LION Smart shows off a BMW i3 with a 100 kWh battery

Proof of concept in BMW i3 by LION Smart

Less than 2 years ago, LION Smart showed us a BMW i3 with a 55 kWh battery, now it gets upgraded to 100 kWh with 700 km of range.

Made with a total ofย 8.064 cylindrical battery cells (18650 format) the battery pack has a maximum voltage of 400 V and a capacity of 101 kWh (see the video). At the pack level the battery has a very impressive volumetric energy density of 460 Wh/L and a gravimetric energy density of 230 Wh/kg, this is very similar to what the Nissan Leaf 40 kWh battery achieves at the cell level.

While I’m not a fan of cylindrical cells for EV batteries – I prefer the simplicity made possible with fewer pouch or prismatic cells – , nowadays, battery cell makers such as LG Chem, Sanyo/Panasonic and Samsung SDI produce very similar cylindrical cells in the 18650 standard with a capacity of 3.500 mAh. This means that a battery pack assembler hasn’t to rely on a single battery cell supplier to produce identical battery packs. Unfortunately, prismatic and pouch battery cells haven’t reach this advanced stage of standardization yet – required for the mass production of electric vehicles.



Anyway, don’t expect to see this kind of battery capacity in a BMW i3 anytime soon. This is just a proof of concept to show what’s possible with current battery technology.

The battery packs in the BMW i3 are made with Samsung SDI prismatic battery cells and will have their capacity improved from 94 to 120 Ah during this year. This means an upgrade from 33,4 kWh (96 x 3,7 V x 94 Ah) to 42,6 kWhย (96 x 3,7 V x 120 Ah), nothing like 101 kWh…

Later on, I expect CATL to replace Samsung SDI as BMW’s main battery cell supplier.


As a final remark, I have to say that find strange that LION Smart chose the BMW i3 to show off its battery technology. Who needs a 100 kWh battery in a small electric city car?! Wouldn’t it be better to unveil a high-capacity battery with TMS for the Nissan Leaf?! It would definitely get a lot more attention.



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. Iโ€™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.

14 Responses

  1. Cassim Rahuman says:

    A high capacity battery (with even a primitive TMS if possible) made as a retrofit for the old and older models of the nissan Leaf will sell like hotcakes

  2. Alnair says:

    The have done it in a i3 because BMW has collaborate with the development. (See Wireless BMS in

  3. Chris says:

    City car? I’m driving mine to Canada next week, and that’s not it’s longest trip. This IS my long distance vehicle, I have short range BEVs for in town.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      I just meant that city is the perfect environment for it because for its compact size and great turning radius (easy parking), not that it can’t be used for highway driving. Unlike huge Tesla Model X and S that can also be used for city driving, but it’s not their comfortable environment.

  4. Okeksiy says:

    I believe it was a great idea to showcase such a huge battery in a smallish vehicle with tiny battery footprint. Itโ€™s easy to extrapolate the potential capacity of, say, I-Pace with this kind of density ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Gerald says:

    You obviously dont own one. Ours is primarily used as a freeway car doing a 280km round trip regularly. Cruises like a dream.

  6. Freddy says:

    Hummm… when will we get aftermarket batteries replacements?!… old (and even 40kwh) leaf owners I am sure would pay for this in future if they developed 40-60kwh packs with thermal management (both heater and cooler). Furthermore because Nissan insist on replacing batteries for same capacity only… buying in 2018-2020 a 24kwh battery for 5000-7000EUR +VAT is simply stupid… or am I wrong here?!

    I personally have a leaf 40kwh and bought it knowing a little of the limitations of not having the TMS (overly discussed since first deliveries in 2011…)… but I am not a long commuter…only 50kms day and usually trips of not over 200kms/day… and usually rapidgate only on second charge (if car not pushed too hard)… anyway, hope to change my battery when car reaches 160-200K kms…and that by then (8-10 years) there is already reliable aftermarket solutions..

  7. mzso says:

    The i3 is not a small city car… It’s a largish box. The smart is a small city car.

  8. Chris. says:

    For information LG Chem has also a cylindrical cell with high energy density on size 21700
    See below the specs with 5Ah and energy density of 267Wh (68g+/-1g) for the cell

    Test of this cell:
    So the specs is similar to the cell from Panasonic used on Tesla Model 3.

    • Pajda says:

      Chris: I already started with cycle life test of 21700 cells, particularly LG M50 and Samsung 48G. And the results after 450 cycles are as I expected. It confirms that 21700 cells were primarily designed for cutting the costs and so their actual chemistry is significantly worse than chemistry used in modern 18650. LG M36 or Samsung 35E totally outperform the LG M50 and Samsung 48G in cycle life under all operating conditions.

      • Juanma says:

        If 21700 are twice as cheap but half the cycles, then itโ€™s a winner combo ๐Ÿ™‚
        60 kwh @ 500km range = 300.000km to 80%
        30 kwh @ 250km range = 300.000km to 80%

        just exaggerating here, but you get the point. look at the whole picture !

      • Jon Mar says:

        Do you have specific numbers you can share? I’d be very interested!

  9. Pajda says:

    For the years I’ve been watching battery technology, I’ve noticed that “the smaller garage means the most hi-tech technology, the bigger company means totally outdated technology” . Just compare this company technology with actual results of Toyota.

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