Inside The Operation Of The BMW i3 Range Extender + Option Pricing

AUG 2 2013 BY JAY COLE 18

The BMW i3 REx Has Some Selectable Options For Those Moments When You Want To Conserve Battery Power

The BMW i3 REx Has Some Selectable Options For Those Moments When You Want To Conserve Battery Power

Besides the starting price of the BMW i3 equipped with the range extender option ($45,200), not a lot was known about how specifically the Bimmer could operate…other than it provided the driver with up to about 87 more miles of range.

The same could also be said of what options might cost in the US when the car goes on sales in the second quarter of 2014.

Range Extender Operation

Attempting The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb In "Extended Range" Operation ... Not A Good Idea With The BMW i3 REx

Attempting The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb In “Extended Range” Operation … Not A Good Idea With The BMW i3 REx

How would the BMW i3 REx operate if you knew you had an extended hill climb using the 34 hp/54 lb-ft motor?  At what battery capacity left would the range extender turn on?  Can you choose to operate the i3 exclusive of the battery if you wanted to, perhaps to save power for that big elevation change ahead?

Who knew?

Our friends over at the BMW i3 Facebook Group page did, as they found a handy option and pricelist for the i3 in the UK  – which besides giving us some insight as to what future options will cost what when the car is available in the US, the e-brochure also answered some of those ‘range extender questions.’

According to BMW UK:

“The Range Extender model is designed to be able to increase the range with very little strain on the engine therefore making it efficient to run while maintaining the state of charge at a consistent level under normal conditions.”

  • Manually activated when the vehicle is below 80%
  • Charge maintained when driving at higher speeds such as on motorways

As for when the extender kicks on, BMW says:

“(the extender engine) Automatically starts operating when the vehicle is at below 18% state of charge”

Standard And Optional Wheel Choices For The BMW i3

Standard And Optional Wheel Choices For The BMW i3

Also of interest in the PDF, are all the pricing for options for the UK (which gives us a good idea on US cost):

  • Not The Standard Interior

    Not The Standard Interior

    DC fast charge – £560 ($845 USD)

  • 20″ wheels – £1,080 ($1,630)
  • Full leather/interior upgrade – £2,000 ($3,020)
  • Media package/pro navigation – £960 ($1450)
  • Park assist/rear camera – £790 ($1,190)
  • Winter package (front heated seats) – £260 ($390)
  • LED headlights – £710 ($1,070, but standard in US)
  • Electric glass sunroof – £780 ($1,180)

You can check out all the information, including pricing for the UK options in the product PDF here.

Parker@myBMWi3 via BMW i3 Facebook Group

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18 Comments on "Inside The Operation Of The BMW i3 Range Extender + Option Pricing"

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What does it mean, “Charge maintained when driving at higher speeds such as on motorways?”

This is a tiny engine. It won’t, on balance, increase the SOC of your battery while you are on the highway, and especially it won’t when driving up Pike’s Peak. I think it’ll kick on when you’re at 18% and then do its job keeping the battery at 18% till it runs out of gas. It puts out 20kW, which is what you use *on average* on the highway, and much less than average when going up a mountain (but you do get charge back coming *down* the mountain).

But I have to add, it’s much more than you use on average around town, and definitely more than you need going down hill (it would probably cut off when it sees regen is doing all the SOC maintenance needed and more).

Remember the price list & packaging will be different for the US. The US cars will have more standard features than in Europe so the price list there will be different. LED lights and navigation for instance are standard in the US. The trim levels are also different here as there are only three trims here compared to four in Europe.

Also Jay wrote the REx is “Manually activated when the vehicle is below 80%” and that’s not really clear. It is automatically activated at the pre-determined SOC level of 18%(according to the article and that sounds about right). However you can manually turn it off if you don’t want it to come on. Lets say you know you can make your destination on battery power but you’ll be arriving with less than 18% and you don’t want the REx to come on since you really don’t need it. You’ll be able to turn it off so that it just doesn’t come on at 18%. That is not a ‘sticky’ feature though and will reset if you turn the car off.

Perhaps the 80% manual setting is available in Europe though. I wasn’t thinking about that. It would be cool to have that in the US also, but I would be surprised if it’s so.

I think CARB will have something to say about the “80% manual setting” for the US to tell you the truth. Would be nice if they can you two options to have that equipped or not…but seems unlikely.

I could see it being like the Volt “Hold” mode so you could save the battery to avoid the taxes in urban centers.

I was confused by the wording of this as well. I would love to have the ability to turn it on/off at will below 80% SoC. Unfortunately, it’s also not clear to me whether the CARB wording of BEVx (or whatever class it’s in) would allow this function.

If CARB is going to raise a stink about it, is there any reason that BMW couldn’t just deactivate the “hold mode” feature only for cars sold in California and keep it for the other 49 states?

It is good that one doesn’t HAVE to have the RE on below 80% if on doesn’t want to.
Thx for clearing that up Tom M.

Looks like they are running this alot like mountain mode in the volt. In the Volt with MM engaged the ICE comes on a little early, leaving some kwh below the floor where the engine kicks on. This amounts to approx 13 miles of range in the batt which equates to approx 4 kwh.
20%SOC in the i3 is also around 4 kwh. So both cars are leaving approx the same buffer in the batt when the ICE kicks on.

Jay, any chance you will do an article on Smart ED’s price reduction? Thought it was big news yesterday but no one seems to report it.

It is interesting news on the rebate incentive

…and I’ve seen the story you are referencing, but I’m trying to get confirmation out of smart today that it actually is valid. Not seeing any direct representation of that deal via smart, and I called a deal and they have no clue. Will definitely have a story if it flushes out true

So . . . no answer to the long hill-climb question then?

Depends on how long the hill is and what speed you want.

Within the city, you should little problems. You can go up a 15% grade @ 40 mph for 6 or 7 miles.

Great find, Eric! This helps narrow it down a bit and removes done of the speculation.

All the comments above are just opinion since no one really knows, so I might as well add a few thoughts of my own. Since the REx is small it most likely doesn’t have the ability to replenish the battery fast enough in all driving situations. It can keep the battery at a steady SOC during a medium load such as freeway driving, and perhaps it can build the SOC under a light load such as low speed city traffic. Under heavy load such as high speed or mountainous terrain it likely can’t keep up. So if you knew you were going to be subjecting the vehicle to this type of driving you would want to manually turn on the REx at 80% to allow you to complete your trip. Ultimately if you continued to drive under these conditions, you’d still likely run the battery to low since the net effect of this type driving would be a decrease in SOC albeit at a slower rate using the REx. Perhaps in this situation you could continue to run the REx while parked while you could grab a bite to eat then be ready to continue your trip and hour or… Read more »

Ira, interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing. Please note that not everything is a matter of opinion. Some data is available now, even though BMW appears to be holding back a few details. Based on the weight of the vehicle, its Cd and frontal cross-section and the power rating of the REx, we can estimate how fast it will move up an incline. It looks like the REx could propel the i3 at about 70-75 mph on flat terrain. On a 6% grade, 25 kW of instantaneous power output should be enough for a steady speed of 45 mph. The i3 would probably not go very far on a 25% grade, which could be considered the maximum grade. The steepest grade on an interstate is at 7% the I-70 West of Denver. The steepest well-known city street is at 31.5% Filbert (between Hyde and Leavenworth) in San Francisco. As you know, all of the above assumes that the battery is critically low, and not available to provide any supplemental power. While not perfect, you can probably see that the REx will not pose an insurmountable limitation in real-world driving.

Lightweight design at its best: kerb weight (DIN) 1,195 kg. Weight is a key factor in the development of an electrically powered vehicle – as with battery capacity and energy consumption, it has a direct impact on how far the car can travel on a single charge. That is why a particularly sharp focus on intelligent lightweight design has been a key factor in achieving the greater driving pleasure, lower energy requirement and longer range of the BMW i3. The LifeDrive architecture developed specifically for BMW i models has created the perfect framework for purpose-built electrically powered car concepts. Here, the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) construction of the passenger cell (Life module) plays a central role. Such extensive use of this lightweight and crash-safe high-tech material is unique in volume car production. The principle of lightweight design also governs the aluminium Drive module and the connection between the two elements. The body structure – shaped by its LifeDrive architecture – enables the use of a trailing edge element made by glass-fibre-reinforced plastic injection moulding. And that contributes a 30 per cent weight saving compared with a conventional sheet steel solution. The direct connection between the power electronics and electric motor in… Read more »