2014 BMW i3 Gas-Loaner Program To Ease Range Concerns
- When the 2014 BMW i3 electric vehicle goes on sale in November, BMW will include a complimentary gasoline loaner-car program.
- Gas loaners will be available to BMW i3 owners who plan trips that exceed the car's 80-100-mile range.
- There will be a limit to the number of times a customer could use a loaner car in a year.
WOODCLIFF LAKE, New Jersey — When the 2014 BMW i3 electric vehicle goes on sale this November, the company plans to offer buyers complimentary gasoline-powered loaner cars for trips that exceed the EV's 80-100-mile range. Although the program will be free, there will be a limit to the number of times a customer could use a loaner car in a year.
BMW's research indicates that range is only an issue for consumers in about 10 percent of trips. Still, "range anxiety" persists among many potential buyers of electric cars, and automakers have addressed the concern in a number of ways. Tesla Motors, for example, offers an extra-cost high-capacity battery pack for long trips. Other manufacturers include an onboard internal-combustion generator that kicks in when the batteries run down. This is the system GM builds into the Chevy Volt.
And BMW already intends to give buyers the option of adding a gasoline generator to the i3 for about $4,000 on top of the car's estimated $42,000-$48,000 price tag. That engine, a 35-horsepower, two-cylinder power plant adapted from the company's C650 GT motor scooter, would more than double the vehicle's range.
Even with this extended-range option, BMW decided to go one step further in overcoming range anxiety. As BMW spokesman Dave Buchko explained to Edmunds: "We created a program to offer a loaner car alternative to eliminate that concern as a barrier. This way someone could feel comfortable about buying or leasing an i3 without feeling the need to own a second car, which brings extra costs and challenges when living in large urban centers."
Edmunds says: The expense of the program to BMW might be offset by increased good will on the part of nervous buyers, as well as a publicity boost for the company.