2014 BMW i3 (German-market version), Amsterdam, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
BMW's first full-scale production electric car isn't a vehicle done by half measures.
It's uniquely styled, features high-tech carbon fiber reinforced plastic construction and the minimalist interior is awash with sustainable materials.
BMW thinks its customers might want to continue that sustainability through to the car's charging, so has teamed up with SolarCity to offer i3 drivers an affordable solar electricity service to power their vehicles.
i3 customers will receive a 10 percent discount on SolarCity's home solar offer, as part of BMW’s 360° Electric portfolio of EV-centric products and services. It means i3 owners could power their cars with clean solar energy cheaper than many regular utility tariffs.
As part of the package, i3 owners will be offered various flexible financing options, including packages with no upfront installation costs and 20 years of locked-in solar energy rates.
Solar charging is already popular with many electric vehicle owners, as a way of not only reducing energy costs, but also side-stepping the issues of charging electric vehicles on dirty electricity grids. SolarCity and BMW are hoping that the tempting new offers will encourage customers to make running their new electric cars even cleaner.
"This partnership makes the more sustainable fuel option—emissions-free solar electricity—also the more affordable one," explained SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.
BMW is already aiming to make the i3 one of the more accessible electric vehicles on the market. One option will allow owners to hire a brand new BMW when they need to take longer trips, mitigating any range worries the customer might have.
The i3 will also be available with a range-extending engine option. Starting at $46,225, $3,850 more than the standard car, the range-extended i3 slots a 650cc twin-cylinder engine into the rear compartment for an extra 80 miles or range.
Unlike the range-extended Chevy Volt the i3 REx isn't intended as an every-day solution for driving longer distances--but could prove a compelling "insurance policy" for customers worried about occasional longer trips.
Would you opt for BMW and SolarCity's solar charging package? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.