Meet Born Electric BMW i3 Owner Scott From California

3 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 6

Scott Fast Charging His BMW i3

Scott Fast Charging His BMW i3

Hi, my name is Scott Lawson and I was Born Electric on August 11, 2014.

I confess: I am not a ‘car guy’. For me, cars are dirty explosion factories full of toxic liquids and endless grime. Oil changes, frequent fill ups, dusty air filters, and a noisy engine seemed to be an unnecessary evil. If I was to get an EV, I wanted it to be 100% electric, no engine, no gas, no oil, no going back! At times, I have even thought that if I lived in the city I would outsource my transportation to taxis, buses, and trains. But living in the so-called mega-city of SoCal (from San Diego to Santa Barbara) with inadequate public transportation options, a car is required. And since I am confessing, I should say I love traveling fast and zipping around in a driver’s car. Over the years BMWs have fit my needs well but were still powered by gas. I considered the LEAF for a fleeting moment and the Tesla Model S seemed like a car for executives or super models! And costs twice as much as any car I have ever owned.

My i3 in the mountains

My i3 in the mountains

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

BMW decided several years ago to create the BMW “i” sub brand and delve into creating a new kind of transport which they call ‘sustainable mobility’. More than just making an electric car, BMW is looking to change how personal transportation is defined. When the i3 hit the market I was excited to learn more; and the more I learned, the more I felt one with the design principles and philosophy. I am a system architect and strive to make technology useful to people and efficient for business. As I discovered more about the BMW i project and their first product, the all electric i3, I appreciated the innovative use of technology both in the machine and for the consumer.

At the San Antonio dam

At the San Antonio dam

The i3 driving machine’s body is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) including fibers from the Kenaf plant (Hibiscus cannabinus), a form of hemp, for the interior. The manufacturing of the car is computer-controlled and ultra clean using robots, clean rooms, heat-activated glue welds, an all aluminum body, and powered by wind and hydroelectric power. As I read how BMW designed the car as ‘electric first’, I appreciated the lack of a large front hood, the use of tall skinny tires for less rolling resistance, that the ultra-light CFRP and aluminum construction allowed more efficient range. The opposing doors are possible because of the structural integrity of the material and the short overhangs on the front and rear help parking the car in a busy city. All of this adds us to a futuristic design not only in looks but in function. All of the thought that was put into the sustainability and design impressed me even before the first torque-filled test drive.

BMW i3 Display and Google Glass

BMW i3 Display and Google Glass

As an explorer of new technology I was impressed with the consumer technology built into the car. Integrated sensors and computers help in safety and convenience from the door locks to the theft protection to active cruise control to the integration with internet applications. The maps not only have traffic, but charging stations, mass transit stations and other points of interest. The i3 can listen to you with voice commands and read news and social media updates. The iDrive controller even has one-finger handwriting recognition so you can spell destinations or peoples names. The 20 GB music storage is fast and you can even play video from a directly connected USB drive (while parked, of course!). All of this adds up to the i3 being more than just the ultimate driving machine and turns it into the ultimate transportation machine. I feel it can transport me in time by delivering information to keep me efficiently connected to my social circle and work activities.

Up at Mt. Baldy

Up at Mt. Baldy

This is a new way of thinking. Just as cloud computing and mobile have changed the way we think about file storage, applications, installing software, and upgrades, the i3 alters the way we think about driving. It is something you have to not only experience, but something you have to work with and adapt to. It is a new way of driving. The “one pedal” experience is awkward at first, almost annoying, until you get the feel of it and think about electric propulsion. Driving one pedal is the best way to accelerate and decelerate and you begin to think about gliding to a stop and working with the force of the car. Your right foot is always active but never leaves the main accelerator pedal.

Scott's BMW i3

Scott’s BMW i3

You have to change your thinking about “fuel” and trip planning. You can charge in your garage with a ‘level 2’ 240v charging station. While it relieves you of having to get gas, you do have to remember to plug the car in when you get home. This behavior is becoming familiar as many, if not all, i3 owners will have some form of mobile phone or mobile device that they plug in everyday. When it comes to trip planning, that requires a deeper shift in thinking. With an EV you just cannot ignore this aspect. Most technological shifts require new modes: you have to plan to record your show if you want to watch without commercials, you have to sync your laptop files if you want to work on them while on a flight, you have to schedule a PC virus check at night to avoid malware. Going on a trip up a mountain in the i3, you need to plan to see if there are charging stations, what kind they are (to make sure you are able to charge on them), and to figure the most efficient path there. The i3 itself helps with this by warning you on your state of charge (SOC) and showing you charging locations near you. But with only 25 miles of range to every 1 hour of charge, this is a slow process. More ‘level 3’ charging stations (also called DC Fast Charge) are coming and the i3 can be configured to use them to get charged up in 20-30 minutes. Unfortunately only in some places in the world today have a large enough concentration of DCFC stations to make longer trip travel carefree.

Cooling off in the shade for a bit

Cooling off in the shade for a bit

To get the most out of the i3, subtle shifts in thinking make all the difference. To save your potential range you can pre-condition the cabin for comfort while it is plugged in. To save on electricity you can set it to charge when your electricity rate is low. To more easily find your destination you can search online at your desk and send the address to the car via the internet. How you navigate these subtle shifts in thinking is the key to success in the modern EV world.

Scott's BMW i3

Scott’s BMW i3

The i3 has taught me that driving an EV is not just changing how your vehicle is powered. It requires that you accept a new type of mobility and adjust how you approach your car. Many people will say an internet news site is just an electronic newspaper or that Google is just an electronic yellow pages, or that cloud file storage is just a “hard drive in the sky”. All of these ways of thinking miss the point that new paradigms like the i3 are a leap into something new. James May of Top Gear recently wrote this about the i3: “Being a car is just one of its apps”. A famous petrolhead, he sees the paradigm shift, too. You have to challenge yourself and think different. And owning an i3 will help you do just that.


Tom Moloughney:

I’d like to thank Scott for sharing his i3 story here. One last thing I’d like to point out is that Scott created a BMW i3 Owners map. You can enter your location and add yourself to the map HERE. I’m going to do a dedicated post on this soon though because it was a great idea and something I think other i3 owners will enjoy.

Scott is the tenth Born Electric guest blogger I’ve featured here and I appreciate the time everyone has spent to tell the readers about their i3 experience. Previous Born Electric posts can be found at this link.

If you own an i3 and would like to participate here in the Born Electric guest blogger series, email me at:

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6 responses to "Meet Born Electric BMW i3 Owner Scott From California"

  1. This concept of “Unfortunately only in some places in the world today have a large enough concentration of DCFC stations to make longer trip travel carefree” gets glossed over a bunch in the BMW world.

    Since there have been numerous instances of confusion about DC quick charging, let’s flush that one out. The i3 uses only one specific type of DC quick charging, of which there are about two dozen IN THE ENTIRE USA. It is called by many names, so I’ll list them all:


    It is specifically not compatible with the similarly named chargers in Europe, called CCS – Combo2, that BMW i3 cars use.

    In Japan, BMW i3 cars have CHAdeMO for DC quick charging.

    BMW itself referred to their car’s DC quick charging as “Supercharging”, when it clearly cannot. That is for Tesla only. At least several BMW dealers have sent i3 owners to CHAdeMO and Tesla Supercharger stations, which obviously don’t work.

    CCS Combo1 (GM / SAE) car can’t plug into a CCS Combo2 (Germans) station.

    Here is a synopsis of USA Quick Charge data, sometimes colloquially referred to as “L3”:

    1. SAE CCS Combo1 – approximately 20 in the USA

    up to 100kW eventually, probably limited to 62.5kW
    EVs compatible with Frankenplug include:

    *GM Spark EV – about a few hundred total
    *BMW i3 (just started shipping 2014)
    *VW eGolf (coming 2014)

    2. CHAdeMO – 3800 worldwide, 700 in the USA, adding about 1 per day

    up to 100kW eventually, currently limited to 62.5kW
    EVs compatible with CHAdeMO include:

    *Nissan LEAF – over 60,000 in the USA and over 140,000 worldwide
    *Nissan e-NV200 (coming 2014)
    *Nissan e-NT400 (coming 2015)
    *Citroen C-Zero – not sold in USA
    *Mitsubishi i-MiEV – over 30,000 worldwide with its variants C-Zero & iON
    *Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (coming 2015)
    *Mitsubishi Fuso Canter truck
    *Peugeot iON – not sold in USA
    *Kia Soul EV (coming 2014)
    *ZERO motorcycles
    *Tesla except Roadster with adaptor

    3. Supercharger – over 100 stations in the USA, each with 4-8 stalls, growing fast

    up to 135kW eventually, currently limited to 120kW
    EVs compatible with Supercharger include:

    *Tesla only, except Roadster – well over 30,000 worldwide

    CHAdeMO protocol is, and has always been the most widely deployed DC fast charging protocol in the world, but it is now officially recognised as an international DC charging standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), a leading global organisation that publishes international standards for electric and electronic products and related technologies.

    CHAdeMO is among the 3 different systems that were approved to be international DC charging standards:

    CHAdeMO proposed by Japan (System A)

    GB/T by China (B)

    COMBO1 by the US and COMBO2 by Germany (C).

  2. Assaf says:

    “…driving an EV is not just changing how your vehicle is powered. It requires that you accept a new type of mobility and adjust how you approach your car.”

    Very wise words.

    Welcome to the electric world and insideevs, and thanks for sharing!

    1. Rob says:

      “…driving an EV is not just changing how your vehicle is powered. It requires that you accept a new type of mobility and adjust how you approach your car.”

      Yes, the new approach can be described as accepting your “limited range”

      1. Stimpacker says:

        If that is indeed true, then sorry, EV’s are not for the masses!

        Driving an EV should NOT require you to “accept a new type of mobility and adjust how you approach your car”. That’s PR talk for saying “it’s a hassle or a pain in the ass, just get used to it”.

        EV’s can only appeal to the masses when they get closer and closer to the experience of a regular ICE car. Until then, we the early adopters should be championing that, instead of the reverse.

        1) EV’s should have comparable range to ICE cars.
        2) EV’s should be recharged quickly (L3) and readily (lots of compatible stations).
        3) EV’s can be driven at freeway speeds with heat/AC turned on.

        Now we have a 3rd L3 standard to deal with.

  3. Wraithnot says:

    “. . .Tesla Model S seemed like a car for executives or super models! ”

    Maybe that’s how things are in so-cal, but in the Bay Area it seems like many Model S owners work in technology. I’ve heard there is an especially high concentration of Telsas in the parking lot of google. And at the 2013 Teslive conference the only person I met that could pass for a super model was Leilani Munter- but she is more of an environmental activist / professional race car driver / self proclaimed vegan hippie chick than a standard supermodel.

    As far as the i3 goes, I was pretty impressed with it and we’re considering getting one as a commuter/city car to complement our model S. But we’d get the non REx version for carpool lane reasons and until they put more CCS chargers in San Francisco, the range won’t work for a particular work related trip my wife needs to take once or twice a month. Too bad they didn’t offer a bigger battery size for the non REx version.

  4. ELROY says:

    I’m taking an 120 mile trip today in a new irex today. In eco-pro+ it says I can go 105 miles on battery. I will see if I can make the trip without resorting to using the range extender. So yes, it is frustrating I don’t have access to a combo charger in Santa Barbara today. But I don’t think I will need much L2 charging to make this trip complety off gas. I spoke with one NRG executive and two site roll out managers. EVGO Chademo stations are everywhere now. Most are already pre-wired for the combo charger. The reps said in two weeks the transformation will begin at the stations with the my city being one of the initial ones! No if only their rates weren’t so overpriced!