Print 38 comment(s) - last by flyingpants1.. on May 15 at 3:00 AM

i3 EV will cost about the same as a nice 3-Series

BMW debuted the new i3 coupe at the LA auto show late last year. The automaker has now announced that the car will be priced at approximately $40,000 when it goes into production later this year, making it roughly the same price as the company's incredibly popular 3-Series sedan.

The tip on pricing for the electric vehicle comes via BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch. The CEO says that BMW [obviously] does not expect the electric car to be a volume model.

BMW will offer an optional two-cylinder 0.65-liter gasoline motorcycle engine and an auxiliary generator to charge the battery pack. That would make it somewhat similar to the Chevrolet Volt in operation.

The “green” BMW EV is expected to qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit. BMW also notes that it is currently waiting to hear from federal regulators if buyers who purchase the range-extended version featuring the optional engine will be able to get the $7,500 tax credit as well.

BMW is set to establish a program that will allow buyers of the pure electric vehicle to borrow a gasoline or diesel vehicle for longer trips. He did say that details are unclear at this point but the service will be offered "as an additional mobility package."

BMW currently expects most of it US dealer network, consisting 338 locations, to sell the i3 and the i8 hybrid sports car

Source: Auto News

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RE: It is not electric
By nafhan on 5/7/2013 3:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
con: Inefficient in gas mode, range still limited by battery capacity.
Are you certain of that? Trains are serial diesel-electric in order to increase efficiency, and their range is limited by fuel in the tank, not battery capacity.

If you're referencing something particular to this vehicle (and not serial hybrid vehicles in general) that I missed, my apologies.

RE: It is not electric
By SublimeSimplicity on 5/7/2013 4:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, particular to this vehicle. The range extender isn't powerful enough to maintain interstate speeds.

A diesel-electric train is a very different beast. The choice to decouple to engine from the drive wheels is because of the massive torque. The drivetrain loss to create a gearing that would hold up to torque demands are higher than the losses to go between mechanical and electric energy.

RE: It is not electric
By nafhan on 5/7/2013 6:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting info about the i3's engine. In this kind of configuration (i.e. range extender can't provide power to drive the vehicle), it seems like it might make sense to have a selectable "long range" mode that would run the ICE whenever battery drain is occurring - this would minimize the chances that you are left in a position where the battery is dead and there's still fuel in the tank.
The drivetrain loss to create a gearing that would hold up to torque demands are higher than the losses to go between mechanical and electric energy.
This sounds like something that may be true for specific implementations, rather than as a general rule. At the very least, it seems like something "they" would be working to rectify. I may also be completely wrong... :)

RE: It is not electric
By Mint on 5/7/2013 8:05:15 PM , Rating: 2
The range extender isn't powerful enough to maintain interstate speeds.
I really don't think you're right. 35hp, even after losses, is plenty for that.

A Leaf gets 102 MPGe on the highway, and that works out to 16kWh average power for the test, including inefficiencies from accelerating/braking and charging loss. A Prius only needs ~15 hp to maintain 60 MPH.

The 35hp range extender in the i3 is plenty for that.

RE: It is not electric
By SublimeSimplicity on 5/8/2013 8:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
I was curious about this, so I ran an experiment this morning in my LEAF. I reset my mi/kwh as I entered the interstate and maintained my speed between 70 and 80mph. The outcome was 3.1mi/kWh. This half of my commute is overall downhill, so lets call it 3mi/kWh to keep the math simple. At 75mi/h * 1/3 kWh/mi = 25kw. The BMW engine is rated at 35hp = 26kW, so with generator losses this is just about right.

So I admit I was wrong. What boggles my mind then, is why they would rate the range with the range extender at 200mi? Why limit it so severely by the size of the fuel tank?

RE: It is not electric
By Mint on 5/8/2013 9:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
I really think it's just space. The idea is to not use the range extender much at all, so it's probably not very efficient (maybe 25 MPG) and they didn't want to waste more than 4-5 gal of space. Stopping for gas every 90 minutes isn't so great, but it's not terrible.

RE: It is not electric
By foxalopex on 5/8/2013 10:52:49 AM , Rating: 2
Actually you probably need more power than 35hp to maintain interstate speeds. I own a Volt which uses a 75hp engine so I have a bit of experience to reflect on this.

While 20hp is enough for highway crusing, you'll probably run into serious problems with 35hp if you are trying to climb a massive mountain. It may not be an issue depending on where you live but having that limitation is a problem. On the Volt, this problem is avoided by using mountain mode which reserves roughly about 1/2 the battery for hill climbing. GM wasn't kidding when they said they tested the Volt from Alaska to Mexico.

Also in very cold climates such as Canada which is where I live, the battery will essentially shutdown if the Volt is left in the extreme cold for hours unplugged. This happens because I don't have a plug at work. This is probably to protect the battery. I can attest trying to drive the volt on a 75hp engine alone isn't very pleasant. The engine sounds like it's really trying hard. While the i3 will likely be lighter than the volt due to amazing amounts of carbon fibre, I have a bad feeling that if only powered by the gas generator, it will likely be completely at full throttle which isn't very healthy for any gas engine.

RE: It is not electric
By SublimeSimplicity on 5/8/2013 11:10:34 AM , Rating: 2
The engine they're using, when in a moped is rated at 65hp. That is obviously peak, non-continuous, and not at all fuel efficient. I'm guessing the 35hp is the max rating for continuous. Not max fuel economy, but max continuous power.

I'm going to guess that it gets a HWY mpg rating of 30 or less on the range extender.

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