Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against BMW For “Unsafe” i3 REx Reduced Power Operation

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 146

BMW i3 REx Info - Real-World Range & Reduced Power Mode Operation

BMW i3 REx Info – Real-World Range & Reduced Power Mode Operation

The i3, with Hold Mode engaged, a coded feature that's not available on a stock U.S. BMW i3 REx

The i3, with Hold Mode engaged, a coded feature that’s not available on a stock U.S. BMW i3 REx

BMW has been hit with a class action lawsuit for the i3 REx’s reduced power operation, which is deemed as “unsafe,” according to the lawsuit.

Though BMW has stated that when the battery becomes depleted beyond a certain point (1.9% battery charge – see BMW’s graphic above) restricted power and reduced speeds may be experienced. The suit alleges that the automaker didn’t properly inform i3 REx buyers of this scenario and further says that it’s simply unsafe to sell a car in the U.S. that may experience such a rapid speed drop off.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release on the class action suit against BMW:

“The lawsuit centers around the BMW i3 “Range Extender” feature. This option, called REx, outfits the vehicle with a two-cylinder gasoline engine producing 34 horsepower that switches on when the battery charge depletes to five percent, giving the vehicle another 70 miles of range. BMW claims that the Range Extender “doubles your electric driving range” from the vehicle’s standard 81-mile range.”

“The lawsuit alleges that in practice, however, when the gasoline engine kicks in, it doesn’t produce enough power to prevent a dramatic decrease in the vehicle’s performance. As alleged, if the car is under any kind of significant load (such as going up a hill, or loaded with passengers), the speed of the car will dramatically decrease as the battery charge diminishes. The lawsuit alleges that this can result in the car slowing to speeds of 45 miles per hour on the freeway, without warning.”

Those who know how the i3 REx operates are aware of this potential for reduced power. In fact, lots of i3 REx owners in the U.S. have coded their cars to overcome this reduced power scenario by upping battery charge at which REx comes on. However, this is not how the i3 REx is setup from the factory for U.S. buyers (it is setup to function differently overseas though, so reduced power operation is unlikely to be a problem outside of the U.S. and Canada.)

The suit is seeking BMW to redesign and/or repair the faulty REx vehicles at the automaker’s expense:

“The lawsuit seeks to have the vehicles redesigned and repaired at BMW’s expense, and to halt the sale of all i3 vehicles until repairs can be made. The claim also seeks compensation for all the owners of the vehicles, who were not told of the serious safety defect.”

Full press release below:

BMW Sued In National Class Action Over Faulty Electric Vehicles

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., May 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — MLG Automotive Law has filed a national class action lawsuit against BMW North America, LLC for alleged defects in the BMW i3 vehicles. The case Edo Tsoar v. BMW North America, LLC (Case No. 2:16-cv-03386) was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit centers around the BMW i3 “Range Extender” feature. This option, called REx, outfits the vehicle with a two-cylinder gasoline engine producing 34 horsepower that switches on when the battery charge depletes to five percent, giving the vehicle another 70 miles of range. BMW claims that the Range Extender “doubles your electric driving range” from the vehicle’s standard 81-mile range.

The lawsuit alleges that in practice, however, when the gasoline engine kicks in, it doesn’t produce enough power to prevent a dramatic decrease in the vehicle’s performance. As alleged, if the car is under any kind of significant load (such as going up a hill, or loaded with passengers), the speed of the car will dramatically decrease as the battery charge diminishes. The lawsuit alleges that this can result in the car slowing to speeds of 45 miles per hour on the freeway, without warning.

“The BMW i3 Range Extender feature is a dangerous instrumentality to the owners of the vehicles and to other motorists on the road,” said Jonathan Michaels, founding member of MLG Automotive Law. “Having a sudden and unexpected loss of power in a motor vehicle can result in a catastrophic situation for all those on the road. These cars are dangerous and should not be driven.”

The lawsuit seeks to have the vehicles redesigned and repaired at BMW’s expense, and to halt the sale of all i3 vehicles until repairs can be made. The claim also seeks compensation for all the owners of the vehicles, who were not told of the serious safety defect.

Hat tip to George K!

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146 responses to "Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against BMW For “Unsafe” i3 REx Reduced Power Operation"

  1. Marco says:

    This kind of nonsense is only possible in the US…

    1. Alaa says:

      That is why they won the war.

      1. przemo_li says:

        They won The war because Iwo Jima was such a PR success.

        USA by that point was quite at the limits of their taxing system.

        Eg USA navy had to limit bombardment of Iwo Jima just because they could not afford shells.

        Without voluntary war bonds USA would either needed change of constitution or some major threat to people up there (no Japan was not threat big enough to convince people back then without PR campaign).

        Crazy right?

        The lawsuit in comparison is quite sane. 80 miles per hours is good highway speed in good conditions. Car that suddenly break to 45 miles, can cause incident just because nobody else expected such behavior.

        So potential for harm is clearly there.

        1. Vexar says:

          My understanding is that when Hydra came onto the scene in 1943 as the side project of the Nazi SS, this new, otherworldly threat to US sovereignty has strong influence over growth in the government bonds program. When the super soldier serum was developed in the Bronx and Captain America came onto the scene, it helped the US Armed Services enlistment as well as the bonds program immensely.

          I don’t entirely know the history of BMW, but I do know that VW and Porsche were closely tied to weapons development in Nazi Germany. What I do know is that Hydra technology did not survive Allied attacks on their secret bases. This is evident because the BMW technology is lacking in any superiority for power and motivator systems. Their continued reliance on combustion is clearly a hold-over from 1940’s thinking. I do applaud their structural designs, however.

          Best of luck with the lawsuit.

          1. MTN Ranger says:

            Explain to me why Captain America drives a VW Bug in CA:CW? (Other than product placement along with all the Audis by VAG)

            1. Vexar says:

              Well duh. He was in hiding. He had to be outside of his nature or he would risk being detected and apprehended. I know Marvel Studios only does historical and news recreations, but we really have to give them credit for their attention to detail. I do find it laughable that an “Iron Man” BMW i8 design was made. I think they were just trying to pick a fight with Tony Stark there. Like he would ever drive cars he didn’t design? That’s like dressing up a Russian Proton Rocket to try to convince people that’s how Tony Stark gets into space, when in actuality, if he needed to get to space, he’d take one of his own rockets.

              1. kdawg says:

                And that was the start of Germany’s path to alternative energy sources. They even powered their triple axle, supercharged, V16 cars with it.

                1. MTN Ranger says:

                  That’s a sweet ride. Obviously painted black because that’s faster!

                  1. Doug Bostrom says:

                    Where are the stickers? It can’t go fast without stickers.

                    1. El Prasito says:

                      Can’t you see the black stickers on the car? *LOL*

          2. Assaf says:

            Wow, what a spectacular thread-jacking! Reaching Godwin’s Law from 2 directions simultaneously! Really well-played!

            All participants surely deserve the “Talkback Darwin Awards” for the week.

            1. Omar Sultan says:

              +1 (Clapping and laughing)

      2. Marco says:

        Thank god they (and the other Allied Forces) won the war, No matter what were the reasons!
        But I somehow doubt it was because of the legal system…

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Nor was it because some U.S. Army colonel thought it would be good P.R. for some marines to go up onto that hill on Iwo Jima, and raise a larger U.S. flag than the one they first raised there, and have a picture taken while doing so.

          U.S. war bonds were very heavily promoted in WW II, using newsreels, posters, public speeches by war heroes, and organized local campaigns. Even cartoons of the era promoted buying war bonds.

          The idea that the war was “won” only because one particular photograph was used in some of those publicity campaigns… well, let’s just say that this is one of the silliest assertions I’ve ever read on the Internet, and that’s saying a lot. If that famous photo from Iwo Jima hadn’t been available, they’d have used something else to promote sales of war bonds. They did use other things, quite a lot of other things, to promote sales.

    2. SparkEV says:

      If wars are fought with lawyers instead of soldiers, US would dominate the universe.

    3. evcarnuts says:

      On the Contrary ! This absolute “FACT” Unless you own & experience one of these , there would be no way of knowing > BMW doesn’t Divulge this , BMW Is tight Lipped & Only Tells you the “GOOD THINGS” about this Death Trap Of a Car!..When the power Drops & Someone Rear Ends You at highway speeds it’s Too Late!

      1. franky_b says:

        Here go Mr. Nuts talking about something he knows nothing about, again.

        That’s not how it works.

        In 18 months, I never encountered reduced power, in 18 month I saw the warning (2% left) only onced.

        When reduced power warning appears, you have the time to change your driving behavior (reducing AC, changing mode to ecopro, ecopro+, reducing your speed yourself) can all be done before the car take actions. When it does, it’s doesn’t put the break on, it is a gradual decrease, but to get there, you must be someone looking for problems, the same way someone not understanding the “lowe fuel” indicators means go put some gas or your car will stop.

        1. evcarnuts says:

          “BMW BRAINWASHED” Perfect Example…I WONDER WHAT THE CRASH TEST RESULTS ARE ON THAT “PLASTIC(contraption)CAR” That can burn into “UNIDENTIFIABLE VAPOR” In no time at all///God help anyone caught in one of those Traps ,In a fire situation….But …It’s a BMW…

          1. franky_b says:

            Perfect “TROLL” comments…

            it would 5 Stars, but only 4 because of Pedestrian protection that didn’t meet all tests.

            1. evcarnut says:

              5 stars in Ur Dreams …its over rated @4 stars the “Real Ratings” are an ancient Chinese Secret..

              1. franky_b says:

                You need to up your TROLL game, on one hand you quote Crash Test Results, I gave you verified facts and then you argue Crash Test aren’t credible anyway…

                But hey, you are Mr. Nuts… what should we expect from you except rambling

                1. evcarnuts says:

                  these are all facts that I state Safety Numbers are False & the I3 Is considered a BIG JOKE on all fronts of the automotive investment communities ….Sorry U got Duped & Own One…U KNOW VERY LITTLE OF HOW THINGS WORK…Stop shooting off Ur Diahrea Mouth & Wake Up! U R a Dreamer Living In a Dream, World & U Know Nothing about whats going on in the REAL WORLD around you , You Believe Only the Falasies that are presented to you …You are BMW Afixiated & “GULLIBLE” beyond Belief & beyond repair..Hope You Find A Cure Someday…

          2. Me says:

            First, why the hate and nonsensical misinformation? Do you hate BMW that much or are you just trying to start something?

            Second, i3 scores higher in passenger safety than Tesla. It got 4-stars due to low pedestrian safety. However, this is common for all subcompact vehicles with short fronts. There’s not enough distance between the front bumper and windshield/A-pillars, meaning pedestrians could strike their heads on some of the hardest part of the vehicle versus hitting the sheet metal hood which crumbles inward, absorbing energy.

            Third, the Tesla also burns to nothingness: http://www.trbimg.com/img-568d3d8b/turbine/ct-tesla-fire-supercharger-norway-20160104

              1. evcarnuts says:

                BTW…, Thx Bul_gar that is exactly what I was talking about ….cheers !

            1. evcarnuts says:

              Ignorant Misinformed people Piss me 0ff, Plus BMW Is A “BS” Company & People eat up BMW “BS” like candy , because they are STUPID* & do not want to hear the Truth…There Is NO hate on my part …Just Amazement ****

        2. RobMac says:

          That sounds like a pain. My Volt shows no change in performance when switching to gas. I love BMW but it looks like they dropped the ball on their REX version.

          1. PiV says:

            You compare two totally different Cars. Your Chevrolet Volt is a PluginHybridVehicle and not a BatteryElectricVehicle like the i3. The Combustion Engine of the Volt has 63 kW and can add propulsion power direct via the planetary gear. That is not possible with the i3, which has only a 2-Cylinder with 28 kW as REX. So of course you get slower if you drop from 125 kW to 28 kW. That should obvious for every Owner of an i3 who can count to three. Or should I complain about my Car which slows abruptly if gasoline is depleted?
            Sorry but so stupid lawsuits are only possible in the US (like the one against MCDonalds because they were not signalling that coffee is hot…).

          2. 3laine says:

            My i3 has never had reduced performance when the generator is running, either. It only occurs when you continuously drive at speeds >70mph or drive up long slopes at highway speeds. The problem is owners not understanding the limits of the generator, which are high enough for most uses.

          3. ModernMarvelFan says:

            “That sounds like a pain. My Volt shows no change in performance when switching to gas. I love BMW but it looks like they dropped the ball on their REX version.”

            That is NOT correct either.

            Volt has “Hold and Mountain” mode for a reason.

            If you drive from SF to Reno in a Chevy Volt on hwy I-80 at 70mph, you will need to have Mountain or Hold mode engaged. If not, you will experience the so called “performance reduced mode” in a Chevy Volt as well just before the Donner’s pass.

            1. Spider-Dan says:

              I don’t know if that’s verified to be true.

              1. ModernMarvelFan says:

                Has been verified by me personally and by my co-worker’s Volt. Both are 2012 Volt.

                It is a long drive at hwy speed greater than 70mph from SF to Reno…

                Car is load with 2-3 adults and gears..

      2. Marco says:

        In my book, you are not allowed to rear end any car, no matter how fast or slow it goes.
        So all cars are death-traps just because of a possible malfunction of the engine or whatever.
        It’s not that the car is standing still in an instance or something. It’s just slowing down because of less power. Many cars of the past 10 or 20 years are decreasing engine power in case the electronics detects any malfunction of a component, which sometimes is only a malfunction of the detection device or software.

        Sorry, if the possibility of decreased engine power in rare circumstances turns a car into a death trap, then there is something seriously wrong… As a car driver you have to watch out for obstacles in your way at all time and driving uphill this is not a very rare thing.

        1. evcarnuts says:

          Marco…in a Perfect World Yes! These things Fold like a Cheap Tent & in most instances Become a Write off , not to mention how “UNSAFE” They are.. I haven’t heard them ever promote how safe they are..I see nothing good coming out of these cars ,..I drove one of these, It feels cheap & Unsafe ,With cheap finish workmanship & materials & so On..

          1. Marco says:

            That’s what crash tests are for. Think the i3 got only 4 stars, which is not that good. But still a long way to “it folds like a cheap tent”.
            But anyway… This isn’t what the article is about: If you live in a country where you are rear-ended every time your car slows down on an highway, there is something wrong with the drivers driving education!

            1. Stephen Hodges says:

              +1 when someone is tailgating you to save gas and your i3 slows, its your fault they plow into you! Wow

          2. jelloslug says:

            I’m sure you have some evidence that shows just how unsafe the i3 is in a crash.

    4. Pete says:

      Really nonsense like TTIP or CETA, which i will not buy US cars.

    5. toyotomi says:

      No, think about that going to a ski resort from Denver in winter using I-70 with fully loaded.

  2. FFEINKY says:

    They should of saved 10K and bought a Volt ?

    1. Bul_gar says:

      For me Volt is much much better choice.

      1. evcarnuts says:

        The Volt is Less money and Way better , Safer & etc etc etc :…HANDS DOWN! No question about it ! BMW is a Brain wash car Company, Living off its laurels & ancient Successes.BMW is Nothing But “BS”.

      2. kdawg says:

        That’s why in the Gen2 Volt they actually increased the engine size. More performance and better efficiency.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      Or they should have just dealt with the i3’s well known limitations. It is not designed to run on the ICE most of the time. And when it is running on the ICE, it has very different performance metrics.

      1. PiV says:

        That´s it. The ICE is for Emergency to get to the next charger and not for driving on the Highway for additional 50 miles.
        It is obvious that you loss power. The electric engine has 125 kW and the ICE 28 kW.
        But tomorrow someone goes to law because his car slows abruptly down when it runs out of fuel …

      2. 3laine says:

        In reality, the i3 drives virtually the same when the REx is running as it does with a full battery. The reduced performance only really occurs when you drive at a sustained load greater than the REx can replenish and eventually deplete the battery buffer. I’ve cruised at 70mph with the AC on when running in REx power. No problem. It held the charge percentage at 5%. Now, if I were going 80 mph, I would have slowly worn down the charge until it gave me a warning (at 2%) and then if I CONTINUED to drive 80mph despite the warning, THEN it would have reduced the power so the REx could catch up.

        I’m not saying there’s no issue, but:

        -There’s no “sudden power loss”. You are warned in advance that it could occur if you don’t reduce power usage (speed, AC, etc)

        -Performance isn’t INHERENTLY significantly reduced when the REx is running. Only after sustained high speed/high slope driving.

        1. Kakkerlak says:

          So the i3/REX would give you only one warning, is that correct ?

          The lead plaintiff sounds like an idiot in the case synopsis; he says he experienced this failure repeatedly, and the complaint uses words like “suddenly” and “without warning”. But everybody sounds like a helpless victim in a tort lawsuit. 🙂

  3. Alaa says:

    What about the poor stopping ability that this car has? The Dutch made a test a while back and showed that it is a disaster and stopping this car on a wet road is impossible. Yet every one who drives it on a dry road says it stops really well. Dry roads are not a problem it is the wet roads that are a problem. The car has hardly any grip it looks like they used the wheels of a motorcycle on it.

    1. John says:

      The topic of wider vs. narrower tires & braking distance has been argued for decades, and I refuse to rehash any of it.

      I suspect that that the tire compound has a much greater effect on stopping distance than tire width. Low rolling resistance tires are great for mileage. Handling? Not so much…

      1. RobMac says:

        Your not seriously questioning whether a wider tire has more traction are you. If skinnier tires were capable of the same stopping distance, than sports cars would be rocking bicycle tires to save weight.

        1. 3laine says:

          In the dry at least, the i3 has quite short stopping distances, despite the narrow tires.

          Braking, 70-0mph:

          i3 : 160 ft
          Tesla Model S 70D : 176 ft
          335xi : 186 ft
          Ford Focus Electric : 185 ft
          M235i : 153 ft
          WRX : 157 ft

    2. SparkEV says:

      If there’s a FUD, you just said it. Car lacks stopping? It’s the tires. Low rolling resistance and high efficiency would do that (for now). If you want better wet traction, get different tires and sacrifice some range.

      1. Seth says:

        Yup, I can engage the ABS on the front wheels of my Miev on damp days quite easily, it still stops quite decently.

        If i’d drive on something else then a Continental Ecocontact it’d be fine.

    3. ffbj says:

      Yes, the various the water tests involving traction, turning and stopping are not friendly to the i3. A drawback where the light weight and low rolling tires hurt the overall safety of the vehicle. The main reason I would not consider it.

      1. Alaa says:

        +1

        I could not find the youtube that had that test. I am not sure if it is me or if it is taken away. Do you have link for that Dutch test?

    4. Carcus says:

      Wet weather driving:
      Wide tire = bad
      Narrow tire = good

      1. Speculawyer says:

        Well, what you really want is a wide tire with lots of grooves to channel the water.

        1. jelloslug says:

          Nope

          1. All-Purpose Guru says:

            Uh, actually, yes.

            Reference the Goodyear Aquatred line of tires.

      2. evcarnuts says:

        Fire Bad , Fire Burn ..Caveman Lawyer on SNL

    5. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      According to what I’ve read, the average car tire’s “footprint” is only about the size of a human hand. I find it remarkable that only four of those offers sufficient traction for safe driving under most conditions.

      And it’s hardly surprising that the narrower tires on the i3 offer less traction on wet roads. That’s inevitable.

      Physics again.

      1. Carcus says:

        If you read AND pay attention, physics might surprise you:

        “Hydroplaning is a function of tire footprint, all other things being equal, a tire with a wider footprint will tend to hydroplane more. ”

        http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/a2937/hydroplaning-tires/

      2. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Physics say that contact area has NOTHING to do with friction.

        Friction only depends on coefficient of friction and N force. That is it!

        Stopping distance are dependent on friction generated at the tires, speed/momentum of the car and the force applied to the brake rotors.

  4. kubel says:

    You bought a car with a 34HP gas engine. What did you expect when the battery is depleted!?

    I hope they lose this one. The REx was always marketed as a backup “get to the next charging station” solution, not as a “hey look at me I’m going across the country and over mountains in my 34HP REx”.

    I wonder if these same people would have sued over the Subaru 360.

    1. Terawatt says:

      They’re Americans. They sue each other all the time, for any reason and for no reason. Coffee’s too hot. Roof isn’t safe for thieves. You name it, and they’ll sue you.

      1. sven says:

        As an American, I’m highly offended by your remarks, and am going to sue you for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress! What’s your address, so I can slap you (serve you) with the lawsuit?

        😉

        1. Nix says:

          Just file a lawsuit and list the defendants as “Anybody who isn’t American”. That should cover it…

          *grin*

    2. Bone says:

      I guess people expected to have that 34 hp in use after the battery is depleted. That is a very reasonable expectation, but that’s not what you get with i3 in upphill.

      1. PiV says:

        Then they must be very stupid or have been sleeping all the years in school. The engine has 34 HP, uphill or on a flat road. But it is obvious that you need more power if you want to achieve the same speed uphill.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          “The engine has 34 HP, uphill or on a flat road”

          Does it still have 34HP at 5,000 ft elevation?

          How about 7,000 ft? 9,000 ft?

          I-80 is a major East/West hwy in the US that cross Sierra Nevada Mountain range at Donner’s Pass which is 9,000 ft.

  5. Martin says:

    With the 33kwh battery things already look a bit better and restricted power is moved further down the road.

  6. tosho says:

    Hmm, maybe I should sue GM because their cars all loose power very unsafely when the gas tank gets empty.

    1. Aaron says:

      * lose

      When a car is out of gas, this is an expected behavior. When an EV is low on power and the owner expects the gasoline range extender to kick in, that is NOT the expected behavior.

      We, as car people, know that a tiny motorcycle engine isn’t enough to carry a loaded i3 over a mountain, but how many salespeople do you think would say the same thing? How many people would buy the car knowing that it’s seriously hobbled when the electric power is nearly depleted?

      1. carcus says:

        “We, as car people, know that a tiny motorcycle engine isn’t enough to carry a loaded i3 over a mountain….”

        Incorrect. It CAN carry the i3 over a mountain along with the normal traffic IF the battery buffer is adequate and the programming is up to the task. BMW nixed the battery buffer/programming on the US version in order to gain carb credits.
        ——-

        “The difference in the US spec’d car and its European counterpart is perhaps subtle, but as we shall see, the difference means everything if you require a car to maintain freeways speeds and gain significant elevation simultaneously.”
        BMW i3 REx, BEVx Restrictions And My Plea To CARB To Unleash The Rex
        http://insideevs.com/bmw-i3-rex-bevx-restrictions-plea-carb-unleash-rex/

      2. Speculawyer says:

        But it *is* expected. They tell you right in that chart at the top of the story.

        Look at the text in the bottom right:
        http://insideevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/B1c56YKCQAA1hjb.jpg-large.jpg

    2. Terawatt says:

      Lol!

      “This isn’t the expected behavior!”

  7. David Murray says:

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    On one hand, EV buyers are generally more educated about their cars operation than gasoline customers. So I would have expected any i3 owner to be well aware of those RARE circumstances that the car will not perform well.

    On the other hand… Eventually EVs and PHEVs will become more mainstream. At which point this sort of lawsuit will be inevitable. So I suppose we should go ahead and get it out of the way now so we can set a precedent. And hopefully future cars like this will either have a stronger range extender, or better software. By better I mean it could warn the driver when switching to Rex operation that power may be reduced and to recharge the car as soon as possible. Or better yet, allow the car to start the gas engine at a higher state of charge for long trips sort of like the Volt’s Mountain Mode.

    1. Marco says:

      As I understood, the driver is warned about this long before the power decreases and can see the battery charge level at any time, so he can figure that the battery will be dead soon. When you are about to go uphill for a long time and start out with a depleted battery, you should expect problems like this.

    2. BernieTx says:

      The Volt does not have any similar limitations. This is only a problem for the BMW rex which was designed as a mostly pure EV, with a limp home rex.

      1. PiV says:

        The Volt is a PluginHybrid with a parallel hybrid system. The ICE can add propulsion power direct via the planetary gear.
        The i3 is Battery Electric Vehicle. Two different pair of shoes.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          No it can’t power the wheel “alone”.

          But your statement about the Volt don’t have the problem is also very wrong.

          Volt has the Mountain and Hold mode for a reason. Ever wonder why?

          Ever driven on hwy I-80 trying to cross the Sierra Nevada at 70mph+ at 9,000 ft elevation? Try it once you will get it.

          The problem is BMW refuse to give the owner Hold/Mountain mode.

  8. pjwood1 says:

    This statement needs to be unpacked:

    Those who know how the i3 REx operates are aware of this potential for reduced power. In fact, lots of i3 REx owners in the U.S. have coded their cars to overcome this reduced power scenario by upping battery charge at which REx comes on. However, this is not how the i3 REx is setup from the factory for U.S. buyers (it is setup to function differently overseas though, so reduced power operation is unlikely to be a problem outside of the U.S. and Canada.)

    -Europeans effectively have ‘Hold Mode’, allowing the store of charge for a hill, so they can plan for the unusual event where low fuel and a <2% charge won't happen, or can happen without incident (like most grades we experience on roads)
    -Europeans have the ability, therefore, to use gas, and get more gas for their ~2+ gallon tanks, over a much more broad number of points during any given trip.

    California rules not only restricted i3 tank size, to equal its electric range, but also eliminated the ability to use the gas, first, and then the battery (no Hold Mode). The Volt doesn't get the same type of emissions credit, where the i3 does in CA.

    Having to significantly narrow where I'd have to fill up a BMW i3, to set points after 55-120 miles, but not beyond the next 70-100 miles, is a significant reason why I'd understand some don't choose the BMW. And I don't blame California, because two gas tank options would have been a lot easier for the rest of us, than, say, putting selective catalytic reduction on a diesel…

  9. Speculawyer says:

    Meh. If you buy a moped, you can’t complain that it goes slow. The i3 Rex driving up hills goes slow. Deal with it.

    What did you expect would happen when a car is powered by a 2-cylinder motorcycle engine? Duh.

  10. MrEnergyCzar says:

    They could easily have the engine come on much earlier in the states but they wanted the Rex classified as a pure EV in CA to get some type of credits… those credits must have been worth a lot of money to hobble the i3 like that.

    1. danwat1234 says:

      So, I wonder if they’ll simply modify the setting so it’ll come on earlier, possibly invalidation the emisssions thing, but now it’ll be a more robust car.
      I hope they allow the full 2.3 gallons of gas as well if they are doing that.

  11. Juice13 says:

    That graphic at the lead of the article is fantastic and should be required on the window sticker of every BEV.

  12. MrEnergyCzar says:

    @pjwood. Did CA really restrict the gas tank size or was that only if BMW wanted certain emission credits above what other plug-ins would get?

    1. bro1999 says:

      CA didn’t restrict the gas tank size…BMW chose to restrict it so they got max ZEV credits for the i3 REx. Same with why they didn’t include a “mountain mode” in the U.S. version….ZEV credits.
      A manfacturer putting $$$ before the customer. Nothing new there.

      1. Marco says:

        Without the credits it would have made the car more expansive for the customer I guess.
        If I were BMW I would have offered an option with a bigger tank and a mountain-climbing-mode which compensates for the lost ZEV credit.

        1. Terawatt says:

          > Without the credits it would have made the car more expansive for the customer I guess

          Ok. Where are the credits stored? How much space do they occupy? It would be nice to let the car be its expansive self again.

          On another note, I think American Car Buyers should sue Every Automaker Ever for making vehicles that slow down when they run out of fuel – this is dangerous in a country where buyers expect a car to keep going at undiminiahed speeds whether it has any fuel left or not.

  13. carcus says:

    I’m surprised BMW didn’t see this lawsuit coming. I’m sure it was argued when they were spec’ing the US version. The problem is, if the class action suit is successful, it could set a legal precedent (bias) against range extended vehicles, even if they do have a proper range hold feature enabled in the future. — Every “under-engined” range extender design will eventually come up on a power reduced scenario, but with proper design/programming, this could have been limited to a “very rare-almost never” occurrence , instead of what we now have with the US i3Rex.

    … so the BMW carb credit bean counters could have screwed the US future for range extended BEV’s.

    1. MrEnergyCzar says:

      If they have to pay to fix the cars and give the credits back, they might be less greedy next time….

      1. Terawatt says:

        Eh. The credits likely represent a massive discount and the i3 Rex would have been too expensive and have priced itself out of the market without it.

        But yeah, sue the “stupid people” who made a car behave so “unexpectedly” as to slow down if it runs out of fuel! American Justice at its best!

  14. Forever Green says:

    “Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against BMW For Unsafe i3 REx Reduced Power Operation”. I knew this was coming. What surprised me is that it took two years.

    1. Terawatt says:

      From over here it’s difficult to see how
      America can become any stupider than it already is – even considering Trump/Clinton/Sanders.

      Why not sue all the other car makers as well? After all, their cars also “unexpectedly” slow down when you run out of fuel.

      Land of the litigious, home of the out-of-court settlement.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Terawatt bloviated:

        “From over here it’s difficult to see how
        America can become any stupider than it already is – even considering Trump/Clinton/Sanders.”

        Funny, none of us Americans posting here made the mistake of thinking the issue is the i3 running out of gas.

        Just you. Did you even bother to read the article?

        And lumping Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in with “The Donald” makes you look even more clueless than that.

  15. Murrysville EV says:

    The issue isn’t the REX’s low power, it’s the sudden *drop* in power that is dangerous.

    It’s NOT the same as driving an underpowered car (ICE or EV), whose performance is predictable until it runs out of fuel. Just imagine passing a truck on a hill, and your 6-cylinder suddenly switches to 2-cylinder mode.

    I hope the plaintiffs win this one.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      “whose performance is predictable until it runs out of fuel.”

      Well the performance when it runs out of fuel is QUITE predictable . . . and can be dangerous. And the performance when the i3 runs out of battery is ALSO quite predictable.

    2. franky_b says:

      It’s not sudden, you get a warning. As a driver if you decide to ignore it then it could be sudden based on your energy consumption.

      I saw the warning once in 18 month, I only had to change driving mode to Ecopro from Comfort. And the REX quickly built back capacity. But I was not going 90mph, I was going 65mph (which is the speed limit in Canada)

      1. bro1999 says:

        So say you are in the middle of climbing the grapevine in CA and you get the warning….what do you do then? You’re still screw going 45 mph (or less) while other cars fly by at 70+ mph.

        1. Marco says:

          Stop and recharge the car. Just as you would do with an ICE car running out of gas, right?

          1. bro1999 says:

            Sorta defeats the purpose of having a RANGE EXTENDER, doesn’t it?

            1. Murrysville EV says:

              That was my thought, too.

              If the REX is only safe for level cruising, it’s not very useful. I’d rather have a BEV that simply konks out, rather than the *hope* that a range extender will work properly.

            2. Marco says:

              But it’s not killing anyone so no reason to sue the car maker because of safety issues.
              Then again, usually you can go faster even in this mode. If you do long hill climbs on a regular basis maybe you shouldn’t consider an i3 REx. It’s just not the right tool for this purpose. Can’t tell you if BMW is make this clear to the buyer or not, though.

    3. 3laine says:

      It’s exactly the same as a car that runs out of fuel… because it’s exactly that, a car that runs out of fuel. The difference is that instead of a gas gauge you have a “% of charge”. If the number keeps getting smaller and smaller until it’s near-zero, then the car will have reduced power. And the car will tell you in advance that it’s going to happen.

      Someone may be able to argue that they didn’t know they could still run out of charge while the REx is running and that BMW didn’t make that clear, but when there’s no charge left, it’s going to slow down. That’s common sense.

      1. All-Purpose Guru says:

        Where I see the issue is that the car isn’t programmed properly from the factory to allow enough reserve power to maintain speed. Again, changing this programming would reduce the range of the vehicle so they programmed it for maximum marketability. Same as reducing the size of the gas tank through software.

        1. PiV says:

          So the Range Extender has to be permanently on? Or which duration do you demand that the car hast to hold its speed? The next one demands that the speed of 100 mph has to be hold the next 30 miles …

  16. DJ says:

    Simple solution. Put a hold option like most other PHEVs…

    Why it isn’t in the US is beyond me. That said the Volt didn’t initially have it IIRC…

    1. bro1999 says:

      It DID have a mountain mode, however.

  17. ct200h says:

    There is really no fixing the main issue you cant change the laws of physics a 34hp car just wont climb a big hill fast.
    the warnings of a slowdown were non-existant on early 2014’s but added later in the software update.

  18. Mike I says:

    What the car needs is a smart predictive system that accounts for terrain and route speed limits. If your destination is at a higher elevation, it should calculate how much earlier the REx needs to turn on so that the battery is never fully depleted. I would imagine that CARB would not have a problem with allowing that feature within the BEVx definition.

  19. carcus says:

    THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH 34 HP! THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH 34 HP! THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH 34 HP!

    It’s the software, not the Rex’s ICE that is the problem.
    Do you people understand this??? WTF?

    If (in the US version) you could “flip the switch” to range hold at 75% SOC, you are not going to have a problem climbing Donner Summit or anything else at the posted speed limit:

    “In simple terms, one can think of it as if the REx’s power output is used to propel the car forward, the battery’s power output is used to climb the hill. By using less than a third of its battery to gain those 7,228 feet, the i3 REx is obviously capable of much more. In this post I asserted that the i3 with the European-style Hold Mode was probably capable of summiting any road in North America. After making the drive over the Sierra Nevada’s I-80, I believe that point has been verified.”

    http://bmwi3.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-i3-rex-one-owners-thoughts-on-bevx.html

    http://insideevs.com/bmw-i3-rex-bevx-restrictions-plea-carb-unleash-rex/

  20. Michael B says:

    Easy fix. They have this feature in EU but not US. I do support this law suit.

    1. PiV says:

      Did they advertise this feature? No? Then why a law suit? Perhaps you should change the regulations in the US, so that BMW has not to change the US Software.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Because they charge customer $4K for that option… So they can get the same ZEV credits for those i3s that doesn’t have the REx option.

  21. well i own an i3 with rx and YES IT HAPEN TO ME ON MY FIRST ROAD TRIP FROM DAYTONA BEACH BACK HOME MIAMI …. I WAS DRIVING ON 195 IN THE FAST LANE 75 MPH AND A COMPLETE SHUT DOWN HAPPEN THE RX WASN’T POWERFUL ENOUGH TO KEEP UP AT THAT SPEED MY GOD WHAT A SCARY MOMENT I HAD TO WORK MY WAY ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND CALL BMW FOR ROAD ASSISTANCE NO ONE HAD A CLUE WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT …. VERY ANGRY I WAS … 20 MIN LATER THE CAR CAME BACK A LIVE AND THE RX STARTED RUNNING …. SO I GOT OUT OF 195 STOP AT A MC DONALD PARKING LOT AND ASK FOR A THECNICIAN . YES HE DID CONFIRM THAT I DID REACH OUT THE LIMIT OF THE RANGE EXTENDER

    HOPE THAT BMW READING THIS LINE

    1. Carcus says:

      Maybe your first call should’ve been to FDOT to find out what the speed limit is.

    2. PiV says:

      Oh my god. A 28 kW engine can`t hold the speed you achieved with a 125 kW engine. Shame on BMW, that they can´t ignore physics ….
      Perhaps you should have switched on your brain and reduce speed when battery was running low.

  22. Nix says:

    BMW will win easily.

    This is the legal equivalent of a gasoline car losing power when the gas tank is run down to empty.

    The i3 shows ample warning that the battery is depleted, the same way gas cars show that the gas tank is nearly empty.

    BMW has fulfilled their obligation to warn drivers. It is then the responsibility of the driver to react appropriately, and pull over if needed when they are at the bottom of the proverbial tank.

  23. Bill Howland says:

    What I don’t understand is, even in the class action suit, there is no mention of the ‘just has to be’ even POORER performance from the 34 hp engine in cold weather when the resistance heater is on high, to defrost the windshield or whatever. The heater just HAS to use 10 hp of engine power, leaving just 24 hp to push the car and make the ‘reduced performance’ that much more reduced.

    I have yet to see a review, or article, or even comments by an I3 Rex owner, about operation in cold weather with the heater on high, a common driving condition in my part of the country.

    1. I would hope that the answer would be painfully obvious. If it is consuming lots of power for the heater, less power is available to propel the car, in a car that has marginal power on gasoline.

      I suspect going up a hill full of passengers and cargo, in the snow, with the heater blasting, and gasoline motor whaling is a worst case scenario. Pulling a grade like the 7000 feet from Sacramento, California towards Reno would just be dangerous.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Donner’s pass on I-80 is more like 9,000 ft after 1 hour of climbing already.

        So, at those elevation, that 28kW engine probably lost at least 20-25% of its power output already due to thinner air…

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Can’t be ‘painfully obvious’ because I’m the only one who mentioned it ever.

        And its not a rare occurance… All the cars in my area drive that way for months at a time.

        What is rare or non-existant is ANY reporting of the fact here.

    2. carcus says:

      “The heater just HAS to use 10 hp of engine power…”

      Seriously!?

      10 hp of heater is about 7500 watts. That sized heater would have the interior of the i3 melted or on fire in short order. (not to mention that heated seats come standard, so the need for cabin heating is significantly reduced)

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        10HP of the engine doesn’t translate into 7.5kW of power due to the fact that 10HP will go through a generator which has at least 10% loss.

        So, it would be more like a 6.75kW heater.

        The Volt has 6.6kW heater onboard and it doesn’t melt anything…

        Also, do you think that engine’s 10HP at sea level still has 10HP at 7,000 ft plus elevation?

        1. carcus says:

          From what I can find, the i3 cabin heater is 5.5 kw. There are some power graphs of it preconditioning the cabin from nordic (sub zero F) cold. It runs at full power for about 10 minutes and then starts backing down. Most of the info I can find says to expect 1 to 2 kw draw to heat cabin once underway. … so something like 1 to 2.5 hp.

          And yes 10hp at 7,000 is 10hp at sea level.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            “And yes 10hp at 7,000 is 10hp at sea level.”

            duh, 10HP is 10HP anywhere…

            The point is that if the engine can produce 10HP at sea level, can it still produce 10HP at 7,000 ft above seal level at the same rpm?

            1. carcus says:

              From what I’ve read: ..

              The engine is a 650cc inline 2 cylinder rated 65 hp at 7,500 rpm. It’s been tuned down to 34 hp probably for NVH, fuel consumption, and I suppose they’ve got the generator optimized for a certain rpm as well. The engine is fuel injected and electronically controlled.

              I don’t know what the output is at 7,000 feet. Certainly it ‘could’ hold 34hp or more. For that matter, BMW ‘could’ give it some sort of a short term ‘boost’ function for higher hp if they thought they needed. But that would involve a lot of electrical things downstream from the crankshaft, so …..?, probably not.

              Having ridden motorcycles in the mountains, I can attest that NA engines will start to wheeze at altitude long before the modern fuel injected computer controlled ones will.

              One thing to keep in mind, if you’re cruising along at a mile high (like down I-25 on the front range). Your hp requirement has been noticeably reduced due to the thinner air and decreased drag. So maybe you’ve got less hp, and maybe you need less hp.

              1. Bill Howland says:

                The ‘high power’ heater in the volt is so wimpy in cold weather (no comparison with the amount of jacket heat from the engine), that the engine runs to take care of the problem. Supposedly, legally to make the windshield defroster work.

                You would think the I3, being an expensive product, would have its buyers demand that the heater WORKS.

                Just accept the fact that people who have lived their entire lives in San Diego have no idea what I’m talking about.

                1. Carcus says:

                  My experience with BMWs is that they are built with cold weather ops very much in mind. Where do you get this idea that the i3 was not? Who is saying that the i3 cabin heating is inadequate? Have you driven one in cold weather?

              2. ModernMarvelFan says:

                “So maybe you’ve got less hp, and maybe you need less hp.”

                Why would you need less HP?

                Climbing up a large mountain like Sierra Nevada needs more power while you got less due to the thinner air.

                If you do it in the winter, it is triple whammy. thin air, higher load due to climbing and higher load due to heat usage would make the small engine car even slower!!!!

  24. Stan says:

    Instead of being happy they aren’t stranded when they run out of charge and can at least limp to a plug, they are upset that the RANGE EXTENDER cannot provide full power in getting them to the next charge receptacle. The vehicle is not advertised as a hybrid vehicle. It is sold as an EV with a range extender. The reduced power state when the battery range is exhausted is completely synonymous to an empty gas tank on an ICE vehicle. It is a BEV. When the battery is empty you are lucky to move at all.

  25. ModernMarvelFan says:

    It is a problem with BMW’s greedy approach to ZEV credit.

    The solution is simple. Add a mountain mode or Hold mode like the Volt, problem is solved.

    But doing so would void CARB’s ZEV credits given to the BEVx cars such as BMW i3 REx. BMW cares more about the ZEV credits than its owners satisfaction.

    If BMW didn’t care about the ZEV credit, the i3 REx would have been a far better/useful car.

    Maybe the battery upgrade will help the case with a larger buffer zone just for those occasional difficult terrains…

    1. Stan says:

      CARB’s ZEV credit system is messed up if hamstringing the car get’s more credits regardless of BMW’s greed. In theory CARB is trying to improve California air quality but helping prime the market. Selling as many vehicles with plugs as possible will do more for CARB’s goal than worrying about a problem that likely doesn’t exist (significant usage without charging).

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        CARB rules is clear. In order for any car with ICE to qualify for ZEV credit, its ICE has to be small enough as auxiliary power source ONLY. And gas mileage can’t be greater than EV range.

        There is another category for cars with engines such as Volt. It is AT-PZEV or TZEV. BMW chooses to design its cars to qualify for ZEV instead of TZEV.

        Carb rules are fine. It is BMW who trieds to save money and maximize its ZEV credits.

        1. Nix says:

          MMF and Stan,

          There is nothing inherently wrong with the “BEVx” category. There is nothing inherently wrong with BMW trying to build vehicles that fits that category.

          The problem is that the i3 didn’t work as well as originally planned, and didn’t get the EPA range rating that BMW original planned for. That’s why they had to limit the gas tank size for the US market, and had to greatly revise their original range claims downwards.

          BMW has another chance to actually make a BEVx work with their new version that is coming out with a larger battery. Which is what it needed in the first place in order to hit their original target numbers.

          We will see in a few months if the bigger battery fixes the problem.

          If so, then clearly the BEVx classification isn’t the problem, it is the implementation.

          If the bigger battery doesn’t fix the problem, then CARB needs to change the rules to allow the gas motor to come on sooner.

          Either way, this is entirely a fixable issue.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            I agree that BEVx rule isn’t the problem.

            BMW can fix it today but shrinking the gas range even further so it can come on earlier, but it would make the car less desirable.

            Yes, I agree that longer EV range would help and it would allow the engine to come on earlier while still meeting the rule.

            But BMW can just forget about the ZEV credits altogether and allow a mountain mode with 60% of the battery held which would allow it to handle just about any terrain in N. America.

            And BMW owners with that code fix already demonstrated that capability with more battery buffer.

          2. Spider-Dan says:

            The problem has nothing to do with the gas tank size; the problem is that the engine cannot turn on until the battery is nearly depleted.

            If BMW has released the Euro-spec i3 REx here, they would not be facing this lawsuit. And in fact, BMW Europe recommends that i3 REx drivers activate the REx at the START of a long drive, precisely to avoid this kind of experience.

            However, BMW NA chose to sacrifice the performance (and ultimately, the safety) of the car so they could get extra ZEV credits. This is a textbook example of an automaker crippling a product for the sole purpose of saving money.

            BMW deserves this lawsuit, and they should lose it.

  26. George B says:

    I have a REx retrofit idea that’s 100% sustainable and will keep the California Air Resources Board happy. Most importantly, it will clearly communicate the maximum climbing speed in range extended mode to drivers. This will nip any confusion and future lawsuits in the bud.

    1. Carcus says:

      You photograph well, but you need 33 more on your team.

    2. Raymondjram says:

      That is the wrong “horsepower”. You will never maintain over 45 MPH when the battery range is gone. And you added a new emission problem for the cars following you!

  27. Forever Green says:

    George B, I think that is very funny!

  28. Raymondjram says:

    A note to all BMW i3 owners: trade in your limited EV for a full powered 2017 Chevy Volt, and support the national economy.