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      10-10-2013, 01:54 AM   #1
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Thumbs up BMW i3 First Drives Reviews

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     Featured on BIMMERPOST.com
AUTOCAR:

Full review: http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/...t-drive-review

There is a commanding view from the high-mounted driver’s seat, although you look in vain for any bodywork beyond the base of the windscreen, such is the acute angle of the stubby bonnet. The view out back, meanwhile, is hampered somewhat by the substantial pillars and a shallow rear window within the tailgate. Accommodation up front is excellent, with the i3 imparting an airy and upbeat ambiance.

The decision to eschew a conventional steel monocoque in favour of a more advanced combination of aluminium, carbonfibre and steel construction for the i3 required a big investment in production infrastructure, but it has allowed BMW to bring its first dedicated electric car to market with a kerb weight that undercuts the competition at just 1195kg. By comparison, the similarly sized Nissan Leaf hits the scales at 1525kg, while the smaller Renault Zoe weighs 1390kg. As well as being relatively light, the advanced construction used by the i3 also helps endow it with what BMW describes as class leading rigidity. This inherent structural strength has allowed designers to do away with traditional B-pillars and permit the use of coach style rear doors.

With 168bhp and 184lb ft of torque the moment you brush the throttle, the new BMW is more than merely brisk. In fact, its performance is good enough to match some big name hot hatches with 0-37mph in 3.7sec, 0-62mph in 7.2sec and a 50-75mph split of 4.9sec. Traction is excellent, even on a heavily loaded throttle away from the lights, without any hint of wheelspin or interruption from the various electronic driving aids. The nominal 93mph top speed is limited to preserve the battery charge.

The sporting impression is reinforced by relatively light and direct steering. In combination with a low centre of gravity, this endows the i3 with swift and sharp directional change response for excellent maneuverability in urban driving conditions. The electro-mechanical steering system is shared, in part, with the next generation Mini hatchback and becomes more direct as lock is wound on, although there’s sufficient response from the centre position to provide class leading levels of low speed agility. Indeed, in the cut and thrust of city traffic, the new BMW is extraordinarily agile and fun to drive.

To enhance its sportiness, BMW has provided the i3’s MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension with relatively firm spring rates. The ride is quite firm and tends to become frigid on anything but smooth road surfaces. The damping, on the other hand, is relatively soft, leading to rather exaggerated levels of lean when you pitch the new BMW into a bend. The tall but narrow tyres provide relatively strong adhesion, but with so much performance on hand it doesn’t take much to get the traction and stability control systems working mid-corner.




TOP GEAR:

Full review: http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/b...rive-2013-10-9

None of that would be worth dwelling on if it didn't perform properly. But it's got your back there too. It's eager and silent, and taut and biddable. Electric propulsion is conceptually simple, but in its details it's extremely hard to get right. And in mass-market terms it's in its infancy. The depth of BMW's engineering achievement mustn't be under-estimated.

In most normal suburban driving the i3 is somewhere between quick and actually fast. Normally it eases its way from rest with impeccable smoothness, but floor the thing and it departs as if high-voltage electrodes have been applied to its derrière. Which of course they have. OK, listen hard and there's a slight whining noise, but overall, even compared with other electric cars, it's miraculously silent at town speed.

That suave push from the motor just keeps flowing. The transmission is a one-speed reduction gear, so it's smoother than a manual, smoother than an auto, smoother than a twin-clutch. Totally smooth, end of.

Smoothly, at somewhere above 70-mph, the motor's acceleration begins to taper away compared with your expectations. This is a 170bhp car sub 60mph, but at bigger speed it isn't. That's precisely because it has just the one gear, and it's now revving beyond its power peak. Anyway, to prevent energy-sucking high speed running, it's limited to 93mph. But it's not a deal-breaker: you can move into the outside lane without it betraying you.

And it corners like a BMW. Sort of. OK, a short, wide BMW with narrow tyres. Pile into a bend and it'll understeer. Jam the accelerator hard in a tight bend and the front end goes light and it'll understeer. But be smooth, or give a slight lift to dig the front tyres in, and it's neutral, the driven rear wheels finding plenty of traction. The chassis gives you good feel for what's up, the steering less so. But the steering is direct and the wheelbase short, so the i3 is always agile.

Because you sit high, there's some lateral rocking on undulating roads, but nothing to upset the applecart. Otherwise the ride is decently controlled, if fairly taut. Because the body feels so strong and rigid, you've got confidence.




AUTOEXPRESS:

Full review: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/bmw/i3/...i3-2014-review

Name:  verdict.jpg
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The steering is surprisingly weighty and full of feel, allowing you to place the car exactly where you want it, while the low centre of gravity means that it remains composed during quick direction changes. To help it cope with city traffic, there’s a tight 9.86-metre turning circle (a black cab’s is 7.62 metres).
The steering is surprisingly weighty and full of feel, allowing you to place the car exactly where you want it, while the low centre of gravity means that it remains composed during quick direction changes. To help it cope with city traffic, there’s a tight 9.86-metre turning circle (a black cab’s is 7.62 metres).

BMW’s pursuit of lightweight with the i3 isn’t limited to the carbon fibre passenger cell and aluminium crash structures – there are also aluminium suspension components, hollow driveshafts and standard 19-inch forged aluminium wheels. Even the windscreen wiper has an unconventional honeycomb structure to reduce mass.

As a result, the i3 weighs less than 1,195kg and with up to 168bhp and 250Nm of torque available the moment you select ‘D’ on the gearshift, it accelerates with impressive urgency. A 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds means it's quicker than a 120d off the line, but more relevant to a city car is the 3.7-second 0-37mph time.

Not that the i3 is out of its comfort zone when you leave town. Top speed is limited according to which of the three modes you choose – so it's 93mph in Comfort, 75mph in ECO PRO and 56mph in ECO PRO+. But should you need full power, you can override the limiter by pushing the throttle to the floor, and get maximum thrust, even while driving in ECO PRO+ mode.

BMW quotes a Comfort mode range of between 80 and 100 miles, and having driven the car for two days in a variety of conditions we suspect this is easily achievable. ECO PRO and ECO PRO+ modes are said to add 15 per cent range each (by limiting the output of the motor and dialling down the power consumption of the ancillaries), up to a theoretical maximum of 125 miles.
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      10-10-2013, 11:10 AM   #2
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I am a big fan of this car. I can't wait to do my own review once I drive one in the future
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      10-10-2013, 11:14 AM   #3
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Hopefully these reviews will help appease those who keep whining that this isn't a real BMW.
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      10-10-2013, 11:39 AM   #4
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      10-10-2013, 11:59 AM   #5
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Sounds like a winner.... Figuratively speaking
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      10-10-2013, 03:09 PM   #6
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Top speed run. That thing is no slouch.
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      10-10-2013, 04:04 PM   #7
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I like it, cant wait to drive one...But how could you choose this over a 2.
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      10-10-2013, 04:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btbossman View Post
I like it, cant wait to drive one...But how could you choose this over a 2.
It fits 95% of my needs better. I work 3 miles from home, so an IC motor doesn't get coolant temp, much less oil temp on that commute. I frequently drive with coworkers to lunch, so the torture chamber of a back seat in a coupe isn't really ideal. I also bike a lot, so being able to easily toss in a road bike or 29er would be ideal, something that was possible in our E82, but not easy.

On paper, a Volt, Leaf or a Prius Plug in would be the ideal car for me, but they each just seem too much like an appliance, while the i3 potentially works better for me. Most of my bike trips are within 80 miles, so with the REX, it would be possible to cover all but the longer trips I currently use my car for, and honestly, we use the X1 for those anyway.
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      10-10-2013, 08:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Bread
Quote:
Originally Posted by btbossman View Post
I like it, cant wait to drive one...But how could you choose this over a 2.
It fits 95% of my needs better. I work 3 miles from home, so an IC motor doesn't get coolant temp, much less oil temp on that commute. I frequently drive with coworkers to lunch, so the torture chamber of a back seat in a coupe isn't really ideal. I also bike a lot, so being able to easily toss in a road bike or 29er would be ideal, something that was possible in our E82, but not easy.

On paper, a Volt, Leaf or a Prius Plug in would be the ideal car for me, but they each just seem too much like an appliance, while the i3 potentially works better for me. Most of my bike trips are within 80 miles, so with the REX, it would be possible to cover all but the longer trips I currently use my car for, and honestly, we use the X1 for those anyway.
My commute is 3 miles and i lug an s65 around. Its ready by the last couple lights to romp on it. Sometimes i take the long way. Lol
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      10-11-2013, 02:03 PM   #10
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I can't wait to drive one!
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      10-12-2013, 01:48 PM   #11
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BMWBLOG review

BMWBLOG is in Amsterdam for the i3 press drive. They just posted their review. They were very impressed, here are some quotes:

"The i3 positively rocketed through the autocross with fly-like changes of direction, neck-straining acceleration from low speeds, and strong braking performance."

"So quick was the i3 through this wet autocross that my hands were challenged to keep up – I’ve never driven any BMW product so nimble through cones. I reckon that a stock i3 could trounce most auto-crossing M cars through tight courses with plentiful direction changes and short scoots between turns."

"I’d also fancy a stab at my local BMW Club’s autocross championship. I reckon the i3 would give a whole slew of M cars a run for their money."

"There is so much to say about the i3 that I hardly know where to start. But since my heart generally gravitates towards lateral-Gs, let’s start in the dynamics department. This is perhaps the greatest epiphany of the i3 – its staggering performance."


http://www.bmwblog.com/2013/10/12/bm...garde-voltage/
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      10-13-2013, 12:33 AM   #12
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I can't help but wonder if the Chevy Spark EV wouldn't be as much fun to drive as the i3 for a whole lot less coin. I mean all EVs demonstrate smooth torquey driving at city speeds and since full throttle generates no more noise and fuss than 3% throttle, you tend to use the power more than you would in a typical gas powered car. This is one of the reasons EV owners all tend to say their car is quick, when classic 0-60 measures don't back that assertion. Most EVs also have heavy battery packs mounted somewhat low in the chassis, which contributes to their surprising handling prowess (often ultimately restricted by the low rolling resistance tires). I'm just not sure how much the i3 is bringing to the table relative to its EV competition these days in terms of pure driving/car value.
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      10-13-2013, 07:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cblandin View Post
I can't help but wonder if the Chevy Spark EV wouldn't be as much fun to drive as the i3 for a whole lot less coin. I mean all EVs demonstrate smooth torquey driving at city speeds and since full throttle generates no more noise and fuss than 3% throttle, you tend to use the power more than you would in a typical gas powered car. This is one of the reasons EV owners all tend to say their car is quick, when classic 0-60 measures don't back that assertion. Most EVs also have heavy battery packs mounted somewhat low in the chassis, which contributes to their surprising handling prowess (often ultimately restricted by the low rolling resistance tires). I'm just not sure how much the i3 is bringing to the table relative to its EV competition these days in terms of pure driving/car value.
The Spark EV is a nice little EV for sure but it's difficult to really compare the two for a few reasons.

First and most importantly, the Spark is a low volume compliance EV that GM has said (and recently confirmed) will only be available for sale in California and Oregon. That's too bad because I think they would sell a good number of them if they were available everywhere. On the other hand, the i3 is a world car and will be available in all 50 states in the US, plus in just about every country BMW sells cars in.

Then there is the driving experience. All EV's are definitely not created equal. I've driven just about every modern electric car (haven't driven the Spark though because it's not available on the East Coast, but I have talked to a few people that have) and I can tell you with certainty some drive dramatically better than others. You just don't get the same driving experience when you convert a gasoline car to electric like GM did with the Spark. It wasn't designed to be an electric car and like the Ford Focus electric you can tell that once you spend some time in it. The i3 is purpose built with the electric components and drivetrain all incorporated into the design, not squeezed here and there wherever there is room for them. Plus, the i3 has strong a-pedal regen, something only Tesla really gets. The i3's regen is even stronger than what you find on the Model S and it makes a great single-pedal driving experience. The Sparks regen is very weak in comparison.

The i3 is the only EV that offers an optional range extender. This will be a very popular option with many first time EV buyers. It will help to get people that are hesitant about range and charging issues on the road to try an EV.

Lastly, many people do want a premium feel and amenities in their car. The Spark is rather spartan and what you would expect in a sub-20k economy car. The i3's interior is really one of it's strong design aspect, it's really beautiful and very comfortable. There are available options like adaptive cruise control, brake assist, parking assistant and a navigation system that offers smart range calculations based on real time traffic conditions, weather, driving style, the speed limit of the rout you are taking and even topography. These factors can impact your range tremendously and the i3's range estimator is the only one on the market that takes these into consideration.

Oh and I almost forgot the size. While they are both small cars, the i3 is indeed considerably larger. It's over a foot longer and a half a foot wider. That makes a lot of difference in the passenger cabin. The i3 actually has about the same passenger volume as a 3 series and feels spacious when you're in it. You know you're in a sub-compact when your sitting in a Spark.

Still all thinks considered, the thing that kills the Spark from really being considered competition to anything is that it will only be for sale in CA and OR.
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Last edited by tommolog; 10-14-2013 at 07:48 AM.
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      10-13-2013, 08:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommolog View Post
The Spark EV is a nice little EV for sure but it's difficult to really compare the two for a few reasons.

First and most importantly, the Spark is a low volume compliance EV that GM has said (and recently confirmed) will only be available for sale in California and Oregon. That's too bad because I think they would sell a good number of them if they were available everywhere. On the other hand, the i3 is a world car and will be available in all 50 states in the US, plus in just about every country BMW sells cars in.

Then there is the driving experience. All EV's are definitely not created equal. I've driven just about every modern electric car (haven't driven the Spark though because it's not available on the East Coast, but I have talked to a few people that have) and I can tell you with certainty some drive dramatically better than others. You just don't get the same driving experience when you convert a gasoline car to electric like GM did with the Spark. It wasn't designed to be an electric car and like the Ford Focus electric you can tell that once you spend some time in it. The i3 is purpose built with the electric components and drivetrain all incorporated into the design, not squeezed here and there wherever there is room for them. Plus, the i3 has strong a-pedal regen, something only Tesla really gets. The i3's regen is even stronger than what you find on the Model S and it makes a great single-pedal driving experience. The Sparks regen is very weak in comparison.

The i3 is the only EV that offers an optional range extender. This will be a very popular option with many first time EV buyers. It will help to get people that are hesitant about range and charging issues on the road to try an EV.

Lastly, many people do want a premium feel and amenities in their car. The Spark is rather spartan and what you would expect in a sub-20k economy car. The i3's interior is really one of it's strong design aspect, it's really beautiful and very comfortable. There are available options like adaptive cruise control, brake assist, parking assistant and a navigation system that offers smart range calculations based on real time traffic conditions, weather, driving style, the speed limit of the rout you are taking and even topography. These factors can impact your range tremendously and the i3's range estimator is the only one on the market that takes these into consideration.

Oh and I almost forgot the size. While they are both small cars, the i3 is indeed considerably larger. It's over a foot longer and a half a foot wider. That makes a lot of difference in the passenger cabin. The i3 actually has about the same passenger volume as a 3 series and feels spacious when your in it. You know your in a sub-compact when your sitting in a Spark.

Still all thinks considered, the thing that kills the Spark from really being considered competition to anything is that it will only be for sale in CA and OR.
I agree the CA/OR thing makes the comparison moot for many, and the size is also an issue. However, the reviews are all trying to answer the "does it perform like a BMW?" Question, and the Spark seems to have very similar performance. In reality, the closest "on paper" competitor in the EV space is probably the Volt. They are about $10k apart and the Volt's performance isn't as stout, but it is easy to cross shop them. Heck, I sold my M5 to lease a Volt and 15k miles later (87% on battery), I have no regrets. The i3 is still on my list as a candidate when my Volt's lease is up, but it isn't as compelling as I had hoped.
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      10-14-2013, 02:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommolog View Post
The Spark EV is a nice little EV for sure but it's difficult to really compare the two for a few reasons.

First and most importantly, the Spark is a low volume compliance EV that GM has said (and recently confirmed) will only be available for sale in California and Oregon. That's too bad because I think they would sell a good number of them if they were available everywhere. On the other hand, the i3 is a world car and will be available in all 50 states in the US, plus in just about every country BMW sells cars in.

Then there is the driving experience. All EV's are definitely not created equal. I've driven just about every modern electric car (haven't driven the Spark though because it's not available on the East Coast, but I have talked to a few people that have) and I can tell you with certainty some drive dramatically better than others. You just don't get the same driving experience when you convert a gasoline car to electric like GM did with the Spark. It wasn't designed to be an electric car and like the Ford Focus electric you can tell that once you spend some time in it. The i3 is purpose built with the electric components and drivetrain all incorporated into the design, not squeezed here and there wherever there is room for them. Plus, the i3 has strong a-pedal regen, something only Tesla really gets. The i3's regen is even stronger than what you find on the Model S and it makes a great single-pedal driving experience. The Sparks regen is very weak in comparison.

The i3 is the only EV that offers an optional range extender. This will be a very popular option with many first time EV buyers. It will help to get people that are hesitant about range and charging issues on the road to try an EV.

Lastly, many people do want a premium feel and amenities in their car. The Spark is rather spartan and what you would expect in a sub-20k economy car. The i3's interior is really one of it's strong design aspect, it's really beautiful and very comfortable. There are available options like adaptive cruise control, brake assist, parking assistant and a navigation system that offers smart range calculations based on real time traffic conditions, weather, driving style, the speed limit of the rout you are taking and even topography. These factors can impact your range tremendously and the i3's range estimator is the only one on the market that takes these into consideration.

Oh and I almost forgot the size. While they are both small cars, the i3 is indeed considerably larger. It's over a foot longer and a half a foot wider. That makes a lot of difference in the passenger cabin. The i3 actually has about the same passenger volume as a 3 series and feels spacious when you're in it. You know you're in a sub-compact when your sitting in a Spark.

Still all thinks considered, the thing that kills the Spark from really being considered competition to anything is that it will only be for sale in CA and OR.
There's an extended-range EV called the Chevy Volt, came out in late 2010...
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      10-14-2013, 03:04 PM   #16
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There's an extended-range EV called the Chevy Volt, came out in late 2010...
The Volt is more of a hybrid really, as the gas motor puts power to the ground and doesn't solely charge the battery. There's also the comically priced ($75k US) new Cadillac ELR with the same setup.
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      10-14-2013, 04:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
There's an extended-range EV called the Chevy Volt, came out in late 2010...
Yes, of course but if you read my comment it says it's the only EV that offers an optional range extender, which is correct. The Volt doesn't offer an optional range extender. You can't get a Volt without one now can you?
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      10-15-2013, 05:41 AM   #18
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The Volt is more of a hybrid really, as the gas motor puts power to the ground and doesn't solely charge the battery. There's also the comically priced ($75k US) new Cadillac ELR with the same setup.
No, it's not a hybrid in the definition of either a parallel hybrid or series hybrid, which are the two standard definitions of hybrid vehicles. In one mode of operation (mountain mode) does the engine power the drive wheels (but still maintains its primary function to recharge the battery). The Voltec drivetrain is not a parallel hybrid drivetrain like the Prius is.
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      10-15-2013, 05:52 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by tommolog View Post
Yes, of course but if you read my comment it says it's the only EV that offers an optional range extender, which is correct. The Volt doesn't offer an optional range extender. You can't get a Volt without one now can you?
Seriously, we are being that nitpicky? So you also said "it will be a very popular option for many first-time EV buyers". If it will be that popular, then why not offer it standard? It's kind of like air conditioning. Air conditioning used to be a popular option that many buyer chose, so it's now practically standard in every normal passenger vehicle sold in America. If the i3 optioned with the range extender has a gas powered generator (lets not argue whether it actually powers the drive wheels) is it then still truly an Electric Vehicle, or does it become a "hybrid"?

If a first-time EV buyer chooses the i3 because it offers an optional range extender, then what will that person do for his next EV choice, buy the next-gen i3 (with perhaps a 160-mile EV range) without the engine in it?
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      10-15-2013, 11:37 AM   #20
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Am I the only one thinking that it looks like a Honda Element?
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      10-15-2013, 12:30 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
Seriously, we are being that nitpicky? So you also said "it will be a very popular option for many first-time EV buyers". If it will be that popular, then why not offer it standard? It's kind of like air conditioning. Air conditioning used to be a popular option that many buyer chose, so it's now practically standard in every normal passenger vehicle sold in America. If the i3 optioned with the range extender has a gas powered generator (lets not argue whether it actually powers the drive wheels) is it then still truly an Electric Vehicle, or does it become a "hybrid"?

If a first-time EV buyer chooses the i3 because it offers an optional range extender, then what will that person do for his next EV choice, buy the next-gen i3 (with perhaps a 160-mile EV range) without the engine in it?
Yes it will be popular but why would they make it standard when it can be optional? That makes no sense. There will be a lot of people that don't want it - thousands of them in fact, why would BMW wnat to lose those sales?

It's ridiculous to compare it to once-options like A/C because it's not something everybody wants. Personally I'll call it a plug in hybrid if it has the range extender, but I know others will want to use their own terminology. Many Volt owners take extreme offense if someone calls their car a hybrid, but in my eyes that's exactly what it is so that's what I'll call the REx i3. Hybrid isn't a dirty word so I don't know why people seem to have such aversion to it.

Yes, I believe the next gen i3 will indeed have a longer range, probably around what you guessed, but I believe they will still offer the range extender as an option. I don't think we'll see the range extenders leaving until we get consistent, year round ranges of 250mi or better. Either that or a healthy infrastructure of DC quick charge stations. DC QC can eliminate the range extender or need for long range batteries without a doubt, but we are many years away from an infrastructure that's robust enough to allow that to happen.
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      10-15-2013, 06:51 PM   #22
jadnashuanh
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The MiniE reported stats back to the factory. The average user used the vehicle for 30 miles a day. Most of them had a second (or more) car for longer trips. This thing has enough extra range for a fairly decent side-trip to that 30-mile, average roundtrip commute. Don't try to compare this to a typical car that needs to do everything...it is designed, and always will be a car designed for shorter trips, centered around a city. There are others, yet to come, that will aim to replace those with electric or hybrids.

For me, 95% of my travel is within about 10-miles of my house. Should I want to go to the nearest big city, it's probably in range, and easily would be if I could be sure I could recharge while there, but I'd probably buy the REX for those hot summer days, stuck in traffic near the max range of the thing without the REX. That's exactly what that option is for...to add a buffer for those that need it. While I don't expect the extra maintenance to be all that much, adding an engine means more needed trips to the dealer - the oil, filter, coolant, etc., will need to be checked and changed. And, adding in a muffler has its hassles, too. I can easily see many people not needing or wanting that, so it makes very good sense to make it optional.

Wait for the i5, or whatever else comes up in the future for some other options to augment the city car. The i8 already has the equivalent of a 'normal' car, but can still go all electric for that average commute, should you wish.
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