BMW i Product Manager Discusses i3 REx Operation In U.S.

1 year ago by Mark Kane 34

Once You Call Upon The BMW i3 REx's Gas Engine, The Fun Comes To An End

Once You Call Upon The BMW i3 REx’s Gas Engine, The Fun Comes To An End

BMW i3

BMW i3

BMWBlog recently interviewed Jose Guerrero, BMW USA i Product Manager, asking him some questions about the REx (Range Extender) in the i3.

In the case of the BMW i3, the REx is just a 25 kW engine-generator, which is designed to enable the driver to finish a journey if the battery is depleted.

The main electric motor is 125 kW peak, so i3 performance can drop off when running on REx.

BMW always intends to have more all-electric range than 50% of the total range combined with REx, because this fits BMW’s goal of making the i3 more electric than otherwise.

BMWBLOG Question: “Hypothetically, if you increase the electric range, will that allow you to unlock the full REx?

Jose Guerrero Answer: That’s actually a two-part answer. The way the emissions certification for the vehicle has been certified for the REx, no matter what the strategy that BMW has selected, has been to turn the REx on only to get to a charging station. In Europe, it’s different. Here, we’re putting our focus into infrastructure, always trying to push that side of the business. We believe, at the core, even REx driver’s who’ve unlocked the REx, we still expect their driving behavior not to change and it’s almost like training wheels for the BEV. People with the REx, knowing how it operates, feel that it’s sufficient. So now, people are having REx anxiety. We really talked to our dealer network and told them that “these are the conditions and expected use of this car is” and let people know what their going to buy the car for. If they buy the car, and do 100 miles a day, and expect to use the REx, it’s not the car for them.

BMWBLOG Question: How does the emissions certification work, is the REx range supposed to be a certain percentage of the electric range?

Jose Guerrero Answer: The two things we believe, as a brand, that the certification targets are: One, we want the BEV range to be more than the REx range, because we believe that this is an electric car first, born electric, and the REx is only there for when you need it. Let’s look at the Chevy Volt, that’s reversed, where the gasoline range is further than the electric range. Could we build that? Of course, we already do with the X5 xDrive40e, but that was not our intent. Two, it’s the driving pattern. If you have the REx coming on at 50 percent state of charge, at the end of one month or one year, you could actually have more gasoline driving miles than electric, so how could we, as a brand, say that it’s born electric? So we’re definitely carrying that flag of electric mobility and if we really believe electric driving can cover 90 percent of a driver’s commute, how do we then change the behavior?”

As you can see from this brief REx Q & A, BMW really treats the REx and a get-home feature and does not want owners relying on the REx each and every day. So, if you routinely drive over 100 miles per day and don’t have the opportunity to charge along your commute, then BMW thinks the i3 REx is not the car for you.

Source: BMWBlog

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34 responses to "BMW i Product Manager Discusses i3 REx Operation In U.S."

  1. kosee says:

    So ‘in Europe’ it’s uuh different. Wish they would’ve asked some more questions about that as well. We kind of know the situation in the USA where the rex is limited but what about the not-so-limited European version? Do they think that’s ok for daily driving?

    1. miggy says:

      Not only Europe it’s the rest of the world that is different from the setup in the USA.

  2. Alpha777 says:

    So, it’s a Political answer to appease CARB.
    The reality is the Euro specs.

    If a guy has a 100 mile commute, 80 miles on electric is still excellent. I want that guy in an REX, unless he can afford a Tesla.

    Any news about when the i3 will have high-speed collision prevention. I believe the current 2016 i3 only covers up to 47 mph collision prevention.

  3. evcarnut says:

    Rex…shouldn’t be there PERIOD! BMW needs to make up their mind , are we going to build a useful “EV” or will we continue building these “Half Baked” Excuses of “EV’s”…,flip flopping like fish out of water,Repeating the same Mistakes Over & over & over & over & then Questioning things.0nly because they are BIG 0IL L0VERS..It’s always the SAME People,With the SAME Problems!.$$$$$$$..BMW, Start doing things RIGHT!…,Change will be GOOD!..

    1. Elroy says:

      You have the choice of a full EV with the i3 or you can elect to go with the Rex. You can make up your mind on what you want so BMW doesn’t need to do it for you.

      1. Aaron says:

        I’m quite amused that BMW calls it “training wheels” for electric driving. Wow, that doesn’t make it sound childish and unnecessary… okay, that was the point, but what a poor way to make it.

  4. SparkEV says:

    I always had soft spot for BMW i3, and this comment makes it even more so. Why couldn’t GM be more like BMW?

    “Here, we’re putting our focus into infrastructure, always trying to push that side of the business.”

    1. tosho says:

      As a European I can say that this is a total lie. The only one that is serious about infrastructure over here is Tesla. The only thing that German car manufacturers are doing in therms of infrastructure is to invent their own charging plugs so they can scare buyers from all cars that use CHAdeMO. No German manufacturer is willing to invest any money in charging stations at the moment. They are still playing “show the consumers that EVs are unpractical and expensive” game.

  5. Chris C. says:

    It’s tiresome to see Mr. Guerrero describing the X5 plugin as the same as a Chevy Volt. The Chevy Volt has a full-power electric drivetrain allowing for FULL PERFORMANCE ELECTRIC-ONLY DRIVING The X5 has a weak electric drivetrain and can not hit all performance targets unless it fires up the gas engine.

    A PHEV is a great design, but it’s well past time that these industry partisans stopped calling the Volt a PHEV. 2010 called, they want their marketing department distortions back.

    1. Orygun EV driver says:

      The ’16/’17 Volts were tweaked so that the gas motor provides more assist under heavy load, so in fact “full-power/performance” in the Volt also only happens when the gas engine is assisting.
      That being said, the Volt does have a much higher performance electric mode – but it also is not an all-wheel drive SUV that may allow many drivers (with kids/sports equipment/etc) to vastly reduce the amount of gas they use.
      What is surprising is the relatively modest price bump to go to a Model X over the X5 40e (or even more so the Volvo XC90 T8). At the Portland Auto Show, families were swarming over both vehicles and very exited about them. I felt like wandering the room muttering “Model X” to myself.

    2. 13Volt says:

      Except a Volt is a PHEV, plain and simple. Not some made up EREV nonsense.

      1. DonC says:

        Yeah, you’re right. What does the SAE know compared to a genius on the internet? No point in listening to engineers and using their definitions when there is so much better information available.

        1. JakeY says:

          The SAE has never accepted EREV as an official terminology (SAE terminology is covered under J1715).

          Both instances where it appears in SAE publications is from GM written articles. In the latter instance (“Chevrolet Volt Electric Utilization” 2015-01-1164) it reference the first GM document (2008-01-0458) and even noted in the footnotes that only PHEV was an SAE defined term.

          GM has been lobbying since the Volt concept for SAE to adopt that term, but as of the latest update (2014) SAE never adopted it despite GM’s considerable influence in the SAE. I think SAE recognizes it is more suitable for a marketing term than an engineering term.

          1. Aaron says:

            +1 Nicely researched smackdown, Jake.

            The Volt is a PTPHEVPTEREV, simple as that. 😉

      2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        Who cares about is obscure abbreviation nonsense other than few die-hard fans discussing about them all they long? Get real, regular people don’t know all these silly abbreviations and don’t give a … which one of them is more “correct” set of letters.

  6. Mike says:

    If they REALLY wanted it to be all electric, they would have made the all electric i3 with more BEV range than the Rex version and made the battery bigger, taking up all the space used by the ICE etc.
    I also loved the infrastructure comment – can anyone point out where BMW are building out an actual infrastructure, anywhere? Not just press releases or dealer charger, actual infrastructure.

    1. Elroy says:

      The BEV i3 has a fairly balanced F/R weight distribution. Putting more batteries high in the rear would be detrimental to handling. From what I have experienced, the BEV feels more stable at higher speeds than the irex. But they should have made a storage bin for the BEV owners. As far as infrastructure, BMW is putting their money where their mouth is. Which is more than most other manufacturers are doing.

    2. Stimpy says:

      The BEV does have more EV range than the Rex, but only by about 10 miles.

  7. Rich says:

    Even though the current BMW i3 offering isn’t for me, I’m thrilled with BMW’s initial effort. From the carbon fiber to large battery capacity on REx version to nationwide sales, BMW has been a stand up company when it comes to embracing BEV.
    I hope BMW has a plan to stay competitive and won’t let the i3 die. At $7K to $10K more than the BOLT (moderately equipped) and inferior in many ways to the BOLT, it’ll be interesting to see what BMW will do to compete against the BOLT.

  8. ydnas7 says:

    crippling the fuel tank is not a feature, its a compromise. the i3 is compromised so not to canbalise existing BMW customers. Same with lack of hold mode for long distance mountain driving.

    if GM had made the i3, it would be a laughing stock…

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Well, I give the BMW spokesman the “pretzel logic” award for his brave attempt to make it sound like BMW actually cares for its customers, in crippling the U.S. version of the REx.

    Of course, the ridiculous argument collapses immediately when anyone compares the U.S. version to the European one. What, the reason BMW reduced the ability of the American version to use the gas in its tank is becase… ummm… you don’t have to drive as far in the U.S. to get to a gas station???

    [facepalm]

    Nope. When crippling the BMW i3, BMW showed that it cares more about earning carbon credits in the U.S. than it cares about its customers.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    1. Forever green says:

      +1 Pushmi-Pullyu

    2. mike w says:

      +1 they were only looking to get CARB credits. That’s why the European version is different from the USA cars.

      1. jzj says:

        WE HAVE A WINNAH!

        Yes, this is the correct take-away.

        Obviously BMW could have handled this technically properly, but chose not to.

        BMW needs to have the driver answer one question at the start of every trip: “will this drive be within (battery range) and will the car be charged at the end of the trip?” If yes, then the engine stays off; if no, then the engine turns on to replenish the battery so it doesn’t wind up trying to get around on 25KW.

  10. Bob Lucas says:

    We bought the i3 REX 14 months ago and in over 11 K miles have used less than 5 gallons of gasoline. Does anyone else worry about the gasoline going bad? To my knowledge, the REX has never run, as the manual warns, for its own good.

    1. Stimpy says:

      It’s a pressurized tank, so it’s not like a normal gas tank. It will run a maintenance cycle for about 10 minutes every 8 weeks if you don’t use it in that time.

      1. Bob Lucas says:

        Thanks!

  11. SJC says:

    I would like to see a 25 kW fuel cell fed by a liquid fuel reformer in an EV. Run renewable fuel when you need it for sustainable mobility.

  12. Bob Lucas says:

    I love the idea of a fuel cell replacement for the REX, but current designs are very heavy. I did see a Hinda portable fuel cell generator at the LA Auto show, but no specs were given.

  13. Lou says:

    Was there actually any answers provided to the questions?

    And what was the line about Chevy Volt? It’s reversed? We build the X5 to do this??

    Sounds more like a political speech ?

  14. Nix says:

    In a nutshell he seems to be claiming:

    The EU version is perfect for the EU where there are no laws limiting range or when the REX turns on. Magically, he claims the US version is also completely perfect despite being neutered by restrictions.

    He’s marketing. I get it. They want customers to choose between very low battery range PHEV’s (that are too short in range to really be worth it) and a long battery range with a REX that they admit is much more limited than a true PHEV. I get what they are trying to sell, I just don’t have to buy into it.

    Their PHEV’s need more battery range for the battery to be worth it, and their REX needs more engine/range for the REX to be worth it.

    I had high hopes for BMW’s next generation, but it might be a bit premature to expect to much yet. It might take a little bit for them to get where I wished they were already.

  15. Stimpy says:

    Drove my i3 Rex on a 180 mile trip this weekend in 4 degree F weather at (mostly) 70 mph. I used a DCFC and a L2 240V charger and a single ~2 gallon tank of gas.

    The Rex works great BUT my car is coded back to original euro-spec instead of the inferior US-spec (which is trivial to do). I can turn on the Rex at any point below 75% percent. It is clear the car is capable even with the tiny scooter engine as it held the charge in that extreme cold weather at 70 mph.

    I would have never tried this trip if I had left it in US-spec where the Rex only comes on at 6% charge.

  16. Doug says:

    I need the hack where can I find please? New 2015 REX owner in Atlanta. Thanks
    Doug

    1. Spud says:

      Doug – the hack is available from here:

      http://www.dvdinmotion.com/

      I’ve had this in my US REX now since May 2015 and it works great.

      One (annoying) caveat – my i3 went in to the dealer recently to have a reported fault corrected. The software appears to have been upgraded and the ‘Range extender’ option no longer appears in the settings menu.

      I can’t recall if this is as it was when I received the car and will need to check if the hack is compatible with the current software version.

      I’d double check that before spending money on the hack yourself.

      Spud