrade in CPOs.

Welcome news. Many people who feel that the 83 mile range is not enough may opt for this and put their electric machine to a better use. Thanks BMW.

I wish every company attempt this. This also breeds new life into existing EVs.

I have read that an i3 REx would not be eligible for a battery pack upgrade for some reason, so BEV only.

It is likely that the next i3 battery pack upgrade will be to 120 Ah cells, probably in 2018 for 2019 models. Because of the high cost of a battery pack upgrade, I’ll wait until a 120 Ah pack is available because that would essentially double the range of our i3 BEV with its 60 Ah pack for almost the same upgrade price as the 94 Ah pack.

But for those i3 BEV owners who really need more range now and who don’t see another EV that they really want, the 94 Ah upgrade might be worth paying for.

“I have read that an i3 REx would not be eligible for a battery pack upgrade for some reason, so BEV only.”
Probably because there’s not enough space because the ICE components.

Structural weight constraints would be my guess. Heavier batteries plus 39.5 motorcycle engine may be too much for structure (plus 4 passengers & cargo).

“Cheap i3” is an oxymoron. 🙂

I believe this is VW’s plan with the e-Golf. Older cars with eh smaller batteries coming off lease will have their batteries replaced with the new larger units and these used cars will be CPO’d.

It’s a good plan. However I hope it would also be offered to existing owners. I really like my e-Golf. If in three years I can get it upgraded to say 150 miles EPA, I’d be a lot more likely to keep it after the lease ends.

I have both the 60Ah and 94Ah BEV BMW i3s.

The furthest I went in my 60Ah i3 was 91 miles. And the furthest on my 94Ah i3 was 148 miles on a 97% charge after leaving a EvGo Freedom station. It’s not only the bigger capacity advantage, but the 94Ah i3 charges faster all the way up to 95% or so, whereas the 60Ah slows down around 80%. So in 30 minutes I can pick up 22Ah at the charging station which is good for over 80 miles of range. 22Ah is more than my 60Ah can hold no matter how long I am charging.

As someone in the market for a used i3 REx (two years ago I set a target price of $15k to $18k), I would never consider this “upgrade”. Besides the cost, the extra kWh brings a substantial weight penalty.

I will need more than 35 miles range in town MAYBE once a year (to pick someone up at airport plus an errand). In town averages 6 miles round trip. The REx for once every 5 to 7.year hurricane evacuation plus any out of town trips (few by car).

For most people, the extra range is not needed in town and has little value going out of town.

What we seem to be having is a “spec war”, not a real need.

There’s no proof of any “substantial” weight penalty.
It’s the same number of batteries, only an improved chemistry.
Additional silicon atoms aren’t going to weigh much more.

I believe the new battery weighs about 170lbs more?

Does anybody know how much it costs if I want to keep the old pack to pair it with my solar array ?

It seems pretty silly to drop $7,846 on a 94Ah upgrade, when the 120Ah batteries are right around the corner. An i3 with the 120Ah batteries (44KWh) would have closer range to the Bolt and Model 3.

I see a lot of i3s on my way to work and while I respect the technology, they just look funky. BMW should mainstream the styling as soon as possible. If the next i3 looked more like a 3-Series and seated 5, they would probably have a hit on their hands.