BMW i3 news
The U.S. launch of the BMW i3 only a few weeks away. That means the days are numbered for the BMW ActiveE, the company’s 1-series test platform for electric car technology. As much as I'm going to miss the ActiveE, I don’t feel the same as when I returned my MINI-E. I really loved that car.
The availability of low monthly leases for the most popular electric cars—commonly $199 a month or less—has lowered the price barrier to EV adoption. But based on emerging pricing information about leasing a BMW i3 or Cadillac ELR, leases for luxury plug-in vehicles are unlikely to take much sting out of high sticker prices.
There’s no doubt that the pure electric version of the BMW i3 will qualify for an HOV sticker, the decal that allows drivers to travel solo in the state’s carpool lane. But Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, told PluginCars.com that the i3 with range-extending engine—also known as the REx version—had not yet been assigned a sticker classification. “At this point, ARB has not issued certification for the i3 or the i3 REx. Until the process is complete we can’t discuss the question” of what kind of sticker the range-extended model will merit, he said.
According to BMW, the upcoming i3 all-electric car is about more than just electrification. BMW’s surveys of 700 “Electronauts,” the company’s name for people who leased the Active E all-electric test vehicle, showed that sustainability matters. Of the 113 who responded, 85 percent either agreed, strongly agreed, or extremely agreed that renewable energy was important, Dr. Simon Ellgas, senior advanced technology engineer at BMW’s technology office in Silicon Valley, told PluginCars.com. But the question remains: does that justify creating a whole brand to sell the “i” cars?
Any serious electric car program from a car company requires more than just one plug-in model. Yet, three years after the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt hit the market, the major automotive companies offering plug-in models only offer a single vehicle—that is, when considering cars that sell more than about 100 units a month. As BMW prepares to introduce two plug-in cars next year, the German automaker is already considering expanding its EV lineup for wider market acceptance.
Last month, without even driving the landmark BMW i3 electric car, I questioned if designers shot themselves in the foot with an overly funky design. That resulted in a few angry emails. How dare I say the car is weird without seeing it in the flesh and driving it? Well, on Wednesday, I had my first brief spin in the i3, as part of the media days of the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. What’s the verdict? It’s growing on me—with a few caveats, like a door system that needs to be learned.
I have been to multiple debutante parties for the BMW i3 electric car, and it was on a rainy afternoon in Barcelona, Spain, during the big international EVS 27 electric car show, that I finally got a chance to drive it.
Beginning in early 2014, buyers of a BMW i electric vehicle can eliminate worries about where the electricity used to charge their car comes from, or how green it is. That’s because SolarCity this week announced a deal to offer discounts to buyers of the BMW i3 electric car, making it easier for them to add solar power to homes.