2014 BMW i3 (German-market version), Amsterdam, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
It's clearly the week for news about the new and distinctive 2014 BMW i3 electric car.
Yesterday, as the first cars arrived at dealers, we learned that it was rated at 81 miles of range (less than a 2014 Nissan Leaf's 84 miles), but operates at an unparalleled efficiency of 124 MPGe.
Window sticker from 2014 BMW i3 battery-electric car, showing EPA ratings [photo: Tom Moloughney]Enlarge Photo
Then, late last night, we found that California buyers who ponied up for the range-extended option--the car known as the BMW i3 REx--will receive the same $2,500 purchase rebate from the state as if they'd bought the battery-electric version.
That makes the 2014 i3 REx the first-ever battery-operated car with a combustion engine to qualify as an electric car under California's guidelines.
All other cars that fall into that category, including the Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi models, Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, and others receive only a $1,500 rebate.
The difference is due to the design of the BMW i3's range-extending option, which has been engineered to make the range-extended model the first-ever "BEVx" under state law.
Basically, it's a battery-electric car with a range extender that's strictly limited, and only used under certain conditions.
Among other criteria, the California rules define a BEVx by requiring that:
2014 BMW i3, 2013 Frankfurt Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
While we still don't know the electric or gasoline ranges or efficiency ratings for the BMW i3 REx--it's heavier, so they'll likely be lower than the battery-only version--California is apparently satisfied that it meets all the requirements above.
While the first BMW i3 delivery is likely to be today, the range-extended models won't arrive in the U.S. for many more weeks.
And when they do, California buyers can apply for their $2,500 rebates, but they'll join a waiting list and won't get their checks until September.
If, that is, there are sufficient funds left--or more are allocated.