Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The First Volt Owner in Georgia Explains What He Doesn't Like About the BMW i3... and Why He's Buying One!

Chris Campbell with his Volt. Chris was actually the first Volt owner in the State of Georgia. Now that his 3 year lease is coming to an end he's chosen to replace his Volt with a BMW i3.
Chris Campbell has been following my blogs for a while now, and has commented on many posts. He's an avid electric car supporter and is a member of the BMW i3 Facebook group. Chris has been following the BMW i3 for a while now and he's been really anxious to test drive one. As you'll read below, the driving experience is really important to him - as it is for me. Chris finally has his chance to test drive the i3 (twice actually) and shortly after declared on a post in the Facebook group "I did test drive #2 this morning. That's it, I'm in.". I know Chris knows a lot about EV's, and I know he had his doubts about whether the i3 would be the right EV for him, after all he really loves his Volt. So when I read his declaration, I asked him if he would like to do a guest post here, to offer his story of  how he came to the conclusion the i3 would be the EV that would replace his Volt. He accepted the invitation, and sent me the post below:

GETTING OVER IT AND CHOOSING THE BMW I3

I am an electric vehicle enthusiast.  The wave of EVs in the late 1990s piqued my interested, but it was a lucky chance at a long test drive of a Tesla Roadster in April 2009 that gave me the EV religion.  By 2010 I was ready for a new car and the market was finally ready to give me an EV.  In my case the Chevy Volt was good choice because I have a short commute, well within the electric range of the Volt, but also wanted the ability to take the car anywhere at any time and not have to worry about range.  Note that there was virtually ZERO public charging infrastructure in 2010 when I got the Volt.

Fast forward three years and I'm now at the end of my three year Volt lease, and looking for my next car. The Volt has been great, and in fact I still believe it is the BEST car on the market, especially for anyone new to EVs.  After three years of tweaks, and this year's dramatic price drop, the Volt is even more compelling than when I took my somewhat risky plunge in 2010.  But, for me personally, as my Volt lease ends I'm now looking to move on to the next thing.

I've been following BMW's EV developments closely for a few years now, and after a second test drive this past Friday, I've decided that the BMW i3 is going to be my next car.  I'll explain why, but I'm also going to take a sober look at the car, probably unlike any other i3 review you've seen.

EVs are an absolute thrill to drive, and there was no doubt that my next car would be another EV.  While the environmental and geopolitical reasons for getting an EV are important to me, what really draws me is the sheer power (well, torque) of the electric drivetrain.  Once you experience that "stealth V8" power you just can't live without it.

So, for me, the very top issue in selecting the next car was POWER. How fast was it?  The Volt (and Leaf, even) are deceptively powerful, and a blast to drive, but I consider them to have only the MINIMUM required power.  More is better!  And early reports on the BMW i3 indicated that it was going to be more powerful than anything on the market short of the (sadly unattainable) Tesla models, so I've been following it very closely for over a year now.

There are lots of features that I like about the i3.  The carbon fiber structure is certainly cool.  I'm tall, and the long coupe-style front doors place the pseudo B-pillars (and seatbelt anchors) nicely back and out of my peripheral vision.  The i3 will have an available DC fast charging option, and I decided earlier this year that my next car simply had to have DCFC capability.  The drive train is well engineered, following four years of careful testing in BMW's MINI-E and ActiveE programs.  It's a BMW, so you're going to get a driver's car.

All these things are great, but certainly the car isn't perfect.  No car is perfect.  And in fact, that's how it usually works, right?  You fall in love with a car, then you find out something about the car that you DON'T like, and then you have to decide whether you can get over it.  Do the pros outweigh the cons?

The Nissan Leaf is ugly, has a spartan interior, and has a cheaper battery technology that makes it susceptible to weather extremes.  The Chevy Volt is a bit pricey and can't seat more than two people in the back (and the EV purists turn their noses up at it).  The Ford models have that hulking battery pack messing up the trunk, signifying the worst of "conversion car" engineering.  And so forth -- you can always find something wrong with a car.  Even the vaunted Tesla Model S has problems, most prominently its stratospheric price tag, but upon closer examination there are plenty of other problems.

So, I've got problems with the BMW i3.  Can I get over it?

I'm an engineer, and I can't help but try to analyze this decision soberly and methodically.  Anticipating that I'd be back in the market for a new EV after the Volt lease, a year ago I started assembling my checklist for the perfect electric vehicle.  This long document is a collection of every feature in every EV on the market, and serves as a way to honestly evaluate the cars on the market.  No car is perfect, not even the Tesla Model S, and my list serves to remind me that there are tradeoffs in any car.

With that, I will now itemize the top things that I do NOT like about the BMW i3.  See, I told you this would be unlike any review you'd read!  Again, I've said above that I AM going to buy an i3, in fact I will be happy to be the first in my home state, as I was with the Chevy Volt three years ago, and probably will be as big a cheerleader as anyone about the car (well, except for Tom M...).  But I'm doing this with a clear-eyed view of the pros AND the cons of the car.

In essence, this is a list of the things that I had to "get over" in order to commit to the i3.

IT'S UGLY!












While the i3 has some sexy angles, it has some real stinkers too. Look at it straight on from the front, or straight at the rear.  In both of those angles the weird design is jarring, and the skinny tires jump out at you.  I know, I know, 19-20 inch tires, contact patch size blah blah blah -- it just LOOKS bad.  But it's a thrill to drive!  So I'll get over the looks, or least tolerate the snide remarks.  At least I shouldn't have to worry about those kinds of comments from Nissan Leaf owners, right?  That has got to be the ugliest car on the market, from ALL angles!  Ha!

NO CLIMATE PRESTART ON KEYFOB













You're not going to believe this, but this feature is THE most important feature to me in an EV, putting aside the headline features of the drivetrain, battery and charging technology.  The same way you get addicted to the instantaneous torque of an EV drivetrain, I have become addicted to that little button ON THE KEYFOB of my Chevy Volt that starts up the climate control.  I use it every ... single ... time ... I get into my car (so at least twice daily), from inside the house as I'm getting ready to leave in the morning, and then on the way home as I'm approaching the car at my workplace.  Yeah yeah, sure, I can use the smartphone app -- wanna race?  It takes me 3 seconds (and minimal cognitive engagement) to get the car warming up, and I can do it blind with the keyfob in my pocket.  Try THAT with your smartphone.  Scheduling the prestart doesn't solve this for me because I don't get in the car at the same time every day.

There is a "diamond" button on the i3 keyfob that acts as a panic button, but I've heard a rumor that it is actually *configurable*, and that climate prestart may be one of the configurable options.  If so, congratulations BMW on a brilliant solution, and scratch this off the cons list!  But I haven't seen confirmation, so it remains on my short list of problems with the i3.  Trust me, once you have this feature, you can't live without it.

CHARGE PORT ON WRONG SIDE OF CAR


You will plug and unplug the car EVERY DAY.  That's at least two trips to the charge port location, and therefore it should be as close as possible to the driver's door.  BMW stuck it in the right rear corner, just about the worst possible place.  I'm sure they have their reasons, but from a usability perspective it's just all wrong.  I have seen some factory photos of the CFRP passenger cell that have shown that the interior structure of the car has cutouts on BOTH sides, so it's possible that they may relocate the port to the rear left side in the future, but for now -- it's in the wrong spot and will annoy me twice a day for my entire life with the car.

NO POWER SEATS
Power seats aren't even available as an option.  It takes me forever to get the seat adjusted just right, and thus I really want the memory function of the power seats so I can put it back the way I like it after someone else has driven the car (spouse, mechanic, etc.).  A car that approaches $50,000 when loaded with options should offer power seats as one of those options.  And don't try to tell me that it's left out for energy saving reasons, that's simply nonsense.  I'll buy the weight savings argument, but still, this should be an option.
 
WHAT'S NOT ON THIS LIST

There are many things that other people have complained about that are NOT a problem for me:

- It's a four seater.  You can't put three people in the back seat, even three kids, as there's a console in the middle and no third set of seatbelts.  That's fine with me.


- There is no SOC percentage showing the exact state of the battery charge.  I know the other i3 fans are screaming about this, but I could not care less.  I'll trust the indication of mileage remaining, and will eventually learn how to correct for challenging driving ahead.

- Range: 80-100 is plenty for me.  In fact, using the VoltStats.net data from my last three years of Volt driving, I recently found that 80-100 is perfect for me.  Give me the DCFC interface and even just a hint of a future charging network and I've got all I need.

I GOT OVER IT

And here we are.  I've listed some big problems I have with the i3, and I've listed even more on the full EV checklist on www.ElectrifyAtlanta.com (now updated with i3 data).  And yet ... the drive is intoxicating.  It's got more power (more more more gimme) and can carve through turns like it's on rails.  Check out Chris Neff's recent report on his day with an i3 as a professional race car driver flung it around a racetrack for 10 hours!

It's got good range.  It has a sunroof option, and I love the doors. It offers HD Radio and RDS, which are radio tuner features that I really wish all cars had. I even love the underdog factor of having the SAE Combo DC fast charging interface that all the Nissan and Tesla partisans are howling at.  Game on, let's go.

And so I got over it.  Take my money, BMW, the sooner the better.  Can I be first in Georgia again?

Chris Campbell
www.ElectrifyAtlanta.com
The only question I now have for Chris is what color does he want. Will he choose Laurel Gray like I plan to order?

33 comments:

  1. Chris (and Tom), thanks for a great post. I have a few similar cons... but the ugly part I can't fully agree with. I like the style, I just don't like the limited color choice and scheme. I live in SoCal and DO NOT want a black roof and hood. This may indeed be a deal breaker. I want that delightful orange paint all over the car, not just a splash on the sides. I guess I could get it painted, but come on! Volt used to only come with the black roof and I lived with it but now it comes in body color. Score one for Chevy and minus one for BMW. I do agree about the power seats though. We are going to be a one-car family soon, so memory seats would go a long way to help. I hated the adjusters in the ActiveE. I don't really care about the extra power, as I think the Volt I'm driving now has plenty. Yeah, a bit more wouldn't hurt, but I'd rather have the memory seats. I might even accept the black roof and hood if it had memory seats. :-)

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    1. Hey Joe,
      The roof is actually not painted black like the hood it. The roof is exposed CRFP, although it's still black-ish ;)

      How about a wrap? You could have a custom color that way. I'm actually thinking about doing it myself.

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  2. Thanks for the honest review, Chris!

    Since I haven't had the opportunity to drive an i3 myself, it helps getting the perspective of a fellow Volt owner. I ordered my Volt back in 2011 sight unseen (The day I took delivery was the first time I had seen one in person). I'm hoping to see and even test drive the i3 before mine arrives in the Spring or early Summer, but I'm confident I'll love it nonetheless.

    I share your disappointment with the charge port location. For myself, placing it where the REx port is would be much more convenient, or on the other side of the car, like you suggested.

    I know you touched on the aesthetics of the skinny tires on the i3, but I'd like to add the ongoing maintenance as a concern of mine as well. In fact, I'm having a hard time letting go of it. In every tire configuration except for the Base-model BEV, the front wheels/tires are different sizes than the rear wheels/tires. So not only will these skinny tires be hard to find (especially last-minute in the case of a flat), but the differing sizes prevents you from having them rotated, at least in a normal fashion, and will possibly expedite the need to replace them. In my time with my Volt, I've grown to appreciate the utter lack of required maintenance (3 tire rotations and an oil change in over 2 years of ownership). It's a huge selling point when I talk about the benefits of driving an EV. I'm afraid the i3 tire situation might rain on my maintenance-free EV parade a little bit.

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    1. Junior, where did you hear about the front and rear tires being staggered on the i3? I believe your understanding is incorrect.

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    2. I can't find where I originally found the Standard/Optional Equipment guide, so I've posted it here. If you look at the Exterior options, you'll see that all optional configurations have differing front/rear tire & wheel sizes.

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/qwe4l3icyz8elzn/BMW_i3_DOT_FINAL.pdf

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    3. He is correct. For all wheel combinations except the standard wheels on the Mega World base i3, the rear tires are wider then the front tires. All the REx i3's regardless of the interior World chosen the rear tires are wider.

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    4. Junior, I left the driving dynamics analysis to other reviewers, but I'll say this. The i3 is definitely quicker than the Volt. The accel pedal is a lot smoother, with a bigger "dead spot" for coasting, and the braking is smoother. The regen is not as strong as I had feared based on reports. It's stronger than the Volt's but not much. And of course as a rear wheel drive car, you have a lot more grip to play with, since all four tires are working hard.

      You raise a good point about tire maintenance. One key thing that I didn't cover in my review is that I will be getting a pure electric i3, without the REx option. My analysis of the past three years (linked above) shows I can live without it, but more importantly the Georgia tax incentive effectively discourages it. So I won't have to worry about the tire rotation problem you described. Also the pure electric i3 is slightly faster :)

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    5. Chirs: Yes you can definitely live with the BEV. I took a good look at your stats and you fit perfectly with an 80-100 mile BEV. I noticed many of the long mileage days were consecutive days so you were on very long trips. Eliminate those(use a different vehicle) and your in the i3's range nearly 100% of the time.

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    6. I'll be getting the pure electric version as well, but with the Sport wheels. Any wheels other than the Base wheels on the BEV version, regardless if it's with or without the REx, will have differing wheel widths. :(

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    7. I also have a volt but I live in Australia. the charge port for me is on the wrong side of the car (we drive on the right hand side) and it is quite annoying. perhaps the same thing has happened with the i3, it has been designed for a different market. In any case, the i3 seems like a great concept. I love my volt, but an extra 10 to 20 miles range would really be quite handy. the i3 range does this (and more), and the range extender is plenty for the vast majority of people.

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  3. Great post - and great idea Tom for suggesting this to Chris. I have an expiring lease too but it's not an EV and I'm considering the i3 with the range extender as well as the Volt. I don't drive much and average about 47 miles per day but like most people need to occasionally drive further. I emailed Tom about a year ago to ask him his opinion of which EV would be best for me and he was kind enough to respond and suggested that I record my daily mileage so I really know how often I need to drive more than 80 to 100 miles.

    In about ten months now, I only drove more than 100 miles 3 times in the same day and more than 80 miles 11 times. I could probably be fine with the all electric i3 but this being my first EV I think I'm going to spring for the range extender, even though I will probably only use it a dozen times per year. I do like the Volt's styling more but I also like how the i3 really looks futuristic. I don't think it's ugly as Chris does, just odd and unconventional. The Volt isn't completely out of consideration though and the fact that it is $10,000 less than the i3 with range extender does make me think, but in the end I'll probably spring for the extra cash and go with the i3. I have till August to decide so I'll have plenty of reviews from i3 owners to read before I have to make the call.

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  4. Keep in mind if you are into the Volt but like the performance of the i3, you can reflash an ECU in the Volt to reliably do 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds, my letting the engine connect to the transmission at not just the default ~70MPH and higher for efficiency's sake when in hybrid mode, but also at lower speeds, but only if you floor it. Also at this time you have the full power of the electric motor helping out too. You can still drive the car in EV mode like normal.
    http://youtu.be/hA4fLSuvkk8?t=3m50s

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    1. I've seen that guy's reports. It's crazy what he's doing to the car to get that performance, removing all sorts of safety limits. Not only is this a flagrant violation of the warranty, it's unsafe.

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    2. How so unsafe? There are no details of how exactly the software hack modifies the car, what he had to bypass and modify. We just know he's able to connect the engine when it's not supposed to and give full throttle.

      It could be unsafe if there is a bug in his hack where something keeps on giving torque when you don't want it. I can't find any people that have had it installed but would love to see it become a reliable mod, awesome idea if reliable and safe.

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  5. Pretty good article.

    We went with the Rav 4 EV to get the Tesla performance and SUV capability. And the price for the lease was crazy good at the time we got it.

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  6. Great piece! I agree on the ugliness factor. It practically screams "LOOK AT ME!" which isn't necessarily bad, but owners will probably have to suffer a lot of snide remarks... "A pricey AND ugly electric vehicle that gets only 100 miles.. Only a BMW idiot would buy it.." ;-) Eh. Whatev. I'm sitting inside it as a driver, so I don't really care what it looks like. But if it's fun to drive, let other drivers on the road stare--and most likely with jaws that hit the floor when I leave them in the dust from a standing stop or taking the twistys at speeds while their clunky and heavy ICE cars struggle to keep up.

    As for the charge port location, I think I could get over it. The Mini-E had the port at the left rear. My Ford Focus Electric has it right in front of the driver's door. I understand that putting it on the (for U.S drivers) "passenger's side" will mean I need to walk around the car to plug and unplug it. But that's not a biggie. (It might be a good thing, too, since it might force you to do a quick visual check on the i3 before every drive--kinda like how pilots do a "walk around" inspection before flights.)

    As for the pre-start.... My Focus has a remote start on the key fob, too. And while I LOVE the ability to schedule pre-conditioning from the Web and/or smart phones, there IS something to be said about remote-starting from the key fob! And in my Ford, what I do is leave the climate control blasting (either heat or A/C, depending on the season and weather) before I turn off the car. Since it's most likely plugged in and charging when I come back to drive it, I can hit the remote start on the fob and viola... the car is pre-conditioning with the climate control working off grid power.

    But there's NO remote starting button on the i3's key fob? Really? (I've never seen any pics of the fob.)

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    1. Anonymous: I just added a picture of the i3 key fob to the post, take a look.

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  7. Great Article Chris. Not sure if you'll be first in GA though; my wife put $$$ down and is allegedly "first on the list" at one of the local dealers. I'm sure they say that to everyone though :) She drives a Miata now and was pleased with the relative pep and handling of the i3. It's about the same HP and same weight, but of course it has the EV torque curve going for it.

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  8. Thanks LPBJ. The race is on :)

    Is she getting the REx, or pure EV?

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    1. Initially leaning toward REx, but on the fence. I drive a range extended EV (a Karma) and it's nice to not have any range anxiety but her daily driving would comfortably fit in the i3 range. And of course there's also the GA tax implication, essentially making the REx a $9K option

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    2. For those of you in States with a tax exemption for zero emission vehicles and are resigned to having to pay sales tax on a REx i3, you may get a surprise. I've said enough ;)

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    3. can you add the REx option a year later? after getting the tax incentive :)

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  9. Did anyone mention heat produced by the REX while running is not used to heat the cabin or possibly also the battery.

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    1. No it won't function that way. BMW didn't think it was worth the effort and money to do it since the car really isn't meant to be driving much in REx mode. It can if needed, but with a 80 -100 mile range the range extender isn't going to be used that much. Plus, if you have the range extender you wouldn't be able to use waste hear until you've driven 80 miles or so and already depleted the battery so there isn't much of a need to save the energy at that point, the range extender is making plenty to drive and power the heater.

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  10. The range extender won't always have the power you want, because the US spec version of it, the range extender can only turn on when the battery is mostly depleted, meaning little buffering if you are going up a hill, driving fast, etc.
    There have been reviews for the European spec where they've had 'limp' mode because the range extender could not keep up, but they have a button where the range extender can come on early before the battery is nearly depleted, versus the US will not in order to be Bevx rated

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    1. True you can't turn it on manually and there would be circumstances that you won't get full power, but those instances will be very, very seldom. If you understand how it works and monitor your speed you can do just about anything in range extender mode. You could in fact drive it from New York to California if you wanted to. However if it's your intent to overwhelm the REx, you can. Drive 80mph up a 5% grade for 10 miles and you'll find it slowing down at some point. But if you were smart, and slowed down to the speed limit you would make it without issue.
      Still, we are talking about what happens after you've driven 80 miles or so. If you frequently need to do that, and know you will be driving in a mountainous area, then it's not a good fit for you. That's OK. it's not meant for 100% of the population. If you have three kids or need to tow a boat to the lake then it's not a good fit either. For me, I know the range extender will do anything I need it to, including the two or three 225 mile trips I take to Vermont every year - and that's with the final 10 miles going up a gradual grade. The REx will have no problem doing it.

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    2. It always surprises me how some people can turn a great idea like the i3 small REx into a negative. From the moment I had my Volt I realized I would rather have more battery and less engine. But that was just me. Other people have different needs. It's great to have the choice between these 2 cars and the LEAF, which offer different compromises between range and performance.

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    3. No car can please everybody. I personally love the i3's architecture. I'd prefer a longer AER, say 100-120 miles, but short of that I think they did the i3 well

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  11. There is one big "con" that I realized this morning that I'd left out. Tom feel free edit this into the article if you want, if so then it would be best placed just above the "what's not on this list" section.

    NO HOLD MODE

    This only applies to the i3 with the gas generator range extender option, aka REx.

    In general, a Volt-style car’s range extender mode will automatically kick in at some defined threshold of battery charge, e.g. 20% charged (80% discharged). When you command a “hold mode” in such a car, you are telling the gas engine to come on NOW, before you’ve drained the battery all the way down to the automatic threshold. This then allows you, for example, to keep some battery charge for the end of a long roadtrip. You drive pure electric in the beginning, command hold mode on which starts the gas engine electric generator for the long haul (e.g. hundreds of miles), and then as you approach your destination you turn the hold mode off, returning to pure electric mode. This also becomes useful in short city stops in the middle of a long roadtrip — you turn off the hold mode for a few miles, switching the car back to electric mode and draining some of the battery, and then go back to hold mode once you’re on the highway again. Finally, the larger battery buffer allows for more spirited driving in general, including for example the ability to anticipate a challenging hill climb up ahead and save some electric oomph for it.

    BMW has this hold mode in Europeans i3's but not in the US models. Apparently it's because of their strict reading of the California regulations, and for now they just want to deliver one car to the US.

    After three years of Volt driving, this feature has become incredibly important to me, and is one reason why I won’t keep my early Volt beyond the 3-year lease — the earliest Volts don’t have this feature. So this problem earns a spot on the list here.

    As it turns out, though, the Georgia tax credit discourages the REx option, and I've decided I can now live with pure electric (per my Volt range analysis that I linked to above). Hopefully (for everyone else) this is just a first-year glitch that BMW will work out somehow for the 2015 model year, either by getting CARB to adjust their rules or by offering a CA emissions package and then letting the rest of the country have hold mode. But for me, the official Georgia list of qualifying 2014 vehicles does not include the REx so I won't be getting that option. I do expect that BMW will eventually get Georgia to include it, but until then, no REx for me. If the situation changes I might get the REx option but time's running out. Once the order book opens (in January?) I'll have to pick one or the other.

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  12. Two more "cons" have popped up in the last month. They're minor, but I think they are worth pointing out.

    BAD FOR DROPPING OFF KIDS

    I already mentioned how the back seat isn't a bench seat and can only hold two people, and I'm fine with that. However an EV-owning friend of mine pointed out another problem, following his experience test driving the i3.

    He had taken his very young daughter along, since he wanted to get her perspective on the car, plus even she was excited about the BMW! So she sat in the back, and he went on the test drive. After the drive, he was out of the car and talking to the salesman, when he realized his daughter was stuck in the car screaming for his attention! It turns out that with the i3's door design, a rear seat passenger can't let themselves out.

    Now, we all know that you can just open the driver's door, and then the back door opens -- and you can even reach back and do it while still sitting in the drivers seat. But you can't do that on the passenger side, at least not from the drivers seat, or without getting out of the car and walking around to the other side. Now think about the typical drop-off scenario: you pull up at the curb (say, in front of school) and let the kids out the right side of the car. They won't be able to let themselves out.

    That was a deal-breaker for my friend, and I totally understand it.

    NO SUNROOF AFTER ALL

    The i3 in Europe has a sunroof and we naturally assumed that the US-spec cars would have it too, at least as an option. I really like sunroofs, and even mentioned it in my original article above.

    Well, it turns out that BMW is having some sort of problem with the sunroof, and it will NOT be available in the US, at all, at least for the first model year. We don't know why -- it could be because of US crash test issues, weight (and thus EPA range) issues, who knows. We just know now, for sure, that the 2014 i3 will not have a sunroof available.

    Oh well. On balance, I still like the car enough to get it!

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  13. An update, as my situation has changed ...

    As I wrote in the original article above, on Dec 22nd my early Volt lease (first in Georgia) ended and I began the multi-month wait for my BMW i3 (employing "creative transportation" until then). I had a deposit in with the dominant Atlanta dealer and was likely to be the first in Georgia with this car like I was with the Volt over 3 years ago. However, last month BMW surprised us with the "Launch Edition", which for me meant I would have to pay more for options I didn't want, or wait until Jul-Aug. After a few days of anger and grieving, I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be getting an i3 this year. I just couldn't wait that long (and the fully loaded price was over the line for me). And so all EV options went back on the table, and finally this afternoon I bought a used Ford Focus Electric. They're hard to find out here but I located one for a fair price. I'm still planning on getting the i3 early next year (with 2015 model year improvements?!) but for now I've had to punt.

    While the FFE looks very good, inside and out, and it has that great torque of an EV, it is definitely not a "driver's car". It is poorly centered at highway speeds, has monster torque steer, and is terribly laggy on accel to decel transitions. Brakes are very grabby. If you're used to an econobox it's fine, but if you're used to a German sports sedan (or even the Volt!) it's pretty bad. I'll live!

    Now, all that said, let's take a look at my original list above of what I did NOT like about the i3, but was going to live with anyway. The Ford Focus Electric:
    - is by all accounts a good looking car
    - has climate prestart on the keyfob (the i3 has this, I've learned)
    - has the charging inlet in exactly the right spot (same as Volt)
    - offers power seats

    BMW, are you listening? You can't do much about the ugly, but for the 2015 model year, how about you offer a sunroof and power seats as options? And move that charging port to the other side, where you have a structural cutout waiting for it ...

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  14. I am new to this issue, but considering my first purchase. Also live in GA. I've read through all of the above, and it seems like you really loved your Volt, so curious why you are not considering a newer Volt? Is it simply b/c of the GA tax credit not applying? I was leaning toward Volt, until I learned yesterday that only Fed tax credit would apply, not GA, so back to undecided .... thanks

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  15. Great information for potential EV owners. Always good to see other i3 BEV owners. I'm coming from a Prius Plug In, and having a solid 85 mile EV is heaven. I get to drive up to 85 miles, charge it up and do it again.

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