2014 BMW i3: Experiencing the Engine Range Extender
August 14, 2015
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.
The range-extender combustion engine came to life with zero fanfare. Not a light in the cluster or a chime from the speakers. Once my speed dropped to about 50 mph, the thrum from the engine became noticeable over the freeway road noise.
It's not a pretty sound. At idle, it sounds, well, not unlike a portable generator in a closet.
It's funny; unlike the battery-only i3, the i3 with the range extender allows one to more fully utilize the electric range. So while the battery-only i3 may have more range on paper, it's far less likely that an owner will actually explore the depths of that range out of fear that they'll be stranded.
With the range extender, you can milk every last meter out of the electric range with no concern whatsoever. It's ~62 mile range (before the engine needs to be started) is more likely to be fully utilized.
Depleted of battery-only range, I drove our i3 until the gas engine range dwindled to about nine miles. I opened the fuel filler door and got a little chuckle out of the spider web strands you see in the lead photo.
I filled the tank to its brim.
Yep, this tank's total capacity really is smaller than the amount of fuel you have in a conventional car when its "low fuel" light illuminates.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor