Chevrolet Takes Aim At BMW i3 With Series Of 2016 Volt Tweets


2016 Chevy Volt Tweet Takes Aim At BMW i3

2016 Chevy Volt Tweet Takes Aim At BMW i3

General Motors is taking shots at the BMW i3 right where the i3 is most vulnerable.

In a series of Tweets issued by General Motors, the 2015 & 2016 Chevrolet Volt is pegged as far superior to the BMW i3 in two key areas: total range and HP of the range-extending engine.

GM knows that the i3’s limited 150-mile total range can be problematic.  In fact, some i3 owners have gone so far as to code their U.S. cars to get the software to recognize that the gas tank is slightly larger: 1.9 gallons to 2.4 gallons.

Additionally, the other Tweet by GM aims directly at the i3’s limited REx power.  This can lead to reduced speed operation during long climbs for i3 drivers.  The Volt almost never encounters this reduced power mode.

Though attacking a competing vehicle is not something we encourage, we give props to General Motors for at least hitting the i3 in the right spots, thus showing its weaknesses.

2016 Chevy Volt Tweet Takes Aim At BMW i3

2016 Chevy Volt Tweet Takes Aim At BMW i3

Categories: BMW, Chevrolet

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76 Comments on "Chevrolet Takes Aim At BMW i3 With Series Of 2016 Volt Tweets"

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hahah.. GM may have a point. But I’d still rather have an i3 Rex over a Volt. The Volt may win me over with its price tag, though.

Interesting. I’m the opposite. I would change my mind of the i3 REx were more “volt like” in how it works. I like the 80 mile AER, but I don’t like the CS mode range. Why ARB came up with such a silly regulation, I’ll never understand.


They came up with that regulation because BMW lobbied them to.

BMW was able to convince CARB that an EREV with severely constrained REx usage should give as many ZEV credits as a normal BEV. And thus, the i3 REx was born.

Which means that they could have sold the Euro-spec car in the USA without restriction. BMW just wouldn’t get Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) credit for a gasoline burning car.

The Volt does not get that credit (nor is is hobbled like the i3). The i3 is the ONLY gasoline burning car to earn ZEV credit.

And only crazy BMW fans will overpay for a ugly vehicle that is underpowered and non-American! Now which makes more sense?

Boy, ARB has certainly gone down hill since I worked there. It’s disappointing really. They used to be reputed for making decisions based on science and engineering. Now it seems like they make decisions based on politics and try and force the science and engineering to fit the decision.

Lots to like about both. Price and over all range are the big ones for me. If the 1.9 gallon gas tank was bigger on the i3, I don’t care so much about the smallish extender. And I mean bigger than 2.4 gallons. I like the styling on both EREVs. I prefer the i3 over the old Volt and overall like the extra head room and modern styling of the i3. I like the consideration toward environmental manufacturing. I can’t imagine with all the efforts toward trimming weight how much BMW hates being beat by the Volt in 0-30. Both get an A on acceleration.

Bottom line, either give me the 200 mile BEV or one of these two EREVS and I am a happy camper.

Looking strictly at the numbers of both, you’re right that there is a lot to like about both. I am with you on the pathetically small gas tank. Even 5 gallons would be much better!

Aesthetically though, I just do not find the i3 attractive at all. In fact, to me, it’s fugly! I would definitely take the 1st gen Volt over the i3, and the 2nd gen Volt is even better!

Scramjett, both engines in these cars are generators. They don’t power the cars (in rear occasions the engine of the Volt does assist the battery to power the car). The power in both these vehicles are as good or better than most cars in there class. After the power in the battery is depleted is when you would realize where the BMW I3 Rex comes up short (It doesn’t have enough power to maintain highway speeds over 70 MPH). I like the looks of the BMW i3 Rex, roomie interior, infotainment center and the light weight materials the car is made of, but where this car falls short, it falls on its face. This is where GM is poking the BMW i3 Rex.

I think Frank Weber cried a little bit when he saw these tweets.


I would clarify that by saying that the gas engine in the i3 REx is a generator and the gas engine in the Volt is used as a generator most of the time. If you look at the actual design of the Volt transmission (at least the 1st gen), then you can see that the engine is capable of driving the wheels (though indirectly). So when I say that I wish the i3 REx were more “Volt like,” that is what I am referring to. My understanding of the i3 REx is that there is no gearing between the engine, motors, and wheels at all. The engine just turns a generator which charges the battery to maintain 6% SOC (I believe that is the correct SOC).

6% is in the US only, which gives a US only problem. Elsewhere the rex is allowed to start at 75% which makes all the difference.

I agree with the comments here and GM is shadowing its competition right where it hurts. Had the BMW i3 come with at least a 5 gallon fuel tank there would be one in my garage. As it stands I will be buying a 2016 Volt. I much prefer the styling, interior and the badge (have to admit to the snobbery here) but the Volt just wins on the package for my needs.

what might sound good in principle doesn’t when it is actually put to practice. if you ever took a long distance drive, you would appreciate that the Volt gas tank is pretty much as small as you would want to go. it is a pain in the neck to have to stop for gasoline any more often than once every 300 miles. one of the problems with the comments being made here about the BMW i3 ReX is that the posters are wanting the i3 ReX to be something that it isn’t: the ReX is not intended for long distance driving; it is intended for metropolitan area usage. the gas tank is so to make sure that you can get home if you run out of charge; the 80 mile EV range can easily turn into less than 50 miles in colder climates, so as long as you take the car for what it is (as comprising a means to reduce EV range anxiety), the range extender in the BMW i3 ReX is a nice feature. if you want the car to be something that it isn’t, then you probably won’t be too pleased…but that is true for a lot… Read more »

That may be true of BMW’s intent, but there is a big different between BMW’s intent and the public’s perception of intent. I expect that the public’s perception of the gas range extender’s intent is to allow them to go beyond the EV range for trips and what not, particularly since we’ve already heard of a number of people who use the i3 REx in precisely that way. This is probably due to the Volt and how it’s been marketed (and I use that term loosely) over the last few years.

when they go on a long trip in the BMW i3 ReX, when they end up having to stop for gasoline every 30 minutes or so (since few will be bold enough to run the tank down to fumes), that “range extender” will get real old, real quick. 2 gallons is typically when the “low fuel” indicator light turns on in most cars.

keep in mind, the BMW i3 ReX only gets about 35-40 mpg! it’s basically the same mpg as the Gen1 Volt even though the Volt weighs much more. that just goes to speak of how inefficient the BMW approach to range extension is.

If the i3 had a 5-(u.s.) gallon tank, 19 liters, it would actually have more gas than electric range, so it wouldn’t be just an extender anymore, would it?
Besides, I suspect a tank that large wouldn’t be trivial to locate within the car’s interior’s volume.

Well, ARB has an official “range extender” designation and the i3 is the only car that actually meets it.

Personally, I would consider the Volt to have a range extender (and so does GM, hence its EREV name), but that’s just my opinion.

plus 1 ,there both great .but i would get a volt over I3 bev .but a rex over a volt.!!

I wouldn’t have that butt ugly i3 even if it had the same range and horsepower. The last time I saw a car that ugly was the Pontiac Aztek.

LMAO! +111 😀

At least there are now options at different price points for “mostly electric vehicles”.

Ford C-Max 20 miles BEV @ $2xx per month
Chevy New Volt 50 miles BEV @3xx per month
BMW i3 80 miles BEV @ $5xx per month
Tesla Model S 365 miles BEV @ $more

Telsa Model S: 250 miles

Not to nitpick, but I believe the P85D is about 250 while the 85D is 270.

I don’t think you can really count the C-Max in that list. It’s the only one listed in that list that has much reduced performance when being driven as an EV in EV mode. If you choose to drive those 20 miles in pure EV mode your 0-60 time is 15 seconds.


I realize that this may be aimed at potential plug-in buyers, but I don’t know that I’d want to counter my competitors 2 digit hp rating with my own 2 digit hp rating. Unfortunately, public perception of “good” hp numbers (3 digits at least) combined with lack in understanding of how plug-ins work (specifically the differences between the Volt and the i3 REx), could end up backfiring and doing the opposite of what your ad aims to do.

Well, that would *definitely* be a first for the geniuses at GM’s Volt marketing

(snark; sigh)

LOL, yep.

Only 84 horsepower? How am I going to lug my 800 lb. body and my 400 lb. kids to Wal*Mart to buy more Ho-Hos with only 84 horsepower?

Aron, the 84 horse power engine does not power the Volt(in rare occasions the engine of the Volt does assist the battery to power the car). The engine powers a generator that maintains the charge in the battery at about 20% state of charge. The battery is the power source of the car. The 84 horse power engine is quite adequate for what it does.

In whatever mode you will always have 149 hp.

Yes, precisely. I would play up that number more than anything else and point out that the i3 doesn’t use its 170 hp in CS mode, while the Volt uses all 149 hp in CS mode.

Definitely. Note that GM specifies “combined horsepower” as well, probably to defuse some of the concerns you mention, but now curious people might get suspicious as to why they didn’t do that for the i3…

[Btw, the i3 packs 130 kW (170hp). I’m only counting the electrical motor here, as the REx can’t drive the wheels, but sleazy marketing guys could claim “205hp combined”.]

Nope, I don’t think GM is wise to pitch Volt vs i3 under the headline “Performance”.

Not sure it’s such a great idea to advertise that BMW has a 150-mile plug-in either. People not paying attention might think it’s the electric range…

For sure interesting to see that GM considers BMW a serious competitor though.

Here goes GM advertising a car you can’t buy again. Wake me up in 6 months.

LOL. The stars do have that funky Mongolian alignment, don’t they? !Volt! !Bolt!…and meanwhile, $2 gas. Now, we can argue marketing won’t help sell cars whose margins scare the accountants.

The Chevy Colorado was Chevy’s Super Bowl thing. Going OT, here, but I heard on Boston radio that Brady was given the keys, for the MVP ceremony, and he flipped them to Butler. Fair weather fan, at best, but good to hear.

On paper the new Volt really does look good compared to the BMW but the i3 does have a significantly bigger EV range. The i3 also has better performance and is perhaps more ‘futuristic’ and of course faster too.

It certainly looks like competition is hotting up!

You say the BMW is “faster” but they are both top speed limited and take a while to get there. I think what you mean is “quicker”. I know I am being pedantic but it also pays to point out that the Volt is quicker in the 0-30 than the i3 and that is an important number for queue and ramp merges from a standing start, you know like the ones where the guy in the F350 tries to get you from making the 2 to 1 merge from an intersection queue.

I also said it had better performance and then mentioned faster. Yes I mean is quicker but the new Volt has really closed the gap and as you pointed out is actually quicker 0-30. I definitely think GM have done a good job with making the i3 less appealing.

I agree, GM has made a Gen II product that has a very good chance of selling in big numbers. I was hoping for better acceleration numbers from the 2016 Volt and while we didn’t get what I would have liked from the 0-60 time, it is a great improvement off the line. I drive a GTI now and would have missed that immediate grunt had GM not improved the 0-30 time by 20+%. I have driven the i3 and really was taken back by its performance, as you mention, and really like the car but I need more Rex range.

the i3 controller limits the power right off the line but still the zero to 60 in six and a half seconds will leave the Volt behind quite easily.

I agree that the i3 will outrun the Volt, and a lot of other cars :), in the 0-60 sprint but in my day to day driving the 0-30 acceleration is what is most important so the Volt holds its own there, beating many many cars, including the i3.

The number of drivers who would use the full 80 miles of charge on a daily basis vs. 50 miles is quite small.

The reality is that 80 miles vs. 50 miles will have very little impact on how many total miles most drivers will go in EV mode each year.

Currently Volt drivers over on are averaging around 75% of their miles in EV mode. I’m expecting this to push up into the 90’s with the 2016 Volt. If that indeed happens, then the extra 30 mile battery range of the i3 can at best only make single-digit differences in the percent of miles driven in EV mode.

Very diminishing returns at that point.

I think it is a fair comparison. GM knows exactly where to hit the BMW I3 rex. It is for those very reasons I don’t have a BMW i3 Rex in my driveway today. When the Chevy Volt goes on sale I will be one of the first to lease one. I said lease, because I do believe BMW will make a better EREV with total range and power (enough to maintain 75 mph on the highway) to compete with the Chevy Volt. It might be the second generation BMW i3 Rex.

And my old ICE had 1200 miles range and twice the horsepower. So what?

There is a clear difference between a PHEV and a range extended BEV.

Yes, there is.

Interesting, I wasn’t aware there were passenger cars with that kind of range. What car/drivetrain was it?

There aren’t any production cars with 1200 miles of EPA highway range. Some diesel cars are rated at around 700 or 800 miles.

Driven carefully and slowly, these longer range vehicles could probably hit 1200 miles. But by that metric, the Tesla Model S85D is a 350 mile vehicle.. 55 mph 70F no climate control.

How would a REx or EREV fit in? Personally, I’d dump REx and use EREV. Or you could just say they are different flavors of PHEV, but then you’d have to come up with a term for the PiP and C-Max. PPHEV for parallel PHEV?

We need to see competitive ads like this, just like we see in the ICE world.

All’s fair . . . .

I would go with the Volt over the i3 even though I love the CFRP material.

Ditto. I like the looks, styling and engineering of the Volt much much more than the i3. Hell, even the Leaf looks better than the i3!

The i3 fits very tall people quite comfortably. It also has plenty of electric range, so most people will only need the REx once in a while; if ever.

The new Volt weighs 3875 pounds.
The BMW i3 REx weighs 3064 pounds.

2016 Volt via the press release says 3543 lbs.
2015 Volt was 3786 lbs.

With a high bench and roof, accommodating tall people gets easier. It also creates rear leg-room, but with i3 you’re kind of stuck if you like the more recumbent driving position, offered by other BMWs or the Volt.

Wasn’t BMW just poking at Volt? I’m glad GM responded in kind.

It’s also woth mentioning that the new Volt will cost $15,000 less than the i3 rex base model.

This kind of competition is good for us (the consumer). The one who builds the better mouse trap (car in this case) will get our business. I wish there was another auto manufacturer out there producing a four door family sedan that could go 250 to 300 all electric range to compete with Tesla.

What is the difference between Mountain mode and hold mode? I thought they were the same thing, but if they are listed as different modes there is probably a difference.

I’m thinking in the “Hold” mode the motor generator only produces enough electricity to hold the current charge in the battery. In the “Mountain” mode I think the motor generator will add charge to the battery as you drive on gasoline. I don’t have a Volt yet so I could be wrong.

Hold mode is the charge sustain mode where the genset provides only the required power to charge the batteries to propel car at the specific speed to hold the state of charge where it is. Mountain mode runs the ICE like in hold mode but provides more power so that it can not only charge the batteries to propel the car but adds extra charge to the battery. As you can imagine it is much less efficient than hold mode because you are using extra gas to add extra electricity to the battery beyond what is needed to just power the car at speed. The purpose is that when you are anticipating a large climb in altitude beyond normal hilly situations you use Mountain mode on more normal grade ahead of time to bank extra battery power for the long climb. The genset provides 84 hp which is plenty for cruising at highway speeds and the battery has enough of a buffer in its regular charge depleted hybrid mode to give plenty of power in shorter bursts of speed if needed. But when climbing a mountain and you run out of charge that buffer will be depleted and you will… Read more »


Is there anyone in California who drives a Volt and frequents the grapevine? If so, about when do you normally engage mountain mode (if you do engage it)?

That’s mostly right, but a few corrections:

– Hold mode will not hold the battery at the same SOC. It will start up the engine (which runs at low power for the first 60 seconds), then draw propulsion power from it. However, if you need extra power (e.g. uphill climb) and the car has to draw from the battery, it will not draw upon engine power to recharge the battery to the original SOC. You will simply lose that range.

– The only real difference between Mountain mode and Normal mode is that in Mountain, the engine will always attempt to keep a 12-mile range buffer in the battery. As I recall, if you turn on Mountain mode at full SOC, the engine won’t turn on at all until about 15 miles range (or so) is remaining.

As for the later grapevine question, I can’t speak to that, but I do know the Volt can climb the Bay Area -> Reno (Donner Pass) grade in Normal mode without Reduced Propulsion Power engaging at all. I don’t know of any grade in the U.S. that actually requires Mountain mode.

My perception might be a little skewed, but since I’ve done both Donner and the Grapevine, I believe that the Donner grade isn’t as steep as the Grapevine (particularly the uphill grade near Tejon Ranch). There are some short stretches of DOnner with a high grade to be sure, but I don’t think that, overall, the grade at Donner is that steep.

That’s interesting, I never knew that about the Volt.

Whether it was BMW’s idea, or CARB’s idea, or both of them together doesn’t matter. The weaknesses of the i3 are all due to trying to jam it into a regulatory pigeon-hole.

An i3 with a mountain-hold button, a larger tank, and an REX that came on sooner would eliminate all the weaknesses that GM is using to go after the i3.

It is time to UN-neuter the i3.

Either forgo the extra ZEV credits and build it right, or revise the ZEV credit requirements. Something has to give. Nobody wins under what is going on currently.

It isn’t good for the goal of promoting EV’s, and it isn’t good for consumers. The last thing the EV world collectively needs are self-inflicted wounds. It doesn’t help CARB’s goals of promoting more green cars.

Well said.


I don’t see why ARB can’t just change the credit formula? I know FCVs get 9 and BEVs get 3. Why not change it to something more practical like BEVs/FCVs get 10 and then PHEVs get varying credits based on their range while eliminating the ridiculous REx definition.

It most certainly does matter if it was BMW’s idea.

If that is the case, it means BMW prioritized extra ZEV credits over a more functional car. That tells you, quite clearly, what BMW sees as the true purpose of the i3 REx.

Mike and Slvad, thanks for explaining the difference between “Hold mode” and “mountain mode”. I have a Nissan Leaf. My lease is up in September. The 2016 Chevy Volt will be my first Extended Range Electric Vehicle. If the 2016 Volt goes on sale in August that would be perfect. That way I can have the Volt before I return the Leaf.

I drive a Volt now but I know quite a few people who have Leafs and love them. My lease is up in November so I can’t wait to pick up the ’16 Volt. Pretty excited about more EV range and more performance.

Did you know that the ’16 Volt will be faster to 30 mph than any other EV except Tesla? It will be faster than the i3 and will even pretty much tie the Tesla S60 to 30 mph (maybe .1 sec different).

Hope you enjoy your new Volt.

Slvad, I know about the 0-30 time of the 2016 Chevy Volt. That is impressive. I think it was here on insideevs I read about that. I am pretty excited too about getting my 2016 Volt. I went to the DC Auto Show to see it in person. It is a beauty. They had it roped off, so I didn’t get to sit in it. That is ok, a few more months and it will be in my driveway. I hope my Nissan Leaf finds a good home. It is my first electric car. It almost left me stranded a few times, but I was always able to make home.

Slvad, I know about the 0-30 time of the 2016 Chevy Volt. That is impressive. I think it was here on insideevs I read about that. I am pretty excited too about getting my 2016 Volt. I went to the DC Auto Show to see it in person. It is a beauty. They had it roped off, so I didn’t get to sit in it. That is ok, a few more months and it will be in my driveway. I hope my Nissan Leaf finds a good home. It is my first electric car. I took a few pictures for the memory. It almost left me stranded a few times, but we were always able to make it home. I hope you enjoy your new Volt too.

“Though attacking a competing vehicle is not something we encourage…”

Why not? Competition is what will make these vehicles better. And in the end, they will need to compete with ICE. Incentives will not last forever.

I would rather have an i3 REx than a Volt, but the i3 REx costs about $10,000 more. It’s out of my price range. But I prefer having a pure series hybrid with longer all electric range.

“Though attacking a competing vehicle is not something we encourage”

We should encourage it. Competition is a good thing for consumers in the market. It lowers the price and improves the product. The result of GM, Ford, and Chrysler attacking their competition, particularly in the half-ton truck area, has produced incredibly impressive trucks from everyone.

At present the ideal car would be Volt sized but with the Tesla Model S flat battery for better interior room for five. It would have supercharger capability but also a compact Toyota direct free piston generator as a Rex in a simple serial configuration like the BMW i3 but with a Volt size fuel tank. It would have a decent ev range, a good size, a good rex range but still be affordable without unnecessary luxury.