BMW i3 BEV Owner Review From Holland

JAN 31 2014 BY STAFF 13

Old Meets News

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I Was Born Electric On…BMW i3 Owner Review:

As Tom Moloughney writes on his “The Electric BMW i3″ blog:

“A while ago I announced that I would be starting a new series here called, “I was Born Electric on…”. I’ll be featuring readers who are i3 owners and who are willing to share their thoughts on the car after taking possession. They will begin the post by introducing themselves and stating the date they were Born Electric, which is when they picked up their i3. Without further ado, I bring you Hil from Holland and his Ionic Silver i3.”

*The words below are those of Born Electric i3 owner Hil from Holland:

My i3 was delivered to my home on a flatbed truck, more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) from my i Agent. Traveling that distance in an i3 BEV on one charge isn’t possible and the i3 being my first EV, we agreed that the car be delivered! As it stands, I’m probably the first i3 owner in Fryslân, Holland and I’d like to report on my first month’s experiences!

My i3 was delivered to my home on a flatbed truck, more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) from my i Agent. Traveling that distance in an i3 BEV on one charge isn’t possible and the i3 being my first EV, we agreed that the car be delivered! As it stands, I’m probably the first i3 owner in Fryslân, Holland and I’d like to report on my first month’s experiences!

Hello, my name is Hil and I was Born Electric on Monday, December 30th 2013.

My recent BMW history

My BMW before the i3, was a 5 door 118i (F20) which I bought for it’s economy and comfort. It was less the sports car than the Z4M Coupe I had before it, but with more room and an adjustable suspension, it meant super daily driving pleasure! Just after the “1” came, BMW launched their ActiveE program with a preview of the concept i3 and i8 in Rotterdam. With my eldest son Tom (also a motor head!) our short, snowy test drive in the ActiveE sold us to the i concept!

The big wait…

This past summer, BMW made production slots for the i3 available in Holland. An i3 in the autumn? Great! In early September the i3 was ordered and after a few glitches in the ordering process (an other color and not fully optioned!), the i3 turned up in the early winter, on snow tires, in Ionic Silver (which is more blue than silver) and with it’s cool Adaptive LED headlights.

Hil's BMW i3

Hil’s BMW i3

Daily Use:

I use the car mostly for local trips, from one village to the next. As a rural Family Doctor, it’s great to do my rounds in the pre-warmed comfort of the i3! To now the only EVSE I use is the standard socket plug-in, delivered with the car. It charges at 3.4 kW which is fast enough for my daily trips. Occasionally I make a longer trip to meetings, for post-grad education or visits to family and friends. Those trips are between 100 to 140 kilometers (60 – 87 mi), but according to my i Agent (and BMW), form no problem to the all-electric i3! For on the road charging, there’s also a growing network of quick DC chargers in Holland, thanks to Fastned!

Thanks to FastNed, There Are Some Quicker Charging Options Out There

Thanks to Fastned, There Are Some Quicker Charging Options Out There

Adventurous Start:

True to the EV pioneer calling, on New Years Eve, the family traveled with the i3 to our traditional New Years celebration at good friends. They live 103 kilometers (61 miles) away. At the start, the i3 gave me a range of 120 kilometers, more than enough! But beware, this figure is based largely on previous driving habits and I had only driven 70 km! But 120 km should be enough! We left at 6 pm, outside temperatures 5 degrees Celsius with a stiff southwesterly headwind and 3 adults in the car with the trunk packed. My normal ICE driving style is to limit my freeway speeds to 115 kmh (70mph) and on two lane roads, I drive 100 kmh (60mph). That evening I set out to copy my 118i driving style to see how the i3 fared. After 40 km (26mi) the battery had just 50% charge left! What??? Total i3 range as claimed by BMW to be 130 km (80mi) per charge, not a scanty 80 km (50mi)! At this rate we’d have to walk 20 km to our friends house. What now? Turn back and take the reserve ICE car or charge up somewhere?

I knew of a quick charger along the freeway nearby, so we decided to drive on! In the confusion we took the wrong exit and drove an extra 10 km to get back on track. My first encounter with a public EVSE was a disappointment. Fumbling in the dark with wind and weather. the quick charger didn’t charge! I called the ANWB help desk number (=AAA in the US) who told me that there was a working charging point 30 km ahead on my route. The question again: press on or turn back? Well, we decided to “Go (South-) West”!

By now I had become a bit more EV savvy and after studying the settings and menu of the i3, it seems I had started out in the standard, uneconomical but sporty “Comfort” mode! In “EcoPro” mode (EP) the range sprung from 55 to 65 km and in the EcoPro+ (EP+) mode, all of a sudden I could go 81 km! I kept it at EP+ and drove on with the Southwesterly storm at full head. On the freeway ahead, a Motor Home drove a leisurely 85 kmh (50mph) so I slid behind it and slipstreamed further. Meanwhile my hands and feet had turned to ice, as had everyone in the car! EcoPro+ is a spartan experience, with no heated air or seats, but it got us to our friends house, with 3 km to spare. We had become true pioneers on New Year’s Eve!

Might Be Chilly Inside if Eco Pro Plus is Selected

Might Be Chilly Inside if EcoPro+ is Selected

A Second Go…

The next week I had a meeting in Utrecht, at 138 km (84 mi) from home. After the cold experience on New Year’s Eve you might think that I wouldn’t consider an even longer trip. But that’s not what EV pioneering is all about my friends, and to be honest, the first trip turned out fine! But for this trip, I prepared myself. To ward off the cold, I took a hot water bottle along, put it on my lap, covered with a fleece blanket. From the start, I drove moderately (max. 100kmh=60mph) in EP+ mode and strictly followed the EcoPro route chosen by the BMW Navigation. It takes you over roads with lower maximum speeds but the route is shorter. My planned 1st destination was a public charging station 10km (6mi) from the meeting place and I had a folding bicycle in the trunk (yes it fit!) for the last leg. But the range expanded as I drove! I left with a calculated range of 124 km (77 mi) and after the first 25 km (15.5 mi), still had 119 km (74 mi) left! With this kind of magic the i3 grew on me! Once on the freeway I hit headwinds, so chose a truck to slipstream behind at 93 kmh (58 mph) on the cruise control. Except for some wind buffeting I really enjoyed my radio in the quiet of the cabin! I reached the meeting venue at 138 km (86 mi) without the wayside charge! Range anxiety is a thing of the past!

BMW i3 Grabbing a Quick Charge

BMW i3 Grabbing a Quick Charge

In the parking garage there was an EVSE which only charged at 3.4 kW instead of the expected 7.4 kW. After 2.5 hours the state of charge increased from 5 to 27%, not enough to get home! But I had enough range to get to the nearest Fastned DC 50kW quick charger, 40 km away. Within 30 minutes I had more than 90% of charge, enough to get home comfortably. When the Fastned network is expanded from the present 5 to the planned 100 stations at the end of 2014, cross country trips in Holland with the i3 will be no problem! At the end of 2015 the projected planning even calls for 200 stations, one for every 40 to 50 freeway kilometers!

Which Mode Shall I Use?

Which Mode Shall I Use?

EcoPro, EcoPro+ and Comfort:

The difference between Comfort and EcoPro modes is purely performance. The i3 Comfort mode would be the Sport mode in an ICE BMW mainly because of the incredible acceleration! EcoPro differs from EP+ more because in EP+ the Seat and Main Heaters are turned off. In cold seasons, choosing EP+ mode makes the cabin icy cold, even with a hot water bottle and fleece blanket!

My lesson is: when range is at issue, put the i3 in EP mode but turn the heater off with the dashboard button. The seat heater still works and hardly reduces range, but keeps you warm! If the windows fog, the heater rapidly clears them and when done, switch it off until needed again.

In Conclusion:
Yes, the i3 is the future of mobility, now! It’s quick, quiet, economical and clean! Range anxiety is unnecessary if you drive the i3 according to your purpose (range or fun!) and because this car also happens to be a BMW, that fun begins on your driveway!

The Future Has Never Looked Brighter!!!

The Future Has Never Looked Brighter!!!

*If you own an i3 and would like to participate in the Born Electric series, you can email Tom directly at:

Categories: BMW, Test Drives

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13 Comments on "BMW i3 BEV Owner Review From Holland"

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The RE would seem to have been a wise option to specify in this use – way better than freezing!
Can the RE be added at a later stage, or is it a factory fit option only?
I suspect the latter.

That’s a kind of add for the Rex option isn’t it.

Interestingly, the REx doesn’t get its heat recycled into cabin heat. Even with the REx, you still have to use the battery-sapping electric heater. The REx would have virtually eliminated the range anxiety… or would it? All the REx would have done is allowed him to stay in Sport mode and keep the heater on.

It is unclear if the owner has the heat pump option (it’s standard for the US, though).

Sure seems like it. Range appears to be similar to the LEAF. The LEAF is a much better deal – you can almost buy two! If Nissan starts shipping an extended range version and solves the rapid capacity loss issue next year, it will be game over.

It would be nice if Nissan could squeeze some additional efficiency out of the package, too.


i3 0-60mph in about 7.2 seconds.
LEAF 0-60mph in about 10 seconds…

LEAF is slower than Prius.

For those who don’t know, as I didn’t:

‘The FastNed network will be commercial, so don’t count on free electricity. Quick recharges will be priced at around €10 (we believe €10 flat rate). ABB chargers with power of 50 kW will have CHAdeMO, Combo 2 and probably AC Type 2 plugs, so all cars with a fast charging option can use it.’

The first 5 are open now. 200 expected in 18 months (every 30 km allong the highways)

Having to pay for fuel, what a shock to the system, it’ll never catch on

Thanks for the review.

More info on what the car is like when it is being used and less on what it is like when it is being misused would have been more useful though.

I wouldn’t order the Rex if I had access to adequate DCQC network, as appears to be the case here.

To me, this would be a case for an optional diesel or alcohol heater rather than the complexity of a Rex. Using a tiny amount of fuel to avoid the poor choices of sapping the battery pack to stay comfortable or being uncomfortable seems like a no-brainier. Why EV manufacturers don’t offer such adoption is a mystery.

BYD apparently uses independent heating for its huge buses in cold winter areas. They smartly save all the 324 kwh battery for pushing the bus through its at least 12 hour shift. If they use a condensing boiler, they can get over 90% efficiency., and then it would be interesting to see if the remaining 10% is used to warm the battery since the heat is there, effectively making the heater efficiency in the high 90’s.