by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on February 28, 2017
Our 2014 BMW i3 is long gone, but we recently brought in a 2017 range-extender (REX) model for short-term evaluation. The big news for this year is a redesigned battery pack with cells that yield more capacity (33 kWh) than the pack in our long-term car (22 kWh). This gives the 2017 i3 REX an EPA-estimated 97 miles of all-electric range and 180 miles with combined electric and gas power, compared to 72 and 150 miles, respectively, in our old long-termer.
That's already a nice improvement, but I found that by being a little lucky and not flat-footing the accelerator, the EPA's estimates can be surpassed.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on November 27, 2015
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.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 4, 2015
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.
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.
June 26, 2015
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.
June 23, 2015
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.
June 3, 2015
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.
March 17, 2015
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.
March 3, 2015
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.
February 3, 2015
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.
February 2, 2015
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.
January 30, 2015
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.
January 13, 2015
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.