To date, we've not come across as scathing a BMW i3 review as this one from the editorial team at AutoWeek.
The review opens with what seems to be a positive statement:
"BMW’s entry-level electric car offers a possible glimpse of the future."
But then, all hell breaks loose - factually incorrect statements (at least according to our understanding) attributed directly to AutoWeek:
Associate Editor Graham Kozak:
"Driving? Well, yeah, you can drive it, although you get the feeling that it’d be better for you and the planet to simply buy it and let it sit there. Certainly, there’s nothing about this package that makes you want to hop in and turn the key."
"While the batteries have juice, you’re treated to the typical electric car smoothness; effortless launches are followed by serene cruising. It’s all ruined when the range-extender kicks in. You ever see that photo of a Toyota Prius with a gas generator strapped to the back? Yeah, that’s what this setup feels like. It’s inelegant, and it doesn’t seem to supply the car with adequate power for non-city driving."
"Unlike Tesla’s offerings, the supposedly hyper-efficient i3 doesn’t have the guts to be all-electric. We’ve driven Chevrolet Spark EVs that have double the range. Trying to be all things to all people, the i3 ends up being a total drag to drive in range-extender mode -- for the few miles you can actually drive in range-extender mode before stopping for gas."
2016 Chevrolet Volt
Associate Editor Jake Lingeman:
"Get a Chevrolet Volt. That’s my advice after driving the BMW i3 for a night. I got in the car, after it was charging for three hours, and it only had 5 miles of range, along with 20 more from the gas tank. Twenty! A full gas tank will only get you 47 miles, add that to the battery range and you get about 30 more."
"You could use this car like a golf cart at a retirement community maybe, though I’m not sure how many sets of clubs you can fit in that cargo area."
Both of the Associate Editors listed above are Detroiters, not a city known for electric car adoption (though the Chevy Volt sells well in the Metro-Detroit area).
West Coast Editor Mark Vaugh:
"While my colleagues in Detroit drove the i3 with range extender, out here in LA, I had the pure electric version, battery power only."
"Despite its super-goofy exterior and ultra-eager lift-throttle regenerative braking, I really liked this thing."
"I like the i3, but I like all electric cars. I think EVs can form an important part of a more efficient transportation network, especially in cities and in developing countries like China and India, once those countries get cleaner power grids."
Digital Editor Andrew Stoy:
"Always-entertaining electric-car torque is there in spades, and unlike some other editors, I didn’t find the two-cylinder range extender particularly obtrusive when it kicked in. If anything, the i3 is notable for its smooth, stable driving dynamics and a far quieter interior than that found on most of the tinny EVs on the market."
"This is strictly a city car, though: BMW advertises up to 150 miles of total range, but you really want to be in EV mode to enjoy the driving at all. Thing is, that juice gets used up quickly if expressway driving is part of your routine, and the gasoline in the tiny 2-gallon range extender tank would be gone in a hurry too. Keep it in town for 30-40 miles of driving per day and it would be perfectly at home."
Sadly, the AutoWeek review of the BMW i3 sort of sums up the regional differences in the U.S. As a Detroiter myself, electric car spottings are few and far between (again aside from the Chevy Volt). Furthermore, the general consensus among the public here is that electric cars really have no place in the automotive industry. It's unfortunate, but true.
So, are we to fault AutoWeek for going along with what's expected to come from a Detroit automotive magazine? Absolutely. Journalists should be held to a higher standard and must be held responsible for their reporting.