Entering The EV Era
On July 29th, 2013, as a 2014 model, the first i-BMW had its global launch simultaneously in London, Beijing, and New York.
This was a big step for the Bavarian manufacturer to enter the EV-market and create the i-subbrand.
With the 2019 model year, BMW introduced a better i3. Compared to the first model, the current i3 has 120-ampere-hours (Ah) battery, doubled from 60. The gross energy content is now 42.2-kilowatt hours (kWh) enabling a range of up to 246 kilometers, nearly a 30 percent improvement from the previous, 94Ah model. Our tester, the i3 REX has and a range extender, a small, 2-cylinder gasoline engine acting as a generator to charge the battery.
My first driving experience with the i3 was in 2015, in Munich, Germany. As I was leading a group of international students from Seneca College on a European tour with many car fans, we did not skip the BMW Museum. During this visit, I accepted an invitation to be driven in an i3. This short drive was within the museum, indoors. It was a bit weird experience. I was sitting in a car with a simple, light and not so luxurious interior. The hidden rear doors opening in the opposite direction without the fixed B-pillars gave comfortable access to the not-so-roomy back seats.
After four years, we, as the AutoAndroad Team had the opportunity for a closer look. First of all, this car will not disappoint you when it comes to driving pleasure. The acceleration and road-holding are great. Even if it is the nature of EV’s due to instant torque and low center of gravity, BMW refined the powertrain and chassis as you would expect from a luxury manufacturer. The airy cabin with a distant sitting position from the tall windscreen makes you feel sitting in a bigger car than it actually is. BMW meanwhile has given the i3 an interior that’s unlike any other small car there’s ever been, with panels made from recycled plastic, optional wood inserts that curve along the top of the dash, and not one but two TFT screens giving it a somewhat contemporary feel.
The i3 is a small yet important product for BMW to build its i sub-brand of electric vehicles. But, this is not a car for everybody for sure. The i3 is a car purely for city driving. A second or even third vehicle of a wealthy family that chooses to leave its powerful and big SUV at home sometimes. Only those families can afford to spend north of $60K as our tester costs. Acceleration is impressive. This is first of all the nature of EV’s. The maximum torque is instantly available as you hit the “gas” pedal. BMW added spice of sportiness. It feels good. Combined with the effortless and silent nature of its electric powertrain it makes driving an i3 a unique experience.
For all these features BMW i3 makes is an expensive car of its size. This is probably even more expensive for us, Canadians regarding the weather. Weather affects EV’s range and Canadians suffer a lot from long and cold winter months. Cold weather shortens the range.
Our fully-loaded tester had a base MSRP of $53,600. As it is usual with a press fleet vehicle, BMW included almost all options, Premium and Driver Assistance Package as well as stand-alone options; namely leather seats, metallic paints and Star-Spoke Light Alloy, mixedtires bringing the MSRP to $62,245
Most car manufacturers today are in some kind of alarm situation. Nobody is sure how quickly the EV era will surround us and how much longer the ICE will survive. So, everybody wants to have an EV portfolio.
In this regard, the BMW i3 may be your choice if:
- You want to experience the upcoming EV era today in a smart way
- Can afford an expensive second vehicle to emit your bold, environmental message or
- Need a cool, smart city car that has a prestigious nameplate.
Article and Photos by: Varol McKars and Dan Gunay
For more info please visit: www.bmw.ca