BMW i3 Poised For 2nd Battery Upgrade. Hopefully A Naming Upgrade As Well…

The 2018 i3 Sport made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Both the i3 & i3 Sport models will start the 2018 production year with the same 33.6 kWh battery as the current i3 has. It’s believed later in the year BMW will upgrade the battery to a the new 44.2 kWh pack, adding another ~40 miles of range.
Fresh off of the Frankfurt introduction of the new BMW i3
exterior refresh and new i3 Sport for 2018, BMWBLOG is now reporting that they
have confirmation that 2018 will also bring a new, larger battery option to
the i3, albeit later in the year.
In mid-2016, BMW introduced the current 33.6 kWh battery
which was an upgrade from the 21.6 kWh battery previously available. That
bumped the i3 BEV’s 81 mile range to 114 miles per charge. The new battery,
which is being introduced sometime later in 2018, is rumored to have a total
capacity of 43.2 kWh and offer an EPA range rating of 150 – 155 miles per
charge.
Customers that opt for the range extended version of the
43.2 kWh i3 will have about 230 miles of total driving range without the need
to stop to recharge or refuel. The increase in all electric range will place
the i3 in a virtual tie with the new Nissan LEAF for the second longest EV
range behind the Chevy Bolt, in the “everybody but Tesla” class of electric
vehicles. That is of course, until Nissan launches the 60 kWh LEAF, which isn’t
expected to be available until the 2019 model year LEAF is out. Audi and Jaguar
are also expected to introduce their respective long-range EVs sometime in
2018, and they will also leapfrog the i3 and LEAF in range.
An i3 battery pack being assembled at BMW’s Leipzig plant.

One thing I’d like to see BMW do when they introduce the new
battery is stop referring to the battery by the amount of Amp hours each cell
holds. It’s a completely useless metric, and one that only causes further
confusion among potential buyers. No other carmaker uses the Amp hour (Ah)
metric to identify their battery packs. It would almost be as if they started
to distinguish their internal combustion engines by their bore & stroke
instead of the traditionally-used displacement in liters. It just makes no
sense.
Every electric car manufacturer today refers to the battery
by the amount of energy it can hold in kilowatt hour (kWh), but for some
reason, when BMW introduced the new, larger battery for the 2017 i3, they
decided to use the Ah metric and called it the 94 Ah battery instead of the
33.6 kWh pack.
BMW has been advertising the current i3 as the “94 Ah Sedan”. The problem is, “Ah” doesn’t mean anything to most customers, and is fact just confusing to them. BMW should drop using Ah to describe which battery pack the car has. Just give us the size of the pack in kWh, and the EPA rated range. There’s no need to complicate this.
Critics claimed it was intentionally done, to confuse buyers
and make the battery sound larger (94 is a bigger number than 33.6), and seem
like it was comparable to Tesla’s battery offerings (75, 85, 90 & 100 kWh).
Personally, I don’t agree with that assumption, I think it was just a case of
BMW product planners wanting to distinguish the new battery as being better, and
it was the first time they ever offered a new battery option, so they used the
name that their supplier Samsung, uses.
In any event, I’m happy to hear that BMW will be rolling out
the second battery upgrade in two years. The i3 will then have used three
different batteries in the first five years of availability, proving that BMW
is continuously willing to improve the i3 as better battery technology becomes
available.

My advice to BMW product planners: Drop the Ah
designation, please
. It’s only confusing your customers, your client advisors
and in some cases even journalists writing about the i3. Simply do what every
other EV maker does and call it by the total size of the battery pack, in
kilowatt hour. In this case, the new i3 will be the 43 kWh i3. It’s easy, most
buyers understand it, and client advisors won’t have to spend an hour
explaining energy density, voltage, cells, and modules to every potential
customer that asks how the battery compares to the batteries of the other EVs
on the market. 


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