Electric 2014 BMW i3 ReX Coming Dec, Lower Engine Power Confirmed

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BMW i3 electric car undergoing winter testing, February 2013

BMW i3 electric car undergoing winter testing, February 2013

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The ranks of dedicated electric cars--those designed from scratch as plug-in vehicles--are thin.

Come December, a fourth entry, the 2014 BMW i3, will join the three currently on the market (the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and Tesla Model S).

BMW officials confirmed last Thursday that the first i3 models would go on sale in the U.S. very late this year.

The initial batch of i3 models will all be fitted with the ReX range-extending two-cylinder engine, an option on the battery-electric BMW.

BMW executives also confirmed that the i3 will not be as powerful when operating on its ReX range-extending engine.

The sub-1-liter twin will double the i3's battery range of about 80 miles, using about 3 gallons of gasoline in the process--but the performance "will not be as agile" when operating on its gasoline range extender, said BMW CEO Ludwig Willisch.

In an interview published Thursday in trade journal Automotive News, Willisch said the i3 ReX would not have "full power when it runs on the combination" of battery and engine.

The electric motor of the i3 drives its rear wheels--giving the BMW electric car the promise of traditional "ultimate driving machine" handling and roadholding--and the tiny range extender actually fits next to it under the car's rear deck.

But the range extender only powers a generator to produce current that powers the traction motor; the little engine won't drive the wheels directly.

The production version of the 2014 BMW i3 will make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, with deliveries in Germany starting a few weeks later.

The i3 won't be available in volume at U.S. dealerships until the early part of 2014, BMW has said, but the latest news appears to indicate that at least a few units will be sold this December.

Neither prices nor range ratings for the i3, with or without the gasoline ReX range extender, have been released.

That likely won't happen until after the September unveiling.

But its now-confirmed arrival date means that in the three years starting in December 2010, the number of dedicated plug-in electric cars on the U.S. market will have gone from zero to four.


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Comments (14)
  1. The interesting thing will be whether the driver can choose when the range extender comes on.

    >"not have "full power when it runs on the combination" of battery and engine."

    If the driver is clever and knows how far they are going and turns the range extender on ahead of time then the car should have full performance for the whole journey in a lot of circumstances (not all).

    [Obviously they have to stop the owner from turning it on when the thing is fully charged to avoid the whole smoke and flames thing. ;-) ]

  2. I was thinking the same thing Dilbert. It would be nice to have some control of the REx. Hopefully, BMW will take a cue from the later Volts and add a REx button.

  3. I'm guessing since the first cars shipped will have the ReX option that it will cause a delay for those of us who will be buying an i3 without the generator : (

  4. "The sub-1-liter twin will double the i3's battery range of about 80 miles, using about 3 gallons of gasoline in the process"

    What is going on? First, it was a 120-150 miles EV. Then it is a 100 miles EV. Now, it is ONLY a 80 mile EV???

    On top of that, 80 miles of REx distance using 3 gallon of gas? That is a 27MPG...

  5. @Xiaolong: The 80 miles is a guess at EPA rated range, since BMW hasn't yet provided numbers. The 100 miles that was originally quoted was on the European test cycle, which produces higher range ratings than the U.S. cycle. Apologies for not spelling all this out in the piece.

  6. ok. I got it.

    Do you know any confirmation on battery size? If we know that, then we can probably make a pretty good guess on what the real range is. If it is 24KWh like the Leaf, it should be able to do 80-90 miles.

  7. Good article. I'm planning to get the REx version, and fully expected that this would mean a longer wait based on earlier reports. It's surprising to hear that this has been now reversed, and the REx trims will be delivered first. It would be even better if the BEV option was available at the same time, which was apparently a possibility not long ago. That said, I would estimate the EPA range to be between 91 and 94 miles on a full charge. About 10% more than the 2013 LEAF. I found some data on the range extender engine, which is manufactured under a BMW license by Kymco. This engine takes premium fuel, and the fuel economy of the C650GT scooter, where it originates from, is 50 mpg. I would expect a similar number from the REx.

  8. "fuel economy of the C650GT scooter, where it originates from, is 50 mpg. I would expect a similar number from the REx. "

    You expect the same engine to produce the same MPG with 3,100 lb body vs. the weight of a scooter?

    Does that even make any sense?

  9. Xiaolong, I have seen a number of what I would characterize as "combative" posts here on GCR. I'm not sure if this is your intention or not, but that's how I perceive them. Please not that I said "similar" and not "the same". Are you an engineer? Do you have an appreciation of what estimates and models mean?

    That said, I have posted enough data, which I believe is going to be relevant for the i3. Obviously, I don't have a crystal ball, but I think that this data gives us a good idea of what to expect.

    I would encourage you to go and find your own data, which supports the conclusions you have been voicing here so frequently. I think that would be more helpful than opining on every i3-related article.

  10. Define "similar" then. Is 40mpg similar to 50mpg? from the article, it appears to be approximately 80miles on 3 gallons. That is less than 30MPG. I wouldn't call that similar to 50mpg. Even at 94 miles number that you listed, and all the news have been claiming that gasoline range will be equal or less than its EV range. That would still equal to a 32 mpg number at best.

    I just would like to point out those information as it might be important to potential buyers.

    Many buyers claim that MPG is important in REx mode...

  11. There are more comments in this thread
  12. There is also the Ford Focus Electric. Granted it has been a low volume proposition, but is still another option. Especially since Ford is opening sales from 60 to 900 dealers nationwide and highly incentivizing the leases now.

  13. Just a guess (educated) but I would imagine an EPA range of 92 to 99 miles.

    However, the REX will kick in when the battery is depleated to the 20% level, thus an electric only range of 80 miles.
    75k in the Mini-E and ActiveE.

  14. Does anyone know if/how/when reservations will be accepted for the i3? I am already looking forward to replacing our 2011 LEAF which finishes it's lease in April 2014. Just about the time this i3 should be available in California (maybe sooner).

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