Ronen Kleiman has been fighting with BMW for quite a while. The video above is from 2017. He leased his i3 in 2014. In 2020, he is still asking Canadian courts to condemn the German automaker not only for having promised him and other clients a 200-km range on the EV. He is suing BMW for editing its website to present a more realistic top range of 160 km, which would be false advertising, in Kleiman's point of view.
Let Kleiman tell his story in his own words:
"I was the first owner of an i3 in Ontario, and possibly Canada. I reserved the vehicle from BMW Toronto in January of 2014 and received it in June 2014."
The honeymoon was short.
"Within a month of taking possession of the car, I realized I couldn't get anywhere near 200 km. In the city, at most, I was getting 130 km. I took a trip that was exactly 159 km from my house. It was July in Toronto and the temperature was 25ºC, sunny, with a gentle easterly wind. I was driving in Eco Pro+ mode without air conditioning, and radio with an empty car other than my wife and I. We pulled into the garage with the estimated distance remaining on the battery at 1 km."
Gallery: Why Has BMW Changed Its i3 Canadian Website After This Client Complained About Range?
That was when Kleiman started discussing range with BMW. And that was not the only issue.
"When I leased it, there was a litany of mistruths that were presented to me, and most of them can be chalked up to very poor communication from BMW Canada to the dealership. It was a brand new vehicle, and I can understand that they released it poorly. Things like saying the car came with run-flat tires and trying to sell me a $1,800 tire insurance for the all-season run-flats, which the car didn't have. It came with four summer tires, which I found out after a light dusting of snow and the car spinning out."
As you may imagine, Kleiman got interested in his new ride through BMW's website.
"When I leased the vehicle, it was advertised with the following ranges in the different driving modes:
Comfort: 160 km
Eco Pro: 180 km
Eco Pro+: 200 km."
You can confirm that with the help of the Wayback Machine. On January 4, 2014, when it made the first capture of the i3 page at the BMW Canada website, it was exactly like it was on November 8, 2014, the last page capture without changes to that information.
"Somewhere between November 28, 2014, and December 10, 2014, BMW updated their marketing material on the same web pages to the following:
Comfort: 130 km
Eco Pro: 160 km
Eco Pro+: 156 km (20 percent above Comfort Mode)."
Curiously, Kleiman says the BMW consultant that dealt with his case never adequately addressed the fact that he was never able to reach the 200 km range BMW advertised until December 3. At that time, the consultant said he "checked the website, and the range shows 130-160 km with a variance of 20 percent."
Kleiman got confused.
"I thought I was losing my mind. I searched far and wide, through all my paperwork and everything online and the only reference to the range was on the website. And it did say 160 km. I thought that I had made a mistake and accepted their claim that the top range was only 160 km."
Kleiman was forced to keep his Volvo around, but not without having issues such as getting stranded with his 3-year-old in November 2016 with a fully charged car showing a 150 km range. He could not get past 100 km.
"At this point, expressing my frustration to a friend, he mentioned the internet archives. I decided to do a little investigating and discovered that BMW changed the range specifications on the BMW i3 website.
When I found this out, I brought it to BMW's attention. They said they'd investigate it and took their time getting back to me. I pleaded with them to make this right in any way they could."
Kleiman says BMW did not accept any of the solutions he proposed.
"At the time, the 2017 i3 was being sold with a battery 50 percent larger than mine, which was also marketed as going up to 200 km on a full charge. I asked if they could put me in the 2017 version for the remaining 18 months of my lease. They said no. I asked if they could get me an ICE vehicle for the winter months in which I couldn't even get 100 km. They said no. I asked them if they could put the new 2017 i3 battery into my vehicle. They said no. The only thing they offered was a $5,000 credit towards the purchase or lease of a new BMW vehicle."
That was not the worst part.
"They also followed up with me telling me they could find no evidence that the car was ever marketed as having a 200 km top range. I was shocked and couldn't believe what was happening. I thought for sure when I told them what I had found in the archives they would take some responsibility. As they didn't and gaslighted me, they left me no choice but to litigate."
The i3 was Kleiman's first EV. Even so, he already knew about range differences in different conditions: in the city and on highways, as well as in warm and cold weather.
"Everything I read online at the time pointed to a range loss of roughly 20 percent to 30 percent in the winter for EVs in general. I took that into account so that the winter driving range in Eco Pro+ mode should have been in the 140 km to 160 km range. I was getting 80 km to 100 km. My issues were that, in the best-case scenario, it couldn't achieve what they claimed, and they admitted as much when they lowered the marketed range. They never made any claims as to winter range, and all I have to claim against them is the marketed top range."
Even if BMW had sold the car with the right numbers, Kleiman would probably still be disappointed.
"The winter driving, even based on their updated marketing specs, was still awful, as 20 percent to 30 percent of 160 km should have still gotten between 112 km to 128 km in Eco Pro+ – which it didn't. But what the winter range turned out to be in relation to what was marketed initially was a reduction of 60 percent: 200 km to 80 km."
Kleiman had the bad luck of hiring a paralegal that is now under investigation and other issues, such as having BMW throw out the case because of the limitations period. He now has filed an appeal to see if the Canadian justice addresses the central issue his case presents: BMW changing the information and denying it was ever different.
"I am suing them for the maximum allowed in Ontario small claims, which is $25,000. This number was calculated based on numerous factors. Effectively, I couldn't drive the car as required, needed to keep my ICE vehicle because of it, and they wouldn't take the car back or fix my issues with 18 months left on the lease ($18,000)."
Kleiman gave up on the i3.
"My lease was over in June 2018, and I returned the car with 16,000 km under the mileage I was allowed. This is because the car was parked for extended periods of time. I couldn't drive it in the winter as I needed to go 100 km to reach the only charging station on my way to a 178 km destination on a weekly basis."
Luckily, that does not mean he gave up on EVs.
"I purchased a Tesla Model 3 in September 2018. I can't say enough about it, and, in the winter, it has an approximate 5 to 10 percent reduction in range."
We have contacted BMW to hear its reason for changing the website. Was it related to Kleiman's complaint? Did other clients also ask the company for explanations on the smaller range? The company has not answered yet. We'll update this article as soon as it does.
It will probably be the same explanation it gave CBC back in 2017, but we hope it isn't. After all, it does not answer the main question: Why change the website if BMW really believes that range can be "significantly impacted by driver behavior?" Perhaps because the numbers were unattainable in the first place? Not the best way to promote EV adoption, BMW.