BMWBLOG Interviews BMW i USA – Model Year 2015 BMW i3 Updates, Charging Infrastructure

NOV 26 2014 BY STAFF 13

BMW i8 In LA - Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i8 In LA – Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

At the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, BMWBLOG sat down with Jacob Harb, Department Head BMW i USA, and Jose Guerrero, Head of Product BMW i USA. The interview focused on the BMW i3 sales and production changes for 2015, as well as topics like the infrastructure in the US.

BMW i3 3-Day Extended Test Drive

Driving is believing” is a key component for the marketing success of the BMW i3. Harb says that the program has been very valuable for the brand and it will continue in 2015.  “We’ve had almost 8,000 test drive leads from the i3 extended drive over a period of two months,” says Harb. “It has been all received all the way around with mainstream press picking up those stories as well.”

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on BMWBLOG.  Check it out here.

2015 Model Year Changes For The BMW i3

Harb says the company is making steps in 2015 to improve the i3 customer convenience and infrastructure. Guerrero confirmed to us that the BMW i8 will get the Comfort Access, a delay caused by the tricky door design.

The i3 changes are:

  • Satellite Radion included in the 100% profile (aka as standard item)
  • DC Fast Charging is part of the 100% profile (aka as standard item)
  • Seat heaters in the 100% profile (aka as standard item)
The Key FOB will open the front trunk, but not the rear hatch.

The Key FOB will open the front trunk, but not the rear hatch.

“We are now confident enough that in 2015 we will have the right infrastructure for DC Fast Charging, so it makes to include it standard in the MY2015,” says Harb.

March 2015 will bring a software update with the state of charge gage and the charge after 100% lock or unlock. But the safety reasons, the unlock feature will not be available through BMW i Remote App. You can only unlock the car if you call BMW Assist. “In the U.S., it’s a safety and legal issue, and we took an extra step by having to call BMW Assist to verify who you are”, says Dave Buchko, BMW USA spokesman.

Configurable Keyfob

When asked about a configurable keyfob like European customers get, Harb and Guerrero say that feedback has been received at the HQ in North America and timelines have been accelerated to trying to be as nimble as they can to address things while making it all retroactive too. BMW says that general configurability is an important topic for BMW and without getting into specifics, Harb and Guerrero say this is something they are currently looking into it.

Flex Mobility Program 

175 dealers which also participate in the i3 extended drive are offering the Flex Mobility Program. Customers have the option to get a 328i or 328d model, either rear-wheel drive or xDrive, or an X3 28i or 28d model.

Heated Steering Wheel, Sunroof

Initially BMW i says that the leaving off the heated steering wheel was a decision based on the energy efficiency. The steering wheel would certainly require extra energy to run and the compromise was made. But, Harb adds that he is listening to feedback and if there is plenty of that coming back to the brand, the option could go back through decision making process. My co-interviewer Tom Moloughney pushed further by indicating how the heated steering wheel might turn out to be an energy saver for the i3. The warmed-up wheel could potentially lead to the inside cabin temperature being adjusted downwards by the driver.

The sunroof apparently was left off also due to weight savings and BMW has not indicated if the option even has a chance to make it in future iterations.

Lane Departure Warning uses different camera systems and BMW didn’t think there was enough demand for it out there and Active Cruise Control is believed to have been a better choice to include in the car. “If there is enough demand out there for it, let us know,” says Harb.

We Caught Robert Healey, BMW's EV Infrastructure Manager Doing "Pump" Duties With His Company's New i DC Fast Charger At Plug-In 2014!

We Caught Robert Healey, BMW’s EV Infrastructure Manager Doing “Pump” Duties With His Company’s New i DC Fast Charger At Plug-In 2014!

75% Battery State Of Health

Most of the BMW i3 drivers are confused about their driving range and there is currently a misconception that the battery state of health has dropped which further reduces the driving range. So after a year, for example, how could a customer find out what their battery capacity is? “We’re looking at things  like the range algorithm,  maybe too conservative, so we’re thinking about that overall”, says Harb. “State of health is also a number read-out and we are able to see that, but we haven’t thought about the process to handing out that to the customer.”

Guerrero says the diagnostic software can print that out but based on this feedback, the i folks say that looking into a formalized process will be on the agenda. Guerrero adds that the battery has been certified for 15 years due to an existing law in Europe.

Roll Out For More Quick Charging Stations 

BMW i says 2015 is the infrastructure year and the 2015 Detroit Auto Show is the venue chosen to communicate some of the exciting things coming up. “We have some really good plans, incredible collaboration and the industry has matured significantly more than when the i3 was engineered,” says Harb. “You will be pleasantly surprised.”

Agile Approach 

BMW i says that thanks to customers’ feedback, the electric division has managed to improve their process of delivering updates and features to the cars. Taking a more agile approach and involving early adopters, it gave the engineers enough data to be able to speed up the deployment process. BMW i believes this is a huge gain for them and they are able to increase the customer satisfaction faster.

2015 Detroit Auto Show

While BMW i folks were upfront with many of the things we asked, they reserved some surprised for 2015 Detroit Auto Show where we will supposedly learn more about the product updates and infrastructure strategy in the U.S.

Categories: BMW, Charging

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13 Comments on "BMWBLOG Interviews BMW i USA – Model Year 2015 BMW i3 Updates, Charging Infrastructure"

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David Murray

Heated seats and steering wheel should be standard features on all plug-in cars. I speak from experience. When we traded in our 2011 Leaf for a 2013 with heated seats and steering wheel, we found the cabin heater was not used nearly as much. So overall there is energy savings. And it can’t cost that much to add such a feature. It’s just a resistance wire somewhere in the wheel.

Our Volt has heated seats, but not the steering wheel. I hope that is a feature the 2016 Volt adds.

Dan Hue

They should be stand-alone options, or part of a cold-weather package, but not standard. Plenty of people will never have any use for them.


How many cars do not include a cabin heater as standard equipment? Even in warm climates it is standard on everything but race cars.

The heated steering wheel and seats are more important than the cabin heater. You use them first, since they use way less EV range than the cabin heater.



I agree that heated steering wheel and heated seats should be standard in all EVs, as they are on the Leaf.

10 W for the heated wheel + 100 W for two seat heaters will use a lot less EV range than the 6000 W cabin heater! BMW engineers must know this. Perhaps they need to have a meeting with their marketing people and not let them out of the room until they agree to make heated steering wheel (and rear seats) standard equipment.



“the heated steering wheel might turn out to be an energy saver for the i3. The warmed-up wheel could potentially lead to the inside cabin temperature being adjusted downwards by the driver.”

Well, how many watts does it require? Unconfirmed is that Volt seats require just 45 watts, or about one thousandth of what the heating system can munch out of a battery. Tom is correct, but it would be good to know by just how much the i3’s seats and steering wheel would use less power.


So gravity in Europe must be less since the extra mass of the sunroof there is not considered a problem.

Hey, how about that AM radio or should folks just proceed with hacking their i3 just to enable it? 🙂

Rob Stark

The Rex is not crippled in Europe to get extra CARB ZEV credits.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

No remote lock/unlock with the app? That’s pretty lame, Volt’s had that for years via onstar…

MTN Ranger

Yes, the 4 digit PIN is used as an extra level of security (in addition the original login and password to gain access to the app). I don’t see why BMW couldn’t use that method.

E.V. Fitter

To be clear. You can lock the car from the app. but you can not UNLOCK it.

James B.

Ford Fusion/CMax Energi has remote lock/unlock from ‘our’ app My Ford Mobile. Weird that BMW would have different legal issues than Ford.


bmw is already using a login/password combined with a pin code in their app (but the pin is required every time you resume the app, while the password is only required rarely – probably when the app dies or phone is rebooted)

For some reason BMW is being very conservative about features they enable in the USA, unlike GM, Tesla, and most other connected cars.


I’m ordering mine as soon as I can get heated steering wheel.