By on October 15, 2013

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With demand for its i3 EV surpassing BMW’s expectations, the company’s chief financial officer, Friedrich Eichiner, told Bloomberg that the company is considering increasing production of the electric car. Though retail deliveries will not start until next month, over 8,000 orders have been booked so far. Originally, BMW hoped to sell about 10,000 i3s in 2014, but if demand stays high, the company “will adjust capacity according to demand,” Eichiner said at an Amsterdam press conference yesterday. “If demand holds, which is what it’s looking like, we will soon have to invest more.”

At a cost of 34,950 euros in Germany and $41,350 in the United States, the i3 goes on sale in it home market on November 16th, and sometime in the first half of 2014 in the American, Chinese and Japanese markets. The rollout of the new EV will continue as planned, Eichiner said, and that the launch will not be affected by normal rollout issues, a reference to a report in Germany over the weekend that BMW is having production issues with the EV’s advanced carbon fiber structure.

The Wirtschaftswoche publication reported a 10 day production halt for the i3 due to problems bonding the composite material. BMW has a dedicated plant in North America for producing carbon fiber components for the i3 and the upcoming i8 electric sports car.

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20 Comments on “Strong Demand Has BMW Considering Increase in i3 EV Production as Carbon Fiber Problems Delay Builds...”


  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    It matters that they priced it right and the range is right. The version which will sell is the range-extender version (~$45K US base), which has a ~200 mile range, and, unlike Tesla, an already existing “half the range in 2 minutes” ‘supercharger’ network.

    Yeah, for full on road-trips, its ‘take the other car in the household’, but this handles perfectly the problem of “Yeah, my commute is only 80 miles round trip, but sometimes I do an extra 20-40 miles in errand running or whatever” that struck the Leaf off my list.

    So for a $15K premium over the leaf, you get what looks to be a beautiful interior (albeit painfully ugly exterior), twice the range, right-wheel drive, what sounds like a great driving experience, the snob appeal of a BMW badge, etc.

    If I didn’t believe in buying without a testdrive, I’d already have an order in.

  • avatar
    charly

    Shouldn’t the quoted price be in Holland instead of Germany as it is the biggest European electric car market.

    ps. Dutch price is 35.500

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    People gladly pay over $45k for regular BMWs, and willingly shell out $30-35k or so for a Prius. The i3 gives you the snob appeal of both, and it’s appears to be a pretty good car in it’s own right. I could definitely see getting one if the lease price ends up reasonable.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    So wait, what does it have a range extemder? and what “half range 2 minute charger”?

    And they already have a dedicated US plant for jsut the few cars they sell (10K in a year isn’t much… to have a separate US plant). Or is that jsut part of an existing US plant?

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      When designing an electric vehicle, you want “long range and fast charge”. But adding an extra 20 kWh of battery (that which is needed to turn a 100 mile range car into a 200 mile range car) is rather expensive both in terms of cost and weight. Yet at the same time, MOST of the time the car is driven less than 100 miles between charging opportunities, so if you could, you’d just want a 100 mile battery.

      Another problem is that very fast charging (400V DC) has a tendency to damage the batteries if done to full, thus systems like the SAE 400V DC, CHADAMO, and Tesla’s Supercharger, thus don’t really charge the system fully but only to 70-80%, and still take 20 minutes.

      Instead of loading up the i3 with an extra $10K worth of batteries to get a 200 mile range, BMW went instead with a true range-extender generator. Although its a $4K option (I expect almost all US buyers to take it), it solves the problem quite well.

      The base battery is ~100 mile range, and in mostly-typical use will be used first/last/only as the energy source, even if you have a long commute. But when the battery depletes beyond a certain level (probably to 20% charge or so, we don’t know the number yet), a 30 hp generator kicks in and charges the battery. [1].

      30hp is enough: it only needs to be able to stop the battery from depleting further at ~60 MPH, and since it is a fixed speed generator it can be reasonably efficient.

      Thus the range extended i3 can be thought of as having 3 charging systems:

      Conventional AC (110V plugs and 220V charging stations), which are slow, ultra cheap, and good to add a 100 miles to the “first use” battery.

      DC fast-charge (SAE 400V DC), fast, expensive chargers, and good to add 70 miles of range to the “first use” battery.

      The Gas Pump: A 3 MEGAWATT! charging connector, which is expensive per mile, adds 80 miles of range to the “last use” battery, and requires almost no wait time at any of a gazillion locations.

      [1] The generator’s tiny tank (80 mile range) is reportedly for legal reasons, to count as a true EV for diamond-lane access.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        OK, you got me confused with your “2 minute charger”.

        a 30 hp generator seems reasonable since on average you don’t need more than 30 hp and the generator being under full load makes it efficient. In addition 30 hp generator likley is small and leigth-weight.

        in winter and with a 3-6 year odl battery the range will be so short, generator will be used a lot. woudl wish they would add heating from generator as a way to heat in winter.

        sounds better than the Volt, hope it gets better than 30 mpg on generator operation.

        I can’t imagine anyone not wanting the generator. Of course, BMW has to make an essential piece of equipment optional. Like most colors are “options”… If GM woudl offer the Volt with optional IC, everyoen woudl scream, but BMW buyers are already used to getting hosed.

        • 0 avatar
          Msa

          The Volt will get 38-42 mpg driving small towns/back roads/interstate on the generator while driving fairly aggressively. Not sure how hard one would have to drive to get down to 30. Range on battery is consistently 38-40 miles, temp seems not to matter above 25 deg. F. (can’t vouch for extreme cold)

          BMW has a plant for producing the carbon fiber parts, not a dedicated plant for the cars themselves. I believe the carbon fiber plant is in Wash. State near Moses Lake.

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            i assume thsi is your experience. Ar eyou sure you count mielage fromt he point whne battery runs out, or does that number include some driving on battery? i.e. if you drive 150 miles and 40 miles are electric? Like do you set back the trip-odometer whne it switches to IC?

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          It doesn’t sound like they are hosing anyone by offering the range extender as an option. At $4k it isn’t a terrible price, some manufacturers charge more than that for a Nav system. And not everyone needs the extender. There are plenty of people who buy a Leaf because 100 miles is enough range for them. A Volt can’t do 100 miles on battery (even though it should). And a Volt doesn’t have the same kind of range extender, the Volt has an entire drivetrain that drives the car when needed. I like this BMW approach much better, I would bet it does way better on EPA mileage when its in use too.

          That whole thing about some colors costing more? Yea, that’s BS, they are hosing people there. Luckily I like red, white and black.

          • 0 avatar
            Msa

            HerrKaLeun

            I thought about being fooled by battery + engine when calculating the mpg, but I reset the trip meter when the pure battery runs out to track fuel mileage- which I get 38-42.The total miles driven divided by the total amount of gas burned is about 107 mpg over 18k. I wouldn’t expect a lot of folks to do so well, my round trip to work is about 43 miles, just barely out of the battery range. I only charge at home. Ironically I work at a 3200 MW power plant and there is no place to plug in.

            I won’t argue economics. If someone really wants to save on transportation, buy a10 year old Honda and carefully maintain it yourself. You can buy a lot gas for 30K.

        • 0 avatar
          Nicholas Weaver

          BMW is using actively heated/cooled battery, so unless you are sitting in the cold without it being plugged in, winter driving shouldn’t be a problem on the battery since the charging/charged battery will still be warm. The Tesla is the same way.

          This is probably the Leaf’s biggest weakness: the battery pack doesn’t have active thermal management.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Does that mean you can add a larger aftermarket fuel tank for the generator and get more range??

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      It’s only for the production of the carbon fibre structure. It is very energy intensive, so they are using cheap, hydropower electricity in Washington state. Cheap cost and a lot of eco cred.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Got to give them credit for attempting to mass produce carbon vehicles. It’s not surprising there are problems, but the only way to find them and sort them out is to take a chance and just dive in. Once it’s sorted out, they’ll apply the carbon technology to their entire line. Probably come away with a nice fat patent portfolio as well.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    I’m having difficulty reconciling this article to the one about the Cadd-E yesterday.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    10K units could just be pent up demand.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    Noble713

    I’d really like to see more coverage about BMW’s carbon fiber production methods and facilities.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    This car probably makes way more sense with a range extender, which makes it compete with the Chevy Volt. Without the range extender, it’s more of an overpriced Leaf.

    Personally, I would have preferred to see BMW produce a more sporty and stylish EV. It looked like they were headed that way with their lease-only Active-E program, which was an electrified 1-series that looked good and seemed to offer halfway decent performance. Then they go off to make this funky-looking science project. I’m a fan of BMW (I own one) and a fan of EVs, but the i3 just does not appeal to me.

    Tesla still has the right formula for pure EVs.


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