BMW pushes i3 sales to record levels

BMW i3 in the wild

You may have noticed by now a lot more BMW i3 on the roads recently and more advertising, specially on the television and online.

Not only the fact that the new improved BMW i3 has better range and charging capabilities seems to contribute to it, but also BMW knows that now is the right time to heavily advertise the i3 since new alternatives with more electric range are about to arrive.


Opel Ampera-e NEDC range

Opel Ampera-e NEDC range


This month in Norway 301 BMW i3 were already sold and there is still 17 days left till the end of the month. The BMW i3 will very probably be Norway’s best selling car in November.


It will be interesting to observe BMW’s reaction when the new alternatives are finally here. A price drop isn’t a very probable action for a premium automaker, but more equipment can be offered as standard for example.

Unfortunately we’ll most likely have to wait for 2018 until the Samsung SDI 120 Ah battery cells arrive to see the BMW i3 get more electric range. Unless BMW decides to offer two different batteries. Kreisel electric already proved that it’s possible to put a 55 kWh battery in the BMW i3 without requiring more space.


BMW i3 with 55 kWh battery

BMW i3 with a 55 kWh battery


The great about Kreisel battery modules is that they use standard 3.500 mAh cells that are available from different battery cell makers. Sanyo/Panasonic, LG Chem and Samsung SDI produce 3.500 mAh battery cells in 18650 cylindrical shape. This means that BMW could keep using Samsung SDI as its battery cell supplier, but could also replace it with Sanyo/Panasonic or LG Chem. This freedom would give it more flexibility to negotiate the cost per kWh.


I think that in 2017 we’ll finally see more advertising on electric cars that’s also more informative on their differences.

Renault can advertise the Zoe as a cool looking supermini that has a very useful 22 kW internal charger. Hyundai can say that the IONIQ electric has plenty of safety features and it’s the most efficient car on sale. Opel can say that the Ampera-e is the affordable electric car with the most range. Volkswagen can say that the Golf is the most sold car in Europe and its electric version is great. BMW can say that the carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the i3 is great to avoid rust and makes the car very lightweight. Nissan can say that the Leaf is the most sold electric car on the world.


As we can see every electric car has unique selling points. Let’s see if automakers use them properly to sell.


What do you think? Are the BMW i3 record sales only temporary until new alternatives arrive? Or BMW’s marketing machine will keep sales strong much longer?



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.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

It is hard to imagine there sales not suffering some with all the upcoming upgrades and new arrivals…
At least you have everyones marketing figured out 😉

5 years ago

Is Tesla the only car maker using 18650s? We’ve seen in multiple cases now that an efficiently packed 18650-configuration seems superior to current prismatic cells. Of course the fossil car makers have been very conservative with the tech being utilized as evidenced by not using the 120 Ah cells in the i3 for example, but there is still a considerable gap between the 120 Ah prismatic cells in the i3 (44 kWh?) and this 55 kWh 18650 version. I thought the point of prismatic cells were better use of space? Also the Chevrolet Bolt is showing relatively weak charge/discharge performance for such a big battery pack. I’m guessing there is a factor of simplicity with using 200-300 prismatic cells as opposed to 5000+++ small cylindrical ones but Tesla is still continuing on its cylindrical path with the 21-70 which seems to be a big step up from the 18650. I realize that 18650s has been around for a long time and used in countless applications so it has assumably achieved more of its potential than purpose built prismatic cells for EVs that are just recently seeing any notable demand, but still it’s a big gap to close.

Does Panasonic even make prismatic cells for EV use? Or are they all in cylindrical while leaving the prismatic market for its subsidiary Sanyo?

5 years ago

Current BMW i3 sales are orders from before the announcement of the ampera and zoe to get much larger range.
I chose the i3 as it was the only e-car (except tesla) available to reach 200 real world km. I would have choosen either ampera or zoe if they had been available back then.

5 years ago

I don’t know what to think. I’m frankly shocked that it’s done so well – when it was far more competitive as a 2016 model than 2017, versus the other EVs. Of course, the 2017 is still much more competitive versus fossil cars than the 16 ever was, so maybe that’s part of the explanation. Or maybe people do so shockingly little research before they buy that they didn’t know about the Zoe and Ampera-e.

I was previously convinced that BMW would be forced to drop the price or move to the 120 Ah cells ahead of schedule. But it seems their main challenge now is to supply enough of them.

Jonas Jovial
5 years ago

Hi Pedro!

What about the new Leaf? Any news? Or there’s not going to be a new 48 kWh Leaf?