Published on March 24th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


BMW i3 To Have Bells & Whistles, But That’s Not The Big Story (imho)

March 24th, 2013 by  

Reposted from EV Obsession:

The BMW i3 is set to roll out this year, which I think has many of us EV lovers a little giddy. BMW’s i series looks hot, different, sharp. It looks like it was made to fit with an era of iPhones and iPads.

BMW i3 hot


AOL’s AutoblogGreen recently got to chat with the head of product development for BMW, Board Member Herbert Diess. Most of what AutoBlog found out was not that surprising at all — in many ways, BMW seems to be following Tesla’s lead, and the lead of other major auto companies entering the electric car space. Lots of cool stats you can track on your phone, for example. And, similar to what Tesla has done, there will be special dealers focused on really helping the buyer learn more about the new tech — and even home-based test drives! The renewable energy option for some drivers that we’ve covered previously was also mentioned.

However, one line stood out to me.

bmw i3 smartphone charging

Here it is: “The first feedback from the Mini E confirmed our way of equipping the car with a commuting range,” Diess said. “Most people would start with the car charged and, during the day, travel 40-50 kilometers [25-31 miles] and then, after a while they would stop charging it every day and only charge it every second day. We found that the overwhelming majority of our customers were very happy with the range, with some exceptions where it was not the right car for their circumstances.”

This, I’m pretty sure, is the same across the electric car space. Drivers think right off the bat that they need to charge their car daily, then they realize they don’t. I believe I’ve read the same thing about Nissan Leaf owners.

The reason it stood out to me and I think it’s important is because of the total overhype regarding EV range. The somewhat manufactured “range anxiety” issue has people thinking they’d need to charge more than they actually would, and that it’s more difficult to own an EV than it actually is… but then they buy a car (well, some of them do), and they find out that charging every other day or so is completely adequate. The range issue really isn’t an issue. (In fact, charging an EV is much more convenient than filling up a gas-powered car.)

Needless to say, I think this point needs to get out there more. More people need to realize that keeping the car charged is not an issue.

BMW i3 home

BMW i3 inside

Oh, one more thing from the interview, Diess absolutely loves the i3:

“The outcome really pleases us. We have been driving the car for a couple months and are relatively close to series production and it’s just great fun. If I can drive one of the prototypes, it is my first choice for city driving. It has a relatively high seating position, it is smooth, the accelerator pedal is very proportional and spontaneous. It’s 0-60 below eight seconds. It has very low turning radius, so you can move very fast. It’s just fun. That is why we have a very good chance to make a success out of it because it’s not only a sustainable product and very environmentally friendly, it’s also an emotional product.”

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

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • justin bieber


  • Pingback: BMW i teams with SOLARWATT for total electric mobility()

  • I love my plug-in Prius. I drive ~100miles/day and average just over 60miles/gallon. I plug it in every night at home, and some days at work. (It’s a real hassle to find an outlet at work). The main impetus for my purchase was the carpool lane; I easily save an hour a day on commute times. The fuel savings are a (huge) added bonus.

    For six years prior to my purchase, I commuted with a friend who just happened to live near me and work with me. That got us in the carpool lane, and we split fuel costs. When he took a different job, I was on my own. My FJ Cruiser was eating me alive. Although I miss it when I head to the mountains, I don’t miss sitting in traffic burning fuel.

    The only thing that would stop me from purchasing an i3 is… my Prius. It is less than a year old. When it’s time to trade-in, I’ll definitely be looking at BMW. The i3 is going to sell like hotcakes on the west coast of North America.

    • Thanks for the notes/perspective. Interesting to read. I am very curious to see how the i3 sells.

  • price about $50,000 less govt. rebates say $40,000 hopefully.

  • drkennethnoisewater

    This car would be killer with a 40kWh battery and a 40-60A onboard L2 charger.

  • Selena Gomez


    • justin bieber

      i love you babe

      • Selena Gmoez


        • justin bieber

          hate you big failure im more richer

          • Selena Gmoez

            Go back to america!

          • justin bieber

            smoke a joint with me

  • justin bieber


  • Denver Leaf Driver

    I’ve put almost 40K on my Leaf and I charge twice a day. I’m still screaming for a bigger battery. I can’t make it across the metroplex and back on the expressway on one charge. 100 miles sounds good until you find that at 75 mph you can only make 45, Other than that, best car I’ve ever owned 🙂 Until you live electric, you don’t understand. I did the math. It worked. I drove the car and I’m bitter that it took so long for someone to build it. If the BMW will go 100 miles at 90 mph…. One Please! Now would be nice. I’m ready.

    • Thanks. Love getting the EV owner perspectives. And, of course, there’s a wide range of those.

  • Otis11

    Any idea of price?

    Looks pretty good….

  • I keep my Leaf plugged in a home, it is nice to pre-heat or pre-cool the car before travel using grid power instead of battery power. My average trip is about 60 round trip so after 12000 miles, I have yet to charge away from home. Oh, and by the way, the volt is not an EV, it is a hybrid period. “Range extension” is just hype for not wanting to produce a good electric vehicle. My leaf gives me real-time feedback on range and efficiency so if I ever ran out of power it would be my fault for not paying attention. I am so embarrassed that no US mfg. (except Tesla) has designed a practical EV. They could if they wanted to, they just don’t want to change.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t think that manufacturers don’t want to build a long range EV.

      It’s the cost of batteries. And secondarily their weight. The lack a developed rapid charging system plays into the issue as well.

      PHEVs are a good stepping stone. If we were to move everyone into a 40 mile range PHEV we would cut our oil usage by about 80% and make a very significant gain on our CO2 output.

    • Dan Hue

      The Volt is more like 2 cars in one. Both EV AND Hybrid.

  • SecularAnimist

    While it’s nice that BMW is planning to bring yet another expensive, high-end luxury EV to the market, what the world really needs is cheap, basic, simple, compact commuter EVs that cost no more than $15,000 — without rebates or tax credits. There is no reason that the auto manufacturers cannot build such cars today.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, they can’t. Or they would be.

      I just don’t think current volume will support a low cost EV. You be asking manufacturers to sell at a big loss for a few years and then it would take them many years to make back their loss.

      I think they are forced into building EVs that are more upscale because people with deeper pockets are the ones who will pay the upfront premium at this time.

      Hopefully Nissan can keep driving their costs lower and turn the LEAF into a solid, no subsidy $20k EV. With more range.

    • @Secular.!!!

      Sorry, you are wrong (unfortunately)…there’s a very important reason for not going to an affordable mass produced car in this country. The White House WILL NOT HAVE IT!!! It is not he American people who are addicted to oil, it is the federal government, or at least the tax revenue generated by gas/diesel sales, plain and simple.

      The current holier than thou occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is as guilty of this as any other administration with or without oil company stock. All he does is provide lip service to his constituents, enough to pretend to look like he’s doing something about it (hmmm, maybe 25% improvement in mpg in 10 years, blah blah blah a pittance.).

      The technology to improve efficiency has been available for years. Honda/Toyota were producing low emission vehicles that were getting better than 40 mpg since 1990, if not sooner. They ‘dumbed down’ their tech so that they could easily handle any % jumps in required efficiency the US demanded (easy for us automaker to take a 25% jump in mpg on 17-25 mpg as opposed to 25% on top of 40 mpg).

      VW makes a TDI engine in this country (plant in NC) that the current administration won’t allow it to be sold here because it gets over 60 mpg. Rather than people being able to have a little extra money in their pocket to save, spend on durable goods , or possibly drive and visit people, this administration just like every other, is addicted to oil. announced in 2008, never made it here. here’s another one

      • Bob_Wallace

        You gotta be kidding.

        I mean you really gotta be kidding.

        PBO has backed EVs and clean energy from day one. He negotiated a massive increase in fuel efficiency.

        The reason that it was possible to build higher mileage cars a few decades ago is because they were lighter (had less crash protection for occupants). If we were to go back to tin boxes with motors our current engines would be far more efficient than what we used back then.

    • drkennethnoisewater

      The battery would cost half that much all by itself at least, and you’d only get 100mi range out of it. There’s no such thing as a $15,000 EV with modern batteries, and probably won’t be for another 10-20 years at least. The value proposition is to pay up front for the batteries to insulate you from the price of gasoline, as well as the costs of maintaining a gas-powered vehicle since electric drivetrains are more reliable, robust and simple. Plus, the performance, especially in traffic.

      • right, or have the batteries leased instead of owned, in which case the costs are spread out like a conventional gasmobile. a few are doing that.

    • There are some low-cost EVs on the market:

      But for a new technology like this, early adopters are primarily those with extra money to spare.

  • JPG

    I have been driving an Ampera (Chevy Volt) for over 3 months now. Plugging in daily is not a hassle at all, at least if you have your own parking spot with charger. But the I cannot imagine using an EV without a range extender. In many cases I would have got stuck, because of an extra detour, public chargers not working, or the spaces being taken. I would want a range of over 300 km before I would consider a pure EV.

    • yeah, didn’t intend to convey the message that pluggin in was hard, just that a lot of users find out they simply don’t need to do so daily, so they don’t.

  • I don’t buy it, most plug-in hybrid drivers charge daily out of habit…. maybe it’s because the EV range is shorter on PHEV’s… vs. pure EV’s with greater range. great article…

    • Ronald Brakels

      I would presume I would spend three seconds plugging in my electric car everyday, just to get in the habit. After all, it’s a lot quicker and easier than going to the service station. But maybe I would become lazy enough to save myself those three seconds if I knew I didn’t need the extra range, but I doubt it. However, it’s important to remember that Europe and the USA are weird places. A lot of people park their cars on the street, which is just strange. We do that in Australia too, but mostly because we have like eight cars per house and they spill out onto the road. In Europe a lot of people park their cars in neighbourhood car parking areas because the houses have no garages and the streets are too narrow. Since a lot of people don’t have a garage they can easily park and charge in, they may cut down on the number of times they charge provided the car has enough range. Europe is building infrastructure to make charging easier and more convenient, but charging can still a minor inconvenience for many people.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’m guessing that we’ll end up with wireless charging and chargers mounted in the streets, along the curbs, as well as garages and parking lots. The small (<10%) loss in efficiency over plugged in charging probably won't be important. There's extra value to be had.

        Most charging will likely be done with wind. Night time wind isn't nearly as valuable as daytime/peak wind. If EVs can be charged under the control of the grid it will make them very valuable to the overall system. They can sit out the times when supply is low and charge when it is high. People who drive less than average can sit out days (once we get longer range EVs). Having a very large dispatchable load will be very valuable to grid managers.

        EVs can provide extra profit for wind farms and make it feasible to install more wind capacity which aids peak demand.

        Having a market for late night wind, having controllable, dispatchable load, "Wasting" a little power won't probably be an issue. It's not like we'd be burning coal to make it.

      • yeah, those neighborhood private parking lots tripped meout when i discovered them here in Europe. maybe have the same in big US cities, but nowhere i lived. (granted i lived in FL, NC, VA, CA, and a small college town in NY — barring the last on, autocentric places mostly developed after air conditioning and cars becoming commonplace.)

    • Seems like a likely reason.

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