More BMWs will get improved electric range

BMW i8

Samsung SDI is now producing in its new Chinese battery plant 37 Ah cells for PHEVs and 94 Ah cells for EVs. They can’t come soon enough.


Samsung SDI showing the old and new cells at 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show

Samsung SDI showing the old and new cells at 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show


Regarding BMW i3, the upgrade from 60 Ah to 94 Ah cells represents a 57 % increase, boosting the battery from 21,3 kWh to 33,4 kWh.

But BMW i3 isn’t the only BMW’s electric vehicle that still uses 60 Ah cells.


BMW C Evolution


The electric scooter BMW C Evolution also uses 36 of those cells, making a battery with 8 kWh (36 x 60 Ah x 3,7 V). The upgrade to 94 Ah will make the scooter’s battery capacity improve to 12,5 kWh. Regarding range, it means that the official 100 km range could go up to 157 km.

What about BMW’s PHEVs?

BMW is now using 20 Ah cells in BMW i8 and 26 Ah in the X5 xDrive40e. Upgrading to 37 Ah cells means a major improve in battery capacity, specially in i8. At the moment all BMW’s batteries are made with 96 cells connected in series and each cell has 3,7 V of nominal voltage.

BMW i8’s battery upgrade to the latest cells would increase its capacity from 7,1 kWh to 13,14 kWh. Almost the double. The upgrade for the X5 xDrive40e wouldn’t be as impressive. Its 9,2 kWh battery would increase to 13,14 kWh.


But Samsung SDI isn’t the only cell maker that has new cells with an impressive energy density increase. LG Chem also has new cells available that could easily boost the range of current electric cars by more than 50 %. I’m thinking of Renault Zoe and Ford Focus electric.


Unfortunately I haven’t any information regarding latest achievements in GS Yuasa, but Mitsubishi electric cars, i-MiEV and Outlander PHEV really need a battery upgrade. GS Yuasa’s LEV50N cells have the worst energy density in modern electric cars. Maybe it’s time for Mitsubishi change its battery supplier.



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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Ralf K
5 years ago

Remember there are three types of prismatic VDA PHEV cells. All with different dimensions.

Cell Name Width[mm] Height[mm] Depth[mm] Volume[ccm]
VDA PHEV1 prismatic 173mm 85mm 21mm 309ccm
VDA PHEV2 prismatic 148mm 91mm 26,5mm 357ccm
VDA PHEV2+ prismatic 148mm 125mm 26,5mm 490ccm

i8 and X5 use VDA PHEV1 cells as stated in the last link. And these rose from 20 Ah to 26 Ah.

The 37Ah cells – now produced – might be PHEV2+ size cells, which are not a direct replacement to PHEV1 or PHEV2 cells due to their differing dimensions. So the actual use inside the vehicles you mentioned depends on whether they fit and cooling is not affected.

So whenever doing research in cells for automotive use, it’s best to add the specific dimensions in mm’s. Just not to mix cell types with similar names.

5 years ago

BMWs PHEVs need at least 200% range increase to become green cars. I doubt it’ll happen by just updating the chemistry, even though the cells they have used are dim-witted stuff.