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Old 06-11-2015, 05:57 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Milton Keynes, UK
Posts: 15
Default How far without recharging an i3REX?

I have had my i3 with range extender engine for 16 days. We did 1,200 miles in the first 12 days of ownership and 1,000 of them were on a holiday in Northumberland.

On the second day of ownership we needed to find out whether the i3REX would be any good for a holiday in Northumbria where charging points might not be available when needed. We did a trail run to see relatives on a 190 mile trip on the M1 and M6 from Milton Keynes to Cannock. We ran on battery for the first bar of battery and then switched on the REX while using EcoPro mode. On the way home, we stopped at the service area near Coventry to fill up with fuel as the tank was empty. We drove 50 or so miles home on battery and did not use any petrol. So the 190 mile trip had been completed on one full charge and one tank of fuel. We were therefore content to take it on a long run as far as Edinburgh 3 days later as the petrol engine really does hold the battery charge state but only if driven carefully if you want to go a very long way. You do use battery below 12 mph - as in the traffic jam round Newcastle and when in car parks or as you set off after filling with fuel and sometimes forget to switch the engine on [set up on button 8] or when you need battery to go a few miles to the next petrol station. We were fortunate that we hardly needed the aircon or heater for the whole Northumbria trip and they would help take more out of the battery than you could put in with the engine. We also typically kept to 56 mph on a 60 mph road and 60-64 on a 70 mph motorway in EcoPro+ mode.

The journey home from Northumbria was much longer than anticipated and was 400 miles. We set off at about 09.30 hrs on the Saturday and drove 10 miles to Berwick-on-Tweed; then Coldstream; Kelso; Longtown; Carlisle; M6 to Penrith; Keswick to see relatives; Penrith; M6 south and then the fun started as the information signs and radio said the M6 was closed north of Stafford with huge traffic jams. It was a very serious accident. We decided to use the motorway round Manchester and then over the Pennines on the M62 motorway to Leeds [further north than we had been at Manchester] to reach the M1. We got home at 11.30 pm but the telling thing is that I was still feeling OK and would have been content to go further. The i3 is far better than our previous car, a Golf 1.4 TSi Match DSG for not making me feel tired.

So what is the difference between using a BMW i3 and an ordinary car on a 400 mile journey in one day? You have to top up with petrol every 70-100 miles as it only has about a 10 litre/2 gal. tank. We averaged 54 mpg on the way up north but on the journey across the hills from Berwick to Carlisle with a serious headwind of up to 40/50 mph, we were probably down to 40 mpg. We could have completed the whole 1,000 mile trip without a charge as when we arrived in the Holy Island area at the start of the holiday, we still had well over 50% battery capacity left.

To sum it up: if your average power requirement on a journey is over 34 bhp [or the maximum charge the little engine can produce], you will use battery power that can't be replaced by the car and it will eventually need a proper charging point. You get a free charge coming down a hill as the motor acts as a generator when you take your foot off the throttle and this took place far more often than I had expected. You actually rarely touch the brake pedal in normal driving.

The boot held a lot more than we expected as you can lock the back seat in a vertical position and that gives a more useable space but it is no good for any rear passengers; however, it is ideal when there are only the two of us. It looks like the boot ends where the carpet finishes but that is not so: if you take the rear shelf out you can see that most of the plastic trim on the floor by the tailgate is inside the boot area to be used for luggage and the eyelets for tying down a load are also in the plastic trim. This means that the boot is much bigger than it looks. The seats are superbly supportive and comfy and you have a good view out. It is a nice place to travel in and the electric motor is virtually silent and the little petrol engine is not a noise problem even for the rear seat passengers we had on our day out from near Berwick to Edinburgh.

The not so good:
1.The car is too sensitive to strong crosswinds. This is not helped because the steering rack is very "quick' with very few turns from lock to lock but in addition the car is not one with a great deal of "stability" for going straight. It is therefore "nervous" and "twitchy" at times. It is the opposite of my Citroen GS and GSA. It is not a disaster area though and without the strong wind [that plagued our journey to Keswick] it is acceptable most of the time.
2. The front end is a bit bouncy at times on poor road surfaces.
3. The front suspension generates too much tyre noise on a very coarse surface [the rear is quite quiet]. The good thing is the frequency is not one that causes us distress as was the case with the Golf we had previously owned.
I suppose from points 1-3 that the front suspension is the i3's weak point.
4. The printed manual for the car is badly written and presented. The iPad version is better so far as English is concerned and slightly more appealing/clear in its layout but lacking information. For such a complex car, this is a serious matter.

Charging: we took the car to a rapid charger at Seahouses about 13 miles south of where we were staying in Northumbria and it was free to use. It charged to 80+% rapidly and then slowed down the rate of charge. We got the bulk of the charge in 12 mins [started at 56% battery capacity]. They really are rapid chargers. The benefit of the charge was that I could reset the petrol motor switch on point to 74% again. Each time you switch off and then start again, you loose the switch off point and it goes to a new point that is always a very slightly lower % of battery charge. On the way to Keswick, we tried the Rapid DC charger at Coldstream. It was supplied by a company that we did not get an activation swipe card for [as that company's battery chargers are mainly in NE] but I did download the app to use it but there was no more than a basic phone signal - it all failed. You could phone up the company to use the charger but it was a Saturday and nobody answered. We went on to Hawick, spotted the charger but the car park it was in had been taken over by a fairground and you could not get to the charger. The charger on the M6 south between Carlisle and Penrith worked well and was issuing free electric fuel while we had lunch. So, two charges completed on the 1,000 mile trip but not really needed. For the last 30 miles of our journey home, I used just battery. All I can say is that anyone who orders a purely battery car in the UK and wants to do a long trip is likely to have problems. The charging infrastructure is not there in sufficent places or working or accessible.

I had been using EcoPro+ mode on the holiday but on the last 2 miles before home I went to normal Comfort mode and it was like having doubled the size of the engine! 170 bhp and about the same lbft from zero revs is very, very responsive.

So, the conclusion is that the car is OK but certainly not perfect and a lot nicer and more interesting than the Golf was.

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