Why I love the i3, or… five great things about BEV

For those of you not familiar, BEV is not a lovely lady, but a Battery Electric Vehicle. I.e. an EV that is not a hybrid, but powered only by a rechargeable battery. I currently own a 2017 BMW i3 BEV, as opposed to BMW’s REX (range extender model) that uses a small gasoline engine to charge the battery. Not to be confused with a hybrid drivetrain – though BMW makes those too. It’s a highly biased personal choice, but I like my cars to be gas powered or battery powered. I like the simplicity, even though many have experienced bliss with hybrids. Me, I’m a purist.

On the flip side, I have zero complaints about the BMW i3,and I mean zero. This has been the most flawless vehicle experience I’ve ever had and I’ve owned nearly 100 cars in my life. A third of them have been BMWs, from primitive (e21) to space age (the i3). Complaints aside, in the most selfish way imaginable, the i3 would be the perfect car for me if it went 250 miles on a charge. But on a day to day that hasn’t been an issue. Having 240v charging at home – something we did when we bought our Smart EV, makes owning an i3 a much easier process.

I highly suggest investing in one of these, no matter what model EV you own. As early EV adopters here in the Portland, Oregon area, when we got our first Smart EV, no one had one, and we had the chargers to ourselves. Once the cars caught on, and there were more EVs silently lurking around town, it became more and more difficult to find a place to park and charge. Not to mention, people’s complete lack of ettiquite when doing so. Thinking of your EV as a closed loop vehicle, i.e. not depending on a mid-drive recharge will go a long way at putting a bigger smile on your face.

That laundry all aired, here’s my favorite things about the BMW i3 BEV:

It saves wear and tear on my gasoline powered BMWs. Sorry, as environmentally friendly as the i3 is, I bought the i3 to use primarily for short trips. Go to Home Depot (4.3 mi from my house), Go to Starbucks to get Pam a coffee (2.4 mi) Get IKEA stuff, (10.2 mi) go back to Home Depot because you got the wrong screws. And so forth.

We all know that short, stop and start driving not only produces the worst mileage in a gasoline powered vehicle, it also puts the most wear and tear on your car’s drivetrain. Now, when I get in one of my gasoline powered BMW’s it’s for a longer trip, where it can get fully up to temperature and stabilize, or for the sheer pleasure of driving. Like running my MRoadster’s S54 through the gears on a back road with the top down.

The quiet is really soothing.  Much of a gearhead as I am, there are times when the day is frantic, or additional concentration is required. The peaceful quiet and smoothness of the i3 is the perfect thing to bring the stress of the day down to a much more manageable level. Rush hour traffic, heading home from the airport after a long flight, or just having a few friends in the car, where you want to hear the conversation and still concentrate fully on driving, is something that is tough to do in a gas-powered car unless you have a 7 series. The i3 has the same level of quiet, and its electric power plant has a level of creamy smoothness that even the mighty V12 does not.

It’s perfect for “squirt and go” driving.  Portland is a very car unfriendly city. Between dodging the pedestrians and the bicylists that have zero respect for motor vehicles, you have to be able to start and stop on a post-it note, when negotiating down town PDX. The hesitation from a gas car, especially when in the ECO mode (where it shuts the engine off at a stop light) can be horribly frustrating. Thanks to the instant power of the i3, you can just put the pedal down and roll. Fantastic.

 I love the freedom from the gas pump and service visits.  Having a 240v charger at home means no more waiting in line at the gas station and the endless fiddling that requires. Considering that it usually takes about ten minutes to get in and out of a gas station, sometimes more, the i3 has given me back about a week of my life. Factoring in trips to the dealer for oil changes and other routine maintenance that are not a part of i3 ownership, I’ve probably saved another week or two. Should we decide to keep our i3, the cost savings in nearly zero maintenance and increased productivity would pay for the car and then some!

I love the futuristic component of the car. BMW has done a better job going from concept to production on the i3 than any car in recent history. As a car enthusiast, there’s nothing more disappointing that seeing the super cool concept car at your favorite auto show, only to face a major let down when seeing what the bean counters have done to neuter the design. It takes no more than a quick trip to BMW’s museum in Munich to see just how true to form the i3 is.

I wasn’t expecting the semi clear doors to make the grade, but I wasn’t expecting the carbon fiber roof either, so that was a great surprise. Combining this with the level of sustainability of the manufacturing involving the i3, increases the cool factor tremendously.

How many new cars have you owned that all you’ve done is put air in the tires for three years? That’s been our experience with the i3. Battery life and charge times have been all up to par, and even here in the Pacific Northwest where it gets a bit cold, the car has never gone less than 100 miles on a charge. Driving in a more gingerly mode when outside temperatures are above 50 degrees F, yields 125 to a record high of 142 miles. But seriously, don’t try that at home. Our range anxiety was off the chart for the last 20 minutes, and running the battery all the way down to zero isn’t the best for battery longevity either.

The design of the car inside and out polarizes. You either love it or hate it. I’ve been in the love category since I saw the prototype. Not only has the i3 been one of my favorite BMWs, it’s been one of my favorite cars, period. And every one of my car guy friends that has driven it (no matter how much they tease me before taking it for a spin) comes back with a smile on their face.

Because of the range, and the style, the i3 is not the everyday car for every driver. But then nothing is. It’s not a blast driving an M4 everywhere either. The only way to have automotive bliss is to have at least a few cars. (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

Used within the parameters at which it excels, BMWs i3 delivers an experience that is unmatched anywhere.