BMW upgrades battery cells to 120 Ah, boosting 2019 BMW i3 range to 160 miles

BMW has been taking its share of criticism in the EV press lately, because of its lack of new plug-in models, and because it seems to the biggest loser from Tesla’s gains in the luxury sedan segment. But don’t count the Bavarians out just yet. The i3 is as popular as ever, especially in Europe – it’s moved over 20,000 units so far this year, making it #14 in global plug-in sales (as reported by EV Sales).

Now BMW has announced a major boost in battery capacity for the 2019 i3. Cell capacity has been increased to 120 ampere hours (Ah) and gross energy content to 42.2 kWh. The new battery offers a range of 223 miles (214 for the sportier i3s) on the generous NEDC test cycle, or 192 miles on the newer and more realistic WLTP cycle. BMW says that in “everyday use,” both variants are good for 160 miles, which is a 30% increase over the previous 94 Ah battery pack, and around double the range of the original i3 released in 2013.

The increase is mainly due to improvements at the cell level, so the new battery pack is the same size as the old. Driving performance and energy consumption also remain “virtually unaltered.”

BMW’s lithium-ion cells were developed by the BMW Group, and are produced “exclusively based on specifications defined by the BMW Group.” The packs are produced at the BMW plant in Dingolfing and consist of 8 modules, each with 12 cells.

[Editor’s note: Some media reported that BMW had dropped the range extender gas engine from its offerings. However, BMW NA Corporate Communications Manager Thomas Plucinsky has confirmed that, while BMW is discontinuing the range extender in Europe because of stricter emission regulations, it will still be available in the US. Thanks to Tom Moloughney for the update.] Range extender-equipped models accounted for roughly half of i3 sales between 2013 and 2014.


Source: BMW, Electrek, EV Fleet World

  • James Heires

    ‘s bout time BMW does something somewhat serious in the EV world. Tesla is eating BMW’s lunch right now WRT EV offerings, and (other than promises and prototypes), BMW has a lot of catching up to do.

  • Knud P

    Is Ah a unit for electric capacity?
    What is the kWh for these batteriets?
    Any comparrison between Tesla and BMW i3 is irrelevant. The EV’s are not the same size or in the same class.
    Tesla makes fast luxury cars.
    BMW i3 is an every day city or limited range car that should be compared with the Bolt.

    • Gyrogordini

      60Ah=22kW (18.8 usable); 94Ah=33kW; 120Ah=~43kW

      • Tor Helge Lyngstøl

        Correct for this car, but Ah is not a unit for electric capacity.
        If you multiply the voltage level of the battery with how many amps the battery can deliver in one hour (the Ah figure), you get the amount of energy in the battery.
        BMW uses 360 V batteries.
        360 V x 120 Ah = 43200 Wh, i.e. approx. 43 kWh.
        You cannot compare electric capacity in two cars by knowing the Ah figure alone.

  • Van A. Ringquist

    No REX? no buy

    • TheMaurers Ontario

      Van I fully agree. The i3 with the Rex is currently still the smartest EV Concept, even with the new battery range. I truly hope they will still offer a Rex with the new model as well. We are a ChargePoint installer taking our i3 to places where there are NO EV-Chargers yet. 600km trips are not a challenge for the i3 with the Rex. No need for planning our routes or switching to ICE vehicles to reach these “remote” sites. We had many BEVs calling us including TESLAs to reroute them to the nearest DC-FAST chargers we are currently installing. No matter how large your EV range is, our EVSE Infrastructrue in Rural Ontario is not yet ready for full BEVs. We are doing our best to get us there and work hard to eliminate the Rex but for now the BMW i3 with the Rex is the only concept which allows us to reach rural Ontario with a BEV to set-up a solid EVSE network.

    • Bruno Bevilacqua

      But did you ever?

  • Kurt Edelbach

    Great. Now it meets the daily range requirement of 99.5% of Americans, instead of 98%.

  • danwat1234

    How much curb weight increase? Should be 120 pounds more or so..

  • SJC

    If you can drive for two hours at 70 mph then recharge in 20 minutes, you are there.