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BMW i3 Range-Extender “Not For Regular Use”?

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BMW i3, the Only EREVE you Shouldn't Use as an EREV?
BMW i3, the Only EREVE you Shouldn’t Use as an EREV?

With all the great ideas that go into a BMW, such as those that make up the new BMW i3, one little piece of bad idea seems to have made it into the mix.

For now, we know the BMW i3 to be an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) with a battery range of 80 to 100 miles. The onboard range-extender, a gasoline-powered generator, is fed by a 2.4 gallon fuel tank, for an additional range of up to 100 miles which, I guess, you’re never supposed to use. I understand the BMW i3 is meant to be an electric vehicle, and that the range-extender is really just supposed to be backup, but I think BMW might have shortcut themselves in making the range-extender “not for regular use.”

For many people who may be interested in electric vehicle technology, but may not be so interested in limited electric range, an EREV seems like the perfect choice. For example, if your morning commute is 75 miles, you might not want to get into a Nissan Leaf, whose range is just about 75 miles. There’s just too little leeway. An EREV, however could give you the flexibility that you need in such a case. The Chevy Volt, for example, might get you halfway on battery power alone, after which the range-extender kicks in to get you back home.

Interestingly, I believe it’s the margin-for-error that the range-extender provides that enables Volt owners to go more miles on electricity than Leaf owners. If you’re not worried about range, you’ll be more apt to go right to the limits and allow the gasoline-powered range-extender to back you up. There’s no such safety net in a pure electric vehicle. The BMW i3 seems like it should be in the same line of thought with the Chevy Volt, in spite of its tiny fuel tank, but BMW engineers tossed that idea out the window. BMW head of research and development Herbert Diess said…

The range extender is not intended for daily use. It’s for situations when the driver needs to extend the range of the vehicle to reach the next charging station. Therefore, the i3 probably won’t be the choice for customers with a need for an extended range.

Basically, the BMW should not be used as an EREV, which is a shame, because I think thousands of people would love a BMW electric vehicle. So, what happens if you used the range-extender too much? Will it break? Will it void your warranty? Who will buy a BMW i3 with that kind of limitation?

Photo credit: motorblog Foter.com CC BY

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