BMW i3 w/Range Extender Vs. Chevrolet Volt

4 years ago by Jay Cole 58

The BMW i3 With Range Extender Is An Eloquent Solution To Range Anxiety In EVs

The BMW i3 With Range Extender Is An Eloquent Solution To Range Anxiety In EVs

Even though the ink on the BMW press release for the i3 has yet to dry, the first comparison of the Bimmer with range extender vs the Chevrolet Volt is now underway.

Chevrolet Volt Leads The EREV Revolution

Chevrolet Volt Leads The EREV Revolution

Now to preface this report, it is not so much how the BMW i3 REx drives vs the Chevrolet Volt, but rather will the BMW i3 with the range extender option added on compete with the Chevrolet Volt.

We’d love to have a test drive comparo of the two – however, even though as a group we own (or have driven extensively) every model year of the Chevrolet Volt here at InsideEVs, BMW has yet to allow any journalist any extended time in their extended range BMW i3.  So, we will work with what we know.

Pricing

  • The Chevrolet Volt currently starts at $39,145
  • The BMW i3 begins at $41,350 for the pure EV, the REx option adds $3,850 for a starting price of $45,200

Using our Grade 3 math skills, there is a base difference of $6,055 between the two…$6,130 if you want to get picky and in the extra $75 in destination fees on the BMW.

In reality, the Chevy is actually much less, as it is currently in its 4th calendar year on the market in the US – so discounting is wide spread, while the BMW i3 which comes on the market in Q2 of 2014 will likely not be discounted until it has been on the market for quite some time.

BMW Gets "Artsy" With The Stock Photos Of The i3

BMW Gets “Artsy” With The Stock Photos Of The i3

Handling

Once again, we can’t tell you how the BMW i3 REx handles, but we can tell you that everyone seems fairly satisfied with the all electric version.

That being said, questions remain:  How well does the i3 transition to extended range mode?  How much interior noise is added during the operation of the 2 cylinder motorcycle engine?  Is the 34 hp/55 lb-ft motor really capable of sustaining a charge level in the i3’s 22-kWh battery under extended amounts of distressed driving?  Who knows.

As for the Volt , it went through years of R&D, has had 3+ years of real-world proofing,  and clearly has a more capable/exotic extended drive architecture. We feel that most likely the Volt will offer a more refined ride, despite its underdog Chevrolet vs BMW badging on the front.

And darn you BMW for those 155/70 19″ tires up front on the i3…we get you are looking for efficiency, but c’mon.

A Closer Look At BMW's 34 hp Extended Range Generator's Location Behind The Rear Seats

A Closer Look At BMW’s 34 hp Extended Range Generator’s Location Behind The Rear Seats

Performance And Weight

The Chevrolet Volt is heavy with a capital H compared to the i3 REx, and there is no way around the effects of that on the performance numbers.

The Volt tips the scales at 3,781 lbs to the i3’s 2,899lbs (2,634 without the REx).  882 lbs is too much for the Volt’s 111 kW/273lb-ft of torque motor to make up against the i3’s 125 kW/184 lb-ft power plant.

0-60 MPH

  • Chevrolet Volt: 8.7 seconds
  • BMW i3 REx: 7.8 seconds* (7.0 seconds all-electric)

0-40 MPH

  • Chevrolet Volt: 4.5 seconds
  • BMW i3 REx: 4.1 seconds* (3.9 seconds all-electric)

50-75 MPH

  • Chevrolet Volt: 7.6 seconds
  • BMW i3 REx: 5.5 seconds* (4.9 seconds all-electric)
BMW i3 And Chevrolet Volt Interiors

BMW i3 And Chevrolet Volt Interiors

Interior Aesthetics And Comfort

Again, until we get to spend 4-5 hours in a BMW i3, no comparison can be made.  We can say that we have no complaints inside the Volt, other than it is perhaps a little cramped in relation to its price-point and status as a family sedan/people mover.   The BMW i3 dimensionally is much shorter in length than the Volt (although 6″ taller), but interior front head and legroom are very similar.

If The Most All-Electric Range Under $40,000* Is Your Thing, The BMW i3 Is Probably For You

If The Most All-Electric Range Under $40,000* Is Your Thing, The BMW i3 Is Probably For You

Range (All Electric)

Like the next segment will be easy to call for the Chevrolet Volt, this one is all BMW i3 REx.

  • The BMW i3 pure electric version has a BMW touted “80 to 100” miles of range.  We feel that an EPA rating of about 93 miles is a reasonable expectation.  That being said, the REx is going to take a penalty of about 10% due to extra weight and a little more Cd (.30 vs .29)…for arguments sake, we are going with about 83 miles in REx trim.
  • The Chevrolet Volt (2013 edition) is rated at 38 miles
Even When The BMW i3 Hits The US Market, No One Does Extended Range Motoring Like Chevrolet

Even When The BMW i3 Hits The US Market, No One Does Extended Range Motoring Like Chevrolet

Range/Efficiency (Extended Mode)

  • The Chevrolet Volt can travel an additional 341 miles on gas alone via a 1.4L engine and a 9.3 gallon tank, good for 37 MPG
  • The BMW i3 can travel up to an additional 87 miles* over the pure electric version via a 650cc 2 cylinder engine and 2.3 gallon tank, good for 38 MPG*

It is worth noting at this juncture that like the electric range on the i3 that has yet to be vetted by EPA standards, the same can be said of the extended range and MPG figures.

Additionally, if BMW’s addition 87 mile range estimate is proven accurate, the MPG figure will actually be higher than 38 MPG due to the all-electric range penalty of the REx edition.

ie) the REx is estimated to travel 10 miles less than the all-electric i3, yet will travel up to 87 miles further overall, so the net increase is 97 miles on the same 2.3 gallon capacity tank, or 42 MPG.

Conclusions

The BMW i3 will have little to any effect on the Chevrolet Volt’s acceptance and sales in the US.  And the Chevy will continue to be the extended range king for North America.

But why you ask?  And how can you be so sure?  Because a lot of the numbers we just went over seem to favor the BMW i3 REx. 

And that is true enough – however, mere statistics alone are not what sells plug-in cars in the United States – for the most part pricing, rebates and federal credits in conjunction with the stats sell the cars.

If Anything, Most Of BMW's Future Plug-In Battles Will Come From The Likes Of Tesla, Audi and Mercedes Benz

If Anything, Most Of BMW’s Future Plug-In Battles Will Come From The Likes Of Tesla, Audi and Mercedes Benz

The hard reality is that plug-in vehicles are not priced for ‘everyday‘ Americans; everyday Americans can’t afford them.  But through the federal government’s $7,500 credit, and the magic of leasing, everyday Americans are getting into cars they really could not otherwise afford.

More than 80% of plug-ins (without a Tesla badge on the front) are leased in the United States…and that is real reason the BMW i3 REx poses no threat to the Chevrolet Volt, or Nissan LEAF, or Ford C-MAX Energi, etc.  But perhaps to the 60 kWh Tesla Model S, or future offerings from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and the upcoming limited-run Cadillac ELR.

The 2013 Chevrolet Volt starts at $39,995 (incl dest).  However, factoring in all the rebates/incentives and the $7,500 federal credit, the national lease offer starts at $269/month with $2,399 due at signing.  Many are finding deals even better.

Conversely, the BMW i3 REx from $46,125 (incl. est $925 dest), even if leased at a better-than-industry rate of 45% residual value, with discounted financing and minimal acquisition fees is likely to net out around $500/month after the $7,500 federal rebate is applied, with a deposit of some significance to get the deal going.

In fact an example of this can already be found in the UK, where the base BMW i3 lease rate has been set at £369 or $565 US dollars, for a vehicle priced at £30,680 ($46,700 USD) before incentive of  £5,000 ($7,620 USD) is applied.  A £2,995 ($4,550 USD) deposit is also required to get the deal.

While the BMW i3 REx may be superior in many ways to the Chevrolet Volt, to many US customers who are considering the extended range Chevy, they simply can’t afford to look at the i3 REx…and to the rest who are only considering leases, the Bimmer is twice as much.  And the BMW i3 is just not twice as good.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

58 responses to "BMW i3 w/Range Extender Vs. Chevrolet Volt"

  1. David Murray says:

    Indeed. I’d probably give the i3 a look when my lease is up next year. But I suspect despite all of the options available now for plug-in cars, I’ll be going with another Volt. The sad part is, we can’t even afford to buy our own Volt at the end of the lease because the residual is too high.

    1. Spec says:

      Well, instead of buying your Volt at the end of the lease, you can probably pick up a used Volt being sold off by a leasing company for a rate lower than the residual. I suspect the residual rate may be too high due to many more EV & PHEV offerings then.

  2. Mark H says:

    Nice article. The i3 is going to perform well as most would expect from a BMW. And the i3 is going to outperform the Volt, but the comparison really makes one realize just how “well” both of these EVs perform. The Volt is a lot more sporty than most of the entry level EVs. In addition to the sport, I wish the Volt had the 6″ head room that the sporty i3 offers.

    What intrigues me most is that the author of this piece is opting for the REx. Would love to hear more about that choice. Also interested in which version Tom Moloughney is opting for and the reasoning. Jay? Tom?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey Mark,

      Yeah, can’t speak for Tom, but I am definitely going BMW REx over the all electric.

      I would say 95% of my days I drive between 50 and 100 miles. The other 5% are mostly runs from Toronto to Detroit (270ish miles)…with no weekday less than 50. I love the convenience of the extender in the Volt, but I have also made a commitment to drive as much as I can on electricity only.

      In my situation, I would be burning gas daily in a Volt, it would almost be used more as a hybrid than a plug-in. That’s why I current drive all-electrics, or occasionally take a regular gas burner.

      The drawback with the pure EV is when you expect to have ‘just enough’ range, is that you have to drive like you have ‘just enough’ range until you are sure of that fact, and you can’t veer off the driving plan without aid of a charging station stop of some consequence.

      With the i3 REx, I still intent to use the EV portion of the car the majority of the time, but those 3-4 times a month where I have ‘maybe’ enough range and previously had to choose the regular car, I can now make the choice for the plug-in knowing the ICE has my back, and I won’t be the turtle on the road if it gets dicey (or I have another stop pop-up).

      So even though I will be moving away from the more “pure” solution on most days, the swap will actually net me higher percentage of EV driving on the 3,000 odd miles I drive a month.

      Basically, my demos would look like this over the course of a month as it relates to the comparison between the Volt and i3 REx:

      Volt – 1,400 miles/month electric, 1,600 miles/month on gas
      BMW i3 – 2,700 miles/month electric, 300 on gas

      1. Urb says:

        I think the Volt can be propelled by gas or electric and the i3 is propelled by electric only, allowing gas extender to charge the electric engine correct?

        1. Peter Gerard says:

          The Volt is always running off the battery. The gas engine recharges the battery and does not directly propel the car.

          1. Cescatcho says:

            That’s not quite correct – the the petrol engine will drive the wheels directly under certain circumstances, in particular under heavier acceleration when the battery is low.

            1. VoltOwner says:

              This is a common mis-perception. The only time the range extender ICE is running is when the battery is low, so it sort of makes sense to people that it would provide power for “heavier acceleration”, but this is not the case. The key to understanding the Voltec system is to think about the way it tries to reduce the RPM of the main (powerful) motor to increase it’s efficiency. It does this by de-clutching the ring gear and using the generator (smaller) motor to drive the ring gear as well as the main motor. This is the “variable transmission” function. When higher power is needed for “heavier acceleration” the ring gear must be stopped and locked to allow the main motor to provide the needed power. So the ICE does not provide power during high power demands, only during low power cruise situations when it is connected to the generator and the generator is also powering the ring gear in order to lower the RPM of the main motor to increase it’s efficiency. Max power in this mode is limited by the output of the generator/motor, about 76HP.

      2. Mark H says:

        Thanks for that input. I agree with your assesment. A lot of Volt drivers shoot for driving the same methods that both you and Tom described “if” they travel less than 40 miles per day which happens to fit inside the national average.

        I totally get why a 80-100 mile range is required for you. I think BMW is moving in the right direction with less emphasis on the extender and treating it like an accessory yet providing the extender all the same. I think Tom will get one too based on the work I’ve seen him put in on his blog creating his own extender. I am a lot less interested in how the market buys the i3 as I am with what experienced EV drivers choose.

        Unfortunately, ICEs have a lot of years left. Hybrids are really just getting started and have yet to see their peak demand. No clue where the PHEV goes, but the EREV has a least a short term future in applications like the Volt and the i3.

        One cool thing about the i3. You will have to read the fine print as it travels down the road to separate it as a BEV or EREV. I like that. Arguing which is better just confuses those new to the industry. The mantra here last time I checked was “if it has a plug, we approve”.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Yupe, its got to have a plug or we don’t cover it…or as a failed reality show once said, “Dust to dust, you are dead to us”

          I think for many (if not most) the Chevy Volt and its 38 miles of electric range/EREV platform is still the ideal weapon of choice for those also looking to cover some infrequent long driver and/or have a lack of a 2nd car…at least until we all have 500 mile, $25,000 fully electrics vehicles to drive around.

          My view of the i3 REx (for myself) is that it is still primarily an electric vehicle for my situation, much like a Volt is to someone who only drives 20-30 miles a day.

      3. doudis2 says:

        Jay,

        I really love your work, thanks for the daily updates on my favorite subject.

        Regarding your commute, it seems similar to mine, but I have to ask, is the round trip or one way? If RT, can’t you plug in a work? If you can like I do, than that makes a big difference in the numbers.

        I like you love my (leased) 2013 Volt, and had planned to buy one at the end of this year until I seen the impressive numbers start to trickle out about the i3. Then when I seen the $4000 estimate for the REx, I though I should do some math. I posted my results on GM Volt (prior to knowing the REx would be $3850) . I will paste the numbers below, but suffice it to say, even though I will continue to use gas in the 2014 Volt I WILL buy this December, I will still pay a lot less out of pocket. Plus I still will have never owned a foregin car:) P.S. I grew up near Detroit but live near Phoenix now.

        Here is my GM Volt Post:

        “I WAS looking real hard at this car as it would allow me to go virtually gas free. Then I read the press release from NI: Official: BMW i3 Range Extender Option Adds 4,490 Euros ($5,919 US) to Price Tag in Netherlands

        So I did some math.

        How much do I actually spend on gas in my 2012 (35 mile AER) Volt per year, 10 years (lifetime for me and a car)?

        My commute is 84.2 miles RT (42.1 one way). I live in Phoenix (HOT)!. So with that in mind and the associated heat/AC use I get the following AER results:

        Dead of winter: to work (use heat a little) ~ 39 miles AER then gas. To go home (some minor up hill) ~ 40 AER. So GAS used per wk ~1 gal.

        Spring/Fall: The Volt loves it here at these times so I get to work with 12 miles AER left! To go home 38 – 42 AER: Gas/wk ~.25 gallon.

        Summer: Rarely need AC in the morning so to work (TMS runs sometimes though ) ~ 8 miles AER remains. To go home lots of AC to minimal (temp dependent) = 34-41 AER. ~ Gas = 1.2 gallons per week.

        To sum it up I average ~ 0.82 gallons of gas used per week throughout the year!

        I have ~ 225 commute days per year or 45 weeks.

        At $3.75/gallon this comes out to:

        Gas cost per year: 3.75*0.82*45 = $138
        Gas cost for 10 years (I sell after 10) = $1380

        Pretty simple math: Estimated REx cost on the i3 (the only way I would buy it) = $4000 – amount (NOT) SAVED by going all AER in the i3:

        $4000 – $1380 = $-2620!!! (see the minus sign!)

        Sure I have to pay to charge at work, but I do that already so that is not figured in the equation.

        Not to mention I will be getting a loaded 2014 Volt in ~ December (I hope, if not, a 2013) which has at least 3 more miles AER than my 2012 lease for less than a comparably equipped i3 and there you have it.

        Even though I was intrigued by the i3, the VOLT WINS AGAIN!!!
        Last edited by doudis2; 1 Week Ago at 12:08 PM.”

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Hey doudis,

          Very often I go 100 miles in a day all electric, on multiple charges…it is just on the days I am unsure of the availability of a EVSE, or am unsure the total amount of miles (but know it will be a lot), the EV stays home.

          Again this is only 3-4 times a month, but these are high mileage days, and coupled with even a single Detroit run and we are talking 800-900 miles of gas driving.

          Completely agree with you on the pricing/ value story on the Volt vs BMW i3. There is no comparison…and you have shown the numbers yourself.

          Past all the numbers themselves, as I touched on in the piece, the fact is the two cars aren’t just $6,130 apart, that is the sticker. Everyone knows you can get a screaming good deal on the Volt under the MSRP and there is probably a pretty decent MSRP cut coming up as well.

          If there was a Volt on a Chevy lot, beside a i3 REx on a BMW lot today, and I had a pocket full of cash, I’d wager I could get the Volt for at least $11,000 less than the i3 REx any day of the week…and the i3 will likely be a maintenance cost nightmare as compared to a domestic EV.

          I will say someone buying inside the Chevy stable could also ‘math you to death’ on the Spark EV vs Volt in the same manner, if they are saying they can make do with the 82 miles of all EV range from $27,495…then throw the ‘fun factor’ and the 400 lb-ft of torque at you as well, (=

          It is very much eye of the beholder, each to their own perspective when it comes to plug-ins…which is fine/as it should be. Would be boring if everyone had the same car.

          For myself, while I don’t “want” to spend any extra amount money on one plug-in over another, it is more about the commitment to drive electrically as much as I feel I can right now, as my situation allows.

          1. doudis2 says:

            I totally reciprocate the feelings to go 100% EV, and I hope to do the same ASA(financially)P.

            I wish you the best of luck with your future i3, and look enthusiastically forward to the quality in-depth first person reviews you will undoubtedly be posting.

            Thanks and Ride On Jay!

    2. Hi Mark. I haven’t decided yet. If the EPA range rating in less than 90 then there is no decision, I’m in for the range extender. However if it is something like 93-95 miles I really don’t need it – but still may get it. I have driven the MINI-E and ActiveE over 130,000 combined miles the past 4 years and they both had 90-100 mile ranges so I can live with that just fine. The question is do I want the i3 to cover 100% of my driving needs or the 95% or so my previous EV’s have. Decisions, decisions. I do like having choices though and even if someone doesn’t like the i3’s looks, price or whatever, they should be celebrating that another OEM is making a serious attempt to bring a volume produced electric vehicle to market and not just another greenwashing compliance car.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        +1

        Totally agree on the celebrating the effort by BMW even if the styling isn’t your cup of tea. Anyone who at least makes an attempt at a purpose-built EV has my respect.

        …that being said, if it doesn’t perform well on the road, or has quality issues, I’m probably still going to give it “the business” pretty good, (=

      2. James says:

        Hey Tom –

        What are you guys gonna do when you get a fender bender? How much
        do you think bodywork will cost on a plastic-composite bodyshell?

        Also, after years with the BMW driving dynamics of the ActiveE, how
        will you adjust to skinny tires and golf cart dynamics of i3? Folks are
        blinded by the BMW badge, but miss the verbiage of BMW execs at
        i3’s NA reveal. They talked A LOT about how the “I” series is an
        answer to European and U.S. regulations. They said their EV strategy
        is i3 and i8. i3 is a city car that has oddball styling and a mini CUV/
        soccer mom profile – i8 is a 2 seat, $150,000+, 1–18 mile AER
        playtoy that can’t match 85kwh Tesla’s practicality, efficiency nor
        performance or utility – what do you get for $50,000 more? – sports car looks?
        ( remember, the black panels and butterfly doors were scrapped ).

        BMW’s i3 works for folks in Europe. They’re totally in line with Euro
        no-emission or high tax city zones. I don’t see the anemic MPV
        model working here AT ALL! Folks are stretching to compare i3
        with anything here. Volt costs much less – ( imagine BMW service
        dept. pricing ) and works well for 50 miles of commute Spring/Summer
        in most U.S. regions. i3 makes no sense – but for a devotion to the
        BMW nameplate. i8 is just a limited-run toy for big-pocket rich boys
        who don’t care that ICE competitors in the $150-200,000 range
        leave it in the dust.

        BMW is all over the map. They talk at length about composites and
        fancy aluminum castings with magnesium dashboard mounts….BLEAH!
        WHO CARES?! It’s an EV with oddball ( some say ugleeeee ) looks
        and a pricetag that screams “German’ll cost’ya buddy!”. I don’t see any
        real value in the car at all. Want an EV to commute? Buy a LEAF! Want
        an EV city car? Buy a SparkEV. This carbon-plastic BMW with the rEX
        just says you can putt putt to a plug – is that what BMW stands for?
        This thing was designed for three things – REGULATIONS; REGULATIONS;
        and REGULATIONS.

        I say enjoy the ActiveE until you have to turn it back in – and then go buy
        a Tesla 60kwh. You’ll be FAR AHEAD as well as support American
        ingenuity and our economy. Model S is a real car with huge capacities
        like passenger room and cargo space. All that composite and those tiny
        tires make for a dorky, quirky concept that made it to the streets because
        of regulations.

        match Model S’s practicality, efficiency

        1. James says:

          i3 rEX can limp to a plug. BMW says in rEX mode the car’s
          performance lags behind it’s EV performance. We’ll have to wait
          a bit to understand just how much that performance lags behind.
          At this reduced state – you’re putt-putting with your 2 cyl. to get
          to the next plug where you’ll have to stop for 3 hours. Hmmmm…
          Not so much the ICE replacement… The Volt, on the other hand,
          will just fill-up with liquid fuel and do what current cars can do, and
          take you anywhere you want to go – anytime. With i3, like LEAF –
          you still need that 2nd car. How does BMW respond? – A loaner
          car at the dealer setup. How much will that service cost you? How
          near is your closest BMW dealer? Will you want to drive over there
          to pick up that long-distance ICE loaner? It’s all very impractical.
          So odds are that you’ll still need two cars at home – just like the
          current LEAF owner. So where’s the big advantage to own the
          spendy i3 that may cost you your first child if it needs body repairs?
          Surely, Mack down at Acme Crash Repair isn’t gonna touch it.

          I think both you guys’ll be singing a different tune once the test
          drives begin in earnest. Even with all the weight reduction, the
          car is a tall, flat-sided commuter with very skinny, tall tires.

          ELR is basically a Volt with different programming. Same exact
          drivetrain and underbody. ELR cuts Volt’s 0-60 by over a second,
          which tells us a Volt is capable of 0-60 matching i3 if you’re willing
          to sacrifice some range. Who’d want to? Do you envision trying
          to defend your masculinity by drag racing your i3? C’mon now….

          I get brain pain whilst watching various manufacturers try to get
          around government regulations – BMW has taken the cake with
          i3, it’s really a head-scratcher. GM, Ford and others seem to be
          waiting out the Obama administration to see what gives for
          after 2016.

          Tesla seems to be the only exception. Tesla just says – “We believe
          electric cars are the future – and can be superior NOW – not ten, twenty –
          fifty years from today”. There is nothing like a Tesla. Nothing.
          Two Superchargers opened in my state in the last 2 weeks. Other
          car companies will have to bend to compete and time’s a-wasting guys.

          I love that an upstart Silicon Valley company can change the world,
          and force old-school carmakers to shake and shiver at it’s potential.

          As I’ve said before, I liken today’s EV efforts from major makers to
          Honda’s Accord ad campaign some years back where they showed
          arrows being shot at the Accord by rivals, but they all missed the mark.
          These shots by BMW at Tesla are far off. When Bluestar rolls, they’ll be in
          panic mode! Seriously who will buy a $50,000 i3 unless they are
          blinded by the propeller logo and the letters B-M-W? Those who feel
          Germans are the only folks who know how to put a car together have
          to drive a Model S and just compare point-to-point.

          Comes down to if you believe a Supercharger or batt-swap station
          will soon come to your neck of the woods. If you live in Iowa or
          Nebraska, probably not. But anywhere else and your prospects are
          very good.

  3. Mark says:

    Interesting to see the Rex penalize performance and EV range.

    I think BMW would dominate with 150 mile EV range for us large city folk

    -Mark
    Chicago

  4. vdiv says:

    The interior comparison does not do the Volt justice. Why not pick one less drab that shows the beige seats/dashboard or one with the white center display info cluster, or one with the screens illuminated (i.e. http://tinyurl.com/kupm36u)?

    The only way to really tell at the end of the day is to just drive the two. Until then a measured pat on BMW’s back is deserved for trying. A much stronger pat for not trying harder.

  5. Schmeltz says:

    Good synopsis Jay. I also wonder whom BMW is targeting as customers of the i3? I would assume current BMW customers with a personal leaning towards alternative propulsion drivetrains. The current group of BMW customers of their gas driven cars isn’t enormous. So we are looking at a niche part of a niche already—not a big group. The Volt crew at GM have nothing to worry about with the i3, IMHO.

    1. Cescatcho says:

      In the US, maybe, but in Europe, the i3 will decimate the Volt sales. First tests in the German car magazines have nothing but praises for the i3, with exceptional handling, range, low noise and technical wizardry, whilst the Volt is considered a lame duck here, especially because it is quite expensive (the Ampera doesn’t enjoy massive subsidies like the Volt does).

  6. Bennyd says:

    Still have high hopes for the Bimmer, but pricing, especially lease, is a bit much compared to what’s out there. I’ll give it 2 years. Time on the market always sorts things out. I’m really glad we actually have more choices now!

  7. elmoll says:

    For leasing, won’t the BMW also have the $7,500 rolled into the lease? thus making the estimated payment of $565 much lower?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      That math includes the $7,500 federal credit taken out of the lease cost of ownership. We probably should have noted that in the article. Our bad on that one…will do that now.

      1. elmoll says:

        I would still think the i3 lease would be less. If you take a look at the BMW ActiveHybrid 3, it is a car that is a little more ($52,775) than the i3, and the stated lease offer on BMW’s website is $439 a month.

        The reason I would expect the i3 to be less is because they can also roll in the $7,500 tax credit, which the ActiveHybrid 3 does not have. If the i3 can get to the low $400 range I think it would be compelling.

  8. CJ says:

    One question about the extended range option.

    If you stop for more gas will that keep the car going?

    It has a 2.3 gallon tank, if on a road trip you keep adding fuel could you drive the i3 500 miles?

    1. Yes you can continue driving as long as you aren’t consistently using more energy than the REx can deliver with is 25kW. Occasionally you can use more for bursts of speed and going up hills, but you’ll have an issue if you need to drive 30 miles up a mountain. On relatively flat terrain you can drive as long as you want by refueling.

      1. kdawg says:

        Question is, how far will the RE charge the battery? Someone will have to hook up a dashdaq once these are on the road.

  9. Spec says:

    I like the small ICE range-extender idea but I’d like to see it offered by someone else with a lower price. Hopefully Toyota, Nissan, Honda, GM, or someone else will attempt such a EVx car.

  10. kdawg says:

    I posted this diagram the other day on the Volt website, and it doesn’t have the i3 in it. But if it did, it would also be in the very center next to the Volt. It would be placed higher on the price & EV range, and lower on the overall range.

    These are the 3 main criteria I use for evaluating plug-in cars, as a 1-car household.

    1. Tom A. says:

      Very interesting graphic. I like it.

    2. David says:

      Very telling that you don’t include the top selling BEV, the Nissan Leaf.
      Is that graphic supposed to imply that the $40,000 base price Volt is low priced compared to a $27000 Spark or $28800 Leaf?

    3. Puzzlegal says:

      Nice graphic, but I’d like to see the Leaf and the Tesla, at least, added to it. And ideally, the Prius, too.

  11. EV says:

    volt is the best, nicest ev out other than the model s

  12. Erik says:

    anybody got a set of (4) pictures for the same person in the front and rear seats of the Volt and i3? I think I saw Tom in front and rear of the i3 recently – got any like that in the volt?

  13. Darius says:

    Jey,
    Very nice article. I think BMW i3 REx will exceed your expectations.

    I am kind of getting ichy and think I would start considering – whether it is possible to modify fuel tank. Those California regulationa on zero emissions looks crazy. I understand all possible consequencies such illegal modifocation could have. It worth start asking BMW about fuel tank options for Canada or Europe.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Don’t think I have not already considered that…and I may (or may not) have already asked a fellow that works on BMWs if such an aftermarket alteration could be made and what it would entail.

      Apparently, other than messing up some instrumentation readout, it would not be that big of “theoretical” proposition to modify. Not that I would do it…and I would also ask that no one ever follow me using a trip-o-meter, (=

      1. Eric Loveday says:

        The trick will be in finding an existing gas tank that will fit in there somehow…Otherwise it becomes a costly custom build.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Contact eric @ insideevs for all your aftermarket BMW i3 modifications

          1. Eric Loveday says:

            Including REx removal? I’ll take that off your hands later on down the road if you happen to then discover that BEV is perfectly suitable for your needs.

  14. David says:

    Whats going to happen with all these Volts and LEAFs coming off lease?

    If the residual was propped up to make the lease cheaper, what will happen when these cars can’t sell for anywhere near the residual? Fire sale? Will they sweaten the lease terms to encourage current lessees to extend?

    1. Puzzlegal says:

      My guess is fire sale.

      1. Spec says:

        Lemme know when it happens because I’d like to pick one up.

  15. GeorgeS says:

    sorry I missed the party.
    I was going to say that there was no way the RE would get 38 MPG……

    but when you look at the weight difference between the i3 and the Volt you see it possibly could equal the Volt.

    the i3 weighs 23% less than the Volt. That should improve MPG by around 17% which should offset the conversion losses.

    Just goes to show the influence that weight has.
    I don’t like the fact that 0-60 goes to 7.9 w/ the wt of the RE.

    I own a Volt.

    My next EV WON’T have a RE.

  16. WopOnTour says:

    There are a couple of glaring omissions/errors in this article with respect to charge sustaining (range extended) fuel economy analysis and an “apples to apples” comparison between these 2 cars.
    To be fair, one simply cannot compare a reported “maximum” range (and extrapolated mpg) to a “composite average” mpg EPA

    What the recently released BMW data clearly states is that the range extender utilizes its onboard fuel supply (2.3gal) to travel UP TO an additional 87 miles MAXIMUM. Based on this one can extrapolate 38 mpg MAXIMUM.
    Meanwhile the Volt’s MAXIMUM additional range is actually an additional 372 miles (9.3 gallons @40mpg EPA highway) NOT 341 miles as listed in the article.
    As such GM advertises over 400 miles of total electric + full tank range during highway trips

    Being an EREV, the i3 should also be able to travel 400 miles – WITH A MINIMUM OF THREE REFUELING STOPS! (@38mpg)

    But I suspect it will be even more stops as it will be quite interesting to see how the BMW fares during the more grueling and transient EPA city/hwy test sequences as compared to the relatively “tame” Euro NEDC test sequence.
    Having some experience in these tests I can tell you the “new” EPA tests (2008) are far more taxing on fuel and energy use than the Euro NEDC which are essentially a 5-part “urban only” modal test cycle where the average speed is only 20.8mph (33.6km/hr)

    I suspect the i3 will not fare near as well as 38mpg during the EPA city/highway or aggressive EPA US06 cycles where there are more transitions and the average speeds are much higher. Highway and USO6 cycles average ~48mph ( 78km/hr)
    For that matter estimating “80-90 miles EPA AER” based on 108 Euro-NEDC is also quite the stretch. Where did THIS number come from? AFAIK it didn’t come from BMW…

    Does the BMW by chance use some sort of clutching arrangement to affect gearing changes at highway speeds? 😉
    Assuming not, then truly the term YMMV applies here!
    But I guess I could be wrong (and I am of course a Volt fanboi) lol
    WOT

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey Wot

      The Volt’s extended range is actually 341 as listed in the article, and as listed by the EPA…that is the only way to fairly assess capabilities between vehicles. You can’t split out highway at 40 mpg and ignore city. GM does advertise the higher number (as they all pretty much do), but with the “highway operation” disclaimer.

      To do otherwise would be no different than holding up the BMW i3’s soft NEDC city driving rating of 190 km (118 miles)…it is just not reality. For ease of use, and to be impartial we just go with whatever the EPA says.

      Volt EPA ratings:
      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=32655

      The i3 projections are of course up for debate (very much so) until the EPA standards are applied to it and it is rated. As a rule of thumb, ev range is always overstated ahead of actual results and the ‘up to’ s fade away.

      I would note however that BMW in no way wants to limit its range when operating on gas (it would be so easy to add capacity to the tank at zero extra cost), but the way the vehicle is designed – or rather what markets they are planning on selling it in, forces them to HAVE to show a smaller ICE range than battery range, and also to be conservative/understate the MPG.

      So, much like everyone loves to overstate things like MPG when measuring using EPA standards, and all-electric range for their own betterment, in this (very strange) case BMW has incentive to understate both the i3’s MPG and extended range. Its kind of like bizarre-world EPA reporting.

      So well you are still likely to find the classic overstating of electric capabilities in the i3 that seem to be present ahead of actual EPA results for all the players, it is highly, highly unlikely that the REx will not get at least 87 miles of range on the ICE, or that the REx won’t achieve 38 MPG or greater in ‘actual’ on road tests. Just look at the set-up/engine choice with battery assist at that weight. BMW would love nothing more than to just make that tank 9.3L like the Volt.

      1. doudis2 says:

        Jay,

        A little off topic, but I followed your link to the EPA site and noticed that the 2014 Volt information is already posted. Do you know if they ever jump the gun and post projected numbers? Or does this mean that they have already got their hands on a 2014 and completed their testing?

        If this info is correct, this would definitively kill any further rumors of an increase to the 2014’s AER. (sounds like an insideevs cover story;)

      2. WopOnTour says:

        Statik, I think you response confirms you sort of missed my point completely.
        Let’s try a different angle.
        Is the Beamer’s MAXIMUM extended range of 87 miles city or highway?
        If you assume city (due to the Euro-NEDC used) then I really wouldn’t complain if you had compared it to the Volt’s 35mpg city and resulting 325 miles of range.
        At least that would be closer to “apples to apples”

        But as BMW (and your article) states 87 miles as the MAXIMUM extended range (with no EPA qualification) then too should the Volt’s MAXIMUM extended range of 372 miles be.
        JMO
        WOT

        1. WopOnTour says:

          and FYI the 2011/12 Ampera/Volt has measured 83kms, and the 2013 86kms (53.4 miles) AER and 4.9liters/100km (48mpg) for all 3 years while in extended range during the same Euro-NEDC combined tests. What’s that tell ya??

      3. GSP says:

        Didn’t BMW lobby CARB to add a “BEVx” ZEV credit category? If so, then BMW never intended to install a larger gas tank. BEVx cars must have less range on gas than electric range to qualify.

        CARB actually considers BEVx cars to be “pure battery electric zero emmissions,” even though they technically are PHEVs.

        GSP

  17. GeorgeS says:

    Oh and my prediction is that Tom M DOESN’T get the RE.

  18. Priusmaniac says:

    The real winner would be a Volt sized vehicle with an i3 battery and A1 e-Tron type rex running on E85 and a decent tank size.

    On the other hand I think the i3 could become a block buster with the feminine drivers. It is really all they like. Fashion brand, pocket size and yet fun to drive. I guess a Louis Vuiton version would be Lady Gaga’s choice…

  19. Dan Frederiksen says:

    Jay, narrow tires is a good thing. Don’t be ignorant. You might as well ask for a dumb V8

  20. Peter Gerard says:

    The list price of the Volt was reduced by $4,000 for then 2013 models and by $5,000 on the 2012 models. This happened several weeks before this article was published.

  21. Ian P says:

    I can’t for the life of me understand why the i3Rex has only a 2.3gal gas tank. If a gallon of gas only weighs 12.2lbs, plus a factor for tanking it, doubling the size is only going to add maybe 30lbs to the overall GVM. For the sake of really good range, why this tank is this small has gotten me beat. Any ideas?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      If the extended range of a, uh…extended range vehicle is less than the all-electric range, then it qualifies as a BEV and with that the unlimited “white” HOV lane stickers in California.

      If it goes even 1 mile further on gas, or much further like the Volt, it will only qualified for the “green” HOV sticker, which is capped at 40,000 and those will probably be all used up before the i3 actually hits the market.

      In Q2 when the i3 REx hits the market, it will be the only extended range vehicle that qualifies for the program…the likes of the Volt, Prius, Energis, etc. will not…big selling advantage.

      (Hence why I was saying earlier that BMW has incentive to understate the range and MPG abilities of its range extender…which is bizaarro world stuff compared to what automakers usually do, which if overstate a car’s abilities)

  22. Unquestionably consider that that you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the net the easiest factor to keep in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while other folks think about concerns that they plainly don’t recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , other folks can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

  23. Bob says:

    The BMW doesn’t have to have lower TCO than the Volt, that is never been what BMW has been about. All it has to do to justify the relatively modest price differential is provide a really nice driving experience. We will see…