BREAKING: BMW i3 BEV Gets Official EPA Rating – Range 81 Miles, 124 MPGe Combined

6 months ago by Eric Loveday 82

BMW i3 - Now EPA Rated

BMW i3 – Now EPA Rated

After waiting and waiting and then waiting some more, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally issued the finalized, official figures for the BMW i3 BEV, but not the BMW i3 REx yet.

How does the BMW i3 stack up against the plug-in vehicle competition?

Here first is a look at the existing “Top Ten EPA-Rated Fuel Sippers of 2014″ -

Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Automobiles For 2014 As Listed By FuelEconomy.gov

Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Automobiles For 2014 As Listed By FuelEconomy.gov

Where does the BMW i3 slot in?  Or, more appropriately, where does the pure electric version of the BMW i3 fall on the list?

BMW i3 BEV Window Sticker

BMW i3 BEV Window Sticker

BMW i3 BEV Window Sticker

BMW i3 BEV Window Sticker

The EPA numbers for the BEV BMW i3 are as follows:

138  MPGe City

111  MPGe Highway

124  MPGe Combined

So, returning to our question of “where does the electric version of the BMW i3 fall on the EPA’s Top 10 list?”  How’s this look for a revised list:

  1. 2014 BMW i3 BEV  124 MPGe Combined
  2. 2014 Chevy Spark EV  -  119 MPGe Combined
  3. 2014 Honda Fit EV  -  118 MPGe Combined
  4. 2014 Fiat 500e  -  116 MPGe Combined
  5. 2014 Nissan LEAF  –   114 MPGe Combined
  6. 2014 Smart Fortwo ED Cabriolet  -  107 MPGe Combined
  7. 2014 Smart Fortwo ED Coupe  -  107 MPGe Combined
  8. 2014 Ford Focus Electric  –  104 MPGe Combined
  9. 2014 Tesla Model S 60-kWh  –   95 MPGe Combined
  10. 2014 Tesla Model S 85-kWh  –   89 MPGe Combined

So, the BMW i3 BEV is the efficiency champ, but what really matter is what’s its range rating?  Well, it’s close to what we all expected.  Not exceptional, but not bad given its 22 kWh (18.8 kWh useable) battery pack:

81 miles of electric range

And that’s that.  The BMW i3 BEV, with official EPA ratings, can now be sold to buyers in the US.  We expect first sales to occur immediately, possibly by late today or sometime tomorrow.

Hat tip to Manny Antunes!!!

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82 responses to "BREAKING: BMW i3 BEV Gets Official EPA Rating – Range 81 Miles, 124 MPGe Combined"

  1. Elroy says:

    Told you it would by the most efficient one out there. For all those that were saying there is nothing special about it. Better range than the Spark, and roomier inside, and quicker accelerating.

    1. qwerty says:

      i3 = $41.3k+
      Spark = $26.6k+
      Difference = $14.7k

      For the price of the i3, you can buy a brand new Spark EV plus a brand new Kia RIO for long distance with change back!!!!

      http://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/rio/2014/experience?story=hello

      Also, MPGe means garbage.

      1. Elroy says:

        Yeah but the Spark interior and ride was embarrassing even after test driving the LEAF on the same day. The BMW is in whole different class of luxury. MPGe is at least some objective measure. At least they are referencing it to a standard, given that it is known a gallon of gas is equivalent to at 33kWh.

        1. Assaf says:

          Actually, the Spark EV’s EPA range is 82 miles, 1 mile longer than the i3…

          …but IMHO this is an unfair comparison as long as the Spark EV is marketed as a compliance car. Because among other things it means, that its price is not a true market price.

          The 2014 Leaf, OTOH, has an 84-mile EPA range, 5 seats, much lower price than the i3, and nationwide presence.

        2. Chris says:

          Yeah, the Spark EV is a total POS inside(hey what do you expect given the Spark ICE is $12k) although IMHO it drives better than the Leaf due to the lowered COG and the almost 50/50 weight distribution.

          The Leaf has the better ride quality though,seats 5 and is available nationwide.

    2. taser54 says:

      Lol. BMW had to scratch really hard(deleting moonroof) to beat the spark. I guess that’s what $12k extra buys.

    3. John Hollenberg says:

      I would like to know the efficiency from the wall. If energy is spent keeping the battery cool, that affects the overall efficiency.

      1. Jeff says:

        The EPA MPGe and kw-hr/100 mile figures ARE the efficiency from the wall.

        For proof, look at the original 2011 Volt sticker — before they changed the format to remove how many kwh’s it takes to charge. It shows that a full charge takes 12.9 kwh, which lines up with the electric efficiency of 36 kwh/100 miles and the electric range of 35 miles. But the usable portion if the battery was only ~10.3 kwh.

    4. Bakwas says:

      Better range than spark? Spark has rated range of 82 miles. I routinely get over 100 in city/hwy combo over gentle hills with my Spark EV. MPGE may be, but not range.

  2. pjwood says:

    81 / 1.9 = 43mpg maximum, but since REx weight will drop AER, 40mpg may be more realistic.

    Note, to self. MPG doesn’t matter, when you almost never use the engine.

    1. David Murray says:

      That’s what I keep saying.. With 81 miles of battery range, I would use the ICE maybe once or twice a year. I don’t think the MPG rating on gasoline is even a concern for me.

    2. Mint says:

      Precisely why the series gasoline range extender is a great idea.

      Up front cost for a REx matters more than efficiency or emissions, because it’s used so sparingly yet negates all downsides of an EV. Can’t wait until someone like Tata Motors starts cranking them out for under $2k each. They sell a whole car with a 38-hp engine for $2500.

  3. Rob Stark says:

    vs 2014 Nissan LEAF

    +10 MPGe
    -3 EPA Mile range
    - 0-60 mph ~2 seconds
    + MSRP of $12,370

    Hmmmm

    When does the LEAF with bigger battery debut?

  4. vdiv says:

    Good news.

    BTW why is the i3 considered a sub-compact according to the label?

    1. Anton Wahlman says:

      For starters, seating for 4 instead of 5.

      1. vdiv says:

        So the Panamera is also a sub-compact then? ;)

        1. cmg186 says:

          It could be. If I remember correctly, the Fisker Karma was considered a sub-compact. I believe interior volume, not exterior dimensions are the deciding factors. Someone correct me if I’m wrong here, but that is what I recall.

          1. Aaron says:

            Sounds about right. The LEAF is considered a mid-size.

            @vdiv: I’ve driven the i3. It’s not significantly bigger than my i-MiEV. I s–t you not. The i3 is wider, but the door sills are significantly thicker than the i-MiEV’s. The i3 is longer, but the not-watertight frunk takes up most of that because the i3 doesn’t have as much cargo room (seats up or down) as an i-MiEV.

            Yes, the i3 is quiet, feels solid, and is fast, but it’s still a tiny, i-MiEV sized city car.

    2. Eric says:

      The EPA class is determined by interior volume. Subcompact means it is between 85 and 99 cubic feet. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/info.shtml

  5. no comment says:

    what “81 miles” means is that there are going to be times of the year when you will get *more* than 81 miles and times when you will get *less* than 81 miles. the problem is, when it is less than 81 miles you may not have a whole lot or margin while driving.

    make sure you have a second car before buying this one…

    1. Rob Stark says:

      I think everyone here understands the difference between “hypermiling it” and “normal driving range” of ~65 miles.

      If you use that 0-60 in 7 seconds capability you will not get 81 miles.

      1. no comment says:

        “times of the year” means that during the colder months you will get a lot less than 81 miles when running the heater. air conditioning is not as much of a drain on the battery, so you will get more range during the warmer months.

      2. Mint says:

        Electric motors are often *more* efficient at high output. Batteries lose a bit of efficiency at high drain rates, but only 10% or so.

        Going 0-60 in 15s will probably use more energy than doing 0-60 in 7s (though I’m being disingenuous because the latter covers a shorter distance). The main factors hurting EV efficiency is not acceleration, but sustained speed and deceleration (if you brake too fast, you’ll get poor regen recovery).

  6. Anderlan says:

    That is obscene efficiency. 81 miles on the US cycle from 19kwh. Marke my words, this will remain the most efficient passenger car in the US for a good while.

    1. kdawg says:

      The i3 has a 22kWh battery and goes 81 miles
      The Spark EV has a 21kWh battery and goes 82 miles.

      1. Mint says:

        Usable capacity and charging efficiency aren’t taken into account by your simplistic calculations.

        MPGe looks at electricity coming out of the wall and how far you can drive with it. It’s the final say in efficiency, and the i3 is at the top.

        Having said that, who cares? EVs have no talipipe emissions (power plant emissions are less relevant), and electricity is way cheaper than gasoline.

        1. kdawg says:

          Wasn’t really a calculation. Just stating the facts.

          1. Mint says:

            I’m just pointing out that your facts are unrelated to efficiency.

  7. offib says:

    BMW made the most efficient car on the market? That would be laughable a few years ago. They should be proud of this! Now, the Scion iQ EV has nothing to hold above everyone else now.

  8. Ct200h says:

    Not to bash the I3 ( I am considering it to replace my leaf) …… But the fact remains the range is less than the Leaf. Efficient the i3 is , range advantage it does not have.

    Amazing they just didnt put a 24kwh pack in there with extra space the Rex would take up.

    Then it would have had a range of the upper 90′s

    1. pjwood says:

      I kind of agree with you. Having better range to kwh numbers doesn’t make the $$ difference, say, better mpg numbers would. I’d go for the range, any day.

    2. David Murray says:

      Agreed – I can’t believe a car in this price range gets LESS range than the Leaf. Although with some of its added efficiency modes it may be somewhat easier to get more range if needed. I suppose there is the chance the batteries will hold up better than the Leaf’s batteries. The BMW probably won’t degrade so quickly, so that after a couple of years the BMW will have more range than the Leaf.

      1. pjwood says:

        The i3 has more range than the Leaf, by far. It’s the efficiency numbers, with kwh, that are less important than AER. That’s what I would agree with, anyway.

        1. David says:

          Not sure why you say that. Per this article, i3 has 81 mile EPA range. 2014 Nissan LEAF has a 84 mile EPA range.

  9. Ocean Railroader says:

    I really loved the car. It was very powerful and futuristic. I loved the gauges on it showing speed and range and charging stations. It even showed how high I was above sea level.

    The only thing is I think they could have put in a 30 or a 40 kilowatt battery pack to make up some of the $42,000 dollar sticker price. In that the Kia is going to have a battery that is going to be five to eight kilowatts bigger and it’s most likely going to cost less. So battery prices might not be that big of a factor in cars like they used to.

    1. Aaron says:

      My circa 2003 GPS could tell me how far above sea level I was. That’s old technology.

  10. George B says:

    Great to see this, Eric! Thank you for putting this article together. I particularly appreciate that you thought of calling out the high efficiency rating, and comparing it to the nearest two entries. I did quite a bit of research on this in the past, and concur with your findings and the general approach. Well done piece of reporting.

    Although most prospects and readers focus on the range figure, it does not tell the entire story. BMW could have made the car a bit bigger and stuffed a larger battery into it. That’s not rocket science. Building the most efficient, sustainable and eminently usable EV on the market with unique handling and M3-like acceleration is an admirable engineering effort though.

  11. GeorgeS says:

    Yawn.
    Wake me up when we see what a pure series RE does on the EPA sticker. How much worse than the Volt will it be…..any wagers?

    1. George B says:

      The anticipated fuel efficiency of the REx is 38 mpg on the combined EPA cycle. It will be equal or slightly better than the Volt.

      1. BryanC says:

        It might have MPG equal to the Volt, but what’s its 0-60 time on the 34 horsepower REx? And do you feel safe driving a 34 hp car on US freeways?

        1. That’s not how it works Brian. The car still has 170hp when the range extender is running.

          1. Aaron says:

            BryanC has a point, though. The i3 runs its battery down to 6% charge before starting the REx. In theory, the REx is the only thing keeping the battery at or above 6%, therefore available power is limited by what the REx can provide + what is remaining in the battery pack.

            The motor still has full power, but for how long? Real world reviewers have shown it won’t stay at 70 MPH on the freeway with the REx holding the battery charge steady.

            Hell, my i-MiEV’s 66 HP is barely adequate on the freeway. I can’t imagine running from the REx’s power. (33 HP minus generator losses.)

            1. Elroy says:

              The LEAF takes about 20kw to maintain 70mph. I’m sure the 25kw generator in the i3. Will have no problem maintaining 70mph on level roads.

            2. You can drive at 70mph indefinitely Brian. There are many reports from i3 owners in Europe that say as long as you stay under 75mph, you can drive all day and it maintains the SOC.

            3. Mint says:

              No, there are no reports of inability to maintain 70mph.

              Your iMiev sucks on the freeway because it has less than half of the i3′s power.

              These are EVs, not ICEs. That means for a given average speed, a bigger motor doesn’t need any more average power on the freeway than a smaller one, even if you accelerate hard. When you need a burst of power, the battery will supply it, and the rest of the time the REx can trickle energy back in until you’re back to the 6.5% SoC.

      2. Open-Mind says:

        And yet far less practical than the Volt for long trips, mainly due to its stupid-small gas tank.

        1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

          And the Volt is less practical for long trips than other cars due to its stupid small gas tank.

          1. TSLA says:

            Volts gas tank isnt small smh

      3. GeorgeS says:

        @ George B

        If that happens then that means the ICE part of the power train is way more efficient than the Volt.

        ….because if all you do is consider series vs parallel trans the Volt trans wins in the efficiency dept. The link beats the conversion losses every time if you only are talking tranny.

        1. George B says:

          George S: yes, certainly, but it’s not just the genset efficiency.

          Please keep in mind that the Volt has a combined MPGe rating of 98. Conversely, the i3 is rated at 124. This means that the vehicle is 26% more efficient on the EPA cycle. That alone should counter any deficiencies, perceived or real, in the genset design and implementation.

          I’ve been analyzing these numbers for over a year now, and my rough estimate was that the REx fuel efficiency will come in somewhere between 35 to 42 mpg. It looks like it will be about 38 mpg combined.

          That’s based on the figures revealed on the Monroney sticker earlier today. I’m pretty confident in this estimate. The i3 REx will have a very comparable fuel efficiency, and will not stand behind the Volt.

          1. Mint says:

            Sounds about right, but it could be a bit lower.

            124 MPGe means 33.7 kWh of electricity goes through a charger, into a battery, and then to a motor. The REx takes the same energy in the form of gasoline, converts to mechanical energy (maybe 30% efficiency for this simple engine running at optimal RPM), puts it to a generator, and then to the motor and/or the battery.

            If the generator losses are similar to the charger/battery losses. Then we’d be looking at 37 MPG.

  12. John Hansen says:

    81 miles was predictable but still disappointing. It’s like all of the established manufacturers have a gentleman’s agreement not to rock the boat and offer an EV with long enough range to make it a compelling and complete replacement for an ICE car. I love my Volt, but I guess it’s up to Tesla to make BEVs go mainstream.

    1. George B says:

      John, with all due respect, this is not true. The sub-100-mile EVs are the function of the state of the art in battery technology and government regulation.

      1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

        I have to quibble a little with your point. It is very possible to build a longer range car. The only thing stopping that is mostly price. And, as Tesla has shown, that isn’t really a customer barrier.

        1. qwerty says:

          EXACTLY!

          Tesla had a planned a separate battery pack for the 40KWh Model S.

          All the other manufacturers seem to all have “RD” Range Deficiencies.
          They need some Lithium laced Viagra!

        2. George B says:

          Yes, absolutely. It’s possible to build a longer-range EV. Definitely is. But given the density of the batteries, the i3 would have to be physically larger. This is the primary reason why the Model S is packaged as a large luxury sedan. It would have been impossible to build a Camry-sized vehicle with 265 miles of EPA range. And that despite the fact that Tesla uses the most energy-dense cells in the industry.

          The most significant limiting factor with the i3 is its packaging (read: size). The rest, including the range, follows from that. If BMW was building the i5 next year, then I would definitely expect an EV with significantly longer range.

          The RAV4, which uses Tesla technology has an EPA rating of 103 miles in blended 80 and 100% charging mode. On a full charge, it likely would get 114 miles EPA range. But the RAV is significantly larger and heavier than the i3. The Mercedes B-Class is similar in that regard, and it will have less range than the RAV.

          Nissan is reportedly working on a denser battery, which would fit into the LEAF, but that’s not on the market yet. So in that sense, the i3 very much represents the state of the art of the technology.

          1. AceVolt says:

            So what kind of range would the i3 have if they swapped the range extender for additional battery cells as an option?

            1. George B says:

              That’s a fair question. If you assume that the range extender could be seamlessly replaced with 250 lbs of batteries, then this would add 10.44 kWh of usable capacity and 12.22 of nominal capacity. Using the combined MPGe EPA rating, this would add 45 miles of EPA range, and the total EPA range would be 126 miles.

              While we can be certain that the chassis could support 250 lbs of additional weight, we cannot know if the extra batteries would fit. I suspect that they wouldn’t. Stuffing them into the engine bay over the rear axle is not safe, and although a 3rd party might attempt it, BMW will never consider it. The battery tray below the passenger cabin has some room in it, but if it was any fuller, crash safety might be compromised. We don’t want any cells or modules touching the battery case wall. There needs to be a safe gap all around.

              My hunch is that the volumetric density of the cells BMW uses is not high enough, and a physically larger vehicle would be needed to add 12 kWh of extra batteries.

      2. John Hansen says:

        Analysts think that the price per kWh is down around $250 right now, so it would cost about $2,500 to add an additional 10kwh, which would get the range well above 100 miles.

        Instead of adding more range, which everybody is begging for, they added more “luxury”, which very few people are asking for, and increased the price by almost $15,000 over the Leaf.

        They also can’t use the excuse of not being able to fit more batteries because they took a clean slate design. It’s relatively easy to add more batteries when you start with a design to accommodate them.

        So then we’re left with wondering… if having a >100 mile range would give them a huge sales advantage over the Leaf, and if they’re already prepared to charge almost $15,000 more than the Leaf… then why did stick to status quo?

    2. Ocean Railroader says:

      It seems very weird that a car that is $42,000 has the same battery range as a car that is $20,000. With logical you would think that the car that is double the price would at least have double the range. This might be showing that battery prices are not as big as a factor as people think.

      Tesla though seems to be writing it’s own Game Rules with their battery packs and range.

  13. Doug B says:

    How much extra battery range could they give us for the cost of the Rex. Would be so nice to have choice in BEV range.

  14. Dwayne says:

    Why not offer multiple battery sizes (or at least a few) at different price points?

    1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

      +1 to that.

  15. Warren says:

    That 48 kWh Leaf is looking better all the time. :-)

    Come on Nissan!

    1. Tom says:

      Don’t hold your breath waiting!

  16. Tom says:

    Frankly, I don’t really care what the efficiency is. It is of no importance. I care what the range is and in that regard, it is no better than my 2011 Leaf…
    I think I’ll go with the MB when my lease is up…

  17. Vin says:

    81 miles of range? Why again are people waiting in line to spend over $40,000 for this thing?

    1. TPT says:

      Nissan Leaf is an appliance. BMW and MB have some panache, brand prestige and recognition. I can’t understand why some people don’t get that.

      It is for people that have only ever bought the three german brands (BMW, MB, Porsche/Audi) or are looking for something more than an appliance.

      Range just has to be good enough and apparently ~80 miles is good enough. The car doesn’t need to be measurably better than the appliance version, but has to have the badge, the design and the dealer experience.

      In some parts of the world, they say if you can’t afford a proper car, like a c-class or a 3 series, you should just take public transportation. That might not be an option in the US, so people buy the appliances.

      1. Vin says:

        That concurs with my suspicion that many folks are buying this just because it’s a Bimmer. Here in L.A. there are folks that wear their cars like the latest fashion. This i3 will suit them well. They no longer have to choose between a Prius or a 3-series.

        No, I don’t hate Bimmers. I love the old Z3, 840ci and all of the M3s and 1-series. Oh yeah, and the M1. To me the i3 is a major disappointment. But that’s just me.

        The B-Class ED is different, I wouldn’t bundle it in the same class as the i3… clearly more EV range (in extended mode), more cargo space, and good looks that don’t scream “I’m greener than you are!”. And to me it’s not overpriced.

        1. yiiikes says:

          The i3 has an extended range ECO+ mode that could yield as much as 120 miles on a charge. My wife is going to use it extensively and I will report the results here.

          The B-class and the i3 are the same price how is the B-class not overpriced and the i3 is?

  18. Ct200h says:

    The Rex range will be less than 81 on the battery because of weight and even lower in winter because the Rex has no heat pump, instead Rex model gets a l
    Electric resistance water heater.

    I still can’t believe the EPA range is lower than the Leaf
    Total waste

  19. Ct200h says:

    Mercedes should roll out the build it now and some added info on the B class
    Capture some buyers disgusted withe the results on the i3 range
    I will look at the benz if the color combos look good.
    And the goofy graphics are dropped or removable

    1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

      What guy wouldn’t want to drive a car with the letters ED on the side? I bet most of the population would recognize that as someting other than the abbreviation for “electric drive”

      1. TSLA says:

        It looks good on the Smart ED.

        and ED stands for Enlarged Dick so dont know what the population would “recognize” it as.

        I guess if you are insecure and dont want to be judged because your a pus then you wouldnt drive in it and thats your loss. The ED symbol looks cool… on the smart. not the stupid van thing

  20. Leafer says:

    I’m gonna shoot for a used model S.

  21. Cavaron says:

    Missing the Mitsu i-MiEV there – should be 112 MPGe combined. So old place 5, new 6 after Leaf and before Smart.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      It will be back, but that is a list of current/2014 vehicles.

      The last i-MiEV sold in the US was a 2012 model, the MY 2014s (that arrive in June) haven’t been assigned a 2014 EPA rating yet.

  22. David says:

    Actually, I believe EPA efficiency ratings of EV’s are very important, in spite of their EPA rated mileage range. When driven carefully in good operating conditions (weather etc.) all Ev’s can surpass their EPA rated mileage range by some amount. However, the amount an EV can drive beyond it’s EPA rated range is directly attributable to its energy efficiency rating. So, for example, when driven in good operating conditions the BMW i3 should be able to drive further beyond its EPA mileage range than the Chevy Spark EV does. This is because the BMW I3 is more energy-efficient and has nearly the exact same battery size as the Chevy Spark. In good conditions the Chevy Spark EV can achieve over 100 miles per charge. The BMW I3 will better that.

    1. yiiikes says:

      +1

    2. yiiikes says:

      With the ECO+ drive mode engaged and some hypermiling, I am expecting my wife to do better than 120 miles on a charge, largely due to the efficiency of the i3.

  23. Leafer says:

    lets hope your wide doesnt drive on the freeway or need a heater.

    1. George B says:

      The i3 BEV will ship with an energy-sipping heat pump, which will not affect the range much. Additionally, the battery pack can be preconditioned in winter.