UK Buyers Prefer REx Version Of BMW i3 Over All-Electric

DEC 4 2015 BY MARK KANE 35

UK Extends Plug-In Car Grant Through February 2016

BMW i3 in UK

If we compare sales of the all-electric and range-extender versions of BMW i3 in the UK, we quickly notice that i3 REx is much more popular.

Through the end of second quarter of 2015, two REx were registered for every one non-REx version of the car.

At least at the current price point, British consumers are willing to pay more and be protected against situations when range might be insufficient.

Because REx is just a 25 kW ICE engine, performance with depleted battery are far from the potential of the 125 kW electric motor (normally powered from the battery). REx is mainly a tool for emergency situations and high ratio of REx sales shows us clearly that consumers have some concerns over range. In other words, a longer-range i3 (non-REx) could probably sell at higher levels than today’s i3 BEV.

In total, nearly 2,500 i3s were registered through the end of June 2015 – 1,579 i3 REx and 905 non-REx.

Source: How Many Left?

Categories: BMW, Sales

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35 Comments on "UK Buyers Prefer REx Version Of BMW i3 Over All-Electric"

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If they pay that little bit extra they will get the Model S 70 and free charging for LIFE.

I totally agree. Why people don’t pay another 10% and buy Tesla S 70? I think they are just unaware, uneducated about Tesla.

Or because they want to buy a BMW. You know, to say they own a BMW.

Or maybe i3 owners don’t want or need to drive a large, heavy, inefficient (relative to the i3) car. Different strokes for different folks.

Hmm… I don’t know about in the UK, but $30,000 is not ‘a little bit extra’. I got my REx for $48,000 optioned pretty well – a Model S starts at $71,200 at the absolute minimum. Add on options to get a car you actually want and you are around $80,000.


Is the 70D priced drastically less or the i3 drastically more in the UK?

In the states a 70D is roughly DOUBLE the cost of an i3, hardly a “little bit extra”.

UK base price including VAT at 20% and after deducting £5000 grant:

BMW i3 £25,980 (REX option is £3,150).

Tesla Model S 70D £54,500

Note that the BMW UK website says prices are stated before deducting the £5000 grant whereas the Tesla website says prices are quoted after deducting the grant.

– 78kEUR ist more than twice as much as 35kEUR! (prices from the German websites without any options, I even disable the “D” on the Tesla website)
– You’re not allowed to use that “free” SC charging like for driving to work -> only for far distances.
– There’s a BMW guarranty that for a certain time (IIRC 5 years/100Mm whatever is reached first) the battery capacity doesn’t decrease below 70% of the original value.


Imagine how much better sales would be if the i3 REx was a fully functional PHEV, instead of a BEV with an inadequate, under-powered, two-cylinder scooter engine bolted on as an afterthought!

Considering how well the i3 performs as a BEV — it’s more energy-efficient per mile than any other production four-seater, highway-capable BEV — and how poorly the crippled “range extender” functions*, I’m amazed that the REx version outsells the straight BEV version.

I guess this just goes to show how important range anxiety is to car buyers who seriously consider buying an EV.

*The European PHEV version isn’t as crippled as the American version, but it’s still powered by that inadequate two-cylinder scooter engine.

A little bit of basic maths might illuminate the situation:

1 hour driving at 60mph (not a bad average speed for the UK’s congested motorways)

Distance travelled: 60 miles

Power consumed: 15kWh (assuming efficiency of 250Wh/mile)

Power generated by the range extender: 25kWh

In other words, there is nothing wrong with the range extender, provided you have a sufficient charge in the battery and the software isn’t crippled deliberately like in the US.

The real problem with the range extender is the small fuel tank, not the engine’s power output.

No, it’s not just the tiny gas tank, james. It’s basic physics. A car at 55 MPH spends about half its power (and energy) just fighting air resistance. You can’t put in a wholly inadequate engine and expect the car to maintain a high speed on the highway. It’s simply impossible. Real-world testing shows that the i3’s top speed drops from 93 MPH to 70 MPH (maintained speed, not momentary or “passing speed”) when using the “range extender”. See here:

Of course, one could argue that 70 MPH should be sufficient speed for anyone, so for those truly dedicated to the “green” cause, a limit of 70 MPH may be perfectly acceptable. But that’s on flat ground; climbing hills or, heaven forbid, mountains, the situation gets far worse. According to one report, the car dropped to a speed of 25 MPH.

Amazingly enough, physics works in the UK just like everywhere else.

It’s basic physics, but only for the very rare circumstances where you run short of battery power. Your discussion of the REX as an alternate primary power source misses it’s purpose and likelihood of use.

For 99% of trips, drivers won’t be limited to 25kW or 70mph top speed because they’ll be running on the mostly charged batteries that they charged overnight or at the office or at the store while they were shopping.

Indeed, plus the underlying point of my post is that the ham-stringing of the REX version in the US is madness (and leads to people climbing mountain roads at 25mph).

BTW @Pushmi-Pullyu the national speed limit in the UK is 70mph and even if you forget that and just drive however you want, traffic conditions will likely keep you below 70 for all but short spurts, like it or no. Now if you’re complaining about not being able to blast down a deserted US road, miles from anywhere, at over 100mph, you bought the wrong car IMHO.

Physics actually works slightly better in the UK than in other places because Isaac Newton was from here.
What concerns me is that the government plug-in grant is going to be drastically reduced from March 2016 (I think that’s right). So does that mean lower EV sales in the UK next year?

Yes, and this is why I would be much more interested to see the comparative sales figures for i3 hybrid Vs not in 3 years time – after initial buyers are trading in their first i3 – and after they have had 3 years of experience driving it – and maybe wondering why they paid extra for the range extender when they have hardly ever used it. MW

“air resistance”

Known as drag in the physics world.

@Pushmi-Pullyu the range extender isn’t “wholly inadequate” it just has to be used properly, i.e. not left off until the battery is almost completely empty! Simply tying the navigation system into the vehicle management software would sort this out for 99% of cases.

Do you really need to post this ignorance on every single i3 article?

Unless instead of the standard “range anxiety” there is still a genuine “range lack”. You may get around with a car that doesn’t have airco but it really help when you need it; likewise you may have enough with 100 miles but if you have to do 400 a rex is really needed. But it is true that the rex should be able to start from the beginning and have a proper 10 gallon tank. In that way, if you know you have a long drive, you start the rex immediately so that the low power moment comes much latter in the trip and even likely not at all. The rex could also be much much more compact by using a free piston generator or a turbine instead.

I predicted this from day one. In fact, I’m surprised it isn’t more like 90% Rex and 10% BEV. The range of the BEV version just isn’t adequate, especially in areas where there are no CCS chargers. Considering the price of the car, an extra $3,800 is a no brainer for eliminating range anxiety. Now, if they can give us a BEV version with 150 miles or more, then the Rex may be less important.

“The range of the BEV version just isn’t adequate”

For some, it is more than adequate. I bought an i3 BEV. My commute to work is 15 miles round trip. Even for lots of weekend errands, the i3 is fine for me. I wanted the slightly better range, slightly better handling, and much simpler battery-only drivetrain.

I can rent or swap cars with a friend for road trips…

The BEV version also has a heat pump.

To clarify, both BEV and REx have a heat pump for cabin cooling, but only the BEV uses its heat pump for cabin heating. Both have resistance heaters for cabin heating, but the BEV uses its resistance heater only in weather so cold that its heat pump cannot maintain the set cabin temperature. The REx must use its resistance heater for all cabin heating, but the greater range loss isn’t as problematic because of its REx.

UK is close to get full CSS coverage next year.

For those of us who don’t want the added complexity, inefficiency, and maintenance of the REx and whose range needs are satisfied by the BEV, why would we pay extra for the REx?

Yes for such a low extra cost I would even like one in the Model S 90. 3800 $ is less than the D option and with the rex I don’t have to stop on a 400 miles freeway trip at 80 mph.

Considering the fairly advanced charging infrastructure in the UK this is really puzzling.

It’s not puzzling. The UK dealers are pushing for REX sales as they then get to make more money on servicing.

It makes me wonder how many years it will be before consumers start to realize that they’re getting ripped off, once CCS chargers are everywhere.

Personally, I want to *make* the day when gas isn’t needed for anything. It’s why I don’t drive a REX or a plug-in hybrid or a Volt.

That probably explains why i3 REx’s are sold on Oahu where a BEV can travel round-trip to almost anywhere on the island without needing to recharge.

I had trouble finding a new i3 in Honolulu without the heated seat option! I suppose a higher MSRP means a bit more profit for the dealer.

The dealers are probably doing a good job at pushing the REx, but I also think there is an other important factor: if you want a BEV, there are a lot of other options, both cheaper and more expensive. If you want a REx however, choices are very limited: the i3. So people looking for that kind of car automatically end up with an i3, people who are looking for a BEV will almost certainly cross shop.


Oops, not in the UK.

Exactly. And the Volt is not a BEVx, it’s a EREV, with about half the all-electric range, so that’s a big factor as well.