Forbes Test Drive Disaster: No Charge Means BMW i3 REx Can’t Cope

AUG 28 2018 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 174

Just a simple BMW i3 REx test drive, right?

For this Forbes contributor, that was surely not the case. It’s not that he had an issue with the BMW i3 REx as a whole, but rather, the entire experience was a disaster. We can only imagine that this could easily be the case for any prospective EV owner, and sadly, it’s issues like this that could slow electric car adoption. Forbes writes:

It was the best of drives, it was the worst of drives.

We’ve test-driven some electric vehicles we liked and even loved, despite our early Leaf experience of 2012. We think others who want electric vehicles should be able to buy them, we would love to see a nationwide infrastructure of working charging stations, and gently make the transition in the next 10-20 years to all-electric, with internal combustion vehicles available to those who want them.

But this electric car brought us heartache instead of joy, inconvenience instead of making life easier, and more than a fair bit of good old aggravation.

So, what in the heck went wrong?

Well, to be fair, let’s start with the positives. The BMW i3 accelerates quickly, offers a smooth ride, and its polarizing looks aren’t that bad.

Ok, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to share Forbes’ disaster. To start, they couldn’t charge the car, even after visiting two stations. The journalist explains that the charging stations wouldn’t accept the i3s “bar-coded plastic key.” He compares and explains:

“Our gas only works in Chevys. Look up on the web where they gas Fords.”

Turns out one is supposed to exclusively use ChargePoint.com to find the stations capable of juicing your i3. This we did.

Sadly, the ChargePoint station that the test driver eventually found was out of order. However, it took a phone call to learn that there was actually a problem and it wasn’t just operator error. No worries though, the BMW i3 REx has a backup gas range extender. So, they weren’t stranded and could continue with their test drive!

Scratch that … as they started up the first 30-mile incline, the i3 would only hit a top speed of 40 MPH since it’s gas engine is not meant for powering the car over long periods. It functions better as a generator and a safety net in case you can’t charge right away.

Fortunately, Forbes eventually found a ChargePoint station and chilled for four hours while they waited for the i3 to be ready for its test drive.

It turns out that charging was not the only issue they reported. Believe me, once you’re this frustrated and have wasted this much time, everything seems like a problem. Forbes’ other concerns are listed below:

  • You must open the front doors to access the back seat
  • Rear windows do not roll down
  • Doors have no inside pulls, so you must yank the storage compartment or open the window to shut them
  • The shifter and starter are “ill-placed,” “cheap,” and they suck

BMW did reach out to Forbes after this whole mess. We’ve included the representative’s statement below:

“You can think of the Chargepoint card as an Exxon or Shell card for example that would only work at that brand’s charging station. If you went to another branded EV station you could certainly charge the i3 but would need to pay via credit card or check card just like refueling a normal press vehicle at a gas station. The only charging station you could not get to work at all would be a Tesla station as their plugs only fit their cars.” We regret any confusion.

Still, if you understand this EV and the above issues wouldn’t turn you away, there are often fantastic deals on new BMW i3 vehicles that knock off as much as $10,000. However, they’re dependent on location and affiliation. Additionally, prices on used i3s are very competitive.

Source: Forbes

BMW i3

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174 Comments on "Forbes Test Drive Disaster: No Charge Means BMW i3 REx Can’t Cope"

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But it has BLUE seat belts, surely that must account for something.

If only the other ICE OEMs could offer different color seatbelts, in their respective EVs, the EV rEVolution would be in full swing!

Well done Forbes, you did it again!

Wait, it doesn’t have interior door pulls? That can’t be right.

Apparently, there are, but they are not placed where one might notice them. There is an up-close photo in the Forbes article that shows the inside of the door. Have a look.

It’s not “apparently”, they are there, but then again, you have to use your eyesight to see them.

The point is that if someone test drives the car and can’t find them or use them easily, can’t figure out how to charge, isn’t aware that the gas engine is not sufficient for a test drive, etc., then perhaps other people may find the same issues when they drive it. We didn’t publish it and say that this is all 100 percent fact or that it was our own test drive. We published it because the writer had some significant issues. It’s stories like this that can lead to an automaker making adjustments so that the car will sell better and so that people are more comfortable adopting EVs. We are often attacked if we publish anything negative about Tesla. Owners and fans push hard in the comments to assure that none of the problems are actually real from their perspective. This is the same. From your perspective, as an owner and someone very familiar with the car and with EVs in general, these are non-issues. However, from another perspective, there are obviously some concerns to point out.

I understand, but then again it never happen to have reviewer going out of his/her way to make an EV look bad, like going out of range on purpose and writing how problematic it is? Remember those days Steven? This guy went out of his way to find all the little things he didn’t like about EV and the i3. So yeah, expect people like me to react and counter balance.

Of course. The internet is completely flooded with such. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to know what’s an honest opinion and a paid attack by Big Oil. That’s very true. Fortunately, people can go check it out themselves and form their own opinion. Thanks for the comment and info. We appreciate it.

Yes, this article reads like an attack piece paid for by Tesla.

By the looks of it, Tesla has no concern about a BMW i3. Tesla is headed to produce more Teslas than the entire BMW lineup. Can you dream up ONE reason Tesla cares about how many sales the i3 has?

@BroncoBet
What? Why would Tesla pay for a snipe at itself?
“The only charging station you could not get to work at all would be a Tesla station…”
If Tesla paid for it, the statement should have said something like
“You can only charge SLOWLY at the various stations that are not located near freeways. Also those stations may only have a few bays unlike Tesla. Moreover, different stations require different payment mechanisms, unlike Tesla”

That bit was from BMW’s reply, not from the original article.

Having said that, the idea that Tesla would pay for articles that put EVs (even other makers’ ones) in a bad light, is totally absurd.

Its strange that I’ve had the same idea about teslam. I live in Dallas Texas which has a heavy tesla presence. Now a lot of public charging stations seem to be abandoned, but teslas have an entire lot and well kept. It almost seems as if Tesla set these stations out here to rot and to make tesla look better. Things that make you go hmmm.

Are you serious? People track test cars that have no business ever being near a track. Part of a usability test is actually using a car, not using it only in a way that a very vocal online community might personally approve of.

Yeah! That’s why reviewers run out of gas in Mustang GT’s ALL The Time.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Nah. Usually they’re too busy slamming into groups of pedestrians or walls or other vehicles to actually run the fuel tank all the way to empty.

Yes they have.. He just didn’t look for them… the pulls are just above the handle, this is just poor journalism without verifying the facts. sad.

Yeah, I mean how dumb do you have to be to not be able to figure out where the inside door pull is by looking at the door? And can’t charge it at one station, so give up? Really? Would be like going to test drive a Porsche, pulling into an Exxon station with only a Shell card, and then saying “Oh well, no way to gas up this poorly designed car, guess the rest of my review will be sitting in it while I get pulled around by a tow-truck for the rest of the week”‘

Wonder why others haven’t complained about finding the door handles?? My 6 year old figured it out on the first try and the reporter can’t? It is actually the only thing you can logically grab to close the door, lol. And instead of a cheap door pull, it is actually contoured into the top of the front and rear door panels. And I love it. It is perfect and convenient to put my phone in the pull area when i don’t want my girl friend from reaching for my phone when its in the center console. Not to mention the AC vent is perfectly located to cool off a warm phone. The windows don’t roll down in the rear? Consider this a 2 door coupe with convenience doors and you will be ecstatic. I personally love the fact that the doors and windows can’t be opened by my small kids. Different strokes for different folks. Does anyone complain about a 911, Camaro, Mustang, BMW, Mercedes, or Audi coupes not having roll down windows in the rear? Such a big problem you can’t anticipate before buying this car, seriously? The i3 range and charging problems? Any network besides Tesla might have… Read more »

It’s located just next to the handle for opening the door, switches for opening the winodw etc and it has a little light just below to be easy to find…what more to this morron need? A sign and a red blinking arrow?

They are wrong about the interior door handles. This is a common issue for people first driving the i3. The handles aren’t where you’d expect them to be. They aren’t obvious. But they are there. You do not have to grab the storage compartment or the window to close it. I could forgive such a mistake for a 3 minute test drive. But if they had it for hours, they should have found the door handles.

The point is, the charging situation, REx situation, door handles, etc. are not intuitive and the average Joe wouldn’t have an easy time figuring any of this out. For those that go test drive the car, being that it’s very pricey and they may not figure things our very easily, it comes as no surprise that sales are struggling.

Well I don’t know about the average Joe in the USA or at Forbes, but up North we got around this pretty fast. Seriously Steven, you are defending that piece of poop from Forbes?

I’m not defending anyone or anything. I’m saying that we aim to share the stories about all EVs, the good and the bad. People can take it or leave it, but we’re going to share it. You can decide if he’s completely made all of this up, or if there are some concerns that some people may have. This is surely not the first time that we’ve heard about such issues. If they are all wrong, then that’s fine. Anyone can go test drive the car and make a decision for themselves and their priorities. We’re simply sharing.

….however, feel free to bash stories like this in your articles. This is IEVs not Business Insider. You don’t have to be neutral…actually, you must not be neutral!

Steven is defending the idea people hop into these cars, and don’t get it. And, when they don’t, it’s a strike against EVs. When they associate urban looks, thin tires, and seized windows with a car, the impression either helps, or hurts. Whose idea was the door pulls, anyway? Why can’t we call out BMW?

More to Steven’s point, the general public knows very little. I got into an Uber hybrid this weekend, and asked the driver if he knew his KWh price, as if to wonder if he had ever wondered if watts are cheaper than gas. He, like a vast number of people, had absolutely no idea. When people like this want to learn, they are very impressionable and companies like BMW know it.

I can’t believe people are defending this hit piece against the i3. He couldn’t figure out where the door pulls are? Obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed…

Yup, and to complain because he couldn’t figure out how to charge up the car, so tried to do the whole test-drive on the aux gas engine? That’s like going out to test-drive a Porsche, trying to fill up at an Exxon station with your Shell card, failing and then doing the test-drive for a week being pulled around by a tow-truck because you can’t figure out how to gas up the car. This reviewer is really not very bright.

I honestly think they are well aware of all those points and set up a “review” to intentionally show shortcomings.

Could be …

Yea, everything is an anti-EV conspiracy. It couldn’t just be quirky design that sometimes backfires. Definitely the conspiracy thing.

No, you miss my point. This is purportedly someone who is a “journalist”. They should do enough research to find where the door pull is. They can complain about it all they want, I don’t like the location either. To say it doesn’t have a door pull is just displaying their own ignorance.

The comments on the doors are a bit off too. The car is a 2 door car that happens to have 4 doors for easy rear seat access. Don’t treat it as a 4 door, as it really isn’t one. I am not saying it is an “Anti-EV conspiracy”, I am saying it was a poorly written review.

I’ve driven the i3 REX for 25K miles and 28 months and never had an experience like this. The charger issue is avoidable as several good apps reliably identify which ones are working/available. The Rex power loss I have never experienced despite running freeway speeds for many miles at max AC; from what I understand in user forums, this is an exceptionally rare circumstance.

To say something is a “disaster” when there are very workable solutions for most people with even the slightest of research. I wouldn’t say it’s a “conspiracy,” but I would say it’s highly opinionated and not well researched.

The charging problems and REx issues are 100% fair points. The door handles is an embarrassing oversight for Forbes. It would be totally fair to point out that the door handles are very difficult to find and unintuitive, it is embarrassing that they truly believed they don’t exist.

They were fair points 3 years ago.

Well, the REx ridiculous design flaw / problem / … was a fair point 3 years ago. But it is still a fair point for everyone that is not EV enthusiast like we are – now and for several years to come. I talk to quite a bit of people “regularly” about EVs, several of them do read about the topic a bit as they are interested in cars and EVs in particular. Some of them in order to know when to take the plunge, with a very rare EV owner. Of those people, including the EV owners, I believe 100% of them are not aware of the REx design flaw, with almost all of them not believing me at 1st and thinking I may be mixing up some information. I actually cannot fault them, the i3 REx is ridiculously designed, specially since the Volt was already on the market for a couple of years. And the solution is so simple a 5 year old would say: “put a bigger engine in there!” An engine with double the power would probably already be enough for highway speeds No it does not matter that it was amazingly small/lightweight/etc, it was bad… Read more »

Well, someone could say the Leaf is ridiculously design for not having thermal batterie management after 7 years, that ridiculous too… Contrary to the Volt you barely use the REX when you do it’s a for a short period of time. It provide flexibility and piece of mind, no need to plan. And you do need to recharge, it’s not impacted by the heat, nor the cold, unlike other EV currently on the market.

Well, there I need to “disagree”… I would say Nissan’s behavior is not ridiculous design but borderline criminal. Specially, not having changed that over the new battery designs (2 of 24kwh, a 30kwh and a 40kwh). Add to that the NEDC range 175km which are actually ~130km, of which you should use daily only 80%, so people bought 104kms cars which is actually 60% of the NEDC announced value and already in the “replace by warranty” values, so yes, criminal. Would love to see them in court and forced to offer decent batteries (w/TMS) and bigger batteries for old cars (as some people were promised in dealers).

But back to the BMW i3 REx, most people think of it as a hybrid, so telling them it cannot be “normally” driven without charging seems ridiculous. And come on, it is not only BMW (a supposed premium brand) as we are talking about “an ICE part of the hybrid” – people will more easily understand problems in something that is “new tech”, but not in the generator, from a premium brand.

So you do agree 🙂 Again, 4 years, I didn’t code my i3 and never had an issue and not because I didn’t push it. It’s like trying to push a Leaf or any EV in “turtle mode”. These guys knew what they were doing and then make it seems it was normal use, it wasn’t.

When I first inquired about the i3, they threw the keys at me and offered an extended test drive. I kept it for the weekend and not only figured out how to plug it in, but also how to close the doors!

Excellent!

The handles seem painfully obvious to me. Just a bit high on the door though.

The i3 was/is an experiment in materials and design that did not work out in the sense that BMW has decided to go more mainstream in its EV design. From a practical, consumer point of view it is simply overpriced (relative to the market not what it costs to make) for what you get. Does the i3 not accept fast charging or could they just not find one?

50 kW charging is standard for models 2015 and later (optional for 2014). The larger battery in recent years has much less taper as well, so doesn’t taper until somewhere above 90% SoC, meaning it actually recharges quickly.

I3 is certainly a car that had some strange design sacrifices. Amazingly it is also a car that has some brilliant engineering. I drove one of the original REx models, and when the motorcycle engine started, I was glad I chose a Volt instead. It was a great car, right up until that engine started.

I can’t even hear the engine running on the highway unless it maxes out. In town it is noticeable if you have your windows cracked. I wonder if there is some variation in this regard as some people complain about this.

The i3 is a much better city car than the Volt, having a very tight turning radius, light weight, shorter, etc. The Volt is better highway cruiser, but gives up so much interior space it is uncomfortable if you are taller.

I coded my i3 Rex to allow hold mode (as it was designed for) in my US car. This makes it very useful for long distance driving. Means I can easily cruise 250 miles to Chicago, Minneapolis, St Louis, etc at 75-80 mph. None of these routes have any CCS stations along the route so it is gas or Tesla only until next year at least when some of the Electrify America stations are in.

On the bright side. the range of the i3 is good enough that most people rarely use the REX. But it’s there when you need it.

So many things in the Forbes review that doesn’t make sense, EV shouldn’t need to be explain and yet if you buy one you should do a minimum of reading. In Québec, Canada, ChargePoint isn’t much present, so based on that I shouldn’t be able to use my i3. This is so stupid.

As for the REX, I can’t believe, 4 years later we are still talking about this…. well here’s one of my old post regarding my experience. Jump to the REX section. If these guys ran into problems, they were not driving at 40MPH, they were looking at making it failed. And what it doesn’t say is, was it a 2017+ or 2016 or less? The REX isn’t a problem unless you want it to be.

https://sway.office.com/o0Y5ZA6nyNqrvuFM?ref=Link
https://sway.office.com/hGOUPNWHZRQ2pTxJ?ref=Link

Really? And the people who report the i3 REx dropping to 25 MPH when climbing a mountain with a depleted battery (citation below); are those people just making up B.S.?

No, I don’t think so. BMW put a small motorcycle engine into the i3 REx as a range extender. That may be fine for traveling on flat terrain, but clearly they only intended it to provide auxiliary power, allowing you to get to the nearest DCFC station. That’s why the gas tank only holds 1.9 gallons.

The non-REx version of the i3 is a moderately good BEV of a previous generation, altho overpriced and having no better range than an older Leaf. The REx version… well, it has some serious engineering compromises if you try to use it as a PHEV, to put it politely.

See “US i3 Rex dangerous when climbing hills”

http://www.mybmwi3.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1366&sid=10cde13b7990adf1b9f70fc9d00188b0

Have they document their experience like I did, with clear description of the conditions? 4 years, I saw the warning once since that post. And I drove in crazy conditions last winter (-25C, -30C), Eco Pro setting, 65MPH, no problem. Go read fully what I posted. I’m well aware of those “dangerous statement”, where are the details? You get a warning, you see that you are over spending energy in specific conditions. You have a choice, you can slow down a little when it happens and let the REX rebuild that buffer or you can drive stupid and get a drastic slow down. But then again, that’s why in the USA you need to be told to not put your cat in your Microwaves. It’s those same people doing stupid thing with Tesla’s autonomous driving, you should keep you hands on the wheel but “Heyyyyy, nothing stopping me to do something stupid, there’s a warning, I’ll buy something to turn it off” If you try to maintain speed past 70MPH, yup, you will ran into problem. If you try to keep the cabin cool to the point you see ice forming on the tip of your nose in summer time,… Read more »

You must not have read the report I linked to. There was a clear description of the conditions, the location, the state of charge, etc. About the only thing missing was data on the exact amount of altitude change.

For those who can’t be bothered to follow the link, here is part of the report:

I waited on side of road while the engine continued to run (but seemingly not at full load). I did not know how long to wait. After 3-5 minutes, I attempted to merge back into traffic (I was still on an uphill section). The car initially had good power, accelerated to ~40MPH, then crapped out and fell back to 25MPH. I crawled to next turnout and waited 10 mins. That was enough to get me over the next hill and get me on my way.

This wasn’t just annoying. It was dangerous.

I don’t at all see that the driver was doing anything “stupid”. He was expecting that the car be able to perform in extended-range mode as a highway-capable passenger car, and the bald truth is that in some conditions, the i3 REx won’t. That is a fact, and it’s not “EV bashing” to point out the limitations.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Wasn’t there a lawsuit filed against BMW on this exact issue?

Where’s the video. Doesn’t everyone have an iPhone these days.
Show us how he drove the car, and we’ll show you a reporter attempting to break the i3.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

It’s generally considered unsafe to operate a motor vehicle and a smart phone at the same time.

Oh, just so you know, I checked that post, that was before the update. C’mon..

What update? You mean, he had not hacked his i3 REx to enable the “European” mode instead of the more crippled U.S. mode? Yeah, he was using the car as it was sold. Are you actually going to claim that it’s not a real-world driving report if the car hasn’t been hacked to upgrade its extended-range capacity?

Since everyone in the i3 Facebook group knows about this fix and has implemented it, yes. It’s that widely known.

There was recall and if you brought you car for services since 2014, they did the update. I got 4 or 5 updates since I got my car in Nov 2014. But then again, you posted something dating back to 2014 and assume nothing was done.

And then there are people like me… After years of owning and operating this vehicle under normal daily conditions, I have never encountered this slow-down situation.

US Reporters love to find the statistical outlier and make it “Big News”.
Especially for an EV.

they to sell something… need something to get those eyeballs.

And you are not an outlier…

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Let’s take the same I drive I see other cars make that don’t have a Hold mode nor does the driver probably know there is one if any. I see older GM Volts, Ford Energi and Plugin Priuses take this drive all the time with no slowness non-stop.

Lost Hills CA to CA Grapevine up to Pyramid Lake

The problem is BMW nor the Stealerships told the customers that in that situation the i3 will dog down to unsafe freeway speeds.
Now imagine how the brand new customers felt when they took that drive for the first time expecting the car to perform just as an ICE or a Prius?……….lol

https://www.consumerreports.org/bmw/bmw-sued-for-i3-electric-cars-sudden-performance-dropoff/

If a Tesla had this problem people would be saying “the car is sold as production with beta software?”

Unfortunately the US version as from the factory can be a bit dangerous, but mostly a few problem sample cars that had inaccurate SoC readings, where the car would suddenly die before the REx engine even started in some cases.

It is worth noting that as designed in Europe, the car is quite capable. You enable Hold mode at 75% and can cruise all day at any speed you want, although you will have frequent gas stops (every 45 min – 60 min at highway speeds).

There was also a Recall of this issue by BMW.
So, if there’s no video of the problem and how the driver drove the car than skepticism is warranted.

The non-Tesla charging network’s main problem is that it is not a network. It is a totally uncoordinated kludge. This has been our only real frustration with owning a Bolt for 14 months. We have averaged a thousand miles a month driving all over the state, but you can’t really leave it! I can’t imagine the disappointment of buyers of the upcoming high end EVs from the old line manufacturers.

I agree completely. I’ve been an i3 driver for a year. The car is obviously quirky and every review complaining about how it’s quirky do not add anything. But the charging network situation is a mess. Chargers are out of order, or incompatible, or occupied for hours, and that’s just while staying in a high-density EV area. Anyone who’s not willing to be an “early adopter” and handle frustration is going to have a bad experience, and it will be that way for years.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

” the charging network situation is a mess. Chargers are out of order, or incompatible, or occupied for hours, and that’s just while staying in a high-density EV area.”

That’s where the Tesla SC has it’s greatest advantage over the rest.
Even as EA rolls out, they still have a long way to go to catch up.

The BMW i3 REX has no problem driving on the highway at 65 miles per hour. So, their solution actually works too.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

BMW has a DCFC charging solution?
Where???

Come to Quebec, you can go East-West, South-North… no problem. Even Tesla’s had to rely on the public network as Tesla lag behind with their network in our province. Different location, different reality.

Also, if each OEM was building their proprietary network like Tesla, that would be the end of EV. Tesla has unique approach to solve a specific problem, a very costly one. Other OEM rely on a standard and support a public, open to all, charging network where cost is shared.

But every time I read this as argument, it’s a false argument.

BTW, BMW is an investor in ChargePoint, indirectly being part of supporting public charging network.

“Occupied for hours”, as I sat behind an i3 this morning, that was going from 96% up to 99% during an additional 15 minutes. That was with my Leaf and another Chevy Bolt (Lyft) waiting, at a two handle EVgo FC charging station.

Yes I spent 12 minutes on the FC, going to 80% so the Lyft Bolt could get started.

These FC charging networks are a clogged up mess, with people crawling along at L2 charging speeds, while Leafs and Bolts are trying to cue up.

Charge Point now sends the driver a text message that their car has slowed down it’s charing rate( You’re nearly full ), and you can come pick up the car. When I got there, there was no line for that charger.

This come down to knowledge and courtesy. Some EV owners don’t know about charge taper when nearing full. Switching to Level 2 doesn’t cost any time below about 8 kW rates, so moving over should be a non-issue.

Gas stations have a similar (but less severe) problem with customers that park at the pump and take 20 minutes picking out a soda from the store.

Tesla has spoiled people.
Just saw Bjorn fidget around with I-Pace’s user interface,
It was painful to watch.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Post the link to the video. We want to see.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

lol, that was pretty painful.
😛

He at least admits he’s not familiar with it.

Tesla killer😂

The review should have been titled “Clueless Journalist Sabatoges Own Test Drive Due To Being a Moron”
Though the complaints of the puny range extender are completely valid.

Perhaps. But, we both know that there are a whole lot of morons out there that may experience such things. If I was going to buy a $60k car and had even a glimpse of these issues, I might be a bit frustrated. We’re talking about getting the general auto-buying public to LOVE EVs. If any of this happened, they may not buy in.

If we’re happy with EVs being a “niche of a niche” product (and I’m NOT happy with that), then we can sniff at and dismiss issues like the ones this reviewer had. Or we can do everything we can to help broaden the appeal of EVs and therefore boost their sales. I recently had a discussion about my Leaf with someone I know very well, someone who is a well educated person who happens to know basically nothing about EVs. She asked me if my Leaf shut itself off at red lights, the way “[her] Ford Eco-Boost does”. I explained why it doesn’t work that way and such behavior wouldn’t be useful, but she seemed unconvinced. A day or so later I realized the problem: She assumed that in an EV the electric motor was turning constantly, like the engine in a gasmobile, and draining the battery, even at a red light. Do we want this person to buy an EV? (I know that it would be a good fit for her usage patterns and life circumstances.) Of course. This is why I keep saying we visitors to this site should be doing everything we can to help educate people… Read more »

Very true. However, do we also want people to drive or buy the car and then broadcast obvious problems? Why doesn’t the i3 sell very well? Wouldn’t it be great if these automakers would notice the issues and make adjustments? We’ve seen it happen. We’re not going to only post rosy, perfect accounts of these cars if there’s an issue. We will continue to publish information about all automakers EVs, good and bad. There are other websites that hold stock, have agendas, push products, promote falsities to reap personal benefits. We are not that. I honestly don’t believe the IEV is contributing to the slow adoption of EVs. Do we want people to be informed about the strengths and weaknesses of various models before making a decision? Sure we do.

Of course I want IEV to be a neutral source that practices Journalism. But if all we did here was help explain to people the basics of EVs, essentially defusing the “but they’re not real cars” prejudice we still see in so many people, we’d be doing them and everyone else a big favor.

When a particular model has a clear problem, then by all means IEV should talk about it and find the best sources possible to address technical issues, possible ways to mitigate the issue, etc.

As for the part of your comment from the “rosy, perfect accounts” onward, it sounds like you’re responding to someone other than me. I was talking about misperceptions of EVs in general, a wholly different issue than pointing out flaws in any given model.

Completely understood and agreed. Yes, I’ve spent the better part of today responding to a whole slew of nastiness from many others. I apologize if I came off as negative. I totally see your point. Thanks, Lou.

Isn’t the simple answer to this: “She asked me if my Leaf shut itself off at red lights, the way “[her] Ford Eco-Boost does” is “Yes. The drive motor consumes no energy at a stop. Only the electronics takes energy, just like in the Ford.”

They were looking for reasons to like the electric car and you didn’t give it to them.

Yes, to me this is the real issue. Sure, you can say “Well once the driver gains experience with the car, he can plan ahead to deal with these situations.” Yes, but the average driver is going to be shocked and disappointed that they have to plan ahead and deal with inconveniences far more than they do with an everyday gasmobile.

I think we EV advocates do a disservice to the EV revolution when we try to gloss over the limitations of such cars as the BMW i3. It’s great that newer BEVs have greater capability; cars like the Tesla Model 3, the Chevy Bolt EV and the Jaguar I-Pace point to a future in which BEVs will be fully competitive with gasmobiles. But we aren’t there yet, and pretending that we are is just going to make us look delusional to those who are not dyed-in-the-wool EV advocates.

But again, if we post stories that are negative about an EV (usually Tesla), the comment section explodes and we get hate mail as well. This time, it was a simple share of what we found to be a rather “funny,” but also a bit “sad,” review and people are not happy. We are not attempting to slow EV adoption at IEV. Rather, we want the information to be out there.

I know what it’s like to face an angry readership. I was a writer and editor in the computer field for a number of years, including working as the reviews editor for one magazine. Make sure you have your facts straight, publish the objective truth without editorializing, and ignore the idiots who will scream at the tiniest perceived insult to their preferred product. (If you think the plugheads on this site are tough, try dealing with Linux users. I could tell stories involving physical threats and racial comments that would make your hair stand on end.)

And who suggested that you are “attempting to slow EV adoption at IEV”? We’re all on the same side here. We want this site to be a rock-solid, objective source. And part of that mission can, and I would argue should, be helping educate newcomers about “living the EV life”.

Well said. Yea, I can only imagine. The comments and emails that don’t make it to the public side of the site are sometimes quite scary.

Well, I don’t thing I was nasty, but suggestion, you could elevate the discussion. You could say most of the negative are not new, some are pure ergonomics and some (like the REX) are known issues, that there was a recall to update the i3 to inform the driver he is passing the limit and should reduce consumption by reducing speed, changing mode. The REX was never design has an extender like the Volt, but you can use it for a prolong time while remain in a sustaining usage. You know all those things and that would have been a better post instead of putting a crunchy summary of the other web site.

Or it might have read “Typical non-EV nut attempts to drive electric car”

Try pulling up to a DC fast charger that is “may or may not be pay to charge”, but has no signage to indicate this, and no way to pay. All it says is “charge complete”, after 10 seconds of charging. Calling tech support is no help. They don’t know what the problem is because they have no way to talk to the billing department.

The number of time I had to show how to use DCFC in the last 4 years… 😉 All car models…

Peter Lindley (real name), not fake.

I totally disagree. I own Tesla shares but have NEVER even been near ANY EV. Reading the above article, I can fully appreciate the problems Forbes had. If I was going to buy a new EV, I would go to the test drive/dealer or whatever with no specific knowledge of the vehicle. Case in point, Last year I went to a dealer to look at a Volvo. I had no idea which car I wanted, so I checked them all out. Eventually I settled on a V40, no it’s not an EV, sorry. I had to go on the web to the Volvo forum for how to fill up, hint, Volvo have a weird filler nozzle. I noticed hundreds of V40 owners with the same issue so no, lots of us know little to nothing about a specific car when shopping. No I’m not stupid, I’m actually supposed to have a high IQ, but clearly this does not translate to car shopping.

You should check the Volvo V40 forum and you will see that lots of Volvo owners, inc myself, are obviously too thick to find out first.

Note, my next car is a Model 3 when they get to us.

The same moron’s who can’t handle an i3 would run out of gas in a Toyota Prius.

PEBSWAS – Problem Exists Between Steering Wheel and Seat

I tend to think they’re deliberately pretending to make it hard. I’ve never driven an EV in the US though.
But I do drive an i3 several times a week – and come on.. it’s easy. If they’re not kidding, I’d like to see how they cope with everyday challanges and tasks.. Maybe a vehicle is to complex for them.. . and why don’t they read up on a product they’re about to test?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Sometimes the best test subjects are the ones not familiar with the product.

Maybe. . depends on the complexity of the product.

I own an i3 Rex, and wouldn’t just send someone off without instruction. It isn’t as easy as you might think if you have never driven one. If my coworkers ask me about it I tell them its shortcomings and ask if they can live with that. EVs won’t sell in volume until these issues are minimized.

I don’t agree… I use Valet service, on purpose, I don’t give any instructions, just to if they can figure it out, and you know what, they do (i3 are rare here).

All cars have their quirkyness, I know I would be loss with Tesla “touch the screen for everything everytime” approach, but after a day or two I would figure it out. Then I would see the different adaptors I need to use to charge and I would figure it out too.

What this proves more than anything is that the charging infrastructure for anything other than a Tesla is still not sufficient for the average driver. I’ve been driving EVs since 2013 and we’ve driven our Bolt almost the entire length of the U.S. west coast on a road trip. But most drivers would not have the patience or want to do the kind of planning we have done (a lot in the early years, less recently even for the west coast trip). Just the fact that I have to have about eight different cards in the glove box for the different charging networks is enough to turn off the average consumer.

Depends where you live, but most studies show that over 90% of charging is done at home…

Since 3/2013, I’ve done 100% of my charging at home. But part of the reason for that is the lack of DCFC stations anywhere near me or routes I normally travel.

hpver has a point: Even when stations are available it takes much more planning and hassle to do a long trip in an EV. Most times my wife and I have taken a long trip in a gasoline vehicle, even in areas we don’t know, we don’t bother looking for gas stations in advance. We just wing it, gas up wherever we find a place, and we’ve never come close to running out of fuel. The EV charging infrastructure still isn’t nearly good enough in the US to support that kind of long distance, low hassle driving.

And a few years ago, a survey showed that 55% of PEV (Plug-in EV) drivers had never used a public charging station. So what? What happens when someone does want to drive a PEV past its normal range?

We EV advocates who read IEVs avidly know about the limitations of PEVs, and in many cases we know how to deal with those limitations by advance planning. The average driver is not so well informed, and it’s entirely unreasonable to expect them to know the limitations of current PEVs when no one has bothered to tell them.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“a survey showed that 55% of PEV (Plug-in EV) drivers had never used a public charging station. So what?”

95% of my charging is NOT at home.

Sure, but it’s that last 10% that can kill broad adoption (transit advocates have a similar kind of issue with what they call “the last mile”). Tesla seems to have understood this dynamic and solved it, but for the rest of us it remains real.

The over 100K$CAN for a Model S, over 60K$CAN for a model 3, that doesn’t impact buyers? That doesn’t send the image EV are not affordable and are for rish people, asked the Toronto Maire…. C’mon And now with a shorter range for the Model 3 (the affordable version) Tesla will have to densify its network.

I looked at the i3 and then I bought a Volt. The Volt is so much better than the i3, i have no idea why anyone would pay the extra money for the i3.

So insightful…. so here my counter argument, I tried a Volt and then bought an i3, the i3 is so much better. I have no idea why someone would pay so much for so little range.

But I could actually say my I prefer the i3 (faster charging at home, actual DCFC charging, more range, doesn’t run the REX when it’s a little cold outside, more interior space, smaller turning radius, better outward view, quicker… and I could go on and on why it’s better for me) and it’s not because I (or you) prefer a car that it makes it “better”

To be fair, for the i3 with REX, the cheapest brand new one I can find within a couple hundred miles of me, the dealer wants $52,000. That’s literally $20,000 more than the cheapest Volt I can find (ignoring the tax credit on both cars, to be fair). Even if you argue the i3 comes with a lot more stuff standard, and pick a loaded Volt against a base model i3 REX, there’s still about a $12,000 spread. I don’t feel they compete against each other any more than a BMW 3 series competes against a Ford Fusion. Similar technology, vastly different price = not going to be cross shopped by hardly anyone at all.

Yes the i3 is technologically superior, but I would expect it for the extra cost. A $52,000 i3 is much more likely to be cross shopped against a Model 3.

There are huge ($10k +) BMW i3 discounts off of MSRP out in the wild. A little investigative research can save a potential buyer quite a bundle.

My employer have 10k off BMW discount. Not counting the tax credit use off the lease and price wrangling

And for the price the Model 3 beats it hands down.

Not for those of us who prefer a light, compact, rust-free hatchback. Nothing currently beats a Model 3 for those who prefer a 5-passenger sedan with great tech. However, that’s a decreasing percentage of vehicle purchasers.

I think the number of people who prefer a 5-passenger sedan with great tech is FAR larger than those that would consider an effectively 2-door, 4 passenger compact car with strange size tires made by a single manufacturer and kept in stock locally by exactly no one.

And July’s sales numbers are showing this quite clearly to be the case, even at a far higher out-the-door price.

–Fellow i3 owner.

If you just compare MSRP, maybe, but in the real world, the i3 is much cheaper than a Model 3.

Don’t know how you get to 20K$, in 2014, if I wanted a comparably equipped Volt, the difference was 10K$, with slow charging at home (i3 is more then double the rate of the Volt), DCFC, etc… and I don’t feel cramped in the car. Those figures may vary from market to market, but in Canada where we don’t get those crazy deals you get in the USA, the difference wasn’t that much and was worth what I was getting.

In today’s world, I would cross shop the Kona with the Model 3 and would probably go for the Kona. More bang for the money. But since I have an i3, I can wait a few more years, skip a generation and still drive almost 100% electric worry free.

So you don’t how to take money off the hood. Incentives, tax credit and price wriggling? Then you suck as a car buyer

Don’t be mean.

+100.
funny how people Overlook the fact that the I3 has double the range of the Volt. And the I3 is not handicapped by the locatations of charging stations and slower charging rates of the Bolt.

And now, the i3 with REX allows you to skip a DCFC when there is a line up of desperate EV waiting after a Leaf 2018 at its second fast charge

2019 Volt has 7.4Kw charger. Just sayin’.

That only took 9 years 😉

It is great they finally offer that as an upgrade. Although you technically don’t need it having a gas engine, it makes it way nicer when you can drive 50 miles EV only, and do the same thing 2 hours later. Great for people that run a lot of errands, recharge, go out again. My wife uses our Clarity PHEV that way and she gets a lot more EV only miles with it being 7.2 kW instead of 3.6.

As an option…. 9 years later…

Not out yet

lol. One thing I like about EV owners is that they tend to be more intelligent than average. The comment from Fool Cells runs counter to that.

i3 has 2 years of free EVgo L3 charging.

DCFC L3 charging is almost mandatory, for someone who can’t always count on charging at home, or at work.

No for emergency situation. Like if work sends to other location to fix whatever

I own a i3. Here are my reasons:

1) the interior feels better and is more elegant
2) the performance on electric is better
3) the electric range is bigger
4) it is lighter
5) it has better electrical efficiency (mpgE)
6) faster charging

Reasons to prefer a volt;
1) more gas range & gasoline mpg
2) more conventional tires
3) lower initial cost (depending on local incentives)
4) probably lower out of warranty cost

The Volt is the best PHEV however and a good choice for those that would need to dip into the gas range frequently. Obviously coding the hold on ReX is a must—I knew about it before purchase. WIthout that its utility is limited.

“probably lower out of warranty cost”
Ah…come on now! “probably”?

In California, the 15yr/150k warranty on most EV components of the irex sounds great to me.

“most EV components”
I thought that was covering the battery alone…
You do realize the rex has gas too, right?

They have a better coverage in the USA.

Life long, I get 35MPG (7L/100Km) on the REX, but more 40MPG (6L/100Km) on the last 2 years on the dedicated REX portion, that’s close to Volt MPG, right? But then again I used the REX only on 4% of my total mileage. With Volt I would have use a lot more gas, a lot more often.

I didn’t code mine (I must be crazy, right?)

Kinda of Frankie B

Forbes has done better reviews in the past. Here’s their review of a Palm OS – enabled phone from Kyocera:
https://www.forbes.com/2002/06/24/0624tentech.html

When you have unprofessionals do unprofessional reviews, you get what you pay for: a fiasco.
The question remains: was it deliberate?

Or, just plain blatantly irresponsible?

It was uninformed and inaccurate.

This sounds story-boarded ahead of time for the intended results.

Ha! Allusion to Dickens.

If there was to be a disaster review for the i3 it had to come from Forbes. I have read so much crap coming from them lately about alt energy that I’m at the point where I ignore them completely. The backup extender is just that, a backup! The car is an ev so drive on electric.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I originally hated the i3. Then I went to carmax to kill time and they had one with a rex, so I test drove it.
Felt like a solid car and I was very close to buying it. What stopped me was the green sticker it had ends this Dec 31. Other than that it’s a fine used purchase for $20K.

If one is interested in utilizing the single occupancy HOV in California with a used electric car, there are caveats. Yes, the current program ceases at the end of this year, but if your car was registered in the program in 2017 or 2018, you can re-enroll in the new program starting 2019. However, pre-2017 cars are not eligible to re-enroll unless they haven’t been registered before. At least that’s the way we’ve interpreted the rules. Our 2015 model wasn’t registered prior to our purchase, so we registered this year and received a sticker. Technically we should be able to re-enroll in 2019. I suppose we’ll find out in January! I’d recommend further research if interested.

The main problem here seems to be the BMW handover people that gave zero instructions to the driver about the key card for charging.

Not the experience I got 4 years ago, the BMW Genius actually go through that at delivery.

I drive a i3 Rex (in San Diego) and am surprised by this review. At least in my area, there are plenty of Chargepoint charging stations. I have never used the level 2 charger to charge at my house. I just fast charge 5 minutes away. It takes half an hour to get 110 miles. I’ve had to wait (10-15 minutes) fewer than 5 times. I haven’t spent any $ on gas in over a year and all the charging’s been free, too. I like the car (though it took a while to overcome the polarizing looks). I agree with the assessment about the suicide doors being inconvenient at times and 100% agree that the rear windows should be able to open. Still somewhat surprised at how helpless this test driver appears to be; perhaps trying to understand how chargers work prior to attempting to drive an electric car might have helped? I’d wager that –if you have available infrastructure your learning curve will likely be a lot less steep than this fellow’s.

Ok, then I get that there was essentially nothing wrong with the I3 Rex.

I was a bit concerned about winter driving, since I had THOUGHT that the resistance heater was all it had, and that it would suck 10 horsepower from the 35 horsepower engine just to run it.

I’ve since found out that when the water-cooled engine Is running, the car will use Jacket Heat and shut the resistance heater off.

I’ve felt much more positively about the I3 Rex since I learned that little detail. Most people can deal with 35 hp in emergencies

The car only uses electric heat, it wastes the heat from the REX. Very unfortunate. I was researching that somewhere else (I think FB Group).

What’s the problem with the shifter and starter? I didn’t mind them at all after driving an i3 for 13 months.

Actually looks like a pretty quality piece to me. It is lighted and has a good feel. And it is very simple to use. Tester must of has a simple mind.

Automotive journalists instinctively fear change. Especially when the change does not ape the established tropes. The shifter used to be on the floor, because that was where the transmission was. The transmission has moved around, and most don’t even have a direct connection to the shifter anymore. Manufacturers can leave it on the floor because “that is the way we have always done it” or they can move it to some unobtrusive part of the cabin.

It’s a shame the reviewer had such a poor experience. My wife and I still love our 2015 i3 after several months of ownership. The car has been problem-free and fun to drive. ChargePoint and EvGo work fine for us. So far, Level 1 power takes care of primary charging at night. And in REx mode, we can still maintain highway speeds. And since I’m a designer, I happen to think the car makes a singular design statement that’s surprisingly fresh after many years. I’d buy another one.

Why go to all the bother of reviewing a car thats already been on the market for 4 years?

This car has been available for close to 5 years. Opening the the front door to get the rear is nothing new. Complaining about the rear windows not going down shows lack of product research, it is like asking if it can tow 10,000 lbs like a F-150 ( I know a Ford truck can tow more.) This car has a universal level 2 port, use another charger other than Chargepoint. I had a 2014 and you are not limited to 40mph when power from batteries are exhausted. You can’t maintain 80mph, 55mph all day. Why don’t you post a video of 40 mph with the Rex on? B.S.

Some reason Big ICE maker brands thinks they have been making cars for years so If they decide to make EV , they will just do it, but not that easy, Tesla has been refining their car for over 10 years.

They are idiots

Is this a joke? taken from the onion? XD

This is a ridiculous article. We have an i3 Rex and it is a fantastic car. The journalists should have familiarized themselves with the car and the charging options and opportunities before they set off. If they had used a DC charging station, they could have charged the car up in 20 minutes. As for not being able to find the door pulls 🙄. RTFM.

I don’t like to judge the book by the cover, but the guy that reviewed this for Forbes doesn’t look like he can figure out how to charge a car, or close a door without help.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BlTQAhanF_h/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

I own a BMW i3 Rex. There is no 40mph limit when using gas. Ive driven it quite a few times at 80mph on gas with 4% power. Now finding a working EV station can be challenging at times, but its not impossible. As for the card to activate the stations, all you need is a smart phone. Also, there are a few apps that rely on user input that help you find other EV stations, it’s proven to be extremely useful. The BMW i3 Rex is awesome with the right driver behind the wheel .

And all this nonsense about it not selling well. If you look at only the US, but not globally. As per the UK article, it is one of the EVS showing the most Internet traffic interest.

Did a 500 mile trip in my i3S Rex..we have.two years free charging with EVgo DCFC and ChargePoin+…Only one BMW dealer we stopped at had a malfunctioning DCFC and all I can say is shame on them… But in NE we had many charging alternatives…

I owned i3’s since 2014…also TSLA…you have to know what your doing and take time to learn..its a new era and it will be great..cleaner air, safer cars, less accidents, and no gasoline!!!

Ron Swanson's Mustache

“You must open the front doors to access the back seat”

This complaint makes no sense, because that’s exactly how coach doors on a vehicle are designed to work. For example, this is how the doors on the Honda Element function. If the rear doors opened independent of the front door, they’d be suicide doors, which represent a safety/liability issue that no car maker is going to take on.

And some pickup trucks, which they sell many more of than the i3.

Lazy journalism… on the payroll of the oil companies or ICE manufacturers I expect… maybe try speaking to the many who have done tens of thousands of trouble free miles…

You left out the part where the “reviewer” say’s “Th’ heck with it, we said – we’d just run the i3 on gas for the entire week’s test and see how we fared. Yes, the gas part of the vehicle is supposed to be a last-minute solution for when you run out of electricity, to get you home or to your next charge. But we also didn’t feel like driving to yet another charge station and having to figure out if it was operational or not.”

He was straight-up serious thinking he’d drive an electric car for a week without charging – and go up a mountain with an empty battery? Is this the average user of the car? No. Not even close. EV users know they need to charge their cars, and they know where to find chargers or ways to plug in to 120 V overnight.

What an idiot.

Since this stated comment “Doors have no inside pulls, so you must yank the storage compartment or open the window to shut them” is completely bullsh*t and rest of the review is the same !

This car is fantastic and I’ve never had mine go A MAXIMUM OF 40 MPH on ANY incline!

“You must open the front doors to access the back seat” – That’s the case with ALL cars with rear doors that hinge in the C pillar. Honda Element, Saturn Ion, Mazda RX8.

“Rear windows do not roll down” – That’s also the case with a lot of coupe and hatches, including Fiat 500, Mini Cooper 2 door hatch, VW Golf (I don’t consider the little push out window “opening” . Also, Audi A5 rear window doesn’t open.

“Doors have no inside pulls, so you must yank the storage compartment or open the window to shut them” – as others pointed out, location wasn’t apparent, but it’s still there.

“The shifter and starter are “ill-placed,” “cheap,” and they suck” – That’s like saying the Porsche starter is ill placed, or Saab for that matter. Might I add that the Mini Cooper and Tesla Model 3 has very ill placed instrument panels… in the middle of the front dash. Last thing you want is your in-laws seeing at how fast you’re driving, right?

It’s not the I3 that will slow the electric transistion. It’s this type of bought and paid for “article”. The I3 has been my only car for the last two years and 25,000 miles. I’ve never experienced any of these issues, but then, I didn’t have the problem seeing the door handle right in front of my face.

Love my I3 Rex, great room, acceleration and safety

this whole article is misleading .. and the issues you mentioned are actually not issues at all .. charging stations is just a matter of what can be used and cant be used .. not a problem with the car it self .. also i found that the suicide doors are kinda cool .. door handles are located under the window .. just look closely ..Rex is a perfect solution for range anxiety and sure its not designed to run the car for long distances or fast speeds .. gear lever is futuristic and is way better than other boring electric cars.

so however wrote this article .. sure has problems with BMW’s as a whole.

What a imbeciles. I own my Rex for 4 year and never had a problem with charging. As a matter of fact 440 volts took me only 50 minutes. Shame and misleading publicity.

Throw this review in The garbage and flame war her Forbes article