I purchased a 2015 BMW i3 REx this weekend!

Discussion in 'i3' started by Apexerman, Feb 19, 2018.

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  1. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Well, after much research, test driving and owner experience opinions, my wife and I purchased a 2015 BMW i3 REx this weekend! My primary interest in the car was HOV lane access for my wife, ditching the gas-burner SUV to save fuel costs and cleaner emissions. Fortunately, California allows single-occupant ZEV and PZEV vehicles HOV access as a way incentivize adoption of cleaner air vehicles.

    As a designer, I happen to like the quirky exterior aesthetic. It's weird, but weird in an interesting way... techno and puckish at the same time. The interior design is remarkably fresh and inspired since its inception... very Nordic in flavor with great material choices, contrasting colors and elegant forms. Off-the-line acceleration is eye-opener! Silky smooth pull with only the faintest whine entering the cabin. Handling is remarkably nimble due to the lightweight reinforced carbon fiber chassis and one-pedal driving is as intuitive as it gets. Charging will largely occur at the house overnight, but if needed, charging stations are available everywhere in the Bay Area.

    Alas, there will probably come a day when autonomous cars render driving obsolete, but for now, the transition to non-internal combustion is kinda fun. Lower fuel costs and lower emissions ain't too bad either.

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  3. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    @ Apexerman

    Congratulations on on your new car, and I hope you enjoy it!

    I still think it's weird seeing the i3 with all doors open and a complete lack of any "B" pillar. But that must make getting in and out of the back seat easier; at least, easier after you deal with the minor hassle of having to open the front doors before you can open the rear "suicide" doors.
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  4. Kendalf

    Kendalf Active Member

    I considered the i3 for a short time, but the need to open the front door before the suicide doors can open was a deal breaker as I have two school age kids in the backseat!
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  5. Congrats, and thanks for the photo. Looks great!

    I have similar feelings about the i3. Really enjoy the styling, inside and out. I just wish it had a bigger battery for that price.
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  6. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Thanks, guys! Yep, the suicide doors are one of those things that works well for concept cars, but in practice it's a wee awkward. It looks cool when they're open though. And yes, range was careful consideration. My wife's daily commute is 75 miles round trip... right at the 80ish miles range for electric power. Fortunately there's another 70 miles on tap if the small gas generator kicks in. Based on her drive, the generator will probably see infrequent use. We'd considered longer range electrics like the Chevy Bolt, but for its intended use, current pricing on used models and aforementioned design, the i3 won the day.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
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  8. I still have yet to see the Chevy Bolt in person, but I am pretty sure I prefer the i3 in all respects aside from range.
    Looking forward to hearing how your ownership experience progresses...have you coded it already?
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  9. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the new i3!!! i3 was one of my top choices when I got my first EV about 3 years ago. I ended up going with the Spark EV mostly because of the price and the i3's doors. But if used prices then were as reasonable as they are now, I would have probably gone with an i3 Rex over the Spark.

    While I'm not a huge fan of some of the exterior design style choices, I absolutely love the interior. Something about it is calming. Futuristic but relaxed. I don't know how to describe it... other than to say I think it's the kind of car Jean-Luc Picard would drive. (That's a compliment)

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  10. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I have a cousin with a "crew cab" pickup that has the same problem; you have to open the front door before you can open the smaller rear door. I didn't realize it would be such a negative thing; I figured it would just be one of those things you have to get used to, as with any car or truck.

    From comments here, though, I guess owners see that as a hassle. :(
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  11. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Ah, the Star Trek Next Generation bridge... such a good show. Yes, I think Jean-Luc would used it as his own ground shuttle. LOL!
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  13. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Truth be told, it's not that bad. If you're carrying multiple passengers and park between two cars, the exit procedure gets a little wonky. It's a coordinated effort. Same thing with entry. I think everyone is used to the independence of their own door with a standard four-door car. But for our purposes, it'll be mostly used by two people.
  14. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    A Co-worker of mine is thinking about getting his first EV and a used i3 is one that he's interested in.

    He rents a home so he can charge it on a standard outlet but doesn't think he'd be allowed to install an L2 EVSE. Have you (or any other i3 owner) tried charging yours on a standard outlet? If so, about how many kW / hour (or miles / hour) are you able to recover?

    His commute is about 45 miles round trip and he will occasionally drive it around town in the evenings. So he'd need to recover at least 60% of the range over night. Think that's do-able?
  15. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    What is the climate like? If it's a mild climate that never gets bitterly cold in winter, then L1 charging does work for some. One thing that non-EV drivers don't understand is that you don't necessarily need to charge to 100% (or even 80%) every night. Just as a gasmobile can be driven when the gas tank isn't full, an EV can be driven if the battery pack isn't fully charged. If he does not "occasionally drive it around town in the evenings" two nights in a row, then the car doesn't need to be fully charged the next day.

    But if it does get very cold there on some nights during the year, then fuggedaboutit. L1 charging doesn't provide enough power for adequate charging when it's bitterly cold, and the car needs to run the battery heater while charging.

    If the home has any sort of 440 outlet, such as for an electric clothes dryer, then he may be able to run an extension cord for L2 charging when needed. But whether it's L1 or L2 charging, the extension cord needs to be properly rated for EV charging. Just buying an off-the-shelf heavy duty extension cord may be a fire hazard. EV charging draws a lot of amps, for hours at a time. He would also be advised to have an electrician check out the circuit he'll be using for charging, to make sure it can safely handle the amps.
  16. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Yeah, winter charging is a concern I had. He lives about 30 miles north of Dallas. Our winters are all over the place. In late Dec / January temps were in the teens and low 20s for a few weeks in a row. A few days ago the morning temperature was in the low 30s. Today it was in the high 60s and has been pouring rain for 4 days straight!!!

    Just estimating, on average: 2-3 months of weather where temps drop into the 30s or lower at night. 2-4 weeks where temps might drop into the teens or lower at night.

    I looked up emergency backup chargers for him, and it looks like there are three CCS chargers within 5 miles of our office complex. And he has one a few miles from his house. He wouldn't want to use those regularly, but for a few weeks a year he might be willing to top off there if needed.

    He would prefer a Bolt, but it's a bit more money than he's comfortable with at the moment, so the i3 should be a good substitute if it can charge quick enough. (And if his garage outlet can handle it as you mentioned. Preferably a dedicated circuit.) We used to do a mix of L1 charging in our apartment complex and public L2 charging stations near work/campus. Our Spark would usually charge at a rate of 4 mi/hour on L1. That was usually enough. The Volt would usually charge at 3 mi/hour. (Of course, this depends on the driver.)

    I think if the i3 can charge at a similar rate as the Spark from a standard outlet then an i3 could work for him. Like you said, he doesn't always need a complete charge. Any difference can be made up over the weekends or on nights when he is home early. CCS could be a last resort backup. I'll have to ask him for more detailed driving habits.
  17. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    I am tempted to play with coding one day. I wouldn't mind getting the full 2.5 gallon tank volume for the range extender than the artificially restricted 1.9. I was also interested in the "hold charge" feature which would allow the generator to maintain a constant charge if one drove at a relatively moderate pace. I believe this becomes effective once the battery reaches 75% charge level. But ultimately, that's driving it like a hybrid which really wasn't the intent of the range extender. I'm finding electric power is more than enough to handle the majority of our recent trips. Of course, there are a variety of other coding goodies to explore, so the tinkerer in me will probably take over.
  18. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    I think so. We've had a one week to gauge our charging experiences from Level 1 to Level 3 stations. I haven't recorded any specific numbers yet, but off the bat, Level 1 charging (120V) is quite easy and rather effective. An overnight charge brought our car from 25% to full in under 12 hours. Temperatures have dipped into the mid-20s(F) at night, so I was pleased to see a full charge in the morning. My wife drove the car around 75 miles on her last commute and was able to stay in electric mode without the range extender activating. Her drive involved typical highway speeds of 60-75mph with occasional slow downs on level pavement. In the city, she saw about 15 minutes worth of stop-and-go traffic.

    I was able to access a Level 2 charger for a little over an hour earlier in the week and it brought the charge from roughly 33% to 70%. I accessed a DC fast charge station twice and definitely noticed a speed improvement. Twenty minutes took me from around 20% to 75%.

    Level 1 should work fine most people. I know it will for us. We have plenty of access to public stations including two DC fast chargers only a mile away. Add the convenience of the range extender and it would actually be difficult to get stuck anywhere. We may install a Level 2 residential station one day, but I think that's a low priority at the moment.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  19. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    That reads like you've already covered the possibilities pretty thoroughly, because checking for local availability of DCFC stations nearby was going to be my next suggestion.

    Really, it depends on how dedicated he is to the EV lifestyle. If he's willing to put up with the waiting and the inconvenience of using public chargers as a backup for when his BEV is running low on "juice", then of course he can make it work for him.

    I am always reluctant to suggest to anyone that they buy a specific car, EV or otherwise, because the car they choose has to fit their lifestyle, and buying a car is always a personal choice. Personally, if I had to buy a car for my personal use today, and I couldn't afford a used Tesla, then I'd buy a PHEV, so I wouldn't have to worry about running out of "juice".

    But so long as he's making an informed choice about that i3, and from what you've said it sounds like he is, then more power to him!
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  20. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I've coded my BMW i3-REx:
    • 2.3 gal - is the most I've measured after coding and reported by others. There may be ways to get more but this is as far as I've gone.
    • 75% SOC - can maintain charge at 70 mph +/- temperature and other loads. I typically use dynamic cruise control and they tend to run 65-70 mph which works perfectly.
    • default ECO mode - this pays great range benefits yet retains adequate HVAC capacity. You can still use COMFORT mode if feeling frisky or ECO PRO if wearing a hair shirt.
    I'm using Bimmercode.

    Bob Wilson
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  21. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Thanks, Bob! Your insights and experience were valuable as we searched for an i3. I can honestly say I like the car even better after one week. This is my wife's main driver and it's got me pining for one of my own! Alas, that would require me to sell a fully restored vintage sports car, so I can't go that far. Nonetheless, my wife and I will have plenty of times to share.
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  22. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    If my coworker goes with the i3 Rex instead of the i3, I will make sure he knows about Bimmercode. :)

    Thanks for the reminder!
  23. sipabit

    sipabit Member

    I bought the same car on the same weekend! Loving it too. I'm also in the Bay Area am probably enjoying it just as much as you are! It's been great fun. The discount off a used i3 is ridiculous. So much inventory from the lease returns on the 2015 models. It's been nuts.
    Domenick, Apexerman and bwilson4web like this.

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