Published on July 8th, 2013 | by Tim Tyler


BMW Board Member: EV Driving Range To Double Within 5 Years

July 8th, 2013 by  

Editor’s Note: BMW has been a little late to the electric car game. Or maybe it’s coming in right on time. One might think BMW isn’t that bullish on electric cars since its first electric car, the BMW i3, is yet to be released (it’s coming on July 29). However, at least one BMW board member is confident that EV driving range is going to double within the next five years. That would be a game-changer within the automobile industry. Here’s more from EV Obsession:

Recently, at a conference in Paris, BMW board member Ian Robertson made a claim that, within 5 years, EVs would double their single-charge driving range.

BMW i3

Image: i3 EV via BMW

This statement came alongside the soon to be released BMW i3 EV. While some feel this claim was just to get publicity for the upcoming i3 release, others are not so sure.

If this advancement would happen within 5 years, that would give a typical EV a range of 150 –200 miles from a single charge. This would definitely be a game changer for the EV market. Having an extended driving range has already shown to have a huge impact on EV sales. For example, part of Tesla’s success can be attributed to the Model S and its EPA estimated 265-mile single-charge range.

Many are pointing to the lithium-air battery, which stores more energy in a battery than lithium-ion technology, as the future of EV battery technology. Robertson believes we will see the advancement in this technology, which will allow a performance leap of 10 times compared to what we have today.

Robertson, also added at the conference in Paris, “that in the next three to four years there will be more progress in battery development than in the previous 100 years.”

It appears Robertson is not alone on his prediction. Peter Fuss, a partner with Ernst & Young, said, “I generally agree with BMW’s statement. Whether the (lithium air) improvement of performance is 2, 5 or 10 times is also very difficult to predict. However, based on my discussions (with engineers and universities) I always hear the quote ‘the improvement of performance through lithium air technology will be significant’ — this will be more than just double the performance.”

There is no doubt that science has been making great strides in the advancement of battery technology. But will the timeframe BMW laid out hold true? Will the answer to an extended EV driving range be in the commercialization of the lithium-air battery? What are your thoughts on this?

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

Holds an electronic's engineering degree and is working toward a second degree in IT/web development. Enjoy's renewable energy topic's and has a passion for the environment. Part time writer and web developer, full time husband and father.

  • max holland

    Congratulations Jeff for doing the research and producing excellent articles around this important topic of emerging battery tech. Having a reliable 200+ mile range, and at ever reducing prices, are no doubt key to greater EV adoption. I don’t believe that Li-Air will be the chemistry that delivers these kinds of improvements within the 5 year time-frame however. Li-Air does have great potential for higher energy density than competing Lithium technologies in the long term, but is unlikely to reach commercial production till after 2020 (according to e.g. IBM). Li-Sulfur is the chemistry that will be prominent meanwhile – it has made great headway in the lab already, and is now commercializing (as Jeff’s July 26 article very lucidly illustrates), e.g. with GP batteries. With volume and continuous improvements Li-S will be the chemistry to watch over the coming decade; it may be able to double the range of EVs within a short time frame, and thus be the ‘enabling’ technology that creates the tipping-point for mass-market EV adoption.

  • Patrick Jerome

    Double the density in five years is probably low by a factor of 4 or 5. The likes of a Nissan Leaf will be able to go 500 miles on a charge and be available for $18,000 without government incentives.

  • josetony

    With at least a 150 mile battery range EV and a $30-33,000 price range ,the people’s interest on electric vehicles with increase tremendously. What is holding everything up, waiting for the prices to go down and also the 100 miles or less range of todays electric cars. Not many people can afford the Tesla with 265 mile range. If the Tesla could be offered with a $10-15,000 discount they wont be able to keep up with the demand. I heard that they are going to develop a cheaper version in a couple of years. Meanwhile many people are in the wait and see situation.

    • Also a problem with awareness/marketing. imho

      • and very limited markets. Fiat 500e and Honda Fit EV sold out way early in their limited markets.

        • josetony

          It makes no sense for Fiat to stop producing the 500e until next year when there is demand for the car today. The Honda Fit announce today that they will keep the production of Fit EV to no more than 1,000 cars a year for the California market. what’s going on? At least Nissan is increasing its Leaf EV production after a huge price reduction for the 2013 model. Now Ford on the other hand is reducing the Focus EV for $4,000 because of slow sales. The Focus EV is a nice looking car that cost almost twice than the internal combustion version.

          • Agreed!

          • josetony

            Well, things are getting pretty interesting lately. Now GM is reducing $5,000 off of the price of the 2014 Volt . Finally Car companies understand that if they keep prices high on EV’s, this new technology will be too slow to be accepted on the mainstream in a short period of time. This price reduction will enable GM to double Volt’s sales next year. Now Obama’s dream of having one million EV’s on the road in 5 years looks more promising .

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