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The BMW i3 – Everything but the Range

BMW i3, all that really matters?
BMW i3, all that really matters?

The BMW i3 is a futuristic vehicle, including everything you you’d expect from BMW, but perhaps less of what you’d expect in an electric vehicle.

As more and more emphasis is being put on battery capacity and electric vehicle range, we’re seeing promises of 200 miles, 300 miles, even 1,000 miles (promises, mind you, not deliveries), but what about everything else that makes a car great to drive? The Tesla Model S shines in this area, EPA-rated at 200 miles for the 60 kWh version, performing like a sports car and outfitted like a luxury car. On the other hand, the Nissan LEAF is somewhat more basic, offering around a hundred miles range in a non-luxury, non-performance package. The Nissan LEAF is also less expensive, and performs better than conventional cars in its class.

What if you could get an electric vehicle with “all of the above?” This seems to be the approach of the BMW i3, which has just hit the roads in the EU. The electric vehicle hatchback, extended-range in the second trim level, which is outfitted with all the wonders of modern BMW technology, such as automatic parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, and electronic stability control. It’s also quite the performer as an electric vehicle, the 127 kW electric motor-generator delivering all its torque right from the starting line, steering and suspension tuned to handle like the hot-hatch that it is. There’s two things that people might not “get” at first when it comes to the BMW i3, however, its looks and its range.

From the outside, the BMW i3 looks like something out of TRON, which may be instantly polarizing. On the other hand, inside the car is all BMW comfort and convenience. When you’re inside, are you really looking at the outside of the car, anyway? Still, there’s the range, a scant 80 to 100 miles, actually close to that of the Nissan LEAF, which begs the question, “Which is better? Range or Fun-to-Drive Quotient?” BMW focused on the latter and, considering the average American drives less than 30 miles per day, wouldn’t it be nice to drive a BMW?

Photo credit: Carleasingmadesimpletm

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  1. Ladson LoneWolffe Still a conundrum, but I believe it’s a fun vs range thing… https://www.greenoptimistic.com/2014/07/14/bmw-i3-vs-nissan-leaf-bang-vs-buck/

  2. LoneWolffe Ladson Good, I would like to see someone quantify some of the differences; all too often we get…”it’s expensive; but, worth the money” kind of opinion thing.  Enjoy your journalism and your site..

  3. Ladson I’m not really sure how to interpret that one. Just taking a quick look at the specifications, (i think i’m going to write this up on monday), the i3’s motor is 150% more powerful than the LEAF’s, and also has a smaller battery by 2 kWh. I have to find specs for the upcoming LEAF, which is supposed to be better than the 73-mile EPA range.

  4. The i3 is a puzzle; it weighs 500 lbs less than a Leaf; 2700 lbs compared to 3200 lbs.  Yet, this advantage seems small perhaps lost somewhere in the design.  Is it driveline friction, a less efficient motor, motor controller? a larger frontal area? miscalculated CD? What?  Perhaps the Nissan components of the Leaf are better engineered than the Bosch components.  It would be interesting to put them both on a dyno and compare their efficiencies at various speeds.


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