Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To REx or Not To REx, That is The Question

The concept i3 sitting pretty in Chicago recently during a commercial shoot

In just about two years from now, you will be able to walk into any BMW showroom and drive away with an i3 electric car. It will be the first electric car BMW sells. Shortly thereafter, you will be able to buy that same i3, but with a gasoline engine range extender that BMW is calling REx, as an option. BMW hasn't commented on the cost of the REx option, but it's likely to be at least a few thousand dollars.

While I've really become a pure BEV guy, I have to admit I'm interested in the REx feature. Especially if the gasoline engine is very efficient. I would want the car to achieve at least 40mpg in REx mode, and preferably closer to 50 in order to seriously consider it.

There are also other factors that will influence my interest in the REx option. First, and most importantly, the range of the BEV i3 without REx. I'm beginning to get a little concerned about this because everything I have ever heard about the i3 pointed to at least a100 mile range. Now, at the official unveiling of the concept i3 the press is reporting a 80 to 100 mile range. Hmm. Red flag alert. I don't know why BMW would give the i3 a range less than 100 miles since they purposely made the MINI-E and the ActiveE have 100 mile ranges. Why go backwards now? BMW is a premium brand and the i3 will be a premium car with a premium price tag. In the EV world, there is nothing more premium than a greater range than your competition. I just hope BMW was just underselling the i3, basically doing the exact opposite that Nissan did by promising a 100 mile range for the LEAF and then delivering a 75 mile EV. If they state 80 to 100 miles and most people get 90+ miles during normal driving conditions then that's fine, but if you need to hypermile to get over 85 miles than I think they made a huge mistake. I'm probably just getting worked up about nothing. The folks over at BMW seem to really get it. I don't think they would make this big of a mistake. I've had many meetings and discussions with various members of the EV division and they all say 100 miles is the sweet spot, so we'll see..

Another factor in deciding if I want the REx option will be how much longer after the BEV i3 is introduced will the REx option be available. If we're talking a matter of months and the i3 really only has an 80 mile real world range, than I'd have to really consider waiting for it. However if at the i3 launch BMW still hasn't announced an availability date for the REx, then I doubt I'd even consider it.

Finally, the cost. I think I'd be willing to pay $2000 to $3,000 for the REx option, but definitely not more. Actually what I'd really wish BMW would offer is a larger battery pack option. How about 5 more kWh for the same $2000 to $3000? If that were available all this discussion would be moot. I'd buy the bigger battery in a heartbeat. Five more kWh would increase the cars range by 25 to 30 miles and for me, that would make it perfect. A 110 to 130 mile range BEV would cover virtually 100% of my daily driving needs and would end the discussion for a gasoline range extender. Anybody over at BMW listening???


  1. I'm with you on the range. If it doesn't have an EPA rating of at least 90 miles than I'm going to pass. I'm not interested in the range extender. The Leaf's EPA rating is 73 miles and that has proven to be very accurate for the average driver so I now trust the EPA rating. 90 MPC minimum and under $45,000 and I'll be driving one as soon as they are available

  2. At 40 to 50k it better have a 100 mile range or it will be a huge disappointment

  3. We plan on using the 2 year ActiveE lease as a test to see if we should REx or not. Once the ActiveE arrives, we'll be selling our gas vehicle and just rent a vehicle from the local Enterprise whenever the need arises. For us that will most likely be the occasional weekend when we might drive somewhere beyond the 100 mile range of the ActiveE. Weekends also happen to be when car rental rates are at their lowest. I'll be keeping a log throughout the two years. At the end of the lease, we'll see how things stand. Granted, the rental option won't work for everyone but for us with access to a car rental place just up the street, I'm fairly confident we can pull it off.

  4. Now that BASF owns the large capacity NiMH battery patent developed by Mr. Stanford Ovshinsky, maybe they will continue their team approach to management by permitting their team member BMW to use it for the i3 and i8. Since BMW was smart enough to hire Mr. Frank Weber, who was the leader on the Volt development team and had initially planned for the Volt to get at least 100+ mpg, and was shooting for 200 mpg, but was thwarted in his efforts by the Feds. Now that the Germans have access to both the battery and the brains, it is just a matter of time before they mass produce an extended range electric vehicle. I just hope the U.S. government doesn't legislate a ban on their import of those vehicles. I can't wait to get my hands on one of them.

  5. I would definitively choose the Rex since it is the only way not to get stuck during the holiday or simply a longer than expected road. But it needs to be compact, light and cheap, preferably at the back like in the Audi A1 E-Tron. The millage performance of the Rex doesn’t really matter since it is only used occasionally but it should be a Flex-Fuel engine to be able to run on E85 or on E100 bioethanol. The price of it should be rather low since it is not supposed to be running a lot it can be build somewhat lighter which reduces the weight in the same time. 2000 $ should be the maximum. On the other end I would be satisfied with only 75 miles real life EV range since the Rex would be there in case I need to go further, which would mean a lower battery price that would compensate the price of the REx ending with a i3 pure EV 100 miles and a i3 Rex 75 miles at a same showroom final cost. As an option on the Rex itself I would like to have a UPS outlet on the car where I can connect an outside electric consumer if I want to. Perhaps even connect my caravan or my house in case of blackout to get up to 10 KW 220 V outlet power.