Monday, October 21, 2013

US i3 Orders To Begin in November

Photo Credit: The Car Addict
InsideEvs.com recently reported that Jacob Harb, BMW's North American Manager for Electric Vehicles, told them that i3 orders for US customers will begin in November. That means we'll soon get information like pricing for options, warranty details and hopefully what leasing deals will be offered.

BMW has reported strong demand for the i3 in Europe with over 8,000 pre-orders already and the car won't even be available for another month there. Here in the States we'll have to wait a little longer. All BMW has officially said is that the i3 will launch here in the second quarter of 2014, and recent rumors have been pegging the launch for April or May which would mean early to mid Q2.



Photos courtesy bmwblog
California dealers have also been telling their customers that they will be getting i3'\s for display and even test drives, and that there will be as many as 50 i3s at the LA Auto Show in late November for driving events. That would make a lot of sense since the LA Auto Show is one of the big auto shows in the US and California is the number one market for plug in vehicles. 

One factor that can influence the i3's popularity in the US is its EPA range rating which hasn't yet been announced. I have maintained for a long time now that I would be very disappointed if that number comes in lower than 90 miles per charge. Unfortunately judging from the early test drive reports from some reporters like John Voelcker of High Gear Media, it may in fact be lower than 90, and may even be substantially lower than 90 miles per charge. I'm not going to go into this too much just yet because it would just be conjecture. Once the EPA rating is announced I will have a detailed post up within a day, I promise because it is a very important topic to discuss.

10 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with what you stated months (years?) ago: when it comes to EV's "premium" equals range. While the i3 is modestly priced for what it is - it's still a tough sell compared to a $18K Leaf after incentives, especially if the range is essentially the same. It seems like the BEV model of the i3 is a pretty compromised product. The range extender version is a fairly compelling product - but who wants to deal with an engine and it's maintenance? BMW, charge me an extra $10k and give me more battery!

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    1. If the EPA range is LEAF-like than I agree with you that it is a compromised product. Let's see ;)

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  2. I will not consider the I3 if it goes much under 90 miles/charge. In the Southwest, cities our usually over a 100 miles from each other which would make this car pretty much unusable for me. I didn't get a leaf for the same reason.

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  3. BMW designed the i3 to be a city car, not an inter-city highway cruiser. The vast majority of drivers (like me) travel less than 40 miles per day. For all of us in that category, factors other than a long range are more important (like nimble handling and lighter weight). People needing long range have many other options available, including plug-in hybrids (for people who want to travel electric for their shorter trips.

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    1. Yes Chris but consider this: In Northern States the range will less in the winter, even with a good thermal management system. My ActiveE would drop from the 94 mile EPA rating to as low as 60 miles in the dead of winter. Without anywhere to plug in during the day, I would be limited to roaming about 25-27 miles from home, that's not very good. Now if the i3 somehow is rated at 84 MPC then that could shave 5 miles off the one way range and now a $50,000 EV (add an option or two and sales tax) won't take you further than 22 or 24 miles from your house.
      Like I said, I'm not going to go far into this now, I'll wait for the EPA range rating. Hopefully it will be comparable to it's two predecessors, the MINI-E and ActiveE.

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    2. I understand your position on this perfectly. And the i3 is a "compromised" car, as are all cars. They've all been designed with trade-offs to meet a particular market segment, or cost target, or whatever. I think there would not be the angst about range if there were many more EV choices today, but there are not. The i3 is a very special car among EVs (as is the Model S), so it is coveted by many, but it can't be all things to all people. It is not "flawed" because it can't go 100 miles on a charge (at 80 mph on the freeway), or because it can't seat three in the back seat, or because it has funky side glass. It is what it is; it is just another choice.

      You are a special case because you have invested so much of yourself in the i3. It would be near impossible for you to opt for a different car, so understand there would be some consternation if it doesn't live up to your expectations (but fortunately you can charge at Nauna's). No excuse for the rest of us.

      And I see that your blog odometer is about to roll past 100,000, so congratulations!

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    3. I do understand my position here Chris. I also hope you have gotten the impression all along that I have always been honest in my opinions. While I've been overwhelmingly positive about the i3 my comments were all genuine, if I felt differently I would have said it. I can't or won't change that now. If I drive the i3 and thing it's not what I expected, I'll say that - not that I expect that at all because I have talked to plenty of people that have driven it and most all of them have said it drives very well. As for the range, I've been consistent about what I expect it to deliver. You can look back at my posts from the past and you'll see. BMW has said many times that the i3 will have the same range as the MINI-E and ActiveE. If it's is significantly less I will be disappointed - and so will a lot of the other ActiveE drivers we have been talking privately about the a LOT lately. We'll soon find out.

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    4. Tom, I've never had any doubt that everything you've written about the i3 (or ActiveE) has been absolutely sincere, valid, and informative, and I have valued all of it. I never for a second meant to suggest otherwise. My only point was that while you and others need or want a car with a range perhaps a little more than the i3 might deliver, especially with a margin for cold weather, that need or desire is not necessarily shared by a majority of drivers.

      The numbers being discussed for the i3's EPA range are not an issue for me. They are for you, rightly so, and for many other people, but when I'm deciding whether or not to buy an i3, I don't really care if it meets the range requirements for somebody else. I don't think it would be a less desirable car (for me) if the EPA range was only 80 miles. That would also be true for the average driver who doesn't go more than 40 miles a day (although granted, there may be a perhaps irrational anxiety that changes the picture).

      I'm interested in hearing about the range requirements of others, and interested in reading about what other cars might better satisfy that range. But to me, if a car does not satisfy those longer range requirements, I don't think the car is somehow flawed. Nissan sells a lot of Leafs that apparently satisfy a lot of drivers. Is it flawed because it can't go farther?

      I just think the i3 is a great car, in the historical sense. I think the Electronauts have made essential contributions in its development, and rightly feel invested in the car. I expect the ActiveE drivers who put the most miles on their cars are the most passionate. That's a good thing. I get that. You and they have every right to be disappointed if anyone was expecting more range, but that still does not make the i3 a flawed car. I would hate for someone who only needs to go 50 miles to pass over the i3 because he read it was inadequate.

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  4. My 2011 Leaf is fine for most days but If it just had another 15 or 20 miles in it then it would be perfect for me. I was hoping the i3 would deliver that. The 2011 leaf has a 73 mile epa range but the 2013 Leaf was upped to have 84 mile epa range when fully charged so I wouldn't be interested in the i3 unless it is rated above 90. The leaf is plenty fast for me and has a lot of torque and I'll just lease another one when my lease is up in August if the i3 doesn't offer at least 10% more range then the leaf. You can lease a leaf for $199 a month with little down now has BMW announced leasing information yet?

    Bill

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    1. I've heard that a lot Bill and I have mostly been telling people that it's my belief the i3 will provide the extra 10 or 15 miles you want but based on what I've been hearing from my press contacts that have driven them so far, I'm no longer convinced that will be the case.

      Of course the REx will alleviate any range concerns you have but I do understand many people's aversion to add an gasoline engine to their EV. I'll dive into the range issue very deeply here once the EPA rating is announced. I am sure we will have a spirited debate in the comments section!

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