Why A 2015 BMW i3 REx Replaced My 2013 Chevy Volt: Electric-Car Evolution

The car most comparable to the first Chevrolet Volt is the current BMW i3 fitted with the optional REx range-extending engine.

Both cars run entirely in electric mode until their battery packs are depleted, unlike other plug-in hybrids which switch on their engines under maximum power demand.

But few drivers can say they've owned and driven both--and one who can has contributed his thoughts and comparisons to Green Car Reports.

DON'T MISS: BMW i3 Electric Car: Why California Set Range Requirements, Engine Limits

The following article covers three years with a 2013 Chevrolet Volt and a bit more than a month with a 2015 BMW i3 REx.

It was written by Jeff Pantukhoff, of San Clemente, California, and (lightly) edited by Green Car Reports for length and clarity.

Jeff covers his decision process, his goal of avoiding travel on fossil fuels, and his long-distance trip to get his car home from the dealer where he bought it.

And he compares his new BMW i3 REx to his previous Chevy Volt for his personal uses. He writes ...

2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

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I absolutely loved my 2013 Volt; it was the best car I had ever owned to this point. It had a sticker price of $44,120 and I leased it  for $405/month, with $800 down, including tax and a lease-protection plan, from a dealer 75 miles from my home in Southern California. The lease gave me 10,000 miles per year.

While shopping, I called seven Chevy dealers with lease ads in all. Only one at that time would actually deal with me on the phone, and that dealer gave me the best deal available at the time for a fully loaded Volt.

In the three years that I owned my Volt, I drove a total of 19,054 miles, experienced no warranty issues, had three recalls costing me zero dollars, and did one oil change and two tire rotations, totaling $86.33 for maintenance.

ALSO SEE: 2017 BMW i3 Electric Car: 100- To 110-Mile Range, Battery Pack Retrofit?

And I burned just 117.6 gallons of fuel. I have the great benefit of free recharging in my garage, as that electricity use is included in my monthly homeowner-association fee.

My previous car had been a 2000 Volkswagen Passat that averaged 20 mpg, so over my three-year Volt lease, I burned 835.7 fewer gallons and saved approximately $2,925 in fuel costs (based on an average of  $3.50 per gallon).

 2000 Volkswagen Passat

2000 Volkswagen Passat

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My Passat averaged $1,250 per year in maintenance and repairs, totaling $3,750. Netting out the $1,500 rebate I received from California for the Volt, my lease actually cost about $180 per month--to drive a brand-new, fully warranted $44,120 electric car for three years instead of my 2000 Passat. That made it quite the bargain!


At the time I leased it, it was the best alternative, as I could not afford a Tesla Model S and I had to drive more than 80 miles a day a few times a month. I didn't want to deal with the anxiety of an electric car with less than 100 miles of range.

Overall, my Volt was a pure joy to drive. I always drove it in “L” and the majority of the time in “Sport” mode.

According to the Volt’s stats, my car averaged 150 mpg and I drove solely on electricity more than 75 percent of the time. The funny thing is that every time the gas generator kicked in and I started to burn fossil fuel, I felt really guilty.

MORE: 2014 BMW i3 REx Vs Chevy Volt: Range-Extended Electric Cars Compared

Over the last year I’ve been trying to decide what I would do once my Volt lease was up.

Buying it as a used car was out of the question for two reasons. The residual was way too high (at $27,628) and electric-car technology is changing too fast.

As an early adopter, I evaluated all alternatives and decided that a two-year lease, if I could find one cheap enough to offset the loss of the California rebate (which requires a higher minimum), was all I wanted to do

(Note: When I leased my i3 in October, BMW offered only 24- or 36-month leases. Now it offers 30-month leases too, which qualify for the California rebate of $2,500 for an all-electric i3 and $1,500 for an i3 REx.)

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