Friday, November 29, 2013

BMW i3 Euro NCAP Crash Test Video

My previous post discussed the four out of five star rating the i3 received from the Euro NCAP crash tests. Above is a video provided by the NCAP which shows the various tests being performed on the car.

Additionally, BMW offered a press release today, seemingly as a response to the 4 star overall rating, with the intention of reminding customers that the i3 did sores a perfect 5 or 5 in the actual crash:

The BMW i3 achieved the highest rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests governing occupant protection and child protection that coincided with its market launch. As expected, the electric car matches the performance of the best conventionally powered vehicles in its segment in the area of passive safety. The Integral safety concept covers everything from collision avoidance to Intelligent Emergency Call and also meets requirements above and beyond Euro NCAP.
Its revolutionary new vehicle concept allows the BMW i3 to offer customers not only smile-inducing driving pleasure and outstanding environmental performance, but also top marks in terms of safety. An integral safety concept put together for the BMW Group’s first all-electric model includes everything from driver assistance systems focusing on collision avoidance, via passive safety to the Intelligent Emergency Call function – and complies with all global accident protection standards.
The aim of BMW’s integral safety concept is to achieve an optimum combination of active and passive systems that is geared to real-life traffic and accident situations. Among the active measures included as part of this concept are preventive systems which help the driver to avoid accidents. The Driving Assistant Plus system available for the BMW i3 includes both Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with braking function. Unique in the segment, this system helps – in urban traffic, in particular – to either prevent collisions or significantly reduce the intensity of the impact. Meanwhile, precisely defined load paths, generously sized deformation zones, a passenger cell whose strength allows it to serve as a survival space, and electronically controlled restraint systems with precisely interlinked functionality team up to optimise occupant protection if a crash is unavoidable. Likewise unique in this segment is the Intelligent Emergency Call function with automatic vehicle location and accident severity detection – a standard feature in the BMW i3. This system, which automatically establishes a telephone link with a call centre, thus cutting down the time it takes for the rescue services to be alerted, earned the BMW Group the special Euro NCAP Advanced Award from the European crash testing institute in 2010. As things stand, the standard testing process still does not include the Intelligent Emergency Call function in its assessments. Legal requirements stipulating the inclusion of a system of this kind in all newly registered vehicles across the EU will not come into force until 2015. 
The effectiveness of all the passive safety systems in the BMW i3 was analysed during the car’s development process in numerous crash tests conducted by the BMW Group’s accident research specialists and in cooperation with independent experts. As part of this process, all the accident scenarios referred to for vehicle registration processes and consumer protection tests around the world – above and beyond Euro NCAP testing – were taken into account, including an impact by another vehicle against the rear of the BMW i3 and a roll-over situation.
An extremely rigid passenger cell made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and the precise interplay of its restraint systems allowed the BMW i3 to record outstanding results for adult occupant and child occupant protection in the Euro NCAP crash test. The testers noted an exceptionally low risk of injury in both front and side impacts, as well as in the Pole Side Impact test. Particularly striking here was the low degree of deformation in the CFRP passenger cell, which also enhances the effectiveness of the restraint systems.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BMW i3 Earns 4 Out of 5 Rating in Euro NCAP Crash Tests

The i3 scored very high marks for passenger safety in all crash tests, so why only a 4 of 5 star rating?
Much to the surprise of quite a few people, the BMW i3 earned a 4 out of 5 rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests. BMW has been proudly proclaiming how incredibly safe and strong the car is due the the rigid carbon fiber passenger cell. In fact it was so strong, they were able to eliminate the need for a proper B-pillar and offer the coach style door setup. So why not a top score? Well like anything, the devil is in the details.

Most people don't want to waste time reading crash test scores, they usually just look at the star rating. If they see a five star rating, they assume the car is as safe as it should be and anything less than a 5 out of 5 can be viewed as a failure on the manufacturers part to produce a car that's as safe as possible. So what went wrong here? We've been hearing how strong the CFRP passenger shell is and how incredibly well it will protect the passengers in the event of a crash for a couple years now. In fact I personally had a lengthy conversation with BMW board member Ian Robertson about this and he went on and on about how incredibly well the i3 did in their internal crash tests, so why now did it not do well? The truth is, the car actually did very well in crash tests, in fact it did actually score a 5 star rating in crash tests for passenger protection, but the overall combined score fell a couple points under the threshold for 5 stars.

What held them back? When I tell you you'll either laugh off your seat or shake your head at the foolishness that allowed them to miss the coveted 5 star rating. Ready? Here goes: For some crazy reason, there is no rear seat seatbelt warning system on the i3. Most cars today have this feature so that omission cost the i3 points.  That, plus the fact that the speed limit notification is optional in most European countries (that is the feature that displays the current speed limit of the road you are driving on and it's a standard feature on all US i3's) conspired to give the i3 an extremely low score in the "Safety Assist" category. Those two oversights caused the overall score to dip just below the 85% needed to achieve a 5 star rating. The fact that they were rated 4 of 5 stars really had nothing to do with how the passengers fared in the crash tests, because the i3 actually had high scores in that area. In fact, the i3 achieved a higher score for passenger safety than a Chevy Volt, which did achieve an overall 5 star rating. (see graph below for comparison)
The BMW i3 compared to the Chevy Volt in the Euro NCAP safety rating
This is a pretty substantial mistake on BMW's part in my opinion. While the car tested out to be very safe in crashes for all of the occupants, the 4 out of 5 rating will give the casual observer the impression that it may not do well in crashes. Could it be BMW thought the crash scores would be so high they would overcome the low score in the Safety Assist category and still average out to be 5 stars? Whatever the cause I can't help but think this was a major faux pas. This sets the stage for an interesting and highly anticipated crash test rating for the US when NHTSA and the IIHS get their hands on some i3's in the Spring.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The LA Auto Show: Driving Impressions & Details Learned

It's been a long time coming but I finally got to drive an i3. I've actually been getting tired of having journalists contact me and ask me for my opinion of it on the road compared to the MINI-E and ActiveE and having to tell them I haven't had the opportunity to drive one yet! So did it live up to my (high) expectations? Yes, it did. It's certainly not "the perfect EV," but in my opinion, it does do more things better than any other electric vehicle that costs less than $70,000. And yes, the $70,000 is the threshold mentioned because slightly above that, (actually $72,240) is the starting point before incentives, for the least expensive Model S you can buy in the US.

Lined up for test drives
Price is worth mentioning here because since the i3 has launched there have been endless comparisons between it and the Model S. My contention is that they are both excellent electric vehicles and while there will be inevitable comparisons and even some cross-shopping, they are really vastly different cars and if they weren't both electric would never be compared. The i3's base price is $42,275. That's $29,965 or about 40% less than a base Model S and that alone should end the need to compare them. However I feel it was important to touch on this because everybody else is. These are both excellent EVs, but they serve different masters. The one thing fascinating about the Model S is that it's such a great electric vehicle, that every other electric vehicle that comes along will now be compared to it, well done Tesla.

The back up camera video is extremely clear
In addition to my test drives I had the opportunity to sit down and interview just about every BMW representative there and I will do a future blog post dedicated to at least one of those interviews. However, here I'm going to focus on my thoughts on the driving experience and answering the many questions about the i3 I've received in the past few weeks in the form of comments, personal emails or posts on the BMW i3 Facebook page or in the BMW i3 forum, both of which I am the administrator of.

Tera World interior is all leather
BMW had fifty identical i3s at the LA Auto Show for test drives. They were all exactly the same color, had the 20" wheels, the top of the line Tera World interior and had every available option the i3 will offer. I later found out from BMW NA i3 product manager Jose Guerrero that these cars were actually the very first i3s to roll off the assembly line and that they were pre-production vehicles and European spec so they had to be updated with US charging ports, navigation software and other small modifications so they could be used here in the US for test drives. Also, after the LA Auto show these cars will gradually filter to dealers all over the US so depending on where you live your local BMW dealer may get one soon for demonstration and test drives.

What about the range extender?

Harb addresses the ActiveE drivers
Unfortunately none of the cars had range extenders so I can't answer many of the REx questions I've had like: "How quiet is it?  Can you feel the vibrations when it's on?  What MPG does it deliver?" I did learn some new details which I'll discuss later in the post though. I will say this though because the question of how robust the range extender is has been a common theme on every website that has an i3 discussion. At a private event on Thursday that BMW held for the ActiveE drivers that question was brought up and Jacob Harb, BMW's North American manager of sales and strategy for electric vehicles said he wanted to straighten out the confusion around a comment that a BMW representative once said, and that was that the REx wasn't meant for daily use. Jacob said you can certainly use it every day if you need to, but that BMW didn't envision the car being used by someone that has a 120 or 130 mile daily commute. The car could do it, but if your daily driving needs were this extensive then perhaps a different vehicle might be a better choice. He was then asked about taking it on a long drive and refilling the tank and continuing to drive. Again he said that BMW doesn't really envision people using the car like that all the time, but technically it's perfectly capable of doing so. He even said that technically speaking, you could drive an i3 from New York to LA simply by stopping for gas every 50 or 60 miles and refueling, and then qualified it by saying, "But I don't know why anybody would want to do that."  And personally I agree.

Driving in LA:

I stopped for quick photo op
I actually had the opportunity to drive the i3 twice, and do a ride along once so I probably spent a collective 20 miles in the car. I had a press pass so I registered for a press drive and then at the ActiveE event we were all allowed one test drive, plus I rode along when fellow Electronaut Todd Crook took his turn. On the first drive BMW handed me a course that they wanted the press to follow. It was basically a 3 mile loop that had you driving five blocks and turn right four times and you ended back where the ride originated from which was the Staples Center parking lot. You were alone, so you could of course vary from the course if you "got lost."  Being from New Jersey and never having driven in LA before I found it difficult staying on course and accidentally drove a little longer. It was pretty much what I expected it to be. Very quick, (we were told it does 0-60 in 7.0 seconds) very quiet (quieter than the ActiveE for sure), it has very responsive steering, an amazingly short turning radius and the braking was probably the best I've ever experienced. I practiced some emergency stops in a parking lot and the car stopped in exceptionally short distances. I can't wait to see official road tests when they measure braking distances. I predict it will deliver some of the shortest braking distances of any car on the road today.

The optional wide nav screen looks great
I really didn't get the chance to push the handling because of the LA city environment but I did have some fun weaving in and out of traffic, sprinting from streetlight to streetlight and mashing the accelerator to the floor at every opportunity. I don't know how it will do auto crossing (yet), but I give it an A+ for making the most fun you can out of city driving. I even tried out the Parking Assistant and it worked perfectly. I also purposely hit every pothole there was - and incidentally LA doesn't have nearly as many of them as we do in New York, and the car absorbed them without a problem and I didn't hear any unusual rattles or noises that I've read a few other journalists report when driving over bumps. The regenerative braking was about 10% weaker than it is on the ActiveE, but it's still by far the strongest regenerative braking on any electric vehicle. I'd say the Volt in low driving mode and the Model S are tied for 2nd, but the i3 has stayed true to BMW's promise of having the strongest regen in the industry which really allows for "one pedal driving." Like on the ActiveE there is what BMW calls a glide mode (basically the ability to coast to improve efficiency). By slightly easing back on the accelerator, the motor decouples and the car freewheels. While this isn't what you would normally need in a city driving environment, it will come in handy at higher speeds on the freeway. By easing back a bit more on the accelerator the motor then reengages and the regenerative braking grabs. 

Lift the armrest & you can slide across
The seats were comfortable and supportive and felt like they would do fine holding you in place during spirited driving but definitely don't grab you into place like seats in a sports car would. This, plus the lack of a center tunnel on the floor does allow you to easily slide across to the other side of the car and exit out of the passenger side if you wanted to, which I did just to see how easy it would be. The back seats have plenty of room for two big adults. I even brought along three passengers on my second test drive to see how we all fit and if the extra 600+ lbs would effect the driving dynamics. The car was slightly slower as you would expect but the handling felt just as good as when I was driving alone but again, I couldn't push it much on the streets of LA but I did make some rapid lane changes at about 40 mph and the car felt precise and planted even with the full load. 

What was learned: 

As I mentioned above I've had a lot of people ask me i3 questions recently and I promised I'd do my best to get answers once I drove the car and had the opportunity to speak to the program managers again. Without listing the specific questions here the answers to most of what I've been asked:

-The range extender engine is liquid cooled, but it's a different system and coolant than what is used for the battery management system. In fact, the i3 REx has three separate cooling systems. One for the BMS, one for the passenger cabin and one for the REx engine. The battery pack uses air conditioning refrigerant and the REx engine uses conventional liquid coolant.

-Waste heat from the REx is not used to heat the cabin.

-In the US the heat pump is standard on all BEV i3s, but it's not available on the i3 REx. BMW doesn't believe it's a necessary option if you have the range extender.

-Yes, you can certainly precondition the cabin (heat or cool) and the battery even if you have the REx. (Two people from the UK asked me this so evidently there is inaccurate info somewhere there)

-European delivery will not be offered on the i3.

-There are no optional interior color choices. Each interior level only comes in the color shown. So you can't for instance get the Terra World with gray interior, it only is available in the brown leather like the pictures shown above.

-The REx does not turn on until the state of charge is under 5%. It is robust enough to maintain the charge under all but the most strenuous conditions. You can manually shut it off so it doesn't turn on at all for instances when you know you'll make your destination on battery alone. If you do so it resets once you turn the car off and on again. This way you can't forget you shut the REx off.

-The REx has start/stop technology and shuts off when you are driving under 10mph unless the SOC is so low that it needs to stay on to get the car to 5% SOC. This is so that the car remains quiet at low speeds and while parked. This means you can't park the car with the REx on and let it charge up for a while.

-There is no speed limiter when the REx is running, but there is when you choose Eco Pro+ mode. In Eco Pro+ mode you are limited to 56 mph. Jose Guererro showed the ActiveE group a picture of the speedometer he took while driving an i3 with the REx running and he was going about 70-75mph (I don't remember exactly) he also said the car was maintaining the charge without a problem at that speed.

*UPDATE: The US i3's will not be speed limited in Eco Pro+ mode like I wrote above. The European i3's are though, and the car I drove was a European spec i3, so when I put it in Eco Pro+ mode the speed restriction display showed, which is why I reported it as such.

-Heated seats are optional, and this was a bit of a head scratcher: You can't precondition the passenger cabin with heat unless you get the seat heater option. I don't get that at all, but that's the way it is. Anyone who lives in an area that has cold temperatures during the year simply must get the heated seats option in my opinion or they will regret it later.

-The rear seats fold down completely flat and split 50/50. 

-Comfort Access is standard with Giga and Terra World trim packages, as is the sunroof.

-The battery pack is comprised of 8 modules which each have 12 individual cells. The cells are supplied by Samsung but BMW assembles the modules in house.

-You have to get the Parking Assistant package to get the rear view camera, it's not a standalone option.

-US orders will begin in January, not in November as previously reported on

-i3s bound for the US will begin production in March, likely arrive in the US for delivery sometime in April.

I was also asked to take some specific pictures, here they are:

Taken by my friend Andre

There were 6 CCS quick chargers there

The display while DC fast charging

One battery module contains 12 cells

There is one more thing that I learned. For some reason, BMW has decided to omit a state of charge gauge. My head nearly exploded when I found this out. Both the MINI-E and ActiveE had state of charge meters and quite honestly it's all I use when I drive. I never use the predicted remaining miles, or the bar graph. I love the simplicity of a simply number, from 0 to 100% to tell me how much energy I have to work with. I am not alone either, when the other ActiveE drivers found out they were as shocked as I was. In fact we brought it up and protested so much the i3 management team promised they would revisit this. I'm going to dedicate my next blog post on this topic, because I don't want this post to be all about the SOC. Other than this topic, most everything else was extremely positive. The car drives as great as I had hoped it would and BMW announced to the ActiveE group that as a thank you for our participation, they would be making a special edition i3 that will only be available for us, and our cars will be some of the first i3s delivered to the US.  I hope I got to everyone's questions and requests. Please leave any other questions in the comment area and I'll answer them if I can.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Live From The LA Auto Show

I just arrived in LA for the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. In addition to their usual area inside the show floor, BMW has an additional pavilion set up outside, across the street from the Convention Center in one of the parking lots of the Staples Center. This has been set up to allow people to test drive the i3.

The i3s are starting to arrive today
Even though there will be about seventy i3s there for test drives, members of the press had to schedule their time with the car because BMW expects a strong demand for test drives as this is the first time the i3 has been available to the media in the US.  I have a test drive scheduled for tomorrow morning, the opening day of the press activities. This i3 test drive pavilion will be open to the general public starting this Friday. 

I'll also have another chance to test drive one on Thursday. BMW has set up a private event for ActiveE lessees. We will be able to drive an i3, ask program managers questions and we will hopefully learn if BMW is going to offer those of us who have been participating in the trial lease program any kind of special deal or preferred ordering should we want to go directly from our ActiveE into an i3. I'll have a full report on the i3 driving experience in a couple of days, once I get back home. If there are any particular details or pictures you'd like me to get just leave them in the comment section and I'll do my best.
The BMW i pavilion is set up in the Staples Center parking lot across the street from the LA Convention Center. This is where the i3s will be staged for the test drives.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NYC Infrastructure Hearing

The ChargePoint map of charger locations in NYC
This isn't an i3-specific post, however it is very important to the i3 and to all other plug in vehicles. The city of New York is considering legislation that would help to dramatically increase the number of public charging stations within city limits. While New York has been steadily adding charging stations in private garages and parking lots, there are currently only about 140 chargers in the entire city, and many locations account for multiple chargers so there really isn't a good spread of places to charge in New York City.

Answering questions from the Board
I was asked by Mayor Bloomberg's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to testify in favor of  Intro.1176. There were a few other industry experts that testified and for the most part it seems the Joint Housing and Transportation Board that would be considering the bill was definitely in favor of it. In fact, the Co-Chairman James Vacca actually called for the bill to be expanded to include curbside charging stations which the bill in its current form didn't include.

Intro. 1176, loosely called the "Charger Ready Bill" would require all new construction projects in NYC that are adding 4 or more new parking spaces to install the conduit and make sure the site has the proper electrical capacity for future electric vehicle charging equipment to be installed in up to 20% of the parking spaces added. This is a great bill because it isn't financially onerous on the owner, as it doesn't require them to install the EVSE's or even pull the wiring just yet, but have the electric raceways there for future use. It is not expensive at all to do this while you are building out the parking lot, but it becomes very expensive if you want to do it later as you often have to rip up the parking lot and trench to run the wiring. Having the parking lots and garages ready for future charging equipment will certainly lead to increased charge points as it will be quicker, less expensive and much easier to install them once the owner feels there is the need to.

Unfortunately right now New York just isn't ready for electric vehicles. I go into the City frequently and it's very difficult to get a charger that is available, near the destination I'm going to, working, and not blocked by a row of gas cars. I even did a blog post about the difficulty I had with my ActiveE once last year. Most of the time I go in there now I take my gas car because I can't be sure I'll be able to charge while I'm there and that's unfortunate for me and for the city. Instead of me driving my zero emission car there, I'm contributing to the air pollution problem that every major city has by driving my gas burning vehicle. I even have had people that live in the city email me to ask for advice about getting EV charging equipment installed where they live. It's very difficult to own an electric car if you live in the city because it's so difficult to get it charged without paying extraordinarily high installation fees well into the thousands of dollars.  Hopefully Intro.1176 will pass and we can begin to get the hundreds and even thousands of charging stations that NYC needs to accommodate the wave of plug in cars that will be on the streets of NY in the near future.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

i3 vs M3: Mano e Mano

Last week BMW held a press event for the UK launch of the i3 and allowed journalists the opportunity to have an extended test drive of an i3. However that's not all they let them do. BMW also arraigned to have the journalists drag race an M3 that was driven by one of BMW's professional drivers.

The first day of the event the i3 was beating the M3 to 60 mph which took a lot of people by surprise. While the i3 is a very quick car, it isn't M3-quick so some of the journalists were scratching their heads a bit. However it was lightly raining that day and while the M3 was struggling to get traction, the i3 with its thin tires was jumping off the line much quicker and holding off the late charge of the M3. When one journalist questioned if the M3 driver was holding back, BMW let him drive the M3 himself in another race and he promptly lost to the i3 also.

The next day was a little different with dry pavement as seen in the above video. The i3 still jumps off the line quicker, but the massive engine of the M3 is too much for the i3 and halfway through the race to 60 mph you can see it gaining and then easily passing the i3 before they hit the goal of 60 mph.

I've enjoyed the instant torque that my EV's have offered and frequently comment on how that is one of the advantages electric vehicles have over internal combustion engine cars. It really helps to make the EV driving experience better in my opinion. However I can't help but wonder if the M3 didn't have traction control working or if it had some other handicap that we weren't told about. The i3 is quick and I promise it will be a blast to drive, but the M3 is built for one thing- speed, and goes 0-60 in about 4.8 seconds compared to the i3's 7 seconds. It's hard to see how this race was as close as it appears. Still - this is exactly the kind of stuff I want to see from BMW. The i3 is a competent performer as well as an efficient EV built with a focus on sustainable manufacturing and materials. Sustainable is great, but it's the fun stuff like this that gets people excited about the car and what will ultimately sell them!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Strong US i3 Demand Expected, Says CEO Willisch

Predicting demand for electric vehicles has proven to be a difficult task. Both GM and Nissan had admit to not hitting their sales predictions when they first launched their respective electric vehicles. Tesla, on the other hand seems to have their sales constricted by battery supply issues and not by a lack of customer demand.

BMW has been very quiet with regard to talking about sales targets for the i3. It has been reported that BMW will have the ability to make 30,000 i3's per year and could possibly push that up to 40,000 if the demand warrants it. However that isn't right out of the gate. The first year of production will most certainly be much lower than 30,000 regardless of the demand.  Because everything about the i3 requires a completely new manufacturing process it's going to take a little while for BMW to work out any initial kinks in the assembly process. Plus, BMW can only make as many i3's as they get battery cells for. Yes BMW does assemble the battery pack in-house at their Landshut plant, but they do get the cells from a supplier (Samsung) and will be limited to what Samsung can supply.
The i3 battery pack consists of  8 modules, each consisting of 12 individual cells. Pictured above is one i3 module with an individual cell positioned in front.

Initial European orders have been very strong which is good for BMW and a good sign in general for the EV industry, but may squeeze i3 availability for the US market. BMW North American CEO Ludwig Willisch recently told the Automotive News that he believes BMW will sell every i3 allocated to US dealers and wouldn't comment on volume any more than saying  the US would get "more than a few thousand". In 2011, the first full year of US sales for the Volt and the LEAF, they sold 7,345 and 9,655 units respectively. The market for electric vehicles has matured a bit since then which is an advantage for the i3, but the i3 is also much more expensive than either the Volt or the LEAF so that will certainly be a sales-restricting factor in itself. Throw in the fact that we don't know how many i3's BMW can supply the US in the first year and it really is difficult to even guess how many will be sold in 2014. Maybe that's why Willisch and the others at BMW are reluctant to offer any real sales prediction other than to say "strong demand"; or perhaps it's because they watched Nissan and GM fall short and have to address their mistakes and eat a little crow. My guess is it's the latter.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Have i3 Questions? Ask Nikki!

A good friend of mine, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield just reached out to me to let me know she would have some driving time in an i3 this Friday. Nikki runs the Transport Evolved Network and has had me as a guest on her Transport Evolved podcast a few times in the past. Anyway, she scored an i3 for an extended drive  and wanted to know if any of my followers had any specific questions that she could answer, or any road test she could perform for you while she was driving. Here's the link to her site where she asks:
"BMW i3 Electric Hatchback: What Do YOU Want To Know?"

Click through and post your questions. Nikki will do her best to answer every one of them!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Long Will it Take To Charge an i3?

The i3 will charge in about 3 hours on a standard level 2 supply.
Since installing public charging stations at my restaurant in Montclair NJ, I have conversations with EV-interested folks nearly every day. One of the most popular questions they seem to always ask is how long does an electric car take to charge?

I wish I could just give a quick answer, but it's just not that easy. Nearly every EV takes a different amount of time to charge since they have different size batteries and the also have different charging rates. Then you throw in three different levels of charging (120V, 240V & 480V DC quick charge) and there isn't even a single answer for every car. For instance if I said the i3 takes about 3 hours to charge I'd be correct. However I could also say it will charge to 80% in under a half hour (DC QC) as I could say it takes about 15 hours (simple 120V household outlet) to charge and I'd still be correct. So I try to quickly explain the different methods of charging and the fact that every car is different without totally confusing the person or making it sound so complicated that they are are turned off by it all. After all, getting gas may be expensive but let's face it, it's very easy to understand!

The size of the battery, the onboard charger and the supply provided will all work together to determine how long your EV will take to charge. The vast majority of the time most EV owners will charge their car they will do so on a 240V electric supply, so I'll focus on that here. One advantage "little battery" EV's like the i3 have is since they have a small battery, they will charge relatively quickly, provided they have robust onboard charging capabilities. The i3's standard 7.7kW charger will fully charge the battery in under three hours which is pretty good compared to the other EV's on the market. Only Tesla (9.6kW charging standard) and Renault (43kW Chameleon charger) offer an EV with a faster level 2 charging rate than the i3.

Miles Per Hour:

One way to condense the conversation about charging time is to simply say how many miles of range per hour of charging you get. The i3's small battery (18.8kWh usable) combined with its relatively fast onboard charger will allow you to gain about 30 miles of range for every hour you are plugged into a 240v 32 amp supply. This will be something I really welcome. My MINI-E could accept up to 12kW's and I would get about 30 miles per hour of charging. However after a recent BMW software tweak my ActiveE only gets about 15 miles of range per hour and it feels painfully slow, especially when I need to charge to get somewhere. I am
so looking forward to getting back to charging at 30 miles per hour when I get my i3. Being able to charge quickly on a standard level 2 supply is really helpful and once you've been able to do so you don't want to go to a slower charging rate. The car becomes imminently more usable when you can charge it quickly so I'm glad BMW is offering a pretty robust onboard charger. Now of course I wish it was a 9.6kW charger like Tesla uses, but that's just the part of me that is never satisfied speaking. In reality 7.7kW's is fine for a car with a 22kWh battery. It will charge twice as fast as my ActiveE and deliver about the same range, and that will really make the car much more versatile.