Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Will an Optional "High Power" Battery For the i3 Be Available Soon?

I was tipped off by an anonymous follower here that the Spanish i3 online configurer has a not-yet-available option called "Bateria de mayor potencia" which Google Translate will tell you means "battery more powerful" in English. There isn't a picture for the option and you can't order it - yet. I checked the other BMW models on the site to make sure this wasn't just some kind of phantom option or mistake that was listed on all the BMW cars on the site and it isn't. It was in fact only listed on the i3 options page.

An inside look of  i3 Battery module
So I reached out to a contact I have in Spain that is well connected in the electric vehicle community there to look into this and see what they can uncover. Could the Spanish BMW site have inadvertently tipped us off as to what will soon be available? Maybe this is as innocuous as an optional, more powerful 12v battery? However I've never heard of an optional 12v battery being offered in any i3 market yet and I'm not sure why would they would need it? The 12v battery doesn't need to do very much on the i3 the first place. The car is already equipped with a cold weather package in cold-climate markets and there is no mention of a more powerful battery in that package. I would think if BMW thought the standard 12v battery was insufficient they would have just made all the cars standard with the more powerful one in the first place.

i3 Battery pack
There have been rumors that BMW is already field testing higher density batteries and that they will be available in the not-too-distant future. BMW has always maintained that the i3's battery pack is easily replaceable and that it's likely down the road when a customer determines it's time to replace their pack the replacement pack will be more robust, allowing for a greater range than the original battery did when it was new. Could that be available sooner than we anticipated?

Battery tech is constantly evolving. Tesla for example is rumored to be replacing the current batteries they use with higher density cells in the very near future and will soon open the Gigafactory(s) to manufacture them. Over in the BMW ActiveE Facebook group we recently had a fellow ActiveE driver say he had the opportunity to ride in a test MINI-E at BMW's Technology Center that was fitted with BMW's next generation of batteries and the car had about a 200 mile range. This cannot be confirmed but I have no reason to doubt his claim.

So this may be nothing, a simple mistake or misunderstanding on the BMW i3s Spanish website. Or maybe not...


  1. I've been following advances in battery chemistry for years; there has been a steady stream of improvements coming out of the research centers (most notably Argonne National Laboratory). At that point they go into commercial development, when news of further developments goes dark (for competitive reasons). But for sure they are in the pipeline. Before a carmaker will put a better battery in a production car, they want to assure themselves that a very expensive glitch will not show up two years later, hence the need for a lot of testing. But they are coming.

    Just read a report that the next-generation Mini will include an all-electric variant, and I would be disappointed if it is not also carbon fiber (but that's another five or six years away).

    It would make no sense for BMW to replace a worn-out 2014 i3 battery (say, in eight years) with the same expensive battery tech. They will certainly replace the pack with a state-of-the-art, much cheaper, much more energy-dense set. Since the rest of the i3 will likely last for forty years, seems like a buy-and-keep proposition. It's not going to become obsolete.

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  2. I hope it's true, and not just a mistake like the rapid charge cable they're currently showing on the BMW USA website. ,CDspeed

  3. I certainly hope a bigger battery is in the pipeline, even as an option. Elon Musk said he hopes they keep improving and I do as well. I have been super excited to see BMW's carbon fiber EV, but the product delivered is kind of a disappointment to me. Not only is the 22KWh battery vastly insufficient, the quirky styling is a definite put off.

    Nissan has recently figured out these two issues with the LEAF and I hope BMW figures it out as well. Tesla figured it out years ago, with the Roadster. The technology, efficiency and performance of the i3 could put it well ahead of the $40K pack. But the range is even less than the LEAF and the exterior styling is polarizing to customers, which aren't good things.

  4. Thanks Tom, I was just speculating in my last blog yesterday that BMW will offer a bigger battery probably when i3 gets a facelift or with the next version say in three years or so. But looks like it could be sooner.

    Can't imagine i5 with less than 400 km as well. That the i3's battery is easily replaceable is great – everybody likes to be able to upgrade.

  5. cool.... you made an article out of my hint :-)
    I really hope that this is true. i'm cinsidering to buy an i3 bev but still not shure when. i'm a german guy who lives in gran canaria, spain and i do normally about 90km a day. but sometimes i do about 160km. so with 200km range i would be fine. on my bmw 1series i did now in 6 years 230.000km.
    anyway.... i really could be true since the spanish configurator is always showinh strange things and sometimes in advance.

    1. i forgott to thank you for this blog!! great work!!
      and i saw you on german television a few days ago regarding electric cars.
      regards, martin

  6. It's about the 12V battery: