TIME Magazine Says BMW “Nailed It” With the i3

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 18

BMW i3

BMW i3

Every so often, it’s interesting to examine how the mass media perceives a certain electric vehicle.

With the BMW i3 reveal grabbing headlines for days, all news outlets seemed to have at least some coverage of BMW’s innovative i.

Here we turn to TIME to see how the world’s most circulated weekly news magazine presents the i3:

Extended driving range

REx Expected to be Popular in US

REx Expected to be Popular in US

“The fact that a typical electric vehicle (EV) can only be driven 75 miles to 80 miles (120 km to 130 km) before requiring a recharge — which takes up a lot more time than a gas-station pit stop — is a deal breaker for many consumers. Using electric power, the BMW i3 can be driven out 80 miles (130 km), perhaps 100 miles (160 km). That’s fine for many commuters, but insufficient for longer journeys.”

“Extending the driving range of the i3 is as simple as purchasing the optional two-cylinder, 34-horsepower rear engine that runs on gasoline — and that basically doubles the vehicle’s range. BMW is also expected to give i3 owners access to gas-powered loaner cars during the days when they need a vehicle with longer driving range — on, say, a weekend road trip.”

It’s not too-too expensive

“One of the most common arguments against EVs is that the math doesn’t add up: whatever money you’d save on gas is negated by the premium you pay compared with a traditional gas-powered car. Prices have already dropped significantly on electric cars, with abundant cheap lease deals and thousands of dollars slashed off the sticker prices of the Ford Focus EV, Nissan Leaf and others.”

“In the U.S., the BMW i3 will start at $41,350, or $45,200 for the version with the backup gasoline engine, before factoring in federal and state rebates and tax incentives. That’s not cheap, but it’s less expensive than what many anticipated for an electric-powered BMW. It’s also a lot less pricey than the Tesla Model S, the premium that has already set the standard for electric cars — and that starts at around $70,000.”

This is no glorified golf cart

“The i3 has a 170-horsepower engine and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, and goes 0 to 60 m.p.h. (97 km/h) in seven seconds. That’s not particularly fast, but quite peppy by EV standards; the Nissan Leaf does 0 to 60 in about 10 seconds.”

Fast charging

BMW i3 Charge Port

BMW i3 Charge Port

“The vehicle can be fully recharged with a 220-volt charger in three hours, and BMW says a special fast-charging system can get the i3 fully juiced up in just 30 minutes.”

It will supposedly be profitable

“While Tesla is said to be making money on sales of its cars, for the time being the typical EV is a money loser. It’s been reported that Fiat, for instance, loses about $10,000 on each 500e that’s sold.”

All told, TIME magazine seem genuinely impressed with BMW’s efforts on the i3.  Word of this EV success has already hit TIME’s 25 million readers, which means a huge chunk of the general public is well aware that the i3 is regarded as one heck of an electric machine.

Source: TIME

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18 responses to "TIME Magazine Says BMW “Nailed It” With the i3"

  1. Priusmaniac says:

    Well the basics are undoubtedly present but they go a bridge to far on composite materials and a bridge not far enough on flex-fuel and capacity of the Rex.
    The system is correct but the box is too small and the tank volume is an anomaly.
    Overall the car feels more like a concept car for an exhibition then a customer’s tested everyday car. The doors are strange, the shape is strange, the never seen 2 Gallon tank is strange; these are all mistakes that would be corrected for a production car.
    Apparently BMW i3 was in a hurry and took their concept EV directly to the production chain.

    1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      The gas tank issue is more for getting a white CARB sticker for HOV lanes in California than any poor design decision-making. IIRC white CARB stickers are ‘permanent’ while green stickers (like the one for Volts and other plugins) need to be renewed, and may eventually not be available.

      http://www.longtailpipe.com/2012/12/the-carb-zev-loophole-big-enough-to.html

      As far as I’m concerned, the ReX on paper seems far too hamstrung for practical use in a state with long drives, such as Texas. A 75kW ReX that could maintain 100mph on non-mountainous terrain (like the Volt) would fit my use case pretty well.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        And it was actually BMW that lobbied hardest for the BEVx exception. I don’t know whether they wanted the tank restriction, but I think they were comfortable with it.

        The REx is fine, as it allows drivers to make full use of the electric range in colder climates and occasionally go beyond range if necessary. The i3+REx is what many EV proponents have been asking for, they just wish it weren’t a BMW.

  2. Bloggin says:

    Fortunately most consumers do their research before paying over $40k for anything. So Time magazine’s article will have little impact on a purchasing decision. Consumers spending their own dollars, will do the math.

    If it’s just a low range commuter EV they want, and don’t mind spending $7k more than a loaded Focus Electric or Leaf SL to get a BMW, it’s a win for BMW

    If the consumer want’s a low range commuter EV, but also need a longer range vehicle, and don’t want to pay for two cars, or deal renting a car, and not willing to spend an extra $10k+, the better equipped Volt is the better option.

    But trying to compare the i3 with a Tesla Model S, just represents how little the folks at Time know about EVs or the EV consumer.

    1. James M says:

      Absolutely I’ve done my research Bloggin. And so I switched my mind from the Focus EV to the i3. For only $7K more I get: up to 125 mile EV range (with ECOPro+) vs 75 miles; purpose engineering vs a retro-fit ICE; maturity after several BMW EV generations vs a low volume experiment; premium quality vs a $15K base model car; a $billion product R&D commitment vs neglect and smoke & mirrors (search “Focus Electric stop safely” or “C-Max 47 mpg complaints”); carbon fiber agility and safety; peppy acceleration and handling. I could keep going, but I suspect everyone get’s my point. I had my heart set on the good looking and safety rated Focus EV, but I did my research and changed my mind, for the better. And by the way and sorry to say, Nissan it’s time to make the Leaf look attractive…

  3. Alaa says:

    Who is it that nailed who exactly here?

    1. vdiv says:

      What Time Magazine, the premier expertise outlet for all things EV, is trying to say is that the i3 is held together by nails. 😉

  4. Suprise Cat says:

    Claiming the Leaf has unusable slow acceleration finally proved it’s a bought advertisement.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Or simply a piece by an auto journalist, to whom 10 seconds 0-60 is considered intolerable.

  5. Spec says:

    Was the writer blind?

  6. Spec says:

    “0 to 60 m.p.h. (97 km/h) in seven seconds. That’s not particularly fast, but quite peppy by EV standards”

    What? By EV standards? As if EVs are slow at accelerating?!? The $27K Spark EV does 0 to 60 in 7.6 seconds.

  7. Aaron says:

    How is the i3 not a glorified golf cart when the i-MiEV is? They’re almost exactly the same size and weight. A 7-second 0-60 blast isn’t particularly impressive given that the Spark does it in 7.6 seconds. Oh yeah, the range extended i3 does it in about the same amount of time, so FAIL. Sorry, Time, BMW may have purchased the article from you in advertisement dollars, but you’re going to look foolish when the i3 actually comes out and is panned.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Because with the i3 you either have better range and better performance or better range and no range anxiety.

    2. Spec says:

      Because it has the propellor logo. Never underestimate how much a lot of people are bamboozled by brand names.

  8. Bill Howland says:

    The article on EV’s is as truthful as anything else TIME has ever published.

  9. Geo says:

    Smaller battery than the LEAF, a lot more expensive, and the only way it can drive further than 80 miles is to burn gasoline. This is not “nailing it,” unless the nails are holding it together along with some bubble gum.

    BMW needs to compete by going above and beyond the competition. Bigger batteries and a network of fast chargers would be a good start.

    1. Spec says:

      It can get away with a smaller battery due to the lightweight carbon fiber body parts that reduce the load. That is one thing that the i3 does very well. And the small ICE for range-extension is interesting. Other than that . . . meh.

      1. Rick Danger says:

        Geo is saying that, rather than design a tesla-esque i3 with more like 200 miles of range and good looks, they decided to wimp out and make Yet Another Low Range EV. Their REx doesn’t have nearly the long distance ability of the Volt. BMW may find a niche for the i3 for the next few years, until Tesla lines up their sights and blows them out of the water.

        When will these gas-heads learn? When Panasonic battery factories outnumber Starbucks?