2014 BMW i3 Long-Term Road Test - New Updates
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2014 BMW i3 Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
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  • Long-Term

2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: Sold At a Steep Discount

by Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor on January 13, 2016

2014 BMW i3 Hatchback

Over a year ago we were eager to add the unusual 2014 BMW i3 to our fleet and test the range capability of the onboard generator. But as time passed, we began to dread the prospect of selling it. Resale values of electric cars are still unpredictable and all too often disappointing.

We offered the i3 for sale at the Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) price of $33,300 and got no takers. So we knew we had to try other sources.

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2014 BMW i3: Depreciation Gut Punch

by Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor on December 21, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Electric vehicles tend to make for poor used-car values. All the tax credits and rebates are aimed at the first buyer, which in turn affects the vehicle's resale value. Why buy a 2- to 3-year old EV when you can lease a new one for less per month?

And yet despite knowing this, I wasn't prepared for the ridiculously low offer that CarMax gave us when we brought them the 2014 BMW i3. It's not that I was expecting our i3 to magically buck the low-value EV trend, but my research showed that I should have gotten a better deal.

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2014 BMW i3: Still a Favorite at 10,000 Miles

by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on December 16, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Eleven months into our long-term road test of the 2014 BMW i3, we've finally crossed the 10,000-mile mark. Since our 5,000-mile update, we took the i3 in for its first service, stretched a charge out over a single week, and found that improving the range with regenerative braking can be fun.

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2014 BMW i3: Do the Wheels Fit?

by Scott Oldham, Editor-in-Chief on December 9, 2015

2014 BMW i3

According to BMW, our long-term 2014 BMW i3 has 36.9 cubic feet of cargo space once you drop both sides of its split-folding rear seat.

Great, but what exactly does that mean?

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2014 BMW i3: First Service Completed

by Cameron Rogers on December 3, 2015

2014 BMW i3

A maintenance light on the instrument panel and alerts on the BMW i Remote app led us to schedule the first service for our 2014 BMW i3. I drove to Santa Monica BMW at 7:45 on a Monday morning to meet with the service advisor. In addition to cycling the battery to make sure charging was kosher, our EV would undergo a series of inspections and an oil change for the scooter engine that serves as a range extender.

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2014 BMW i3: One Week, One Charge

by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on November 27, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I signed out our 2014 BMW i3 for a full week, and specifically during the week of the Los Angeles Auto Show when I knew I wouldn't be visiting HQ or the i3's charger. There also isn't anywhere to plug it into my condo's garage. Essentially, I was dealing with one week and one charge.

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2014 BMW i3: Kudos to Glare-Resistant Display Screens

by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on November 24, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It seems like an inevitability: gauges being replaced by display screens. With virtual instrument clusters becoming increasingly ubiquitous in EVs like our 2014 BMW i3 and various luxury cars, it's hard to imagine any car having traditional dials in 20 years.

The trouble is that these screens are often susceptible when the sun shines from behind you. If you already have a touchscreen in your car, you probably know what I'm talking about. Want to change the radio station or see where you are on the navigation system? Good luck.

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2014 BMW i3: First Service Needs a Full Day

by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor @ 9,746 miles on November 20, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The 2014 BMW i3 has been in our fleet for nearly a year and it's finally due for its first service. With just less than 10,000 miles on the odometer, this maintenance schedule is pretty much in line with our most recent long-term BMWs.

Unlike our current M235i and previous 328i GT, the i3 has its own app that, among other things, informs the user of impending required service. Nifty. 

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2014 BMW i3: Passenger Door Is Loose

by Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor on November 17, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The above image shows the driver door (left) and the passenger door (right) looking towards the front tires of our 2014 BMW i3. What's up with that gap on the passenger door? I wondered the same thing when I unplugged the charger last night.

Dan Edmunds and I took a look this morning. As it turns out, something broke.

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2014 BMW i3: Complicated Car, Simple Controls

by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on November 12, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Is it odd that the most sophisticated car in our long-term fleet has the most straightforward climate controls? That's not entirely the case with our 2014 BMW i3, but it's close.

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2014 BMW i3: Low Tire Pressure Warning

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on November 11, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The trend continues across our fleet of test-vehicles. The temperature dropped from an exceptionally hot early fall to a more seasonably cool November and low tire pressure warnings have begun to ding.

Social Media Editor Travis Langness reported on the Viper's alert, then the Ram's, and now the 2014 BMW i3 has chimed in with a low pressure warning of its own.

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2014 BMW i3: Chock Full O' Nuts

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on November 6, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It's the time of year when Girl Scouts participate in that other fundraiser; the lesser known, mildly anticipated, nuts and candy sale.

How many cans of nuts fit in the rear cargo area of our long-term 2014 BMW i3?

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2014 BMW i3: Adaptive, Over-Reactive Cruise Control

by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on November 4, 2015

2014 BMW i3

This morning I drove our 2014 BMW i3 into the office. It was just after 4 a.m. so I practically had the freeway to myself. Being an electric vehicle, our i3 has carpool lane access stickers, so I was driving in that far-left lane on principle. In peace.

Actually, the car was doing most of the work. I had the adaptive cruise control system engaged so even if a slower vehicle pulled ahead of me, the BMW would slow to match its pace. But as I soon learned, the adaptive cruise on this i3 stinks.

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2014 BMW i3: Color-Coded Charging

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on November 2, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Pop open the 2014 BMW i3's charge port and you'll find a handy list of color-coded icons on the flap that helps drivers discern their EV's current charging status.

If at first glance you don't understand the subtlety of the icons, the i3's owner's manual spells it out as noted below. The "indicator light" referenced is the thin white line located just inside the port along the bottom edge as shown in the photo above.

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2014 BMW i3: Audible A/C Compressor

by Mike Magrath, Features Editor on October 29, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I haven't done the math, but I think I have more miles in our 2014 BMW i3 than anyone else on staff. It fits my life. I don't drive terribly far and for the type of commute I have, an EV is perfect.

So when there was a new noise from the i3, I was surprised.

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2014 BMW i3: Passenger Airbag Recall

by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on October 26, 2015

2014 BMW i3

BMW has issued a recall for front-passenger side airbags on 2014-'15 BMW i3s and 2014-'16 Mini Cooper and Cooper S models. Our luck: Our long-term 2014 BMW i3 is among the affected.

I made a call to BMW Customer Service and was immediately put on the line with a representative. After providing our car's VIN, the rep initially told me that nothing about a recall for our car showed in their system. She wanted to verify that however, and put me on hold while she contacted an i3 specialist.

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2014 BMW i3: Not Just for Commuting

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on October 21, 2015

2014 BMW i3

We've already established that our 2014 BMW i3 is a good commuter car. But like any versatile hatchback, it's a handy hauler, too.

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2014 BMW i3: Pros and Cons of the Suicide Door

by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on October 19, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The term "suicide door", according to Wikipedia and its sources, became popular slang for a vehicle door with rear hinges because of the higher risk of opening at speed, either by accident or by a member of the mob. This becomes an issue for the person sitting closest to that door.

If you tried to open a front-hinged door at speed — don't try to — you'd find it very difficult because of the airflow pushing against it. A rear-hinged door that's opened while moving operates more like a drag chute, with a degree of violence that's proportional to vehicle speed.

Our 2014 BMW i3 doors may not be dangerous, but they still have an inherent disadvantage.

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2014 BMW i3: There Should Be a Door Grab Here, Part II

by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on October 14, 2015

2014 BMW i3

After reading Riswick's post about the poor door grab on our long-term BMW M235i, it reminded me of a similar problem on our 2014 BMW i3. It doesn't even have a handle, just an angle cove to use as a door grab.

As you can see, it's not exactly in an ideal location. When you swing open a car door, where do you naturally grab to pull it closed? Probably not somewhere on the front half of it.

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2014 BMW i3: The More I Drive It, the More I Like It

by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on October 9, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It would be easy to dismiss a car like the 2014 BMW i3 as nothing more than a goofy-looking science experiment. It looks hopelessly awkward from nearly every angle, and trying to explain its immense breadth of technology to a curious bystander is futile.

After driving it, however, the i3 grows on you quickly.

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2014 BMW i3: Self-Parking Denial

by Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor on October 6, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Call them delusional, but most people think they're good at parallel parking. So good, in fact, that they say they don't need help from autonomous parking systems in cars, such as the one in our 2014 BMW i3, thank you very much.

Those are the findings of a new survey by AAA. According to the auto club, nearly 80 percent of American drivers "are confident in their parallel parking abilities." And just one in four people would trust the technology to park their cars.

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2014 BMW i3: Recharging at the Beach

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on October 1, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The local gas company was repairing a line behind our house last week, which blocked access to our alley, and subsequently our garage.

Needing some juice for the 2014 BMW i3, I pulled up the ChargePoint map to see if the Level 2 charger a half-mile from my house was available. It was, so I immediately hopped in the i3 and headed over.

D'oh! Not five minutes had passed and a black i3 had already sniped my plug.

Using my phone, I looked for the next closest charger.

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2014 BMW i3: Another Good Running Buddy

by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on September 28, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The last time I was up early to go running on a weekend, I took our long-term Jaguar F-Type to the beach and it made an excellent companion. This time around, I had a car with less than half the horsepower and much less noise. Even with those downsides though (subjective, I know), our long-term 2014 BMW i3 made an excellent running buddy too.

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2014 BMW i3: Sending Out an SOS

by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on September 22, 2015

2014 BMW i3

If you own a late model BMW, you may have noticed a button overhead with a phone icon and the letters "SOS" printed on it. There's also a good chance you've never pressed this button.

What does this button actually do? If you look in the BMW owner's manual, it says it should be pressed only in case of an emergency. But what constitutes an emergency? Does it have to be life-threatening or could I summon help for running out of gas — or in the case of our 2014 BMW i3, battery juice? What if the button didn't work?

I wanted answers, so I pressed it.

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2014 BMW i3: What You'll Pay for a New 120-Volt Charger

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 21, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It was hot, and I needed a cool blast of A/C, so instead of calling the BMW parts department at my local Long Beach dealer, I stopped in.

"Is there any way to fix a broken plug on my BMW i3's 120-volt home charger?" I asked hopefully. "The third prong, the ground, snapped off."

"Sorry, no," replied Sergio from behind the parts counter. "You'll need a whole new cord unit. Let me see if I have one in stock."

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2014 BMW i3: When Some Jerk Yanks Your Cord

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 17, 2015

2014 BMW i3

OK, I don't know that someone yanked the 2014 BMW i3's charger cord on purpose, but here's what I do know.

Late Sunday evening I parked the i3 parallel to my garage door in the alley behind my house. I plugged the 120-volt home charger into the outlet just inside my garage. I closed the garage door and went upstairs.

That's when things went awry.

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2014 BMW i3: Spinning on a Dime

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 14, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Business buzz words come and go, with last year's "synergy" becoming this year's "pivot." After spending some solid time in our long-term 2014 BMW i3, I can't help but visualize the electric i3 every time some says "pivot."

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2014 BMW i3: Minimal Maintenance

by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on September 10, 2015

2014 BMW i3

When the wiper fluid light went on in our 2014 BMW i3, I wasn't even sure where to look for the tank. The gas engine is in the back, so its dipstick is located under the cargo floor. Seems more logical that the windshield washer tank would be somewhere near the windshield under hood. Then I thought for a second, "Does this thing even have a hood to look under?"

Yes, yes it does. It's a very, very small hood, but underneath there's space to store the 110-volt charger cord and maybe a small bag. That's what happens in a tiny car that maximizes the passenger compartment over everything else.

It didn't take long to find the windshield washer fluid reservoir.

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2014 BMW i3: Heavy Traffic Improves Range

by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 4, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I'll admit that I haven't spent much time in our 2014 BMW i3. There's no particular reason for it other than it's often signed out before I get the chance to give it a try. I guess that says one thing about it right there.

After driving it home on my 37-mile commute, however, I might have to grab those keys more often. Not only does it have a carpool sticker so I can use the far left lane when I'm flying solo, it's also great in stop-and-go traffic thanks to its heavy regenerative braking.

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2014 BMW i3: It's Popular Around These Parts

by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on August 28, 2015

2014 BMW i3

When our vehicle sign-out sheet comes around, I hardly ever have the chance to put my name on the list for our long-term 2014 BMW i3. It's a shame too, because I really like this car for daily commutes. Sure, our Viper and Mustang are great consolation prizes, but I'd much rather have this zippy electric car during rush hour.

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2014 BMW i3: Actual Room for Four People

August 24, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I've already noted that the 2014 BMW i3 is pretty good at transporting a pair of dogs. But what about people?

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2014 BMW i3: Battery Discharges While Stopped?

August 20, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Hopping into our long-term 2014 BMW i3 after someone else has been driving it is always a bit of an adventure. Did they plug it in? When? Did they remember to tap the card so the charging actually works? Am I going to be able to make it home without that silly gas engine?

So while I was expecting something to happen, this wasn't even on my radar.

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2014 BMW i3: Experiencing the Engine Range Extender

August 14, 2015

2014 Mini Cooper

I experienced our long-term 2014 BMW i3's lighting of its gasoline engine, mid-journey, over the weekend.

For those wondering, it was 92 percent anticlimactic.

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2014 BMW i3: Haunted Glovebox

August 7, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The glovebox in our long-term 2014 BMW i3 keeps opening itself. There's only one explanation: It's full of ghosts. Ghosts desperate for freedom.

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2014 BMW i3: Fits My Current Lifestyle

August 3, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Naively, I once thought electric cars would never fit my lifestyle. But that thought occurred in my pre-parent days, back when I used to drive long distances (places like Montana) on a regular basis.

Now I pretty much only go to work, the grocery store and the playground, and I'm finding our long-term 2014 BMW i3 quite practical for those activities. Its slightly elevated ride height helps me prevent back injury while getting my kid and kid accessories in and out, and its gargantuan interior storage slots make it even more endearing.

Also, it turns out there are a lot of places to charge near my home, so if I owned one, I wouldn't necessarily need to get a 240-volt charging unit installed in my garage.

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2014 BMW i3: Sustainable Can Be Beautiful

July 30, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Car designers love to compare their creations to things outside the automotive world. "The instrument panel was inspired by high-end watches," is an oft-heard boast. "The cabin was influenced by high-end home furniture," is another. Usually they're stretching to make a point, but in the 2014 BMW i3 they actually have a point.

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2014 BMW i3: Must Stop Using Google

July 28, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I like driving our long-term 2014 BMW i3 and I can't really explain why. I think it's a combination of the size, the driving position, the aggressive regenerative braking as you let off the accelerator pedal and the knowledge of its carbon-fiber-intensive structure. Whatever it is, I find myself looking for ways to fit it into my life.

I live 20 miles from our office, so over the course of a long weekend, I was looking for an opportunity to top up the battery pack. There's free charging near me at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, but I have a toddler so I don't have the luxury of going somewhere to sit and wait unless there's a playground. Instead, I wanted to charge the i3 while shopping for produce at the South Pasadena Farmers Market.

So I poked around on Google Maps and found a charging location at an upscale grocery store (Bristol Farms). I figured I'd I plug in there, and then my daughter and I would take the stroller to the farmers market.

Of course, I figured wrong.

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2014 BMW i3: Sacrifices Seat Comfort for Weight Savings

July 23, 2015

2014 BMW i3

As you can see, the seats in our 2014 BMW i3 aren't exactly plush-looking. They're purposely thin to save space and weight, and they aren't power-adjustable for the same reasons.

The result is a thoroughly average driver's seat. Not bad, but not great. Comfortable enough during an average commute that you don't really notice it. Anything longer and you start wishing for a little more support and a few more contours.

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2014 BMW i3: Can You Fit a Stroller?

July 17, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Since a rear-facing convertible car seat fits in our long-term 2014 BMW i3, it naturally follows that you'll want to take along a stroller. I knew our electric hatchback had some light hauling ability for golf clubs. But I figured I'd only be able to fit my very compact Maclaren Triumph umbrella stroller.

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2014 BMW i3: It Might Not Look Like Much, But Its Got It Where It Counts

July 13, 2015

2014 BMW i3

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a co-worker I'd never met before. When she learned that I worked on the Edmunds editorial team, she asked what I thought of the BMW i3. Now, I've been doing my job long enough to know that this is a tricky question to answer. More often than not, the person is asking because he or she already owns the questioned vehicle and wants to know what I think.

So had I responded with something like, "You bought a 1989 Yugo? What a piece of garbage!" that might not be the best way to endear myself to my new colleague.

Fortunately, the BMW i3 is an easy car to like.

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2014 BMW i3: Let's Improve the Grill

July 8, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The faux-grill on our 2014 BMW i3 is a nice nod to the automaker's design history. But because electric motors don't breathe air, the grill has no function. That means we can modify it without repercussion.

First: The color. BMW's Frozen Blue highlight nicely emphasizes the grill as a design element, but wouldn't it be nice if you could get something other than blue? Cue Photoshop.

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2014 BMW i3: Does It Need a Start Button?

July 1, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The interior of our 2014 BMW i3 is refreshing. When you hop in, you can see the work of an automaker aggressively trying new ideas and taking new approaches to design. Take the gear selector. It looks like a stubby "D" in profile and feels like some kind of throttle stick in use.

But why is there a start/stop button?

The Tesla Model S doesn't have one, and it works great. After you hop in, you simply put the car in gear and drive off. I'm reminded of this every time I hop in the i3 to go somewhere. Can we ditch it, BMW?

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2014 BMW i3: Not Dirty for the Drought

June 26, 2015

2014 BMW i3

There are photos of dirty cars here in California with the cutline, "Dirty for the drought." I thought of those photos when our 2014 BMW i3 was given to me covered in grime. I don't like dirty cars. But I also don't want to use a lot of water during this drought. I was in serious conflict.

Here's how I handled it.

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2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: Five Great Things about EVs

June 23, 2015

2014 BMW i3 Hatchback

I drove to a party recently in our 2014 BMW i3 and it sparked an interesting conversation. Instead of exploring the pros and cons of EVs, it morphed into one of those "I'd never drive one because..." conversations. One guy said, "The problem with electric cars is that if everyone had one, the grid couldn't provide enough electricity."

It left me speechless. He was right, of course. But it is also true that not everyone is going to suddenly begin driving EVs. In fact, after four years on the market, a recent report said the number of EVs, hybrids and plug-in hybrids combined is around 3 percent.

Another guy at the party, who knows I lease a 2014 RAV4 EV turned to me and said, "Aren't you going to stand up for electric cars?" I felt like a kid on the playground being baited into a fight.

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2014 BMW i3: Lovely Owner's Manual Case

June 18, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The 2014 BMW i3 has a lovely case (cover? satchel?) for its owner's manual. It's a wooly grey material accented with a cool shade of light blue and a strip of tan leather that matches the Cassia Natural Leather found in the i3's Giga World trim level. Tres chic, no?

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2014 BMW i3: A Text to Riswick from the i3

June 12, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Dear James,

I would like to welcome you to the 21st Century. It's quite an interesting time, as dressing like a well-coiffed lumberjack is chic and I don't need stinky, burny old gasoline to make myself move. OK, so I have an engine, but I only sorta need it. Anyway, good luck with that quaint, shiny bit of plastic you have in your hand. If you're expecting me to do something with it, well, LOL.

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2014 BMW i3: Less Than Two Gallons of Gas In Two Months

June 3, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It's really difficult to track the electricity and gasoline consumption of our 2014 BMW i3 to the nth degree. The vast majority of public charge stations in the wild lack displays that reveal the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity dispensed during a charge. And it's not easy to remember to manually record the trip odometer when our i3 runs out of juice and switches from electricity to gasoline. Both are crucial bits of information.

The first part is hard to deal with. We try to charge at Chargepoint stations as much as possible since we own one of their units and can look up our charging activity anywhere on their network in our account. But there are times when we have to charge at Brand X stations, and those times earn a blank line in our logsheet.

The second problem is one of muscle memory. It's easy to forget because: (a) you're driving when the switchover happens and; (b) 65 miles of electric range is enough that we don't run into gasoline mode very often. Exactly how rare are the visits from the range extender? It came to life just three times over a recent two-month period (February 23-April 23), and 1,709 miles of travel.

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2014 BMW i3: A Macro Look at Interior Materials

May 28, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It's been a lonnng time since I've done one of these posts, taking macro pictures of the different surface materials in a car. But when I sat in our long-term 2014 BMW i3, I was struck by the variety of raw and renewable materials used in its Tera World trim, including dark brown leather seats, open-pore eucalyptus wood trim, and natural cotton weave. It's a collage of colors and textures.

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2014 BMW i3: Torque Makes It the Perfect City Sleeper

May 27, 2015

2014 BMW i3

You know what makes our 2014 BMW i3 so fun?

Not its quirky looks or futuristic interior, but instead its instant torque. It hits 30 mph from a standstill in 3.1 seconds, just like our long-term GTI! But even that figure doesn't fully convey the i3's off-the line punch. It's what you want a car to do when you're trying to get across six lanes with oncoming traffic and no traffic light: Launch without lag.

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2014 BMW i3: Dog-Friendliness Rating

May 25, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Erin Riches has noted that the rear-hinged rear doors in the 2014 BMW i3 make loading a kid into her rear-facing seat a less-than-ideal experience. But what about when you're loading dependents that don't require a seat large and substantial enough for NASA to deem it excessive for missions to space?

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2014 BMW i3: Carbon Fiber Chassis Sets Up Promising Future for BMW

May 22, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Our long-term 2014 BMW i3 is BMW's Prius. Some enthusiasts decry its existence, but the i3 represents long-term strategic planning that gives the company a technological head start, one that will make the industry play catch-up for years to come.

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2014 BMW i3: 5,000 Miles

May 18, 2015

2014 BMW i3

So what have we learned in the first 5,000 miles of 2014 BMW i3 ownership? For starters, it's surprisingly fun to drive for a car with shockingly skinny tires. It also fits a rear-facing baby seat or a couple sets of golf clubs if you need those capabilities.

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2014 BMW i3: Flat Tire and No Spare

May 14, 2015

2014 BMW i3

"If only I had just gone my normal route. I shouldn't have tried to outsmart traffic." These are the thoughts that entered my mind as I stared at a flat tire on our 2014 BMW i3 on a freeway off-ramp in Inglewood.

I was commuting to our offices in Santa Monica and decided to forgo my normal route to take advantage of the HOV lane on Interstates 105 and 405. Traveling happily in the sparsely-populated lane, I whizzed by vehicles caught in the slog of post-dawn LA traffic.

Then I heard the chime of the tire pressure monitoring system. The i3's TPMS system displays air pressure in each tire, and the recommended cold pressure the front tires is 33 psi. The driver's side tire was reading 20 psi. A few seconds later, it dropped to 16. Time to get off the freeway. Now.

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2014 BMW i3: Do Golf Clubs Fit?

May 11, 2015

2014 BMW i3

You are retired. Perhaps you live in a place where the sun frequently shines. Perhaps your home, as a result, has a roof-mounted solar power system. Perhaps, therefore, a plug-in car like the BMW i3 makes an immense amount of sense. Perhaps, let's also say you golf (did I mention you're retired and live in a sunny place?). Perhaps you're even my parents. Will your golf clubs fit in the 2014 BMW i3?

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2014 BMW i3: Man Wrestles Floor Mat, Loses

May 7, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I was washing our 2014 BMW i3 last weekend. Easy stuff, right? Things were going fine until it came time to vacuum the floors up front.

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2014 BMW i3: An Extra-Large Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat Fits, But Rear-Hinged Doors Not Ideal

May 5, 2015

2014 BMW i3

A couple of months ago, I installed my daughter's compact convertible car seat in our 2014 BMW i3. It fit wonderfully, preserved useful legroom for the front passenger in front of it and heightened my enthusiasm for commuting around southern California in the i3. That car seat is not especially cushy however, so when I had to run some errands this week, I installed my primary car seat, the oversized (and discontinued) First Years True Fit C680 SI.

It fit, but not without compromise.

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2014 BMW i3: Misaligned Door Panel

May 4, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I walked out to our 2014 BMW i3 yesterday and found this. The base of the passenger door was sticking out. At first I thought the door wasn't closed all of the way but there was more to it...

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2014 BMW i3: Climate Control Lacks Power

May 1, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It's already summer in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley  and I needed genuine cabin cooling when I drove our 2014 BMW i3 this week.

Ordinarily, I'm not very particular about air-conditioning systems in cars. I rarely set the automatic ones any cooler than 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and I usually have the manual systems on the lowest fan setting. I rarely use any Max A/C mode. I'm a naturalized Californian and I don't like to be cold.

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2014 BMW i3: Rubber-Wrapped Wagon Wheels

April 20, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Our 2014 BMW i3, has some crazy tires: 155/60 up front, 175/55 at the rear. That's a throwback to OG Beetle-skinny, but now wrapped around 20-inch wheels. Think of them like a modern wagon wheel or a big, fat BMX tire.

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2014 BMW i3: Doesn't Remember

April 9, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I like a lot of things about our 2014 BMW i3, but the car?s short-term memory is not one of them.

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2014 BMW i3: No AM Radio

April 7, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I usually listen to sports talk on the drive home, so imagine my surprise when I pressed the radio button on our 2014 BMW i3 and couldn't find the AM band. The photo above shows your choices. I tried scrolling the control knob in both directions, but the AM option never appeared. I took to the interwebs and found that this wasn't a glitch, but rather a design decision.

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2014 BMW i3: Park It Anywhere

March 30, 2015

2014 BMW i3

While the city ride quality in our long-term 2014 BMW i3 isn't ideal, it does have the ability to fit into nearly any parking spot you can find.

Bumper to bumper, it's the exact same length as a 2015 Mini Cooper (157.4 inches) and it's 10.7 inches shorter than a VW e-Golf. The Fiat 500e is considerably smaller (142.2 inches long), but if you want a back seat that can accommodate adults, I'd avoid the Fiat. At 69.9 inches, the i3 is only two inches wider than the Mini and five inches wider than the Fiat and an inch narrower than the VW. Basically, it's the right size for "compact" parking spots.

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2014 BMW i3: Regenerative Brakes

March 27, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The feeling of regenerative braking is one of the most overt indicators that you're driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. When you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal while driving, the car will immediately slow down, converting the forward momentum of the car back into energy for the batteries.

Our long-term 2014 BMW i3 uses a regenerative braking system that slows the car down pretty dramatically, but after just a few miles, it's easy to get used to how strong it is and modulate your pressure accordingly. If you plan far enough in advance, you can avoid using the conventional brake pedal at all.

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2014 BMW i3: Ride Quality in the City

March 24, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I recently had a weekend in our long-term 2014 BMW i3 and most of that time was spent commuting on city streets. Unlike editor John O'Dell who got to have some Fun in the Twisties, I was doing short urban commutes. And on the kind of broken, practically cobbled city streets that line most of Los Angeles, the i3 had a pretty bumpy ride.

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2014 BMW i3: Excellent Center Console Display/Rearview Camera

March 20, 2015

2014 BMW i3

The center display screen in our long-term 2014 BMW i3 is one of the best I've ever seen. The resolution is crisp, the screen is barely affected by sunlight and the rearview camera provides an impressive amount of detail.

This first photo shows the rearview camera display (in broad daylight of course) along-side the parking sensors so it's not the harshest test of the i3's abilities, but it works well in several other scenarios too.

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2014 BMW i3: Stepping Up; Way Up!

March 18, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Admittedly, it's a first-world problem, but the unique carbon-fiber construction of the 2014 BMW i3 gives it a tall step-in height that tripped me up more than once while I was using our long-term model recently.

The height of the door sills doesn't require one to do a standing high jump to gain entry, but at 18.6 inches from the ground in front, 19.6 inches for the rear entry, they do require a stretch.

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2014 BMW i3: Fun in the Twisties

March 17, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Yes, I know our long-term 2014 BMW i3 was designed to be a short-haul commuter/city car, but it does have a BMW badge.

So I took it to my favorite stretch of country road in the Santa Ana Mountains (yes, we still have country roads in the otherwise densely developed O.C.) to see how much of Bimmer's sporty DNA was transferred to its battery-electric runabout.

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2014 BMW i3: Dash Is a Wet Blanket

March 13, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Beauty's in the eye of the beholder and while some find the design of BMW's all-electric city car to be on the ugly end of the scale, I find it appealingly quirky, as befits a futuristic car.

But the hard plastic interior surfaces of our 2014 BMW i3 leave a bit to be desired.

BMW uses a cotton-fiber reinforced plastic composite for the dash and door panels, and opted to leave it in its natural state as part of the overall design theme of green and sustainable. That's fine.

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2014 BMW i3: Here's a Rear-Facing Car Seat That Really Fits Well

March 9, 2015

2014 BMW i3

As we've written in our full road test and in our "A" rating on the 2014 BMW i3, this electric hatchback has more interior space than you imagine when you first walk up to it. The headroom is striking when you're in the driver seat. Yet, there's a surprising amount of legroom as well, and that's what really matters when you're installing rear-facing convertible car seats.

Because convertible car seats vary so much in shape and dimensions, you have to keep auditioning them until you find one that's a good match for your vehicle's backseat and your child. In this instance, I found that my second-string convertible car seat, a Safety 1st Guide 65, fit exceptionally well in the back of our long-term BMW i3. Not only is it a good match for our extended-range EV's interior dimensions, it conforms well to the shape of the BMW's seat-bottom cushion.

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2014 BMW i3: Surprisingly, the Shifter Is Intuitive To Use

March 6, 2015

2014 BMW i3:

Sometimes I'm slow to learn new things. When I saw the column-mounted shifter in our long-term 2014 BMW i3, I was pretty sure I would get befuddled and make the wrong selection at some point.

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2014 BMW i3: Spam Bot

March 5, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I received the following email from our long-term 2014 BMW i3 recently:

Dear BMW ConnectedDrive Customer,

The state of charge of your V275231 is low!

We recommend recharging the battery.

Kind regards,

BMW ConnectedDrive

It seemed like a helpful note at first. But then I received at least 25 of these emails in the two months that we've had the car.

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2014 BMW i3: Clamshell Doors/Entry and Egress

March 4, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Not everyone likes the styling on our 2014 BMW i3. Admittedly, it has a complicated profile and a snub-nosed face that only a mother could love, but I like that it's different. It stands out from the crowd. Sure there are disjointed folds, interrupted character lines and mismatched colors everywhere, but I'm still a fan.

Aside from the endless aesthetic debate we could have about this car though, one of the design elements adds a bit to functionality: the clamshell doors

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2014 BMW i3: Testing the Range Extender

March 3, 2015

2014 BMW i3

I knew I'd be driving 40 or so miles to Simi Valley, Calif., and back to visit the in-laws. I also knew I'd be making a return trip to downtown Los Angeles. There was any number of regular old gasoline-powered cars available with hundreds of miles of range, and yet, I chose to take our long-term 2014 BMW i3. It was time to test its range-extender engine.

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2014 BMW i3: Movable Cupholder

March 2, 2015

2014 BMW i3

At first glance, the 2014 BMW i3 has only one cupholder up front. Au contraire.

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2014 BMW i3: Awesome Steering Wheel

February 27, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Like so much of the 2014 BMW i3, the steering wheel is unusual. But also like so much of the i3, the steering wheel is awesome.

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2014 BMW i3: Open Floor and Center Console

February 26, 2015

2014 BMW i3

One of the reasons my mother loved her first- and third-generation Honda CR-V was the open floor space in between the front seats as well as the low and/or non-existent center console. There were two reasons. First, she appreciated the sense of openness. Second, she'd usually keep her purse in that open area, or it would at least make it easier for her to access her purse when it sat on the floor. It was with this in mind that I knew my mother would love the 2014 BMW i3.

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2014 BMW i3: Big Surprise, It's Great for Commuting

February 20, 2015

2014 BMW i3

It's almost a backhanded compliment to say that electric cars make great city cars, because well, they aren't good road trip vehicles unless you have access to Tesla's Supercharger network, right? But our long-term 2014 BMW i3 is really an excellent commuter car and there's nothing backhanded about that praise.

I don't actually live "in the city" but in a congested suburb that was once considered well outside the city but is now among L.A.'s inner bedroom communities. It takes me an average of 70 minutes to cover 20 miles between home and the office.

Not only did I enjoy using our BMW i3 for my slog, it was interesting as a comparison to our old long-term Mini E. All EVs are still science projects to some extent, but the i3 is a far more practical vehicle than its forbear.

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2014 BMW i3: First Impression

February 18, 2015

2015 Audi A3

After getting some seat time in our 2014 BMW i3, I was struck by how it reminded me of our old Nissan Juke long-termer. Before you question my state of mind, let me elaborate. As with the Juke, the i3 is, at least to my eyes, ugly. Really, with such a disjointed look, especially in profile, it looks as if the three blind mice were given the project. But as with that frog-like Nissan, the i3 quickly won me over with its engaging personality.

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2014 BMW i3: Performance Tested

February 5, 2015

2014 BMW i3

So far, our 2014 BMW i3 has been a hit with everyone in the office. It didn't take long for the quirky electric i3 to be ready to undergo our standard series of tests at the track. Our first test was fully charged in default electric mode. Upon depleting the battery, we ran a second test solely on the gasoline-powered range extender. Here's what we found.

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2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: Self-Parking Revisited (With Video)

February 3, 2015

2014 BMW i3 Hatchback

When I last wrote about the self-parking feature in our long term 2014 BMW i3 I only included a photo. A reader named saxdogg said it was "criminal" not to post a video. And some other readers posted their own videos of the i3 parking itself. So, in an effort to atone for my deficiencies we offer this video that shows the i3 parking in three different situations: on a busy street, in a tight space, and parking on the left side of the street.

While making the video I had a lot of chances to get to know this $1,000 parking assistant feature. Here are a few thoughts on the limitations and benefits of this amazing system.

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2014 BMW i3: Commuting to a Three-Day Race Weekend

February 2, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Last weekend I volunteered to work as a starter at a three-day SCCA club racing weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The track is 46 miles from my front door, which made me glad our 2014 BMW i3 hatchback had the optional range extender.

I would not have bothered with the BMW if it had been the regular i3 or most any other all-electric car this side of a Tesla Model S. The 92-mile all-freeway round trip would have been out of reach for most, especially since my prospects for charging at the track were uncertain. Even if I could find a socket it would be no better than a 120V level 1 setup, the kind that adds around three miles of driving distance per hour of plug-in time.

But the range extender meant I didn't have to factor in any of that or do any impromptu EV math. There was no question I'd drive our i3 to the races. There was no doubt I'd make it home regardless of the availability of places to plug in. Our 2014 BMW i3 REX simply does not have that sort of leash.

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2014 BMW i3: One Lap of Orange County Range Test

January 30, 2015

2014 BMW i3

Last week I drove our 2014 BMW i3 hatchback around my One Lap of Orange County test loop, a 105.5-mile course that tours around the rough perimeter of "the OC" without ever setting foot on a freeway.

This loop was first conceived as a replacement for the city test course we drove as part of our Las Vegas-based Super Sipper Smackdown tests. We wanted a similar course we could use more often without having to deal with the logistics of a road trip.

As such, what's best characterized as a "suburban city loop" was never conceived with electric vehicles in mind. At first we tended to use it for hybrids, a class of vehicles that maximizes city mpg by means of regenerative braking. And because they're pretty much a poor man's hybrid, the course also makes a handy way to test the effectiveness of automated Stop-Start systems.

But we quickly realized our "One Lap" loop works very well for EVs, so long as a truck and trailer are waiting to collect the test car and haul it back to our metered charging station. The arbitrary length of our lap is by no means a pass/fail standard, but pins on a map marking the point where the trailer was called in (or the remaining range for those that reached the finish) make a handy way to illustrate differences.

Now that our 2014 BMW i3 (with range extender) has made the trip, we have data for just about every electric vehicle you can name. The regular BMW i3 — the one without the optional range extender — took its turn last fall.

Here's how they did.

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2014 BMW i3: Charging to the Super Bowl

January 27, 2015

2014 BMW i3

BMW announced plans to run a 60-second ad spot during Super Bowl XLIX featuring the all-new 2014 BMW i3.

The game airs February 1 at 6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT. The electric car will be seen during the first quarter.

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2014 BMW i3: The Buying Experience

January 21, 2015

2014 BMW i3

EK900, a frequent commenter on the long-term blog, said he wanted to know more about what it was like to buy the 2014 BMW i3. I had a busy December and I didn't get a chance to write a buying blog, so without further ado, here's the exciting backstory.

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2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: Self-Parking Feature

January 16, 2015

2014 BMW i3 Hatchback

People hate parallel parking. So you would think that self-parking systems would be very popular. But since their introduction nearly seven years ago, they have remained below the radar. In fact, if you mention to a non-car person, that the car can park itself, they look stunned and say, "What? You mean the car literally parks itself?" Yes, literally. In fact, it even looks for a space big enough to fit into.

So, when our new long-term 2014 BMW i3 came with the $1,000 parking assist program I decided to try it out.

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2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: Interior Materials

January 14, 2015

2014 BMW i3 Hatchback

If you like cars that are different you will probably like the new 2014 BMW i3. I fall into that category too, since I think designers need to strike out in new directions rather than refining the all-too-familiar cues that we hardly even notice anymore. With this in mind, I was eager to experience the unusual interior with its — buzz word alert — "sustainable" materials.

Here are a few impressions from my three-day road trip in this unusual vehicle.

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2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: (Short) Road Trip

January 13, 2015

2014 BMW i3

You want to own an electric car but every once in a while you take a short road trip. Does this mean you have to own two cars, one with a gas engine? Of course you could rent a car for the road trip or pop for a Tesla. Or, you could just get the new 2014 BMW i3.

To test this theory, I took a short road trip in our new long-term i3 hatchback. The key word in the previous sentence is "short" as the farthest I needed to drive in one shot was 236 miles north to the small town of Morro Bay, Calif. After that, I would drive only about 75 miles between electric charging stations on my way back to the Los Angeles area.

Here's how I managed the trip.

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2014 BMW i3: Introduction

January 8, 2015

2014 BMW i3

We aim to put 20,000 miles on all our long-term cars over the course of a year, so our i3 has a tough goal to meet. The only other EV to accomplish that feat was our 2013 Tesla Model S. Will the range extender help the i3 achieve that goal, or will the final odometer look more like that of our 2011 Chevrolet Volt, which only managed 15,063 miles?

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