Rumor: BMW Working On 200-Mile i3 For Late 2018 Debut

3 months ago by Eric Loveday 64

BMW i3 Carbon Edition

Rumor has it that BMW is working on a new, longer range i3 for debut in late 2018.

BMW i3 Carbon Edition

200 miles of electric range is expected and it should go on sale globally before 2018 comes to a close.

BMWBLOG states:

“According to a source, BMW is likely preparing another tech update in late 2018 which will bring the capacity of the battery expressed in ampere hour (Ah) to 120. The pure electric driving range will be further increased by at least 60 percent.”

This battery update falls in line with previous expectations, so we think there’s merit to the rumor. BMW started with the 60 Ah cell in the i3, then jumped to the 94 Ah cell when it became available and will next progress to the 120 Ah cell, which will be in full-scale production prior to the arrival of the longer range i3 late next year.

If you look at Samsung’s lineup of batteries (see image below from 2016 Beijing Motor Show) the progression is exactly as expected:

Note: 120 Ah Cell is located on far right o0f image, but labelling is not visible at this angle.

BMWBLOG adds:

“Last summer, BMW introduced their first major update to their first electric vehicle. The tech-refreshed i3 features a 94 Ah battery pack which has increased the operating range measured, under the official NEDC test cycle, by more than 50 percent, from 190 kilometers (118 miles) to more than 300 kilometers (186 miles), while real-world driving range is increased to a maximum 200 kilometers (124 miles) on a single battery charge, even in adverse weather conditions with corresponding air conditioning or heating requirements.”

This new rumored update to 120 Ah cells could bump range by perhaps 60% or so, bringing real-world driving range to almost 200 miles, if the source is accurate with this part of the claim:

“…pure electric driving range will be further increased by at least 60 percent.”

We’ll surely receive more information of the 2019 BMW i3 in the coming months, so stay tuned for more info.

Source: BMWBLOG

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64 responses to "Rumor: BMW Working On 200-Mile i3 For Late 2018 Debut"

  1. Someone out there says:

    They absolutely have to

    1. Alaa says:

      “Have to”! and where will they get the batteries from? Or will they make just a few?

      1. trackdaze says:

        Currently selling about 30k a year.

        New samsumg battery factory in eastern europe completed for additional 50k units.

  2. LEAF_AU says:

    Why can’t Nissan follow their lead and do the same for the LEAF? The pool of owners who would pay good money for an upgrade must be steadily increasing.

    1. Twonius says:

      The i3 is a bit unique here since it’s purpose built PHEV. Because they have the room for the range extender, they can just fill in that area with another pack and up the range significantly.

      1. Dan says:

        No, the ReX doesn’t take all that much space. It’s just a scooter engine. The pure BEV version has a heat pump that takes the space where the ReX is and there is no “extra space” to fit any batteries. The crux of your misunderstanding seems to be from the fact that the i3 is really not a PHEV as you claim – a hybrid powertrain implies that both can drive the wheels. In reality, the ReX just charges the battery of the i3 and its power never directly reaches the wheels.

        1. alohart says:

          That’s incorrect. Our i3 BEV has a gaping hole where the REx engine and generator would be in a REx model.

          The heat pump equipment on the BEV is located in the front where the REx gasoline tank would be.

          Extending the BEV battery pack into the REx engine and generator space would require a significant engineering effort. I doubt that this will happen.

          1. Tom says:

            I don’t remember which article or which manufacturer, but a recent EV article had one manufacturer abandoning the heat pump version of cabin heating as it wasn’t able to be used anyway in very cold weather (below about 15 degrees F) and was more cost and space hogging than it was worth.

            Sort of tangential to the discussion I realize.

            1. unlucky says:

              No big-battery EV uses a heat pump. Not the Teslas, not the Bolt.

              It’s unclear exactly why.

              Heat pumps don’t work when the car is very cold, like when you need to heat the pack to unlock the energy from it. So you couldn’t have just a heat pump, you can choose a heat pump + PTC (resistive) heater or just a PTC heater. Maybe the decision is being made just on the reduced cost of having only one heating system?

              1. Priusmaniac says:

                The airco is a heat pump, so they only need to be able to make it work in reverse.

        2. Terawatt says:

          Unfortunately the terms aren’t actually clearly defined. The category called “hybrids” are only power hybrids, not energy hybrids. PHEVs are energy hybrids, and it really makes no difference if they have a plug or charge wirelessly, so long as they are chargeable and thus can use electricity as an energy source. Electric cars, everywhere except the US, means cars that use electricity as their energy source – exactly mirroring the less formal but widely used class of fossil-fuelled cars.

          It ought to be quite clear however that what actually matters is energy source and not whether the powertrain is hybridized. For instance, it makes no difference whether a car is a (power) hybrid or fossil-fuelled if the consumption/efficiency is the same.

          So I’d most definitely class the range-extender version of the i3 as a PHEV. And if it only had a buffer battery charged by the REX, I’d classify it as fossil-fuelled, not hybrid. Perhaps it would have been a more efficient fossil car than most, but it would still derive 100% of its energy from Google fuels.

          It’s a pity the categories aren’t more clearly defined and consistently used. Tons of well-intentioned people mistakenly assume that PHEVs are generally much greener than ICE, when the reality is that they are usually just slightly better. In the US, the industry has somehow managed to even distort the term EV so that it can encompass literally ANY electrification beyond the starter motor, even including 48V systems that provide the most marginal of benefits!

          1. Mr. M says:

            A PhEV with 30 miles EV range can easily replace 50% of your gasoline comsumption by current.

      2. Mr. M says:

        Yeah great idea, remove the Rex, add instead another 1-2 kWh and up the range by a signifikant 6-10 mile bump. That would be so awesome, … Not.

  3. Peter says:

    Very good news.
    i3 is a great car and now even greater with 94A.

    With 130A I will need to charge once a week.

    1. morrisg says:

      Uh, story says 120 Ah battery capacity, not 130 Ah.

    2. squanto says:

      IMO 120Ah battery pack is the ideal size for the i3. I hope that there will be a retrofit upgrade option for my 2014 model. I would use that option.

    3. Mister G says:

      Disagree…i3 looks like a golf cart with glass windows and I drive a 2016 leaf so I’m not an ev hater.

  4. philip d says:

    I wonder how they will deal with the extra weight. Already the newer 94 Ah pack, even though it has a higher energy density, weighs more than the older 60 Ah and in turn has a slightly lower performance and slightly worse handling with the narrow tires.

    In order to maintain the i3’s sporty and fun to drive feel it seems they would have to slightly re-engineer by adding a larger motor for more output and to add beefier tires to compensate for the weight.

    They would have to do this at a minimum just to maintain the acceleration and feel of the first generation 60 Ah i3. Hopefully they will do more in order to pull even with the likes of the Tesla 3 which will have a sub 6 second 0-60 and will start at around $8,000 less than the small i3.

    1. mx says:

      These chemistry changes don’t typically have any additional weight, aside from a few grams.

  5. Texas FFE says:

    Ford completely eliminated the 24kWh battery pack as a replacement in is now requiring older FFE owners to spend $20k+ for the 33.5kWh pack. That’s good news if you want to increase the range of your older FFE but bad news if your on a budget and can’t get a break on the price of the 33.5kWh pack. The concept of a higher AH battery cell is interesting, I wonder if someday I’ll be able to replace my 33.5kWh battery pack in my 2017 FFE with a 43kWh battery pack and get 145 miles of rated range.

    The only ways Ford will offer a 43kWh pack to existing FFE owners is if the pack makes it into the existing FFE design or if Ford only purchases the larger Ah cells for replacement battery packs. I know the existing Ford Focus design will carry over into the 2018 model year but I also know there is a complete Focus redesign coming that may not even included a BEV model. I guess we will just have to wait and see if Ford upgrades the current battery pack or limits the rated FFE range to 115 miles.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      “What will the battery cost me?” has to be one of the biggest FAQs of EVs, but most can’t be bought directly and the warranties are some of the longest of any part found in the car.

      Above said, putting “%50 more” into EVs every two years sure helps feed a narrative that they depreciate like stones. It ends well for the holds outs, but that’s part of the intent of Ford, VW and BMW, to have customers have one more reason to “Hold out”.

      Weird how the showcase 120 Ah cell is cropped out of the image, above, but a quick search and I still couldn’t find a better one.

      1. Texas FFE says:

        There is a strange phenomenon that has coincided with the arrival of the higher cost replacement batteries, the residual cost of used FFEs has quit falling. There are several arguments to explain this, some of which might be that very few traction batteries have failed and that the cost of replacement batteries has gone way up. Just a year ago I priced the replacement battery of my 2013 at $8k.

    2. Nix says:

      What? no warranty?

      Prius owners have been dealing with this for over a decade and a half. And instead of buying a brand new battery pack from the factory, they purchase used units or rebuilt units at a fraction of the cost of a brand new pack.

      You wouldn’t put a brand new ICE engine or transmission from the factory into a 100K ICE car, would you? No, you put in a rebuilt unit. Same thing.

      1. Texas FFE says:

        I think that a new replacement FFE battery pack from Ford does come with a new 100,000 mile/8 year warranty just like the original battery pack.

      2. Texas FFE says:

        You can’t buy a replacement battery pack other new from Ford unless you pull one out of a wreck. No one sells rebuilt replacement battery packs for any EV that I know of, including the Nissan Leaf. How are you going to get any warranty at all on a battery pack you pull out of a wreck?

      3. Tom says:

        Long term that is certainly going to be the case. The battery pack will just be another salvage item out of a wreck. Right now the volume of ‘used up’ EVs has to be tiny and companies like BMW are snatching those up and re-purposing them for things like Tesla wall and Tesla powerpack type applications. So the supply is going to be fairly restricted right now.

  6. Courtney vegan says:

    First,get rid of those baby tires. Can you see those tires on a 3 series?

    1. mx says:

      The new i3 Sport should address your concern.

      1. unlucky says:

        I don’t think they can fit proper tires on that car without a major redesign. Adding a little bit of width isn’t going to fix the issues.

  7. Mikael says:

    I wonder why BMW bothers with Ah when the interesting thing is kWh.

    It makes them look clueless about EVs.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      This article is about battery cells, not battery packs which consist of many cells. If you look at the picture with the girls, the Ah of the different cells are listed in the front of the cells.

      1. Stimpy says:

        The problem is BMW markets their cars by Ah which doesn’t make sense. This is like sell a cell phone plan by “seconds” of talk time to make it look larger than “minutes”. It may confuse some but to anyone with a clue it just makes them look bad.

        1. BenR says:

          Yes, and also KWh (energy) is the relevant value in terms of how far the vehicle will go, not Ah (charge). To convert Ah to KWh, multiply the Ah by the pack voltage. My impression is that most BEV’s are around 360 V so if that is relatively standard, you could compare cars that way. But I don’t know why you would want to. Probably a marketing decision.

          1. Priusmaniac says:

            So that would be about 43 KWh.

        2. Tom says:

          There’s this whole other place called Europe. They have strange things there like other languages and customs. I hear they even measure certain things differently….commies.

          1. Priusmaniac says:

            No, not at all, it is BMW that makes a mistake. If you don’t know the voltage there is just no way you can tell the energy and cells voltage do vary from type to type even within a same group.
            BMW just like to maintain confusion so that they don’t have to be compared with others. The i3 is already a weird prototype car that should have been the i5 instead but BMW didn’t want to put shadow on its 3 series. Well now they have the Model 3 right in their face and more than deserve it.

          2. Omicron says:

            No European automaker measures their battery capacity in Ah, except BMW, and even BMW does it only for the i3. 😛

    2. bogdan says:

      They are trying to fool the potential customers.
      BMW has a bigger better battery, but they can’t tell you how many kWh because it’s not so much.
      So they are trying to fool people around with Ah.

  8. pjwood1 says:

    I think Tesla’s experimentation with 40, 60, 75, 85, 90 and 100 KWh batteries has made self-evident that ~200 miles of range (~60KWh) will be the conventional “bare minimum”.

    My guess – the depreciation of the ~100 mile EV may soon see another leg-down.

  9. Alok says:

    Definitely the 94 to 120 Ah change will not be enough, by itself, to increase the range by 60% or so.
    So either the 60% increase is BS or there are other changes as well.
    Of course, let’s hope for the latter.

    1. BenG says:

      Good point. The cell energy increase is only 28%. If we assume there is some additional weight to go with the higher capacity, then the added range would be less than 28% in the absence of other changes.

      1. trackdaze says:

        If the renault zoe battery upgrade is a guide weight wont increase much maybe 50lbs.

  10. Tosho says:

    The information that they will go to 120Ah for 2018 is circulating around the net for at least a year!

  11. DJ says:

    Can someone explain to me how going from a 60 to 94Ah battery (a roughly 50% increase) can improve range by about 50% while at the same time a 94 to 120Ah battery (a roughly 28% increase) nets the same 50% increase?

    I know the packs weigh more and everything so it’s not like the % in Ah is directly relatable to the increase in the AER but going from 94 to 120Ah is much less of a % increase so wouldn’t you expect less of a range increase?

    While 200 miles would be a nice option I think they should also look in to keeping an option where it is and lowering the cost. The i3 is one of the most expensive EVs for what you get, lowering the cost I think may help them. Especially with the range extender. 120 miles is gonna be enough for most and then on the days it isn’t you’ve got a small engine that can take you more or less however far you want to go.

    Oh, and put the Hold feature in the EU spec model in the US one!

    1. unlucky says:

      No, I can’t explain it. It seems like someone did some bad math.

    2. Omicron says:

      It may have to do with the nitty-gritty details of the NEDC cycle. I mean, we all know already that it in no way represents reality. Perhaps adding some more capacity lets BMW somehow really extend some sort of bogus test case and get a really high score? Who knows…

      But honestly, even adding a conservative 25% to a conservative 185 km realworld range (where BMW says it should be 200 even with AC/heating in bad weather) is actually a fairly big deal. I’m keeping a list of various EV offerings, and when you look at vehicle cost against range offered as a sort of “price performance” metric, this increase would allow the i3 to jump forward almost half of the whole list.

      In other words, provided that the price stays the same, this upgrade could move the i3 from “hilariously expensive for what it does” to “probably price-competitive the new Leaf”. BMW could gain a lot of new customers from this.

  12. Chris O says:

    Okay, so maybe next year it’s no longer the range, just the styling, price tag and lack of high output infrastructure that will make this uncompetitive with Tesla’s Model 3.

    1. alohart says:

      The i3 and Model 3 are 2 very different types of vehicles, so they are not directly competitive. I would never consider a Model 3 because it’s bigger and heavier than I prefer, I prefer the utility of a hatch over a sedan, I don’t need the Model 3’s range, and I prefer the i3’s rust-free aluminum/CFRP/thermoplastic construction over the Model 3’s mostly steel construction. This is no different from the variety of ICE vehicles that are available, some styles of which are preferred by some people while other styles are preferred by others.

      1. Chris O says:

        True, people prefer different styles of cars. It’s going to be a niche though that’s going to pay a premium for less range, less interior space, no serious infrastructure, bizarre styling and no autonomous features.

        1. Tom says:

          And yet nearly your entire post is an opinion masquerading as fact.

          True, people prefer different styles of cars. —thanks for acknowledging this. Most people on this forum do not.

          It’s going to be a niche though that’s going to pay a premium for less range–less than what? A model 3. The general populations would disagree with you as they perceive the Rex version of the i3 as having greater functional range do to the established infrastructure and quick refill of the Rex.

          less interior space–what kind of space? Storage? Zero technical specs in this regard have been released on the M3 to my knowledge and so you are speculating.

          No serious infrastructure–are you speaking of charging infrastructure? See previous comment because the Rex and all other BMW (other than the non-rex i3) plug in models do not have range restriction at all.

          bizarre styling–completely an opinion and subjective. I prefer the i3 and after you acknowledge difference of taste, you categorically state bizarre as a fact.

          and no autonomous features.–certainly Tesla has the lead here but this presumes that this is a vital feature for the mass populace and not a niche play. Certain elements are obviously going to be standard across the vehicle world.

          infrasture comment 2.0–BMW has put at least as much money as Tesla into developing their i3 product. Additionally yes Tesla has made much commentary on their innovations which are all true innovations. However in the i3, BMW had significant innovation in major areas where Tesla has not and in my opinion (see…opinion) these innovations are every bit as important. For instance volume production of carbon fiber as historical order of magnitude reduction of cost and time. This alone is a gigantic breakthrough on par with importance of automation of assembly innovation. The BMW i3 is arguably the most advanced body and chassis of any car on the road in history.

          But yeah they are all backward ill informed idiots as Tesla fans keep pointing out. Hell all those German electrical engineers don’t even know the proper units for energy. Morons.

          1. Chris O says:

            i3 will be wiped out by Model 3 once it’s fully available. That’s not a fact but my humble opinion based on:

            Bizarre styling. True, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but this opinion is broadly shared in the comment sections of auto blogs. Even in the editorial section for that matter. Sales so far don’t do much to dispel this impression.

            Lack of infrastructure: that’s a fact. To quick charge a 200 mile EV actually quick 100KW+ infrastructure is needed that doesn’t exist outside the Supercharger network. REx is a good point, but this article is about the BEV version. So far REx hasn’t shown remarkable sales either BTW despite offering a solution to the range problem.

            That solution is at the expense of my next point: interior space. True, Model 3’s dimensions aren’t know yet but i3 is notorious for having little luggage space due to the need to fit that range extender. Even if you get the BEV version you won’t get that space back, it’s just some unused space within the vehicle.

            Carbon reinforced plastic is high tech but also a solution that only works cost effective in relatively low numbers. The fact that BMW uses it shows the lack of scale BMW had in mind for i3. Even with this fancy technology i3 is less efficient than the bigger Hyudai Ioniq and only marginally more efficient than GM Bolt (actually less efficient than Bolt in REx version).

            Downplaying autonomous features as potentially niche while the industry transitions to autonomous vehicles…well, that’s your opinion. My opinion is that Model 3 is a lot more future proof than i3.

            So yes, the incumbents may not be idiots but they are struggling to keep up with Tesla and sales are already reflecting that. With Model 3 fully available there is every reason to believe it will own the market unless the rest manages to come up with matching products and i3 is not an example of that. Not by a long shot.

          2. Priusmaniac says:

            Regardless of taste, there are some clear facts like not seating five, which makes it an impossible choice for many.
            The carbon fiber is nice but then why don’t they put it on the 3 series, it would sure be able to drive up the cost of that car as well.
            The only point I agree with is self driving, that is a burden they rightly didn’t put on it.

  13. Get Real says:

    Although I have criticized BMW for their overall electrification efforts, I do think the I3 and the concept its founded on represents a great car as a subcompact 4 seater.

    Don’t forget that BMW hired away some GM people who ran the Generation 1 Volt program to run the I3 development.

    Though expensive the somewhat light-weighting with aluminum frame and CFRP is pretty cool.

    I especially applaud that BMW is willing to start offering battery upgrade swaps for profit.

    I also really like the REX idea of an add-on upgrade small range extender even though it was crippled by idiotic CARB designation rules here in the US.

    I would love to see BMW take the next step with their !3 technologies and bring it to their midsize vehicles.

    If they do that without waiting too long then they will be serious contenders to Tesla in the luxury and performance PEV space.

    1. mx says:

      The BMW i3 suspension puts this car above all other EV offerings. We’ll see if Tesla successfully copy’s the BMW 3 series suspension in the TM3.

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        Where is the magnetic suspension on the i3 or the 3 series?
        Agreed it is too bad Tesla doesn’t have one either and doesn’t seem to develop it, but that would be the only thing lacking.
        It makes all other systems obsolete:

    2. Tom says:

      Agreed. The i3 is the most advanced chassis and body of any vehicle ever made. The innovations in materials alone are staggering.

    3. unlucky says:

      It wasn’t crippled by anyone but BMW. BMW could have sold it as a PHEV/EREV like a Volt. But they wanted ZEV credits for the car. So they agreed to changes which made it a worse PHEV/EREV.

      They chose to make a worse car because they didn’t feel up to marketing real BEVs to get ZEV credits. Maybe this was a mistake. But it was their mistake.

  14. Don Zenga says:

    Between the older model that used 60 Ah and the current model that uses 94 Ah, the weight of the batteries should not have increased much, but for no reason the current model has only 114 mile range instead of the 125 mile range based on 50% increase. Probably some extra options should have been introduced.

    Hope for the upcoming 120 Ah, they don’t do such thing and will be better if some extras are removed in a base package that has higher range and also a lower price. By 2019, Model 3 will be produced in much higher volume and BMW should try to reduce the price to sell in higher volumes.

  15. JohnMB says:

    120Ah batteryand the range extender with added fuel capacity..that will be unique option!

    1. WARREN says:

      absolutely correct. If the i3 could do 150 miles on AER and 150 miles on gas, this car would be more practical than any other EV out there. 150 AER would be more than enough for 90% of your needs. And if you had to do 450 miles, a 3 minute gas stop is the only inconvenience to make that happen after the initial 300 miles.

  16. unlucky says:

    I expect they will make some sales with this.

    But really I think it’s time for BMW to drop this egg-shaped car and electrify the cars that customers already are used to buying.

    1. agzand says:

      It is selling relatively well in Europe, better than Model S, so I think the egg shape is not a problem for them.

  17. Terawatt says:

    Sigh. Only a complete moron will believe that moving from 94 Ah cells to 120 Ah cells (and slightly increasing the weight of the car) will magically deliver “at least 60%” range increase. In order to get there you’d obviously need more cells, not just replacing the current cells with the new ones.

  18. juan luis says:

    I just bought a used 2015 I3. What sold me on this car is I saw one that went through baseball size hail. The only damage was the windshield and a small crack in the hood. Door dings are non existent on this car.

    I also prefer the hatch back since I am older and don’t like low slung sedans.

    I live in Colorado and will be getting a $5k rebate. I ended up getting a Certified Pre-Owned car for $15k. Not bad for the technology.

    I love the car. Nice change from a stinky ICE car.

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