I returned this morning from a week-long work trip to New York to find myself in possession of a very unusual vehicle. This is a BMW i3 with a range extender and I’m testing it through next week. It should be a very interesting week.
So far from my brief testing I am enjoying BMW’s electric city car quite a bit. And “it is very much a city car,” as the press fleet guy who dropped it off told me.
Even with the optional a 650cc two-cylinder engine serving as a generator mounted in the rear, its range is still only about 150 miles. Once you run out of juice from a charge the electricity comes from the gas engine, but with a 1.9 gallon baby gas tank you won’t get far. The fleet guy came from Dallas to Austin with a depleted battery—not a short drive if you aren’t familiar with Texas geography—and said he had to fill up five times, although each fill-up was super cheap.
So distance isn’t its forté. But the car itself is really goddamn neat and I like it so far. It’s not a Ludicrous Mode Tesla Model S, but the electric motor packs a surprisingly decent punch. And the rear-drive i3 is shockingly (pardon the pun) fun to toss hard into a corner. Plus, the space-age interior is a real trip.
I haven’t started recording my miles per gallon or range yet but I will when it’s fully juiced up and gassed up tomorrow, which unfortunately is taking a while since the home charger I was given only works with a 120-volt standard outlet.
Feel free to drop me some questions in the comments below and I’ll get to them as I can. And if you have any experience with the i3 at all, I welcome your tips in getting the most out of it. We also have an interesting test planned for it tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed that that happens.
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