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    Bob is confused over BMW’s electric vehicle strategy...

    Posted in Cars on Tuesday, November 05 2019

    Everyone and their dog are at it these days – yup, that’s right, I’m talking about electrification. Whether it’s pure electric BEVs (battery electric vehicles) or PHEVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles) every manufacturer is jumping on the bandwagon, keen to assert their position as the world leader in eco-friendly transportation for the masses, or given their price points, should that be the very well heeled?

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    Long-term test Winter Wunderkind Robert Hefferon has warmed to the i3

    CAR: #BMW / #BMW-i3 / #2017-BMW-i3 / #2017 / #2018

    OWNER: Robert Hefferon

    There was an extra air of smugness about me as I passed the fuel station and saw that prices had increased again, and it stayed with me all the way to work.

    The morning had already started well. I opened the curtains and saw a crisp covering of frost smothering the i3. There was none of that ‘Where have I left the scraper?’ or ‘I’d better set off ten minutes early’ business because the day before I had luckily and unknowingly got one-up on winter, and set the i3’s pre-conditioning schedule for 7.30am and 5.45pm.

    Another peek out of the window at 7.40am confirmed that the i3 was very kindly warming the cabin and defrosting itself. OK, similar things exist and have done for a while, but often they have to be activated in real-time. Incidentally, you can do that too on the BMW i3, if you don’t have a schedule set for the pre-conditioning or you want to access the car at a different time, by pressing a diamond-logo button on the key fob, which will instantly activate the warm-up function. The idea of the pre-conditioning setting isn’t just to keep me toasty: it also improves the batteries’ efficiency in the cold months.

    Win-win! And it got me thinking: how many people, despite warnings to the contrary, leave their car idling to warm up and de-mist? Countrywide that adds up to a boat-load of fuel! It’s the little things that make a big difference, and this little i3 has some big ideas. Less pollution, less global warming, more properly cold winters for the i3 to do its thing…
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    Techie on the case #2017-BMW-i3 / #BMW-i3 / #BMW

    Long-term test Robert Hefferon

    After singing the i3’s praises to anyone who asks, I sometimes find myself countering with a couple of niggles. But I might have been a little unfair. Let me explain. An electric car’s range always plays on your mind. The i3 is perfect for my commute for a couple of days without a charge, but plan anything longer and even with a full tank and charge you’re still limited. ‘Wouldn’t it be good,’ I thought, ‘if you could switch to the petrol-powered motor before the charge runs out…’ Well, it turns out you can. And it took only minutes playing with the settings to find it: ‘Hold state of charge’.

    If you don’t have access to a fast-charge point, being able to stop and fill up with petrol opens up the range and usability of the i3 that bit more, keeping the battery charged for the return journey or, in fact, allowing you to accumulate charge for when you need it. Another little hurrah moment came when working out the right combination of twists and clicks required to turn off the dashboard display – an unnecessary drain on resources when it’s not required.

    It also improves the minimalist atmosphere in the cockpit. Manufacturers are all too keen to flood your peripheral vision with dials and buttons, but the lack of these adds to the BMW’s futuristic and spacious feel. That said, a simple on/off button on the screen would be even better.

    Fair enough, if I had looked in the manual I would have found this out weeks ago (along with the obvious folding wing-mirror button and, more shockingly, the heated seats) but, honestly, does anyone do that? Working out these things for yourself is part of the joy of connecting with the car. I’m sure the i3 will keep surprising me and will continue to silence my niggles the more I use it.

    Left and above Robert likes the i3 cockpit ambience – and has discovered much by fiddling with the iDrive settings.
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    Electronic milestone BMW-i3 / BMW / #2018

    The #BMW-Group delivered more than 100,000 electrified vehicles to customers worldwide in 2017, as promised at the beginning of the year. This underlines the company’s leadership role when it comes to electro-mobility. A spectacular light installation marked this milestone, as the BMW Group headquarters – the famous ‘Four-cylinder’ building in Munich – was transformed into a battery. “This 99-metre-high signal is lighting the way into the era of electro-mobility,” said #Harald-Krüger , Chairman of the Board of Management of #BMW-AG . “Selling 100,000 electrified cars in one year is an important milestone, but this is just the beginning for us.

    “Since the introduction of the #BMW-i3 in #2013 , we’ve delivered over 200,000 electrified cars and, by 2025, we will offer 25 electrified models. Electro-mobility will continue to be my measure for our future success.”

    The 100,000th electrified #BMW of 2017, with the BMW ‘battery’ building in the background.
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    Smooth operator #2017-BMW-i3 / Mark Dixon Long-term Test / #BMW-i3 / #BMW / #2017 / #BMW-i3-I01 / #BMW-I01

    ‘Any colour you want, as long as it’s black.’ So said Henry Ford, allegedly, but my advice to anyone in the market for an i3 would be: ‘Any colour except black.’ The i3 is a chunky little thing and it benefits from a two-tone treatment rather than the all-over black of our longtermer. Even plain old white sets off the (standard) black bonnet and tailgate nicely.

    White is, of course, something we associate with electrical appliances, but the i3 is far from boring. Yes, if you’re in the mood, you can hoon it around corners at unlikely velocities, and it can be devastatingly effective in a rapid overtake. As I quickly learned from the 2001 Honda Insight I bought eight years ago, however, there’s a completely different kind of satisfaction to be had in the way you drive these kinds of cars. It’s all about being smooth and disciplined, reading the road well in advance to achieve the best possible economy. Sounds dull? Not at all.

    It adds a welcome mental challenge to an otherwise routine journey. And if you’re more engaged, you’re more aware, and that means you’re driving better.

    I love my Insight, and I think I will learn to love our i3. So far, I’ve found little to dislike other than its flat, slightly-too-firm seats, and irritatingly oversized gear selector. Oh, and the colour. Nevertheless, I’d buy this car in a heartbeat.
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    Guilt-free, as charged #2017-BMW-i3 / #BMW / #BMW-i3 / #BMW-i3-I01 / #BMW-I01

    It was with a certain amount of disbelief that I responded to David Lillywhite, when he told me we were getting a BMW i3 as a long-term test ‘pool’ car. ‘Haha, an electric car, in Octane, very droll…’ Turns out, it’s a great leaving present from our outgoing editor.

    As I write this, the i3 has been with us just over a week and it’s been driven more than 400 miles. No big away days, just a lot of commuting, a couple of diversions in the evening, and a weekend of messing about doing family stuff. We’ve spent £2.50 on petrol, and only then because of an unplanned pre-office excursion one morning that drained the battery and called upon petrol power.

    You see, it has what’s known as a range extender. There’s a 168bhp, 184lb ft electric motor driving the rear wheels, and it’s powered by a 94Ah/33kWh battery pack, which weighs a not-insubstantial 230kg.

    When you run out of range (typically we’ve been managing a little more than 100 miles on a full charge), the engine kicks in to keep the battery charged: it doesn’t drive the wheels. You’d notice the difference if it did, as there’s just a 647cc scooter-based two-cylinder under the boot floor, generating away with its modest 34bhp. You can hear it, but only just; it’s much quieter then the gennies that assault your ears by temporary traffic lights.

    The lack of a petrol soundtrack doesn’t mean this is an unexciting drive, however. It zings away from a standing start (0-62mph in 7.3sec!) and has you grinning with its silent verve. The steering is keen and sharp, and the low centre of gravity (those batteries sit below the floor and much of the structure is carbonfibre) means you can fling it into corners.

    The i3 still feels so modern, four years on from launch, with a genuinely refreshing interior design and funky styling outside, and its focused nature is impressive. It doesn’t try to be an MPV or an SUV; instead, this is a fabulous car for two, plus an occasional couple (or kids) in the back, where there’s decent space though limited access thanks to small suicide doors that can’t be opened when the front ones are closed. The boot’s compact too, though those rear seats flip. And it’s not confined to the city. The i3 is comfortable at speed, and entertaining on sweeping A-roads. You just can’t go too far in it on a single charge. Which means we’ll keep you posted about whether we’re swapping our green guilt for range anxiety.

    From top The i3 is quick – and saves our classics and our fuel on Octane commutes; appropriately futuristic interior.
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