BMW To Solve Range Anxiety With Gas Loaner Program

MAR 7 2013 BY JAY COLE 11

Letting i3 Customers Borrow A Gas Vehicle For Occasional Long Trips Sounds Like A "Marketing Win" For BMW

Letting i3 Customers Borrow A Gas Vehicle For Occasional Long Trips Sounds Like A “Marketing Win” For BMW

If you are a current battery electric vehicle owner, lets say of the Nissan LEAF, and are preparing for an extended trip, you have stared into the face of the ‘range anxiety demon.’   And he has probably forced you into one of these decisions:

  • A) taking your ‘other’ gas vehicle
  • B) white-knuckling the drive, while hoping to eek out enough miles
  • C) just staying home
  • D) borrowing/renting another car
Hrm, Maybe I'll Just Leave My i3 At Home For This Trip

Hrm, Maybe I’ll Just Leave My i3 At Home For This Trip

On the other hand, if you have not considered an all-electric vehicle like the LEAF, or Focus Electric, perhaps due to range anxiety, or owning only a single vehicle,  your only other ‘green alternatives’ have been:

  • A) an extended range plug-in hybrid, like the Chevrolet Volt of Ford C-Max Energi
  • B) an “old tech” hybrid like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight
  • C) buying an exotic, long range battery electric vehicle, like the 85 kWh Tesla Model S
  • D) bicycle/public transportation

Now, BMW plans to give pure electric buyers one less reason to not buy an EV (double negative for the win).   Just borrow one of their cars.

BMW i3 Does Some Winter Testing In Anticipation Of Its November 16th, 2013 Launch

BMW i3 Does Some Winter Testing In Anticipation Of Its November 16th, 2013 Launch

BMW says that after doing a lot of studying on the BMW ActiveE and electric MINI test fleet, cars with about 100 miles of range, they have found that range problems only accounted for about 1 in 10 trips.

To solve some of these issues surrounding long trips while owning a BMW i3, the German company is going to implement a car-borrowing program.

“We offer you a fallback solution in case you purchase this car and then need to go on a 500-mile trip,” says Rolf Stromberger, BMW’s vice president of business environment and public affairs strategy to the MIT Technology Review.

The BMW i3 has an approximate (EPA) range of 90 electric miles, but also features a range extender option to cure a certain amount of trip anxiety past the vehicle’s electrical energy limits.

However, the extender option only adds a very small 34 hp “will get you there motor” and a 2.37 gallon gas reservoir, perhaps adding another 85-90 miles of driving after the i3’s electricity has powered off.  Using only the range extender on a 1,000+ mile journey could involve dozens of gas pit stops along the way, and would be an exercise in frustration…but borrowing a gas powered X3 for free from your local Bimmer dealer sounds really good to us.

MIT Technology Review

Categories: BMW

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

11 Comments on "BMW To Solve Range Anxiety With Gas Loaner Program"

newest oldest most voted


This idea has been brought up on the leaf forums a few times. Still, even with the BMW I3’s range extender, it would be better than trying to take a long trip in something like a Leaf where you’d need to stop at a chademo charger every 40 to 50 miles and wait half-an-hour. At least with the i3 you can fuel up in a minute or two (since the tank is so small)

Still.. for anyone who likes to take road-trips, I usually steer them towards a Volt, PiP, C-Max or something like that.

Does Nissan still offer X number of free car rentals to Leaf purchasers as well?

They just recently ended that to new LEAF customers. However if you previously bought one, you still have the option.

Yes, I believe so, but it depends on dealer participation. From what I’ve heard, some dealers support the program and others don’t. It will be interesting to see how BMW will approach this dilemma. From the consumer perspective, it would be great if the entire dealer network was onboard with the loaner/rental system. It shouldn’t matter where the vehicle was purchased.

Interesting. So BMW will rent the EV customer a gasoline car for longer trips, instead of the customer going to a rental company to rent a car, like current EV owners do that don’t have another vehicle.

Clearly it’s not going to be a ‘free’ rental, either you pay for rentals up front with the price of the car, or as part of a ‘package’ offered.

Actually any amount over $40k for this 90EV mile small car, should be paying for the rentals.

BMW does have a car rental program in San Francisco, so it seems they will just extend car rentals to gasoline vehicles wherever this car is sold.

You are referring to BMW’s DriveNow car sharing service, which will expand to other major cities soon and will most likely offer i3’s as a major part of their fleet. This is different and dealer based. They will need to offer gas loaners for there customers everywhere, not just a few large cities that has the car sharing service. The loaner cars will be dealer based, not part of DriveNow which is a separate entity itself.

The “only green alternative” to a single EV, the Volt, got it almost right. It just needs an extra 20 miles AER to extend the EV only driving to an hour, a 6.6 kW charger and a more fuel-efficient generator.

Agreed on the faster charger and more efficient generator. I’m not sold on the extra AER. Maybe as an option, but not as a blanket.

Take a look at this: Click on the “Daily Driving” tab; there is a pretty steep drop-off from 40 to 60 miles. Certainly there are those for whom the extra 50% will make a huge difference, but it really seems like GM did their homework with the 40 miles/day norm.

Not sure if what shows is the cause or the effect. Would the drop-off be 60-80 miles if the Volt had a 60 mile range?

With people not being able to charge at werk and easily having a 20-30 highway miles one-way commute the Volt would see a higher adoption if it had a greater all-electric range. With better batteries on the horizon a greater AER should be a foregone conclusion.

An extra 20 miles would be welcome with my driving habits, which tend to be either 20 mi. or less per day or days of 80-200+ miles. This past week saw one day of 250 miles, another of 150, and a 120 mile back and forth day- my lifetime average dipped to just below 100mpg from the 109 mpg where it was in my Volt.

It would be so much easier if BMW would have gone the ‘full monty’ with the range extender – all this ‘loan’ idea does is attempt – I repeat: ATTEMPT – to smooth out complications which they didn’t have to face. BMW is a brand that can get away with high MSRPs – too bad for them they chose to jump into the market with a range extended EV with compromised Rex performance.