First BMW i3 REx Road Trip – Hotel Unplugs Me Twice, Clueless BMW Dealership

3 years ago by Tom Moloughney 78

Tom's BMW i3 REx

Tom’s BMW i3 REx

Designer Wraps

Designer Wraps

Ever since the i3 colors were announced, I had thought about doing a custom color wrap for my i3. The colors offered just weren’t very inspiring and other than the Solar Orange, they were all white and shades of grey or silver. I chose the Laurel Grey because I liked how it made the car look more like one solid color. It also minimized the “Black Hand” design that BMW used to try to give the appearance the i3 was slimmer than it actually is. It’s a short car that is tall, and definitely has unusual lines and BMW believed that using black on the top surfaces would make it look less “chunky”.

I also liked the idea of having a custom color so my car would be easily identifiable in pictures. I’ll be writing i3 reviews for quite a few websites, and having my car a distinct color will let the readers know immediately that it’s my car they are looking at.

That being said, once I got my car I realized how great the Laurel Grey looks, especially with the Frozen Blue accents and I started having second thoughts about doing the wrap. I decided to go through with it anyway because I really like the idea of having a distinctive color that no other i3 has. Plus, when I take it off it will feel like I got a new car again because the wrap protects the paint perfectly underneath. Since I’m wrapping a new car the paint will remain pristine and in a year or so when I decide to take it off I’ll be able to enjoy the Laurel Grey with Frozen Blue color scheme.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears of Tom’s “The Electric BMW i3” blog.  Check it out by clicking here.

After doing some research I decide to get the wrap done at Designer Wraps in Millville, NJ. It’s about a 130 mile trip from my house and while there are closer wrap shops, but I wanted to get it done somewhere that had a great reputation and had been doing wraps for a long time and Designer Wraps fit the bill. So I plotted the trip and since the wrap takes 3 or 4 days to complete I told my wife I’d need her to drive down with me separately so I could drop off the car and we’d drive back together.

This Hampton hotel probably isn't the best choice for plug-in vehicle owners

This Hampton hotel probably isn’t the best choice for plug-in vehicle owners

The funny thing about it is she initially said “How long will that take? Is there a charging station along the route where you can stop and charge?” She momentarily forgot I have the range extender on the i3 so she was thinking this would be an all day road trip. After driving pure EV’s for five years now, she had been conditioned to think a long trip meant 80 miles or so of driving, and then four or five hours of charging in order to continue. After staring at her and smiling for a few seconds, she realized her error and we just laughed. Only two days of ownership in and the REx is immediately a game changer.

Then I realized I had also overlooked something, but not anything with regards to the car though. We were planning on driving down early on the morning of Saturday, May 24th, and that turned out to be the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. If you live in New Jersey, you know how bad traffic is going south on the Parkway or the Turnpike during either Memorial Day or Labor Day weekends, as tens of thousands of people migrate to the Jersey Shore for these two weekends that bookend the summer. A two and a half hour drive could easily take five hours under these traffic conditions. So we came up with plan B. We would drive about 100 miles late Friday night which would get us past the major traffic areas, stay in a hotel and continue on the next morning.

Since we would be spending the night, I figured I might as well find a hotel that would let me plug in 120v while we were there. After all, the goal is to drive on electric as much as possible, even with the REx and an overnight stay would give me enough range to make it the final 40 miles or so without the REx kicking on. After making some calls, I found an Hampton Inn in Turnersville, NJ that said I could plug in and it was just about perfectly along our planned route anyway.  It was about 100 miles into the trip and we would then be 40 miles from Designer Wraps. An overnight charge would give me just enough to complete the trip the next day without the range extender.

If I really wanted to, I could have probably found a hotel that was only halfway there, and tried to complete the entire trip without the REx, but then I would have needed to find a L2 240v EVSE, as overnight charging on 120v wouldn’t have been enough to fully replenish an empty battery. It just wasn’t worth the trouble, and if everything worked out, the 140 mile trip would end up with me using only a little more than a half a gallon of gas and without any inconvenience.

I drove nearly 90 miles before the REx came on.

I drove nearly 90 miles before the REx came on.

It was raining heavily for most of the drive there so I wasn’t expecting to beat the car’s predicted 75 mile electric range but I did. I was shocked when I drove 89 miles, mostly at speeds of 60 to 65 mph but occasionally faster, before the range extender turned on to hold the battery charge for the final 9 miles. There was traffic so we did occasionally drive for a while at about 50 to 55 mph and I did activate Eco Pro mode about halfway into the trip. I didn’t really do so to extend my range because driving at constant highway speeds requires a certain amount of energy regardless of what mode you are in and I don’t think Eco Pro will really help out much at all with this kind of driving. I really just wanted to see if there was any noticeable difference in the driving behavior and found out something very interesting that I haven’t seen reported anywhere before.

When driving in Eco Pro mode the car tries to keep you from driving faster than 75 mph. If you are in Eco Pro and accelerating, when you hit 75 mph the car holds at 75 mph momentarily, and in order to go faster you need to really push the accelerator further than you would normally have to in order to continue accelerating. It’s kind of like the car is coaching you to not exceed 75 mph because of how inefficient it is to drive at that speed. Once you continue to push the pedal further, it realizes you really do want to go faster and it takes off with a bit of a surge. I then tried this in Eco Pro+ mode and found out it does that same thing at 55 mph in that mode. This is a nice feature to “remind” you that driving faster will consume more energy than you may want to. This only happens in Eco Pro and Eco Pro+, and not in the default Comfort driving mode.

Charging up at Hampton Inn in Turnersville... but for how long?

Charging up at Hampton Inn in Turnersville… but for how long?

At destination...time to plug in.

At destination…time to plug in.

We arrived at the Hampton Inn around 1:00am with 98.1 miles on the trip odometer, and only the last 9 with the range extender in operation. The gas gauge barely moved and looked like I only used about 1/12 of the tank. The gas gauge showed 62 miles of range remaining and if that held true, then I would have had 160 mile range total; 89 on pure electric and 71 on gas.

After checking in and confirming it was OK with the front desk attendant I went outside and pulled my car to the front door where there were two brand new 120V outlets, one on each side of the front entrance. I checked around the rest of the building and didn’t see any other outlets that were assessable. I’d prefer not to be plugged in right in front and draw attention, but it was the only outlet available and I was able to pull over to the side and well past the entrance so the car wasn’t in anyone’s way.

I got up around 7:30am and checked my app to check the state of charge and noticed the SOC was at 30% but that the car was no longer charging and had a “charging error” at 5:07am. I went out to the car and saw it was unplugged from the wall so I plugged it back in and went to the front desk to ask if there was a problem. It was a different person than when we checked in and she told me the owner came in and unplugged the car. I explained to her that I called ahead to ask if I could plug in and was told it wouldn’t be a problem and that I told the person the night before that if there was indeed any problem to please call my room. I also asked if I could speak to the owner and was told no, I could not. With that, I told her that I plugged the car back in and if the owner has a problem with it to please call my room as I would like to discuss this with them.

Plugged in for now...

Plugged in for now…

When a hotel unplugs you, a charging error occurs.

When a hotel unplugs you, a charging error occurs.

After about 15 minuted my smartphone app notified me that the car had another charging error, so I went back down to try to straighten out the situation one more time. Again the car was unplugged so I went to the desk to ask to speak to the owner and again was told they are unavailable. So there was nobody that would even address the situation with me.

I then very politely informed the person at the desk that I’d be contesting the charge on my credit card and refusing to pay for the nights stay as well as contacting Hampton Inn customer service. Hampton Inn boasts the “100% Hampton Guarantee” that promises “If you are not satisfied, we don’t expect you to pay”. Honestly, if someone would have just talked to me and given me any reason, even if it wasn’t a valid reason like “Due to insurance concerns we can’t let you charge” or “Other guests were complaining that you are getting free fuel but they aren’t” I would have accepted it and agreed to pay my bill.

While I wouldn’t be happy and would likely write to Hampton Inn asking them to consider changing policy, I wouldn’t have evoked the Hampton Guarantee and told them I will be writing customer service and asking to be refunded. The fact that nobody there had the decency to even talk to me about it, or call my room to explain that they needed to unplug my car tells me they don’t care about offering acceptable hospitality. If you don’t fit into the box of what services they expect to provide for their typical guest, then you are out of luck and they won’t even discuss the issue with you, and that’s very unfortunate.

I understand this is new territory for many hotels, and that I shouldn’t feel entitled to charge my car wherever I want to. However, I did ask first and I did make it clear that if there was a problem to please call my room to discuss it with me. I would never lose my temper or get confrontational with anyone in this kind of situation. I believe the early adopters need to be ambassadors for plug in cars, paving the way for the rest and we need to do our best to educate the uninformed as to why this is indeed a better path for us all. I will certainly be in touch with Hampton Inn’s customer service this week, and try to encourage them to proactively adopt a charging-friendly policy for all of their locations. So perhaps something good will come us this unfortunate incident.

Realizing I didn’t have enough charge to make the final 40 miles to Designer Wraps, I pulled out my phone and looked up the charging stations in the area. I found that Camden Community College was only a few miles away and they had two level 2 EVSE’s. So we headed over there, found the two Blink stations, plugged in and went out for a bite to eat. After breakfast we went back to the hotel, got our belongings and went to check out. By then there was a new person at the desk and when they asked if everything during our stay was OK I told them it wasn’t and explained the charging issue. She seemed a bit confused about what to do but didn’t offer any help or even to get a manager so I just thanked her and informed her that we’d be contacting Hampton’s customer service to take up the issue with them.

Satisfaction guaranteed...Let's see if they honor this guarantee.

Satisfaction guaranteed…Let’s see if they honor this guarantee.

Security guard checking out the i3.

Security guard checking out the i3.

We headed back to get my car and when we arrived we were greeted by a security guard that was checking it out. He loved it and wanted to know all about it. After giving him the a basic i3 101 lesson, we were off to complete the mission. By this time I was about 60% charged and had plenty of juice to complete the final 42 miles.

The whole trip was 140 miles and I finished with an consumption rate of 4.2 mi/kWh. I dropped the car off, was told it will be ready by next weekend and headed home. I know I’ve only had the car three days, but I’ve driven it nearly 400 miles already and have loved every mile.

I’m really glad I decided to get the range extender, it makes the car immensely more versatile, especially for high mileage drivers like me. I know I only needed to use it for 9 miles out of this 140 mile journey, but just knowing it’s there in case I do need it will allow me to take trips I normally wouldn’t have without it.

Final trip stats

Final trip stats

There is one more note to make about the trip. Knowing that I would be very close to a BMW dealership while we stayed at the hotel, I contacted BMW of Turnersville the day before to see if I could plug in to their EVSE overnight so I’d be fully charged the next morning. The receptionist answered the phone and I said this to her:

“Hello. I’m going to ask you a question that I bet nobody has ever asked you before, but I promise you that will will hear it a lot on the coming months and years.

She laughed a bit and I then told her I was driving my electric BMW i3 to the area from Northern NJ and I needed to charge it. I wanted to know if I could plug into the charger at their dealership. She replied that I was correct, and nobody had ever asked her that and that she’ll have to ask someone about this. She put me on hold for a while and then another person picked up from the service department. They had no idea what I was talking about. Even after explaining that I just bought a brand new BMW i3 and that it was electric, they had no clue about the car or if they had the means to charge it there.

I assume if the dealership had a charging station the service department would likely know about it, so just as I was about to say thanks anyways and hang up the person said they would transfer me to a manager. So on hold again for a while and then the phone rang and was picked up by a voice mail system that said they were not available and to leave a message. Since I already confirmed that I could plug in at the hotel, I just hung up at that point. This is really inexcusable as far as I’m concerned. I know the i3 is a new vehicle and perhaps this particular dealership didn’t even get one in stock yet, but BMW has known for four years now that these cars would be in showrooms by mid 2014.

How is it that the people at this dealership weren’t prepared to even answer a simply question about charging? It was as if I was speaking a different language. There’s a lot of work to do folks.

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78 responses to "First BMW i3 REx Road Trip – Hotel Unplugs Me Twice, Clueless BMW Dealership"

  1. David Murray says:

    I would have been pissed at the hotel also. If they didn’t want people charging their cars, they should have told them that before hand. Otherwise it is bait-and-switch. At minimum if the owner was ticked off about it, he should have let this guy charge that one night, and explained that it would not be available in the future and re-train his staff.

    I’m even more miffed at the BMW dealership not knowing what an i3 is and whether or not they have a charging station.

    1. Even at 20¢ / kWh it is about $4-5 worth of electricity, right?

  2. Phatcat73 says:

    Sorry to hear. I was told by my customer to unplug my Leaf due to energy costs, even after they agreed. I provided them an FAQ printout for the cost to charging a leaf from 0% to 100%, which is less than $3 over a 24 hr 110 v charge cycle. Then I told them I’m only plugged in for about 6 hours and asked if I can donate to their coffee jar 🙂

    Going forward I mention it costs about a dime per hour.

    I think people think its going to double/trip le their electric bill.

    The other item I would be concerned about is leaving the charge cord unsupervised. They can fetch a few hundred bucks on ebay. Does the i3’s trickle charge lock to the port like the Leaf’s?

    1. mutle says:

      Yes (at least the EU version does).

    2. Yes, the connector is locked to the car as long as the doors are locked.

      I would have gladly paid for the electricity. As I wrote I would have even unplugged the car myself if management would have had at least discussed it with me, but I guess they didn’t believe I was worth that consideration.

      1. no comment says:

        time for some traffic problems (again)…

        i thought the BMW i3 looked better in the color shown in the photo taken by chris neff.

        in defense of the hotel, try to look at things from a perspective other than your own; plugging your car in is a *huge* liability issue to the hotel. first of all, someone could trip over the cord, in which case the hotel would have gotten sued, and the chances of successfully defending against such a lawsuit would have been so small that they would have had to just settle. secondly, there is an (unknown to them) risk of electrocution, especially since they wouldn’t know the state of the cord.

        you’ve just got to understand that it is *extremely* ill-advised for any hotel to let you plug in an unattended vehicle as though you were at home. it is so ill-advised that if you were considerate, you would refrain from asking hotels to do so in the future.

        1. Joshua Burstyn says:

          You’re very likely in more danger of getting hit by a car in the parking lot than injured by any charging efforts.

          This type of prejudice and stupidity is annoying.

          1. no comment says:

            what i am telling you is *if* someone at the hotel gets injured as a result of the charge cord, and *if* that person sues the hotel, the hotel *will* lose. under those circumstances, what would be stupid would be for the hotel to bother with the risk. what would be inconsiderate would be for an EV owner to ask the hotel to undertake the risk.

            the bottom line is that if you own an EV, it is *your* responsibility to maintain the charge. unless the hotel establishes a charging station for EVs, then you should not expect to recharge there.

            1. Stimpacker says:

              Poster “No Comment” sounds like a lawyer.

              By the same argument, then they should also forbid guests bringing in large luggage pieces. People can trip on them, get hurt on hotel premises and sue. The hotel wouldn’t want liability like that.

              Oh yea, better not serve hot coffee at the hotel for breakfast either. People can get burned and sue the hotel.

              It goes on and on….

        2. SparkDriver says:

          @no comment, the bottom line is you don’t seem to understand is that hotels exist to provide a service. Those who choose to provide this service will get the business from those who want that service. Requesting the services you need helps the hotel identify the need.

          I disagree with your logic about cords, perhaps I am just a rebel when I leave my cell phone plugged in (while I am sleeping no less). To make matters worse, not only do I expect *EVERY* Hotel to absorb the cost of electricity for my cell phone, I don’t even ask them, I just plug my phone in, and sometimes my laptop too!

          You do realize that people plug hair dryers into hotel outlets right? Perhaps you don’t realize that the default setting for my car when using the same high electrocution risk outlet draws less power than a typical hair dryer or many common vacuum cleaners.

          1. no comment says:

            i am reading some of the comments that have been posted on what “jerks” the hotel was with regard to the charging issue and i am just shaking my head about how clueless some people appear to be.

            look at the photo above that shows moloughney charging his vehicle at the hotel; that charge cord is on a walking path that people would use going to and from the hotel entrance. so people going to and from the hotel (often with luggage) are going to have to walk over that cord. that is an accident waiting to happen.

            many people seem to think that the issue is the cost of the electricity, but if you read the article, you will see that moloughney did not have insurance for the risk that his charging was posing to the hotel. in other words, if the hotel had gotten sued, the hotel operator would have to pay out of his own pocket.

            stuff ain’t free, folks…”service”, at a hotel, does not mean that guests can go to a hotel and expect the hotel to accommodate them while they engage in activities that pose a hazard risk to other guests, because other guests have rights too.

            1. SparkDriver says:

              I take issue with your statement that even asking to plug in is inconsiderate. At no point do I deny the hotel the ability to refuse or require compensation. Eventually hotels will have proper EVSEs, until then requesting access to an existing outlet is very reasonable.

              I agree that in this instance, the available outlet was not a good choice to plug in a car, and that the hotel probably should not have agreed to allow charging when originally requested. Other hotels have outlets in other locations, some of which may be appropriate, or could be made so with minimal effort. If no one requests access, why would any hotel go to any effort at all?

              The only “jerk” on either side was the hotel owner refusing to address the issue with their guest when requested to do so. If they had time to go unplug the car the second time, they had time to call the guests room, or at least have someone do it for them. The fact that it involved an electric vehicle is not relevant. The owner showed that the satisfaction of his guests was not important, hence they failed on the 100% satisfaction guarantee.

              1. no comment says:

                i was incorrect, he wasn’t told that insurance was the reason for not being able to charge his vehicle…

                but the point remains the same; you should be considerate of others in general and when you recharge you EV. i am not suggesting that moloughney *intentionally* put other hotel guests at risk in choosing one of the worst possible places to recharge his car – i am assuming that he just didn’t think about what he was doing beyond the objective of recharging his car.

                likewise, i am going to assume that most readers here have not thought about this issue up to this point, so now you have something to think about. however, in the future, if you realize the hazards that you are posing to other guests *and* you decide to plug in anyway, then you *are* being unreasonable because, regardless how important you might think that your EV is; the safety of others is (or should be) considered to be more important.

                the better course of action is to contact the customer service divisions of hotels and suggest to them that they consider adding EV charging stations to appeal to high-income EV travelers. an EV charging station can be put in a location that avoids creating hazard. showing up at hotels on the spot and asking to recharge always puts people in a bad spot because people tend to not want to say no even when they should.

            2. Jesse Gurr says:

              @no comment
              If you really look at the pictures you would see that the cord is actually not in the way at all. The plug is on a column with openings on both sides. The car is out of the way just enough that people can easily go around it.

              There is no reason for anyone to walk past that cord unless they were about to unplug it or wanted to walk around the car to look at it.

        3. mike says:

          100 years ago the hotel could have said,”We don’t want you to park that motor vehicle here with a tank full of explosive gasoline! Why don’t you have a horse?”

    3. Taser54 says:

      Wait, you plugged in without asking? THAT is a problem, no matter what FAQ you possess.

      1. Phatcat73 says:

        incorrect. I asked one person, who agreed, but the news didn’t travel far enough the corp chain. This was all new to them, without a common corporate agreement, similar to Tom’s experience.

        In any case, due to the warmer Chicago weather, if I keep the cruise control set at 60mph, I can garnish about 100 miles of range whereas I need 84 roundtrip miles for this particular destination.

    4. kdawg says:

      When I got my Volt, my neighbor (who I don’t even know) yelled at me “Your electric bills are going to go up”. I yelled back, “Not as much as my gasoline bills are going to go down.”

      1. Steve S. says:

        Kdawg — I love that. People who know least about a subject often seem to be the most vocal about it.

    5. Spec9 says:

      “I think people think its going to double/trip le their electric bill.”

      Another sad state of our scientific illiteracy. Even a back of the envelope calculation of (120Volts * 12 Amps * 12 Hours) * 1KW/1000watts * $0.12/KWH = $2 if plugged in for 12 hours.

      Unless you have a high amp & high volt connection, it is really hard to suck out significant amount of money’s worth of electricity from an outlet.

      1. Joshua Burstyn says:

        Agreed. Regrettably you’ve already lost most of the population. To most people a plug is merely where their iPod gets recharged.

      2. QCO says:

        They spend that much on the “free” newspaper that I don’t read…..

        Here’s a novel idea: Maybe I can choose charging instead of the newspaper?

        Hopefully it will come, but it’s going to take some time to get hotels up the learning curve.

    6. Dan says:

      I probably wouldn’t set the expectation at $0.10/hr, as that’s unreasonably low and a business who has researched the issue will think you are trying to pull one over on them.

      120V * 12A * 1 hour = 1.44kWh

      If they have the national average cost of $0.122/kW (and it’s not based on time-of-day), that’s about $0.175 per hour. Better to say “a quarter per hour”* and err on the high side; if they dispute it, then you can show them the same math I just showed you.

      *as long as you aren’t charging in the middle of the day

  3. Ocean Railroader says:

    This is why I think they need a system of level three chargers along all major routes. In that I would expect something like this to happen all the time in that a lot of people still don’t electric cars exist.

    Also hotels should put in level 2 charging stations in that 120 volt is very weak and is not good for the open road.

  4. pjwood says:

    From 30%, to 60%, charged during “a bite to eat”, is impressive in and of itself. Not all L2’s are a full 10kw, but between the i3’s 7.4kw charge rate, and class leading kwh efficiency, “a bite to eat” looks like it can be quite productive, in this thing.

    1. Yes, the i3’s charge rate is very good. One advantage of having a small battery is it charges quickly!

      1. kdawg says:

        I thought larger batteries charged quicker.. the rate that is.. not the fill-time.

        1. pjwood says:

          It’s mostly that 7.4kw trumps 3.3kw, I think.

          1. pjwood says:

            …3.3 equaling Volt (which I know, you probably know)

  5. You drove 89 miles at 4.2 = 21.19kWh usable? Is that the usable battery capacity?

    I hate to say it, but I predict the result of your complaint with the hotel will be “vehicle charging prohibited” in the future because “we had some problems already when we tried it”.

    The 100% satisfaction hotel guarantee doesn’t include “vehicle refueling”.

    As to this BMW dealer being clueless about EV’s, I suspect that will be the norm more than the exception. Since all dealers are privately owned in the USA, much like the hotel, I predict any formal complaints will be met with the same response that the hotel will use; “vehicle charging prohibited” in the future because “we had some problems already when we tried it”.

    1. quartzav says:

      It would happen if the dealers are taking a hostile stance emboldened by the manufactures. Toyota dealers are told from the Toyota corporate office to not provide any systemic support for servicing RAV4 EV outside of CA. I am optimistic that BMW will be different. That being said, I can see your point and Tom’s experience is sadly not very different than what we have been told repeatedly in the western part of Pennsylvania over the past 2 years.

    2. Tony: I don’t have an exact answer for the higher than expected range before the REx turned on. I suspect at that time my consumption rate was better than the 4.2 mi/kWh that I finished the 140 mile trip with. It would make sense if at that time I was averaging about 5 mi/kWh and that is possible. The final 40 miles of the trip I was driving faster than the night before and it likely lowered my efficiency.

      1. George B says:

        Tom, when publishing energy economy figures, it would be good to note if that included both the electric and REx portion of the trip. If it did, then we know that the figure cannot be used to compute the usable battery capacity. I got used to resetting the energy economy meter frequently, since it’s a very useful metric, which is worth monitoring closely. On this trip, it might have made sense to note the energy economy when the REx turned on.

    3. Mikael says:

      Isn’t there 22 kWh total but only 19 kWh usable in the i3? Would make the efficiency even better.

  6. Assaf says:

    Hotel jerks aside, your 89 miles on the REx in normal highway speeds during heavy rains – is excellent news.

    It might mean the BEV version can regularly beat 100 miles on a charge.

    If that turns out to be a pattern, then the i3 in sharp contrast to the Leaf, will be an outperformer in terms of highway range.

    That aside, the real problem right now is really charge anxiety not range anxiety.

    Speaking of which, I’m gearing up for taking my 8-year-old, two classmates and another parent to school camp at a YMCA location precisely 65 miles drive away (according to Google maps) in our 2012 Leaf. I’ll need to avoid exceeding 55 MPH to make it safely. Fortunately the weather’s good right now (and there’s one L3 on the way in case all hell breaks loose).

    Like you, I wrote ahead. The YMCA people were delighted to hear someone’s coming with an EV, and said they will gladly trickle-charge it for me (we’ll be there well over 24 hours).

    Here’s hoping there’s no one made of Hampton Inn material there 😉

    Thanks for the story!

  7. IDK says:

    Wow…makes me want a Tesla even more.

    1. Brandon says:

      and the charger locks!

  8. Taser54 says:

    Tom, glad you are enjoying the benefits of a range extender. It provides a great amount of flexibility for travel (I just wish you had a 4 gallon tank).

  9. Marc says:

    I dont know the exact business plan of BMW in the States, but if it is the same as here in Europe, only selected BMW dealers under the “i-brand” are skilled about the electric line of their cars. In simple words: BMW is not BMW-i. Anyway EVERY dealer of the mother brand should even be able to give you a socket and if needed some feet (or meters 😉 of cord. But time will solve and BMW is doing much more than every other traditional brand in the world. I am looking forward to my i3Rex testdrive next month very exited. 🙂

    1. EdoTesla says:

      You should have hunted down a Nissan dealer.

      1. Marc says:

        Nissans Leaf has a poor looking, is slow and the chassis inclusive all materials is oldschool as ever. Tesla or BMW at this time. The rest is lousy.

  10. jacqueline says:

    [MOD EDIT]
    Say goodbye to InsideEVs…You’ve been banned for excessive foul language and direct harassment of individuals

    Update: A return visit swapping your IP won’t work here
    [MOD EDIT]

  11. Alan says:

    If anyone from BMW is reading this, maybe you should take a Leaf out of Nissan’s book so to speak !

    They have rapid chargers in most of their dealerships here in the UK where you can charge up for free.

  12. Nelson says:

    How is it that the people at this dealership weren’t prepared to even answer a simply question about charging? It was as if I was speaking a different language. There’s a lot of work to do folks.

    This is why my next car purchase will be a Tesla with Supercharging option.

    NPNS! SBF!

    1. pjwood says:

      I hear the ability to sell the I3 is a relatively new thing.

  13. Thanks for the write-up, Tom. Fun to get the details on a road-trip and hear about the new car. I am not (yet?) in the market for in i3, but with the range extender, it makes maxing out the electric range a normal, non-stressful, occurrence. And, with greater efficiency, a smoother drive, and quality amenities (as compared to other BEV, or EERV, options) it doesn’t seem too outrageously expensive (just regular expensive 😉 ). I look forward to hearing more about it – thanks for contributing … there sure is a lot of work to do for us EV drivers.

  14. Blind Guy says:

    So I’m gonna guess the wrap will be either: black,red or green, in that order. I’m looking forward to reading about it!

  15. Anon says:

    Unfortunate about the hotel incident. 🙁

    Perhaps it would be reasonable to establish an additional EV Charging Fee / Policy so that staff don’t feel you’re mooching from the Hotel, and they’ll know how to properly respond in such situations. Hotels also like making money from their guests, and tend to provide better service in that context. Fee would be based on length of stay, and what type of outlet you’re using, i.e., L1, L2, L3. Make it standard policy for the entire chain. Boom, done.

    Hotel can now say they’ve embraced green travelers. Great PR opportunity…

  16. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    I would certainly make a stink with Hampton Inn corporate and let more folks know about their shi–y attitude. I’d also consider staying at Marriotts, their commitment to EVs is pretty well-known:

    Speaking of the wrap, that’s a GREAT idea. I really dislike BMW’s 2-tone paint nonsense, but an opaque fully-black wrap would likely make me happy (and keep weather and sunlight off the stock paint). I’ll have to consider that in a few years, if Tesla hasn’t gotten Model X/Gen III into wide availability 🙂

  17. Spec9 says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would unplug an EV. It just seems like a jerk move. What do you care if the EV is charging at a hotel?

    There is definitely some spite among some anti-EV people.

    1. Anon says:

      The hotel owner probably saw dollar signs flowing along the cord, when he saw it attached to a BMW. Electricity costs money, and people usually react conservatively if they feel someone is doing something they haven’t paid for. Pretty sure it was out of simple ignorance, lack of clear EV policy, and personal issues with demanding clients built up over the years. *shrugs*

      Seems like hotels need to keep up with the times and the demands of vehicular technology…

      1. Spec9 says:

        People need to realize though that it is impossible to suck out any significant amount of money’s worth of electricity from a conventional 120V outlet unless you are connected to it for many days. It is not physically possible.

  18. yiiikes says:

    Tom and Inside EVs,
    Is this the kind of article we want to publish as a pro-EV community? It seems to highlight the negative aspects of the electric vehicle transportation. It even ends with a bash on a BMW dealer!

    Look at all of the negative discourse about Hampton above that resulted, Hampton didn’t bargain for that bad press in giving you a room for the night.

    We all know that EV travel is far from perfect or even practical in some ways right now – we need to be extolling the virtues of EV travel and downplay the tradeoffs.

    Help educate Hampton about the coming transition so they can be part of it as well. Being an early adopter comes with a large social responsibility if you truly want the movement to be successful.

    1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      They didn’t ‘give’ Tom a room, they rented him one, and they broke the terms of their agreement. Totally justified in calling these jerks out. If they didn’t want him charging, they should have said so up front and let him find someplace more accomodating. Bait and switch is NEVER ok.

      1. yiiikes says:

        I do stand corrected, they did rent him the room.

        It seems apparent from Tom’s writing that only the owner had a problem with the charging, the other management and staff were on board with it.

        Take the issue of the uncooperative owner up with Hampton corporation privately, don’t discredit their entire organization to make a point.

        This could appear like EVers are spoiled children that create a scene when the world won’t cater to our “weird little cars” and other comapnies may begin to resist or resent our presence.

        We are a very miniscule minority in the world at present and we should always take the high road to be the better group.

        1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          How is complaining about a bait and switch scam a problem? Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

          I know I won’t be staying at Hampton Inns anytime soon, and I’ll tell my family and friends to skip ’em.

    2. QCO says:

      I think this is a legitimate discussion because it does highlight some real world problems experienced by early EV users, specifically:
      Hotels need to develop an EV policy, just as they have for past issues like pets, free parking and offering toothbrush kits.
      Car dealers need to have a policy, or possibly in this case differentiation between an EV and non-EV supporting dealer.

      True Hampton Inn gets bad exposure here, but mainly because of their apparent change of policy overnight, something that is bad form under any condition. Perhaps this exposure will hasten the development of a corporate level policy, which can only help.

  19. Nix says:

    Great road trip!

    The hotel dissatisfaction really has nothing to do with charging itself, it has to do with the hotel keeping its word. It is like asking if they allow pets (knowing that pets are more wear and tear on hotels, and cost the hotel more in cleaning, etc), and being told yes, they allow pets. Then in the morning having the owner come in and say they don’t allow pets, and wanting the pet out of the hotel.

    That’s not how it works. The hotel wanted your money for you to book at their hotel, and the agreed to include a service that costs them a little bit of money in order to win your business that made them much more money.

    That’s the same as when they agree to allow a pet for a pet owner, when not everyone owns pets. Or internet access to computer owners, when not everyone uses internet access. Or workout rooms that not everyone uses. Or Pools. Or free breakfasts that not everyone eats. Or plug in their diesel engine on very cold winter nights, etc.

    They agreed to an amenity as a “bait” to entice you to agree to book a room, and then in the early AM hours, decided to “switch” off that amenity. They clearly were in the wrong in a legal sense. Just because this whole electric vehicle thing is new, and people don’t really understand it all yet, doesn’t mean the law flies out the window.

    1. Francisco says:

      Regarding the hotel incident: I’m on my second Volt, and I have encountered this type of situation many times. There are a lot of “mystery agents” running around unplugging EVs in public for reasons known only to themselves. I suspect that the reason is just a bad attitude about EVs, associting them with Obama, or hippies or whatever, plus the ignorance of thinking that the electric bill is going to be huge, that EV drivers feel entitled to plug in, etc. Tom’s experience just reeks of this same kind of attitude. If I may profile for a minute: I have a feeling that the owner of the hotel had nothing to do with the unplugging. Some mystery agent unplugged the car, and then lied, blaming it on the owner to give the act legitimacy. But the owner was mysteriuoly not available for comment? That’s because he/she wasn’t involved, and if Tom had been able to speak to the owner the jig would have been up. Ditto for the second unplugging. It happened just 15 minutes after it became clear that Tom had plugged it back in. But the owner was still unavailable for comment. Mystery agent. I would still hammer Hampton over this, but I would put my money on a disgruntled employee that is unwilling to stand up and proudly take responsbility for the act. Cockroaches under cover of darkness if you will. I think it is quite unlikely that anyone in a managerial position would be unwilling to discuss it, since that is their job. This fits the facts of the case, and dovetails with the psychology as well as my own experience in situations just like this.

      1. Francisco says:

        Sorry about all the typos. The iPad keyboard and I don’t get along too well…

      2. Mart Shearer says:

        Speaking with 20 years of retail management experience I must say that, sadly, many managers (or owners) do not like to deal with problems, whether inside their business or with their customers. Lots of people who have found themselves in managerial positions have zero training in conflict resolution, and often bitterly complain about complaining customers after they’re gone, ridiculing them to the staff. This creates a toxic environment which eventually kills businesses.

        1. Francisco says:

          Those are good points. I’m not trying to say my theory is ironclad, just offering an alternative viewpoint. I absolutely agree that conflict resolution training is sorely lacking in those positions.

      3. Nix says:

        Francisco — There are certainly some “interesting” people out there. I could see some front desk staff acting childish as the cause, sort of like Smart car tippers tipping over Smart cars.

        It if was actually the Hotel Manager, then he’s missing out on a great business opportunity. If he is a keen business man, he would quickly realize that the economic demographics for EV and PHEV ownership makes them a very good target demographic to market towards.

        Plug-in owners have much higher income than average, are an older median age than average, more economically stable, responsible, etc. All characteristics of consumers that hotels WANT to stay in their rooms. Hotels spend tons of money to attract these top customers who are more likely to have the disposable income to be repeat customers.

        If I were a Hotel Manager, I’d make sure my website had a link for EV owners, listing what plugs I had available, and my charging policy.

        Personally, I would go a step further. I would advertise a $5 dollar surcharge for EV owners to charge, and I’d put it right up front on the room price information. That way everyone who gets a room would see it was an upcharge.

        Now here is the important part — I’d also put in the fine print that the $5 dollar surcharge is waived for advance reservations. I’d show a big -5$ credit appear on the checkout when booking a room in advance — that’s the hook to get folks to book my hotel ahead of time. Then I’d train my employees to give that $5 dollar credit always, even when people walk in (and program my computer system to do it automatically).

        That way it really doesn’t cost anything to charge. But if anyone without an EV asks, they would be told it is a $5 dollar upcharge, that way they don’t feel like they are missing out on something free. (I liked the idea of the hotel tag to hang on the charging cord — I’d put the $5 dollar charging fee right on the hang tag for everyone to see). Also, it gives Plug-in drivers a feeling that they really Authorized and Welcome to charge (and aren’t just mooching) because they have it right there on their bill. They still get to feel good, because they are getting something of value (however small) that is being offered to them happily and willingly for free. And that is what I want, is happy customers who leave my hotel feeling good, who then post about their positive experience on green car websites. Classic mirco-market targeting.

        As a Motel owner, I win, because I attract customers from a highly desirable market demographic. They will be repeat customers for years if I win their business early in this whole EV rollout early days. All for what will likely average around a buck in electricity for the average customer. If over time I find that I have to really start spending real money to support more and more EV’s, I can easily just change it to a $3 dollar credit to book in advance, and recoup some of my costs. It’s a way better money maker than getting customers booking through Priceline or Hotwire at 40% off the regular room rate!!

        1. Francisco says:

          Those are all really great ideas. Just exactly the sort of forward-thinking business sense that is lacking, well, just about everywhere in the US. I realized several years ago after getting my head ripped off by a small local businessman over this issue (would he have reacted the same way if it was a big pickup truck plugging in a block heater?…) that EV charging is going to be a new business discriminator. And everything you are saying is a perfect illustration of that. Unfortunately there are way too many fuddy duddy dinosaurs out there running our businesses that refuse to see the world and their business the way you envision it. That particular guy destroyed years of exclusive loyalty in 3 minutes. It also happened to me at the eye doctor (no one fessed up even after I confronted them within minutes), several hotels, etc. i think I am going to buy a security camera for the dash.

  20. MTN Ranger says:

    I have done half a dozen long distance trips in my Volt and have had great luck with hotel charging. I first ask the front desk and they have always let me park in the front and charge on a 120V outlet. I have used Holiday Inn Express, Courtyard by Marriot, etc. Note I have stayed at hotels in the Southeast US, which may be a little friendlier than in the NY/NJ area.

    1. I have many thousands of miles of long distance EV driving (without an onboard oil engine) and have never had any significant issue charging at hotels or RV parks.

      If would be great if a BMW i3 would join us this summer for BC2BC-2014, the 3rd annual, 1500 miles from Mexico to Canada.

      August 9-17, 2014

    2. yiiikes says:

      Nice positive comment MTN Ranger!

  21. ADMSeattle says:

    I test drove the i3 in Seattle this weekend. They did not have the REx so I am hoping you can tell me if it was a loud as you expected when it kicked in. Thanks!

  22. Sorry to hear about your experience. Glad it all worked out in the end though. The fit EV does the same speed limiting in Econ mode. It limits you to 70 unless you punch it. It’s a neat idea and I get the concept, but it can get annoying.

  23. organicguy says:

    Just got a reply from bmw in the article. They said that they just received a i3,and the chargers will come next week.

  24. Mark H says:

    Tom, great to hear the Rex is working well and not under-performing. This is good news and shows BMW did their homework.

    For the hotel. I am imagining something like a card that hangs on the plug that is signed by the front desk attendant communicating that this is an authorized charging. I like your style. We all want to do the right thing and we want to be good ambassadors to the EV community at large. I see your response as an ultimate opportunity for education of which we are more concerned with than the actual charge. So good on ya for taking the time to educate.

    As for the dealerships, who knows that answer short of buying a Tesla. The problem here is if things go well with the i3, like other EVs it will not require service and the dealership cycle continues.

    The honesty of your post are most enjoyable. Keep-em coming!

  25. Open-Mind says:

    In a similar situation (approval to plug-in, etc), I would have set my Volt’s unplug-alarm. Once the car starts screaming, whoever unplugged it will probably be eager to plug it back in. Not sure if the i3 has that feature.

    I would have also parked 6 inches from the plug, eliminating the rather silly tripping/liability concern. I say “rather silly”, because all the cars in their parking lot are a potential (yet accepted) hazard.

  26. Blind Guy says:

    How long until vehicles incorporate security cameras? If it were me, I might write a review on their site for that location, so other EV owners don’t get the same treatment. I guess they don’t want repeat business.

  27. Murrysville EV says:

    I wonder if you could have gotten a sympathy charge from the local Nissan, Ford, or Chevy dealer.

    After 16 months of Leaf driving, I’m not to the point of feeling comfortable bumming power from anyone. I did it once – from my brother-in-law (who works in the electric industry), and you’d think I was taking $20 out of his pocket. Never again.

  28. Lou says:

    Tom: Great write up, a bit sad that the Hampton Inn manager was so rude. I do (barely)understand the issue of customer safety in regards to the plug location out front of the hotel. However, honestly, looking at the photos, your car did NOT appear to be in anyone’s way. Another guest would have had to go out of their way to trip over the cord. Having spent the last 35+ years in the insurance claims field(the last 20 spent handling commercial liability cases, including many hotel and restaurant owners)I can say that the actual risk exposure was minimal. This wasn’t about liability, it was a lack of professional courtesy towards your customers. I would bet that this owner has a reputation of being difficult to work for(hence the female front desk person did not want to contact him)and all parties took the path of least resistance(which was to ignore the legitimate complaint of a paying customer). Certainly a call to the Customer Service line is in order. Although these are franchised hotels, owners don’t want to be brought up to Hampton as poor managers. This very posting is a huge negative for them already. Bad news(reviews if you will)travel fast. As a restaurant owner, you know that more than anyone. Another thing to realize, the S.Jersey/Philly area is not nearly as EV savvy as N.Jersey/NY or say San Diego. We are worlds away from those regions in awareness and understanding, so some of this is educational in nature. In regards to the I3, it sounds like a great little car, and one that has potential for many, many drivers. Best wishes with it and keep up the reporting.

    1. If there was a fire, the emergency vehicles would have had a problem. The porte cochere is for dropping off people and luggage.

  29. Lou says:

    Good point Neil. However, the Customer Service issues are what really drove this story, at least in my eyes. As Tom stated, he’d called in advance, and yet the owner (who apparently put the kabosh on plugging in)never had the decency to speak to him. That’s all.