With Longer Range BMW i3 Official, We Compare The New 94 Ah Battery To The Old

MAY 4 2016 BY MARK KANE 29

Visually The 2017 BMW i3 (shown here in black) Is Unchanged

Visually The 2017 BMW i3 (shown here in black) Is Unchanged

This week began with major announcement of new 2017 BMW i3 with more energy dense battery cells and longer range.

The new i3 will enter market in late July and not all the data (prices, final EPA range) are yet officially known, but for know we can compare what we know.

The BMW i3 was previously equipped with 60 Ah lithium-ion battery cells (from Samsung SDI), that on the pack level stored around 21.6 kWh of energy (18.8 kWh were usable).

Now, the new 94 Ah cells are not only higher capacity, they are also more energy dense, so more energy is stored in a similar mass and volume – 33.2 kWh (27.2 kWh is usable).

Both BMW i3 versions (all-electric and range extended)will be available on the market in parallel.

With 60 Ah, the i3 is able to drive 81 miles (EPA). Estimates in BMW press release stand at 114 miles – 33 miles or nearly 41% more.  BMW has historically been a bit conservative, so the ending EPA numbers (noted as still pending) may see this number increase.

“The 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) has a capacity of 33 kilowatt hours (kWh) thanks to the higher energy density of the lithium ion cells. The BMW i team worked to ensure that the battery dimensions remain unchanged while still offering a significant range increase. Even in everyday conditions (2), the new Battery Electric BMW i3, in varying weather conditions and with the air conditioning or heating turned on, a range of up to 114 miles combined (1) (hwy/city) is possible as shown by independent BMW testing cycles(3).”

“1 Preliminary test results for BMW i3 (94 Ah) BEV.

2 Range achievable according to BMW range testing cycle under everyday conditions in city environment, 68° F, heating/air-conditioning, preheating, COMFORT driving mode. Range is dependent on a variety of factors.

3 Final EPA figures still pending.”

What is interesting (and perhaps shows more confidence on the part of BMW) is that the range gain in NEDC terms (Euro-based range estimating protocol) is higher – 64% or 122 km (76 miles) more, but those numbers of 190 km (118 miles) / 312 km (194 miles) are optimistic anyway:

BMW i3 Comparison - 60 Ah & 94 Ah

BMW i3 Comparison – 60 Ah & 94 Ah

Regardless, increasing the battery capacity by more than 50% and thus extending the range well beyond 100 miles is pretty good deal, especially if we check price differences that we already do have confirmations on.

In Germany the difference is just €1,200. At less than $1,500 in U.S. it would would seem to be a “no brainer” option. Even the range-extender costs €4,500!

The prices of the BMW i3 models in Germany are:

BMW i3 (60Ah): 34.950€ (BEV), 39.450€ (REX)
BMW i3 (94Ah): 36.150€ (BEV) , 40.650€ (REX)

Realistically, the price difference for a BMW owner (in relation to the MSRP of the car) is negligible, which leads us to conclude, the original (60Ah) i3 will only be around as long as existing battery supplies last.

Categories: BMW


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29 Comments on "With Longer Range BMW i3 Official, We Compare The New 94 Ah Battery To The Old"

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We’re beating a “DEAD HORSE” Talking about this..This car is going Nowhere fast!

No, I disagree with this.

The 94Ah batteries are a good start and places the i3 ahead of the 30KWh LEAF. They are still selling around 1,000 i3s per month in the US and roughly double that world wide. If they can get to the 120Ah batteries and 160 miles of AER near the time the Volt comes out, they may still be in the game.

It would help a lot if they mainstreamed the styling a bit. Tesla and GM have already figured out that people want sporty, not quirky EVs.

If you think it is a waste of time to talk about this car, why do you even bother clicking on stories about it?

And then why do you bother with posting about it?

And then why do you bother coming back over and over and checking for comments?

And then why do you bother responding to people who respond to your comments?

That’s a whole lot of effort to put into something you don’t even think is worth talking about…..

“the lady doth protesteth too mucheth”….

They’ll have to do some serious discounting to move out the remaining 60ah versions. I would not buy the BEV with 81 miles range. So I’d have to have either the range extender or the larger battery. Some people will want both. I can’t imagine anyone buying the 81 mile BEV unless it was significantly discounted.

The 60Ah is still plenty as a second urban car.

Maybe.. but considering the already-expensive base price of this car.. Who wouldn’t pay an extra $1,500 for the larger battery?

Agree with your premise; there was a fire sale on these at the end of last year…My guess is the crazy incentives will continue until they’re exhausted…

To my understand we still don’t know the features/options…The current base i3 does not include a rearview camera and they came out with a limited edition version adding a sunroof…If BMW wants to beat it’s chief competitor, the Volt, and even compete vs Tesla and others, it may add compelling features/options or at the very least offer stand alone options such as a sunroof on a base…Furthermore more and more cheaper vehicles are getting more luxury features (ACC can be had on a $20,400 Civic) so BMW it’s in BMW’s best interest to remain competitive…

The 60 Ah cars will be faster because they are lighter and will be more efficient. It may only be a few tenth but still better in this regard.

If you don’t drive 110 miles a day, as in 80% of the population, why do you pay more for something you don’t use? Ditto for the Range Extender.

194 miles NEDC!?! Are you sure noone made a mistake and confused the EPA range of 195 kilometers (121miles) with the NEDC range in miles?
I just mean, if it wants to achieve 194miles on 27,2Kwh, that’s a consumption of 7,13Miles/Kwh or 8,72Kwh/100km!!! Quite impossible, even on the NEDC cycle…

I wish they could hit 120 miles in EPA cycle. It sounds much better than a 11x number.

Considering SparkEV does 5 mi/kWh at 62 mph (100 km/hr), i3 should do better. But even assuming same as SparkEV, the range at 100 km/hr would be

5 mi/kWh * 27.2 kWh = 136 miles

This range is perfect for low cost EV (sub $20K pre-subsidy) since it’s 2 hours at highway with bit of spare. But it’s too low for the price of i3.

I totally agree on the range / price issue. But in terms of efficiency, the i3 is actually pretty good, unlike you say, and better than the Spark EV: The i3 uses 12.6 kWh/ 100km (old i3 with 60Ah 12.9kWh/100km). This translates to 4.9mi/kWh (not sure why America has to have it this way round, mind you. Consumption makes more sense the way that the rest of the world uses it). Now, compared with any other current production EV, this efficiency is unbeaten, afaik, except for the e-Golf (12.7kWh/100km). The Leaf uses 15 kWh/100km, the Soul EV 14.7/100km. Spark EV is rated at 17.5 kWh/100km (http://insideevs.com/2014-chevy-spark-ev-gets-epa-range-rating-of-82-miles-119-mpge-combined/). Never mind even Tesla at 18 kwH (although tests say 23.5kWh/100km, but not in Ludicrous mode, obviously). So the i3 scores amost the same as the e-Golf at a much more inconvenient minivan body type in terms of wind slipperiness (I would venture Cd (i3)> Cd (eGolf). So actually, kudos to B;W for this one! I hope more carmakers are going to focus on efficiency with their cars. Only because EVs have no local emissions does not mean efficiency is not important. I’d hope that with gradual improvements over the years, cars like the… Read more »

I’m not sure where you are getting your various efficiency numbers for these cars but they are not comparable with the Spark EV number you are using for comparison purposes.

Your Spark EV number of 17.5 kWh per 100 km is about right for the conservative EPA combined estimate but the Spark EV EPA is 119 MPGe whereas the existing i3 BEV is 124 MPGe or only about 4% more efficient

The new 94Ah i3 is about as efficient as the 60Ah version. Your 12.6 kWh per 100km number is the NEDC estimate and I imagine maybe the e-Golf and other numbers are also.

Comparing an EPA number for the Spark EV vs the NEDC number for the i3 is misleading.

I’m calling BS on EPA number. They pull it out of somewhere dark and smelly.

SparkEV number is based on actual road test done by Tony Williams by actually driving at 100 km/hr for 90+ miles (almost all of battery capacity). Even my limited testing verified the number with SparkEV.

Since i3 is more efficient, it should do as well, if not better. Now if you’re talking about EPA BS vs NEDC fantasy, that’s different. But real world highway range test is what I’m talking about.

Why in NEDC the range increase with 64 % and in EPA 41 % while the Leaf 30 kWh increase in both around the same (~26%)? Is NEDC more slow driving and thats where BMW optimize the efficiency?

Currently the i3 starts at $45,300 CDN. That’s around what model 3 is expected to start at. For 27 useable KWh the Kia Soul EV is a better deal as is the 30 KWh Leaf.
So, unless you want the REX version starting at $49,300 CDN or are just a BMW fan I don’t see the the value.

I guess the “unless you’re just a BMW fan” part is exactly why this company is selling any cars, in general…

Thats why we went with the Kia. 🙂

Sure if your only metric is MSRP. For example, a RWD BMW will always be more fun that a FWD Kia. Always.

Also I would take the i3 over the Kia for the interior alone.

Will the new battery work in the older model i3 chassis? BMW has a standard form factor for their batteries.

This is how much should be difference between 24kwh and 30kwh Leaf version.

I’m surprised the larger battery has less usable percentage of the total, 82% vs 87% compared to the original battery.

I’m guessing here, it could be one of two things or both.

1) The engineers chose to give a bigger buffer for REX mode. The new i3 has a 5.9kWh buffer compared to 2.8kWh for the old one. Maybe to standardize between the EU version and US version. The old EU version was not handicapped by this due to charge holding capability not available in the US.

2) The higher the energy density in a cell, the lower the available depth of discharge for a similar charge cycle to a lower energy density cell.

This would be a good question for the i3 engineers.

What’s the source for the new version only heaving 27.2 kWh usable?
The official BMW info I’ve seen shows 29kWh usable.


Hey Baldur,

We did see that press release too. It seems to be focused on approximations for some reason. I think maybe the marketing people got excited or something? IDK (the link you provided/we saw as well came out of corporate communitcations…sometimes not always the best, lol)

This is the BMW press release (here) we are going by that splits out the info right to the decimal


“By optimizing the cell-internal packages with more electrolyte and adapting the active material, BMW and Samsung SDI have succeeded in increasing cell capacity to 94 Ah and overall battery energy to 33 kWh of which 27.2 kWh can be effectively used.”

Here is BMW one-sheet (orig PDF here) on the specs as well (stating the 27.2 kWh number):

Perhaps now they will offer the (heavy) sunroof in the US.

Glad to see this but it should have been done a year ago….I’m waiting for my Model 3.

If the GM Bolt is only a few months away and will offer 200 mile range for $37,500, then I will prefer the Bolt over the i3. The main thing to consider with EV’s is the maximun range at the best affordble price.

The BOLT would be perfect for me. The range for my commute even in winter up here in Canada, the price, the likely wide availability through the well-established dealership, the small SUV-type vehicle suited to my needs. Like a say: perfect.


Maybe you’ll tell me get a life! But I can’t get it out of my mind that GM calculated fatalities will cost less than replacing a 57 cents faulty ignition switch.

GM’s motto “We build ‘em, they’ll buy ‘em”, I fear, has not changed since the 60s, even today under Barra’s leadership, considering her testimonial at the Congressional hearings.

So I’ll pass, and keep waiting for a longer range vehicle from any manufacturer besides GM that offers a EV that is not a compliance car.