(Short) Road Trip - 2014 BMW i3 Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,137
edited January 2015 in BMW
image(Short) Road Trip - 2014 BMW i3 Long-Term Road Test

To break in the new addition to our long-term fleet we took a short road trip to test the all-electric range and the capabilities of the additional mileage range extender.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863
    "...I was going only 30 mph with my foot to the floor"

    That is scary and that right there might be a reason NOT to buy a vehicle like this. We aren't living in the days of the VW beetle anymore. This is a $55,000 BMW. Not being able to reach necessary speed is not acceptable. I live in the NASCAR-South where interstates go uphill, the speed limit is 70 mph and everyone goes 80-85 mph. If I run out of power, is it going to limit my speed running on the extender? If so, I'm the most dangerous car on the road. Deal breaker.
  • vvkvvk Member Posts: 196
    I drove my 1986 SAAB on a cross-country road trip in 1996. At high elevation in the Rockies I was only able to manage about 30-40 MPH going uphill on the highway. It was not pleasant but I would not call it unacceptable.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    I have two takeaways from this: (1) this vehicle is best suited to say, flat Texas than mountainy California and (2) the Tesla remains the only true every day electric, but not because of the car, but because of the Supercharger network.

    Once the Model 3 is available there is just no reason to buy the i3 unless you just must have a BMW.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365
    I have to give GM credit for the Volt. They realized that the gas range extender could be overwhelmed if it was completely removed from the driving wheels and thus gave the car the option to drive the wheels under gasoline power when needed. BMW didn't get that memo and now they are facing lawsuiits because of what many are calling this dangerous flaw in the i3.
  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863

    I have to give GM credit for the Volt. They realized that the gas range extender could be overwhelmed if it was completely removed from the driving wheels and thus gave the car the option to drive the wheels under gasoline power when needed. BMW didn't get that memo and now they are facing lawsuiits because of what many are calling this dangerous flaw in the i3.

    Well, personally I like the IDEA of a Range Extender in terms of maintenance and reliability and it keeps things very clean and simple. One small engine that's just a generator. No complex hybrid transmissions or such. Which such limited EV range in the Volt, it really doesn't make sense to me unless I could charge it somewhere reliably at work. Its getting closer at 50 miles, but I'd need at least 75 (with engine backup) to make any sort of sense for me.
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    I'm with kirkhilles1 and mercedesfan - this car is dangerous. Unpredictable losses of power are totally unacceptable. A $15k Nissan Versa wouldn't do this, but somehow Edmunds can make excuses for this car's behavior, which requires more than 'planning, patience, and a little extra time' - it requires a lawyer.
  • rotaryboffrotaryboff Member Posts: 12
    I'd say this was a case of asking a car to do what it was not designed to do. Next installment: "Mustang tackles the Rubicon!"
  • bolotiboloti Member Posts: 47
    I would not say "unpredictable". The car is designed to be EV with a back-up range extender. It's not for Road Tripping. It's for getting home no matter how low the battery charge is. Hence the 1.9 gallon tank.
    gslippy said:

    I'm with kirkhilles1 and mercedesfan - this car is dangerous. Unpredictable losses of power are totally unacceptable. A $15k Nissan Versa wouldn't do this, but somehow Edmunds can make excuses for this car's behavior, which requires more than 'planning, patience, and a little extra time' - it requires a lawyer.

  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    The range extender adding only 70 miles of range...thought that was a little flaky...but if it will add the 70 miles ONLY if the car is capable of traversing 70 miles worth of the terrain you have to cross (a mountain pass, in this case) with the pitiful amount of power you have when using the extender - that's too much.

    And the statements about being able to find chargers in every little town...yeah, maybe in the California EV playpen, but not in the rest of the nation - this is not a serious vehicle for most people, in most places.
  • empowahempowah Member Posts: 68
    The i3 was designed to be a megacity vehicle for urban settings, not to be a road trip car. Talk about using a vehicle not for its intended purpose.
  • legacygtlegacygt Member Posts: 599
    empowah said:

    The i3 was designed to be a megacity vehicle for urban settings, not to be a road trip car. Talk about using a vehicle not for its intended purpose.

    Edmunds has taken pickups on road trips. I has put bikes in sedans. It has fit car seats in performance cars. Every car has something it's best at. It is important to know how the car functions outside of its comfort zone. In this case, I agree that most i3 buyers will be using it for driving around town. But I think they would also expect to have access to the car's promised performance throughout the promised range. If driving uphill while relying on the range extender results in a max speed of 30 mph, that's something people should know.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    mercedesfan...very perceptive comment on the Volt - and very true.
  • s197gts197gt Member Posts: 486
    i don't think this car is necessarily a city vehicle, a road trip vehicle, a commuter vehicle... etc... i view it as a lifestyle vehicle.

    that is to say, people who buy this vehicle are looking to make a statement more than anything else. people who buy this aren't looking for an appliance vehicle like a camry or even a prius. they probably do a LOT more research on this purchase and understand its limitations. i would presume most buyers looking into an electric vehicle embrace the limitations of batteries, chargers, etc...

    i don't think phil chose this vehicle for a road trip because he thought it was "perfect" for a road trip. the challenge of the trip becomes the fun of the trip.
  • goaterguygoaterguy Member Posts: 64
    This post makes me so happy with my decision to buy a Volt 7 months ago. Oddly I still get excited every morning when I get in it.
  • goaterguygoaterguy Member Posts: 64

    I'd say this was a case of asking a car to do what it was not designed to do. Next installment: "Mustang tackles the Rubicon!"

    Sorry but you are just looking for excuses as a BMW fanboi. There is no other $50k vehicle that can't keep up with traffic speed period. My 2012 Wrangler can keep up with traffic and likely the Rubicon. My wife's Fiat 500C "city car" traveled from South Carolina to Chicago through the West Virginia mountains the day we bought it without a single hiccup and still giving us 38 mpg. I even did a round cross country trip from Miami to Napa Valley and back in my 39hp Aprilia Scarabeo 500 GT (basically a big scooter) without fear of being run over by traffic. And well, to tell you about my Volt, all you have to do is read the comments from others here.
  • darthbimmerdarthbimmer Member Posts: 606
    The weak power when the car switches into range-extender mode is terrifying. I had thought this would be a good commuter car because the gas extender would ensure plenty of daily range to/from work with short side trips for lunch or shopping thrown in. But not if I'm going to be stuck doing 30mph uphill on the interstate.

    Can the range extender be triggered manually? Like, press a button to start the gas engine to recharge the battery before it runs out and while the driving on flat terrain?
  • empowahempowah Member Posts: 68
    Turns out there's a mod that allows you to control when the range-extender turns on:

    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=819815



  • wasserboxerwasserboxer Member Posts: 1
    Range extender should be modular. You don't need it - take it out, need it again - put it back. And nobody talks about it again, within the current generation of EV, it is long gone. People forgot it, when EV1, EV+ and RAV4 were gone in late 1990s.
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