Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To REx or Not To REx, That is The Question

The concept i3 sitting pretty in Chicago recently during a commercial shoot

In just about two years from now, you will be able to walk into any BMW showroom and drive away with an i3 electric car. It will be the first electric car BMW sells. Shortly thereafter, you will be able to buy that same i3, but with a gasoline engine range extender that BMW is calling REx, as an option. BMW hasn't commented on the cost of the REx option, but it's likely to be at least a few thousand dollars.

While I've really become a pure BEV guy, I have to admit I'm interested in the REx feature. Especially if the gasoline engine is very efficient. I would want the car to achieve at least 40mpg in REx mode, and preferably closer to 50 in order to seriously consider it.

There are also other factors that will influence my interest in the REx option. First, and most importantly, the range of the BEV i3 without REx. I'm beginning to get a little concerned about this because everything I have ever heard about the i3 pointed to at least a100 mile range. Now, at the official unveiling of the concept i3 the press is reporting a 80 to 100 mile range. Hmm. Red flag alert. I don't know why BMW would give the i3 a range less than 100 miles since they purposely made the MINI-E and the ActiveE have 100 mile ranges. Why go backwards now? BMW is a premium brand and the i3 will be a premium car with a premium price tag. In the EV world, there is nothing more premium than a greater range than your competition. I just hope BMW was just underselling the i3, basically doing the exact opposite that Nissan did by promising a 100 mile range for the LEAF and then delivering a 75 mile EV. If they state 80 to 100 miles and most people get 90+ miles during normal driving conditions then that's fine, but if you need to hypermile to get over 85 miles than I think they made a huge mistake. I'm probably just getting worked up about nothing. The folks over at BMW seem to really get it. I don't think they would make this big of a mistake. I've had many meetings and discussions with various members of the EV division and they all say 100 miles is the sweet spot, so we'll see..

Another factor in deciding if I want the REx option will be how much longer after the BEV i3 is introduced will the REx option be available. If we're talking a matter of months and the i3 really only has an 80 mile real world range, than I'd have to really consider waiting for it. However if at the i3 launch BMW still hasn't announced an availability date for the REx, then I doubt I'd even consider it.

Finally, the cost. I think I'd be willing to pay $2000 to $3,000 for the REx option, but definitely not more. Actually what I'd really wish BMW would offer is a larger battery pack option. How about 5 more kWh for the same $2000 to $3000? If that were available all this discussion would be moot. I'd buy the bigger battery in a heartbeat. Five more kWh would increase the cars range by 25 to 30 miles and for me, that would make it perfect. A 110 to 130 mile range BEV would cover virtually 100% of my daily driving needs and would end the discussion for a gasoline range extender. Anybody over at BMW listening???

Thursday, September 15, 2011

BMW CEO: BMW i3 Will Cost Less Than a 5 Series

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer recently stated that the 2013 BMW i3 would cost less than a BMW 5 series sedan. While that may not be earth shattering news, it does give us a pretty good idea where the i3 will be positioned price wise. List price for a new 528i is currently about $45,000 so my thoughts that the i3 would be somewhere between the $35,000 price that Car & Driver recently reported the i3 would cost and the rumors that it would be in the low to mid 40's seem to be right on target.
At this point I'm going to guess a starting list price of $42,500. If you qualify for the $7,500 federal tax incentive (and if it's still there in 2013!) then you could drive away in your new i3 for around $35,000 to $38,000 depending on how well appointed you want it. I think that a pretty fair price for a car that has the kind of cutting edge technology the i3 is going to have.

Monday, September 5, 2011

BMW i3 Spotted in Chicago Filming a Commercial

It's only a short clip, but it's nice to see the concept i3 rolling down a street in Chicago. Although the concept has features like glass doors and roof, you can really see from this what the car will look like. On stage at the unveiling is one thing, but watching it drive on the street in the video gives a better sense of it's dimensions and shape. I can't wait until we see it in production trim!