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 Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on November 11, 2015
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.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on November 4, 2015
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.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on October 9, 2015
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.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 17, 2015
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.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 14, 2015
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."
August 3, 2015
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.
July 28, 2015
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.
May 27, 2015
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.
May 22, 2015
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.
March 30, 2015
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.
March 27, 2015
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.
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 20, 2015
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.
February 18, 2015
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.
February 5, 2015
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.
January 8, 2015
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?