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BMW boosts battery capacity of MY2017 i3 to 33 kWh with higher energy density Li-ion cells; up to 114 miles combined cycle range

BMW will offer a new model range of its i3 compact electric car, and from the 2017 model year will be offering a new version with more than 50% increased battery capacity.

The 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) has a capacity of 33 kilowatt hours (kWh) due to the use of higher energy density lithium-ion cells; the dimensions of the pack remain unchanged while still offering a significant range increase. The new BMW i3, in varying weather conditions and with the air conditioning or heating turned on, has a range of up to 114 miles (183 km) combined (hwy/city) cycle, as shown by independent BMW testing; EPA figures are still pending. The EPA range rating for the MY 2016 i3 is 81 miles (130 km).

(BMW range testing was under everyday conditions in city environment, 68° F, heating/air-conditioning, preheating, COMFORT driving mode. Range is ultimately dependent on a variety of factors.)

The driving performance figures of the 170 hp AC synchronous electric motor remain virtually unchanged. The motor propels the BMW i3 from 0 to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds. Expected EPA electricity consumption is 27 kWh/100 miles—identical to the EPA rating for the 2016 model.

The US is the most important single market for the BMW i3 is the US. More than 80% of buyers deciding on a BMW i3 worldwide are new customers for the BMW Group.

In addition to the Battery Electric BMW i3, the Range Extender model will also feature the 94 Ah battery. When equipped with the Range Extender, if the driver requires additional range, the 2-cylinder gasoline engine is switched on once the battery is depleted to 6.5% state of charge and keeps the charge level of the battery constant while driving and provides an additional range thanks to a 25% larger fuel tank (2.4 gallons).

With the introduction of the BMW i3 (94 Ah), BMW i now also offers a new BMW Home Charger Connect, a residential charging station designed for comfortable and fast home charging featuring additional connected functions. Pricing for the 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) will be released closer to market launch.

New Li-ion pack. The high-voltage battery of the BMW i3 consists of eight modules with twelve storage cells each and its capacity has increased by more than 50% without any changes in exterior dimensions. 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. The previous battery of the BMW i3 (60 Ah) produced 22 kWh (gross)/19 kWh (net).


The batter pack of the 2017 i3. Top: with cover on. Bottom: with modules exposed. Click to enlarge.

The lithium-ion cells achieve a balance between high energy density, cycle stability and safety in the case of an accident. The high-voltage battery also has an advanced thermal management system that keeps the battery operating in the optimal temperature range, which further enhances performance.

For example, the coolant of the air conditioning system is responsible for cooling the high-voltage battery, while a heating system can also be used to warm the battery to ensure the optimal operating temperature before starting off. Customers receive an 8-year/100,000-mile High-voltage Battery Warranty.

During the development phase of the BMW i3, the entire architecture of the electric drivetrain was designed with the next technological steps as well as serviceability in mind. For example, if necessary, a single battery module can be exchanged which distinguishes the BMW i3 from other competitive offers and represents an integral component of the BMW i concept of sustainability.

Performance. The BMW i3 is by far the lightest car in its segment. Despite the slight weight increase, at 2,961 lbs (BEV), and 3,234 lbs (REX), the BMW i3 (94 Ah) is as agile as the 60 Ah model variant. The BMW i3 (94 Ah) is also powered by the same 3 phase AC synchronous electric motor developed in-house by the BMW Group. The motor generates an output of 170 hp (127 kW) and delivers 184 lb-ft (249 N·m) of torque.

The sporty character of the BMW i3’s electric motor is also demonstrated by its 5.1-second acceleration from 50 to 75 mph. The BMW i3 (94 Ah) is thus close to the level of cars such as the (320 hp) BMW 340i. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via the single-speed transmission, which the BMW i3 uses to accelerate without torque interruption to its electronically limited top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h).

Charging. The 7.4 kW charging electronics of the BMW i3 (94 Ah) can charge the 33 kWh battery in approximately 4.5 hours using a Level 2 charger—more than the approximately 3.5 hours required to charge the battery on a BMW i3 (60 Ah). Standard equipment of the BMW i3 includes the occasional use cable for connecting it to a domestic power socket.

The BMW i3 is equipped with 50 kW direct current (DC) fast charging technology. When the BMW i3 (94 Ah) is connected to a DC fast charging station, the battery cells are charged up to a minimum of 80% of their capacity in less than 40 minutes. In the BMW i3 (60 Ah) this takes around 25 minutes. This means that the BMW i3 (94 Ah) achieves a charging speed of 2.5 mi/min which corresponds to 24 minutes charging time per 62 miles of range.

Range Extender. BMW i also offers a Range Extender for the BMW i3 (94 Ah).The range of the BMW i3 is extended by a 650 cc 2-cylinder gasoline engine which is located adjacent to the electric drive above the rear axle. The Range Extender engine delivers a maximum output of 38 hp and powers a generator in order to produce electricity, working on a required-based and highly efficient principle.

For those occasional times where additional range is required, as soon as the charging level of the lithium-ion batteries drops to a specified level, the Range Extender kicks in to keep the charging level constant effectively extending the range.

Fitting the car with the Range Extender has no influence on the available luggage volume: the luggage compartment volume remains unchanged at 15.1 ft3 and can be extended to 36.9 ft3 with the rear seats folded down. The BMW i3 (94 Ah) now features a 2.4 gallon fuel tank improving the range from the previous model.

The BMW i3 (94 Ah) with Range Extender weighs approximately an extra 270 lb compared to the Battery Electric BMW i3 but is also characterized by a high level of agility and offers impressive performance figures. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds.

Standard profile and equipment for the BMW i3 (94 Ah) includes: Automatic climate control, Dynamic Cruise Control, LED Headlights, HD Radio, DC Fast Charging, Navigation Business System, BMW Assist and BMW Teleservices. Other standard features include: the iDrive operation system, the BMW i RemoteApp functionalities, the Driving Dynamic Control switch, hands-free telephone operation, leather steering wheel and Park Distance Control (PDC).

ConnectedDrive. The optional Navigation System Professional provides BMW ConnectedDrive Services especially developed for BMW i. The range assistant follows the planned and currently driven route. If the destination selected in the navigation system is beyond the car’s range, the driver receives the suggestion to shift to the ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode. Additionally, the system calculates a more efficient alternative route. Should it be necessary to recharge at a public charging station, the driver is shown all the available stations along the planned route.

A dynamic range map is another central element of the connected navigation unit. Apart from the current charging status of the battery, the driving style, the activated electric comfort functions and the selected driving mode, the topographic features, the current traffic situation and the outside temperature are all taken into consideration. The Advanced Real Time Traffic Information (ARTTI) data is used for this purpose. The data is provided by the BMW ConnectedDrive Server.

The BMW i Remote App provides useful vehicle-related mobility planning data available on the customer’s smartphone. Apart from pedestrian navigation—navigating the way to a destination from the parking space and back—BMW ConnectedDrive offers an intermodal routing system and for the first time in combination with the Navigation System Professional.

This also incorporates public transport connections such as subway stops. From the actual trip in the BMW i3, looking for a parking space, changing onto a metro and or a walking route, the BMW i ConnectedDrive services take the customer to his or her destination efficiently.


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It is a step in the right direction but it is too small a step to matter when the competition will be BEVs from GM and Tesla with over 200 miles range.

Efficiency BMW i3: 114 miles/ 33kwh = 3.45 miles per kwh.
Efficiency Tesla model 3: 215 miles /55kwh =3.9 miles per kwh.
Efficiency GM Bolt: 210 miles /60kwh = 3.5 miles per kwh.

So despite the admirable effort BMW has made to make a low weight car with an unprecedented level of carbon fiber plastics for a mass market car they suck at everything else and the end result is a car that is not as efficient as the competition also despite only having a small battery. Had BMW used a larger 60kwh battery their efficiency will probably drop to 3.1 miles per kwh.

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BMW does apparently not want us to know its 0 to 60 mph because that sucks as well when compared to the Bolt or the Model 3.

Account Deleted

Ok found the 0 to 60 mph to be less than 8 sec for 3i better than the Prius but worse than Model 3 slowest version is less than 6 sec and slower than Bolt less than 7 sec. Less than 8 sec is not worthy of a BMW. I simply do not get it. Do they want it to fail?


We have not been told the kwh of the Model 3, only that it will be something under 60 kwh, nor do we know if that the nominal or usable.

Running the numbers on a 60 kwh pack, assuming that it is only just under, comes out to around the same efficiency as the Bolt and the i3.

Since no mechanism at all is suggested as to how the Tesla would get better efficiency than the others, save for a bit of aero at higher speeds, this is perhaps more credible.


I think BMW was taken by surprise by the announced new ranges off Model ≡, Bolt and Leaf. This new battery has probably in the works for over a year.

I doubt BMW was taken by surprise by Model 3 range, which has been pegged at over 200 since the first rumors. There may have been some attention to 400k reservations, many of which may have otherwise been a BMW product.

Leaf, even at 107 miles, would also be no surprise.

Bolt is probably the strongest near term challenge to i3 sales volume, especially with upscale features. Unless one of them makes a dramatic change in price, Bolt will get a lot more attention at the end of the year.

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