Monday, January 6, 2014

To REx or Not To REx, That is The Question: Part 2

To REx or Not to REx, that is the question many potential i3 buyers are struggling with now
Back in September of 2011, only 6 months after I started this blog, I wrote a post titled "To REx or Not To REx, That is The Question". At the time, very little was known about the i3, and even less was known about the range extender; other than it would be available as an option and would appear sometime after the initial i3 launch.

The sign at the New York BMW i Born Electric Tour claimed a 100 mile range for the i3. It's looking like the EPA range rating will fall short of that.
My conclusion back then was if the BEV i3 had a real 100 mile range I would probably pass on the REx, but if the range was closer to 80 miles and the REx was only about $3,000, then I would probably go for it, providing I didn't have to wait too long after launch for the REx to be available. As it turned out, my fears about the range were justified. Even though I don't have proof of the EPA range rating yet, I feel confident by now that the range will be less than I had hoped, and that the i3 will have an EPA range rating that is somewhere in the 80s. I drive a lot and that's just cutting it too close for me. At 90-95 miles per charge I could probably do it, realizing that after 2 or 3 years the range will likely be in the high 80s anyway. A 100 mile EPA rating would have absolutely eliminated the need for the REx, but no company outside of Tesla is offering that on a real EV (one that is available across the Country). So at $3,850 the REx is a little higher than I would have liked it to be, but it's not astronomically overpriced, considering the utility value of having it on board and ready when you need it. 

So after bouncing back and forth a few times, I've decided I'll be getting my i3 with the range extender. After about five years of driving pure electric, I'll be back to hauling around an ICE. I don't love the idea, but I'm not hung up on "pure EV" dogma either. The goal is to use less gas and if the range extender allows me to drive on electric the vast majority of the time, yet still have the utility I need on the days I need to drive farther, than the goal is accomplished. The i3 simply won't have the necessary all electric range that's necessary for me personally but that doesn't mean it's not enough for many others. As you can imagine I'm not alone with the struggle to decide which version of the i3 to get. Now that the i3 is available to order in Europe, and only weeks away from being available in the US, I'm reading posts in the i3 forum and in our i3 Facebook group where others are grappling with the decision of if they should go BEV or REx.

I'll try to outline the pros and cons here. If you think I miss something please feel free to add your reasoning in the comments section. Here are my top six reasons for and six reasons against the range extender:

Why go for the range extender:


The added utility. Not having to plan out your mileage or look for public chargepoints if you know you'll be pushing the range on a particular day will be a welcome feature to many people. You won't have to think twice if your plans change and you need to drive more miles than you planned that day, and on days you know you'll be driving far you won't have to use the other family car, borrow a gas car or use a car sharing or rental service. With the exception of extremely long drives (hundreds of miles) that will take you up extended long mountainous routes the i3 with the REx can take you wherever you need to go without worry. Also as the car ages, the battery will lose capacity and your range will shrink. A new i3 with an 85 mile range may only be able to comfortably deliver 75 miles after 3 or 4 years. The REx means the car will always deliver the same utility regardless of how old it is and what shape your battery is in.

No range anxiety. There is some over lap with the first reason, but this really is another issue in itself. There is a difference in not using the car one day because you know the range wouldn't be enough, and miscalculating your total miles because your route had a detour, or your life had a detour that day. It happens. You  can plan your day all you want but things come up and you often need to drive farther than you thought you would have to. Usually the extra range you have is enough to get you home, but there are those days where you just come up short and can't make it. The last few miles you are gripping the steering wheel a little tighter and looking down at your range gauge every minute or so. I've been driving electric for nearly 5 years now and I can honestly say these kinds of issues don't happen often, in fact they are very rare. However when they do happen, it isn't fun. I can remember walking home at 2am last summer and thinking about how great it would have been to have that little REx motorcycle engine on my ActiveE. On that night, I ran out of charge about a quarter mile from my house. What made it really interesting is I live in a very rural area of New Jersey. There are no streetlights on my street and it's really pitch dark at 2am. Add to that I saw a bear walking on my lawn a few weeks earlier so as I was walking home I couldn't help but think of the headline, "EV advocate gets mauled by bear walking home because his electric car ran out of charge." I don't know if that is range anxiety or bear anxiety, but I could have really used the REx that night. I know some would say just get an EV with a bigger battery. No matter how big the battery is there could always be occasions when you miscalculate your range or drive farther than you planned and come up short. The range extender virtually eliminates any range anxiety unless you live in an extremely remote area where there aren't charge points or many gas stations where you drive. If that's the case, perhaps an EV isn't the best choice for you right now anyway.

Resale value. There isn't a lot of empirical data since modern EVs haven't been available long enough to really establish how much a pure EV will depreciate as compared to an EV with a range extender. Now that the earliest LEAF and Volt lessees are beginning to return their cars that were on three year leases, I believe in a year or so we can properly gauge if there is much of a difference. I suspect that electric cars with range extenders will fare much better in the second hand market. I know if I were looking to buy a three year old i3 I'd be much more concerned about the condition of the battery if it didn't have the REx. After three years there will be range degradation, there is no way around it as the battery ages. Will a three year old BEV i3 still have 90% of its original range? How about 85%? We simply don't have the answer yet. That uncertainty really hurts the value of the car. The potential new owner won't really know how far it can go until they buy the car and live with it for a while. However if the used i3 has the REx, then the all electric range isn't nearly as important. The buyer can still do anything they want with the car. They can drive it as far as they want to and the only negative they have is they may use a little more gas than when it was new because of the lower electric range. If it's a pure BEV they also have to worry about how many more years they have with the car until the range really impacts the cars utility - the REx removes that concern. Of course if you lease the car this isn't your problem and one of the reasons I recommend leasing if you are in the market for an EV today.

When will this be commonplace?
Lack of infrastructure. If there were level 2 charging stations in every parking lot, and finding a place to plug in while you work, dine and shop was without hassle, then daily life with a ~80 mile BEV would be simple. If we also had a robust DC quick charge infrastructure then long distance travel would be easy, even if it meant stopping more frequently then you would have to for a gasoline car. However we just aren't there yet. Outside of certain areas of California and a couple other progressive areas, charging infrastructure is still in its infancy. It's going to take a while for EV charging to be ubiquitous. I do believe we'll get there, but not for a while. There will be a lot of growing pains and I believe the number of EV's sold will greatly outpace the number of public charge points installed. For most people outside of a few select areas, I fear finding available EVSE's will be very difficult for the foreseeable future.


My ActiveE battery was frequently drained
Damage from frequent deep discharges. This may be a minor concern, but since the REx will turn on at about 6% state of charge, the battery won't be run down to very deep discharges. There is about 10% buffer when you drain the i3's battery completely so when the REx turns on the real state of charge is actually about 15%. The buffer is there so you don't do really deep discharges which would damage the battery. However I can't help but think if you are a high mileage driver like I am with a BEV i3 and frequently roll into your garage with the state of charge below 5% of the available capacity, the cumulative effect of doing this frequently will have negative effects on the battery. With my MINI-E and ActiveE, there were many times I drained the battery well under 5% and even drove them until they just stopped and wouldn't go any farther a few times. This isn't good for the battery, but since these were test cars that would be taken out of service after two or three years there was really no reason to pamper the battery. However if you shell out $45,000 for a new i3, you will want to take good care of your battery, as it's the most expensive component of the vehicle to replace. Frequent deep discharges can bring on early degradation which will mean less range and perhaps even cause more deep discharges and accelerate the early capacity loss of your pack.  

My ActiveE preconditioning in the snow
Cold weather range degradation. If you live in an area that gets cold during the year this is something you need to be very cognizant of. Even with a sophisticated thermal management system like the i3 has and the ability to precondition the battery and passenger cabin, the range of an electric vehicle is less when it's cold outside. The combination of the need to use energy to power the cabin heater, the seat heaters, the defroster, etc, plus the fact that the batteries simply cannot store and use the same amount of energy as efficiently as they do when it's warm conspire to cut into the range. Without having thoroughly tested the i3 in cold conditions, I still feel confident saying you can expect at least a 20% range reduction in temperatures below freezing, and that number could quite possible as much high as 30%. So lets say the i3 gets an EPA range rating of 85 miles per charge. I wouldn't expect the average driver will get more than 60 - 70 miles per charge when they are driving at or below freezing, and even less as the temperature drops much lower than that. It should be noted that this isn't permanent range degradation, like I was referring to above.  As soon as the temperature rises back up again, so will your range, but that could mean for 3-4 months a year you have to live with an EV will less than 70 miles per charge. With the REx all this means is you may use a little gas, but you won't have to change your driving style, find secondary roads to your destination so you can drive slower or wear a hat and gloves so you don't need to use the cabin heater.

Reasons against getting the REx:


Do you mind if I smoke?
It's an electric car! - You don't want really want to put gas in it do you? The whole reason for going electric is to get away from gas, right? Well there are lots of reasons for going electric while not needing to buy gas anymore is definitely one of the top ones. The way I see it, my goal is to use as little gas as possible. My EVs are mostly powered with electricity generated from my solar array which really makes them as close to true zero emission vehicles as possible. I don't feel bad if I end up burning 10 or 20 gallons of gas in a year with my REx i3, after all I used to use that much gas every four days when I commuted in my SUV. Still an electric car that burns gas can leave a foul taste in your mouth as the exhaust pipe does when the REx is running

This stuff shouldn't pour out of an EV!
ICE complexity means added maintenance. One of the great aspect of electric cars is their simplicity and
extremely low maintenance. Slap an internal combustion engine as a range extender in there and you just complicate things. Now oil changes, tune-ups, filters, mufflers, etc are all part of ongoing maintenance again, just when the electric car promised to put all that in your past. The only redeeming aspect is since you'll likely only use the REx occasionally, the maintenance schedule will not be nearly as intensive as it is on a normal ICE car. Still - this is a major drawback in my opinion.

The added weight of the REx reduces the cars efficiency and performance. The i3 is the most efficient electric vehicle on the road. Everything BMW did while designing it was centered around lower weight and increasing efficiency. The REx adds 265lbs of dead weight to the car, which has to be lugged around everywhere you go. Even if you don't use the REx for a month at a time, every mile you drive you'll be carrying it with you. The efficiency will take a hit and you'll be using slightly more electricity to power the car whenever you drive it. It's kinda like going hiking and carrying 30 water bottles in your back pack every time you hike, even though you usually only need 1 or 2 of them for 95% of your hikes. Plus, the added weight robs some of the performance. The all electric i3 will go 0-60 in about 7.0 seconds, while the REx i3 will need about 7.7 seconds. Still pretty quick, but if you're driving a REx i3 and a BEV i3 pulls next to you at a streetlight, kindly decline the invitation for a race.

It takes a little away from the cool futuristic feel of the car. Driving electric is a blast. It's a different driving experience that most will tell you is actually better than driving ICE. There is also a really cool feeling that you are really driving the future. The ultra silent vibration-less cabin, the instant torque and feeling that you are almost being pulled along by a string instead of the car providing the propulsion really lets you know you are definitely not driving something from a past generation. Add to that the i3's futuristic architecture, advanced electronic features, extensive use of carbon fiber for the passenger cell, aluminum for the frame and thermoplastic for the outer skin and this is indeed a car of the future that you can drive today. Do you really think an internal combustion engine that's vibrating and belching pollutants into the air as you drive along really belongs there? Of course it doesn't.

It will complicate your conversations: I've been driving electric for nearly five years now and I still get people asking me about my cars all the time. I can't go to a car wash without someone asking me about it and often when I return to my car parked in a lot at a shopping center there is someone there looking at it and wanting to ask me about it. With a REx i3 I can no longer say, "Yeah, it's all electric and I love never buying gas!" like I do now. I see the conversation going something like this:

Them: That's an interesting car is it electric?
Me: Thanks, yes it is.
Them: Wow! Cool  - so it's all electric?
Me: Well it's not all electric, but 99% of the time I drive it is all electric. It has a small gas engine that is used to recharge the batteries if I need to drive farther than the electric range will allow.
Them: Oh, so it's a hybrid. My neighbor has a Prius and loves it.
Me: (Groaning under my breath) No, it's an electric car with a range extender.
Them: So it's not like Prius then?
Me: Well it's not like the old Prius, but there is a new Prius now that is a plug in Hybrid and it's kinda like that but the i3 has a much greater electric range.
Them: So it's kinda like the plug in hybrid Prius, but it's not a hybrid you say?
Me: Have a nice day. (Drives off mumbling)

I've driven the i3 a few times now, and the distinctive styling attracts a lot of attention. If you buy an i3 expect a lot of curious people asking you questions about it and the range extender definitely makes explaining the car more difficult.

Cost: The range extender option costs $3,850.00 in the US and that's a lot of coin. There is also the concern that in some states getting the REx option will then disqualify the car for the zero emission tax exemption. If that is the case, the range extender will end up costing them closer to $7,000 because the sales tax will add another $3,500 or so to the price. However I don't think this will be the case because I know BMW has been working very hard behind the scenes to get the i3 REx classified as a zero emission vehicle under the CARB BEVx rule. Hopefully we will get clarity on this soon because I know states like NJ, Washington and Georgia (possibly others also) all have tax exemptions and/or other state incentives for zero emission vehicles, but not plug in hybrids. Still, even if it only costs the $3,850, that is a significant additional cost.

Ultimately you have to decide what best suits your needs. I would hate to have someone buy a BEV i3 and then realize they can't live with the limited range and struggle with worrying about running out of charge. However I also don't want to give the impression that the BEV i3 wouldn't work for a lot of people. I happen to drive much more than the average person. I drive between 33,000 and 35,000 miles per year and average around 85 miles per day so for me the REx i3 makes more sense. However as I've said, I have lived the past 5 years with pure EVs and really didn't have too many instances when I wished I had a range extender. Only you know what's best for you. That reminds me of one of my favorite Dr Seuss quotes: 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
This one has the REx
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/decide.html#rPcLldjpa2jFvQDb.99

33 comments:

  1. For some reason the heat pump will not be available on the REx model. That does not help much with the decision.

    What if you had a third hypothetical choice to keep the ActiveE?
    What would it say about the i3 if many of the electronauts chose to keep theirs?

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    1. For me it's not even close vdiv. The i3 is worlds better in nearly every way with the exception of styling which is hugely subjective.

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    2. We've heard this from a lot of the Electronauts about their AE, and before that from the MINI E Pioneers. Too bad we'll never really know which one they would take, the MINI E, Active E or i3...

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    3. @ vdiv, Tom can correct me if I'm wrong, but the heat pump sits next to the electric motor, if you equip your i3 with the REx it takes up that space and leaves no room for the heat pump.

      CDspeed

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    4. That has been reported vdiv, but I don't think it is accurate. I believe the heat pump is located in the front of the car. There was speculation that the reason you can't get the heat pump with the REx was because it goes in the space where the range extender does, that isn't correct.

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    5. If it's up front, maybe it's the gas tank that voids the heat pump from REx equipped i3s.

      CDspeed

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    6. Jose Guerrero, the product manager for Project i, confirmed recently that the heat pump won't be included on the BEVx trim initially due to a "packaging issue". What that means exactly is anyone's guess. I, for one, hope that BMW will figure this out and offer the heat pump on the BEVx trim in the future. And, yes, nice write-up Tom!

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    7. I have stated it many times in the past. I would like to keep my Active E.

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  2. Thanks Tom for nice summary. I think I am mentally heading in similar direction as you. I have replaced electric heater in my Mitsubishi iMiEV with diesel parking heater and I don't feel bad at all. Actually, saving electricity for propulsion allows me to travel further in winter, so I don't have to use the other family car (ICE).
    When I asked the person at the pump to fill up the can with diesel, he was rolling his eyes. Generator runs on gas, mower runs on gas, so why diesel?

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  3. "The REx adds 265lbs of dead weight to the car, which has to be lugged around everywhere you go."

    Thanks for bringing this up, as the only other premium EV with a realistic range of ~160 miles carries around 1,754 lbs of dead weight everywhere you go, costs ~ $25,000 more, is roughly 30% less efficient, and is not as much fun to drive - the Tesla Model S.

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    1. Oops, make that 2,019 lbs (roughly 7.6 times the weight of the REx system) of dead weight to be lugged around for the Tesla S - a capacity that will likely be tapped just a few times in the life of the car. I mistakenly used the REx weight in the comparison, when I should have used the BEV.

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    2. Ultraturtle. Beg to differ, the Tesla S is a blast to drive too. I currently have it, an Active E, a Roadster and use to have the MINI E. All fun cars to drive but very different. Do you currently drive an EV? If so, what? And if you get a chance to test drive an i3, do it, handles like a MINI Cooper S.

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    3. I agree, the Tesla Model S has no need to apologize for the way it drives. When it came right down to it I could get a Model S about 9 months sooner than an i3 and the Model S did not have the compromises required of an i3 or i3 REx. In less than a month I have taken 4 excursions of over 150 miles and returned with at least 80 miles (claimed) remaining. Or effectively a full i3 charge. No regrets although I wish it didn't cost so much. As for saving on energy: Not Yet. Sears had wrenches on sale for $10 but not in stock locally. So Sunday I drove 110 miles round trip for a $10 set of wrenches… any excuse is currently a good excuse. :-)

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    4. I agree 100% with surfdude... I have all the same vehicles with the exception of the Mini E (I joined when the ActiveE program was opened up to 500 more people.)

      My challenge with the S is the sheer size. It's the biggest car that I have and I like to take small spaces with my Active E when they present themselves in traffic, and I can't do that on my S.

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  4. If you live in a cold area the heat pump is very nice. In the Renault ZOE it uses only 1 or 2 KW to heat the cabin until freezing point. Below freezing it is 4 kW. It give a lot of heat and is very comfortable.

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  5. The REx is the one option I don't want, it just doesn't seem right to go out and buy an electric car only to return with a car that still uses gas. I've tracked my daily mileage for two years my average is 38 miles, and the longest trip I took on an average day was 82. So I'm well within the range of the pure electric i3, and knowing that will save me money, I won't have to pay more for the i3 REx and I won't have to buy gas. Plus I want the heat pump.

    CDspeed

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  6. "With a REx i3 I can no longer say, "Yeah, it's all electric and I love never buying gas!" - that, indeed, can be a pain in the neck.

    With 6 on 6 it's a lot of pros and cons to consider. Speaking of REx I've always wondered what battery capacity could they be offering if they added those $3,850 to the non-Rex price.

    Would it be enough to add 15 miles of range? Probably not, but still puzzles me.

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  7. BMW should have offered an optional larger battery like Tesla does. An i3 with a 25% larger battery and quick charge would be much better than one with a range extender.

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  9. After driving the Chevy Volt for 3 years I think the i3 is in the sweet-spot range wise. My Volt works perfectly for me with it's 38-40 MPC battery and it's 340 miles per tank REx. I rarely need a 340 mile range extension so the i3's 100 miles REx is enough to do the job. The i3 like the Volt is a car that works with today's infrastructure. Electric plugs and gas pumps.

    The Volt may be more of a better long-range road car. See the USA in your. . . , well you get it.

    The i3 price is just too high vs the Chevy Volt's price and same usage for me.

    I'm sure those who get a BMW i3 will love it.

    Jeff U'Ren

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  10. Regarding the added weight - it definitely will reduce efficiency, but BMW's aggressive regen braking should dull this effect. The basic, simplified physics approach would suggest that increased mass would only affect your energy efficiency when you have to throw away kinetic energy while slowing down. Steady speed driving should only sap up energy through drag which (more or less) doesn't depend on mass. So if you can recover all of your energy while slowing down, added mass wouldn't reduce your energy efficiency at all. Of course in reality, sometimes you do need to use the friction brakes, regen braking itself isn't 100% efficient, and while I can't think of any way that mass can affect aero drag, the rolling resistance of the tires probably does increase with a heavier car. But just keep that in mind - brake as efficiently as you can (which I'm sure you already do) and the REx won't drag down your efficiency nearly as much. That doesn't say anything about performance though! Just gotta keep that momentum through the turns!

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  11. "I'll be back to hauling around an ICE. I don't love the idea, but I'm not hung up on "pure EV" dogma either. "
    Unfortunately for me, I am hung up on "pure EV dogma". If you are pouring gasoline into your EV, you're doing it wrong! For all the reasons you list Tom, the REX is just too bitter a pill for me to swallow. Unfortunately, 80'ish miles of range at $50k is also a nasty taste. There are two reasons why:
    1. As you mention, the range will decrease over time. My longest regular trip is an occasional drive 30 miles to a friends house - 60 miles round trip. This is well within the range of a new i3, but I keep my cars for a long time - and 7 years from now I may no longer be able to make that trip!
    2. Nobody mentions this, but range is a function of speed. You have less range at highway speed. Unfortunately it turns out (for me and i suspect many others) that our high mileage days are also the days we spend the most time on the highway! My 60 mile trip mentioned above is all highway driving - meaning the day a new i3 is no longer of completing that trip is closer than it seems.
    I love the i3, but I won't buy the REX - and I can't live with a paltry 18.8 kwh pack. I've been waiting to purchase an EV for 7 years now, I guess I need to keep waiting :(

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  12. It's the impact on performance that makes me sad. Like so many, I am contemplating my NEXT EV (not my first). My current car is a Volt and it has been great, but I miss the performance of some of my previous rides (American Muscle, German Muscle, etc.). The i3's stats and reports of the drive were enough to give me hope that I could get some of the performance and fun back. However, the range just isn't quite enough as you say Tom and that puts me in the rEX, and THAT puts a bigger damper on the performance. 2 seconds quicker to 60 than my Volt is pretty nice...1 second...not so much. I still haven't gotten the opportunity to test drive one so I'll reserve final judgement until I do. Bummer though. I actually wonder if Volt 2.0 will steal some of the i3's thunder..all depends on the direction GM decides to take. The will probably go as far down-market as possible to lower the price (less of an i3 competitor), but it is conceivable they could increase the battery size (or % available for use) significantly and even increase the performance. At that point, things get interesting.

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  13. REx is a no brainer, if the engine is not handicapped by CARB to allow only one fill-up before recharge. Mountain/hold mode should be made available as well. Refueling every 50~100 miles is not a problem at all, the key is to allow the occasional long trips without hassle.

    i3 REx is balanced very well in my opinion. It could represent the sweet spot for ev in next 10 years (okay ev+erev). Compared to volt it could have longer lifecycle as the engine can be replaced with much lower cost than volt.

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  14. As you know, I drove a Chevy Volt for three years. I had it registered with VoltStats.net, which logged the car's driving every day (actually twice a day). At the end, I was able to do a mileage analysis that was extremely useful in helping me come to the conclusion that a pure EV is good enough for me. In particular, I found that approximately ONCE A YEAR I drove over 90 miles in a day, exempting days that were 200+ mile roadtrip days. Further, we now have nearly 200 charging locations around the metro Atlanta area, so in a pinch I can get what I need to get home. My full mileage analysis is here; I recommend anyone studying this BEV vs REx issue take a look at it: http://electrifyatlanta.com/wp/?page_id=152

    I've been driving a range extended car for the past three years, and I'm now ready to take the next step :)

    I hear you on the confusing conversations with the public. Over my three years with the Volt, the speech I had worked out was to ALWAYS start with this statement:

    "The Volt is a PURE ELECTRIC CAR for the first 40 miles, and can do anything for those first 40 miles -- accelerate hard, go a hundred miles per hour, all pure electric. AFTER those first 40 miles, if you're having a long day, THEN the gas engine kicks in. Every night I plug it in, and every morning I start off with those 'free and fun' 40 miles again."

    And so on, talking about the statistics of US driving, ICE doing charge sustaining, 38 MPG, it's NOT a "classic hybrid", etc. Obviously you'll modify the numbers for the i3. Don't skip the part where you say "it can go a hundred miles per hour, pure electric". That drives the point home better than anything.

    I would say those three key sentences EVEN IF they walked up acting like they already knew about the Volt. Take the 30 seconds, speak slowly, and make sure they don't miss the important stuff. But you gotta say those first three sentences every time, because otherwise you inevitably hear things 10 minutes into the conversation ("well, I want to drive faster than 40 MPH") that indicate they completely missed the headline facts.

    In years of talking about this, I've found that the key fact that clearly communicates the difference between a classic hybrid and a range-entended EV is to talk about the POWER of the electric drivetrain. The Volt and the i3 w/REx have powerful electric motors; classic hybrids (and even the Plug-In Prius) have WEAK electric motors. THAT key fact makes the difference between "I can do anything purely electric, at least for X miles" and "the gas engine starts up whenever I stomp on the accelerator."

    One correction for you. The incentive in Georgia is not a waiver of sales tax; it is a $5000 credit on state income tax. Further, Georgia is not a "CARB state" so it doesn't matter what BMW gets done in California, and honestly I don't expect them to get anything done in Georgia this year. They gotta pick their battles. I've heard you get this Georgia credit wrong before and I'm calling you out on it again, Tom :)

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    1. I had to LOL Chris when you indicated "...otherwise you inevitably hear things 10 minutes into the conversation ("well, I want to drive faster than 40 MPH") that indicate they completely missed the headline facts."..SO TRUE! Heck, I ran into a Nissan Leaf owner at work and even she didn't have a clue about the Volt AND she indicated a friend of her's owned one. I got the usual "yeah, but you have to stop and charge after 40 miles right? That's why we bought a Leaf...it goes further". You see the same misinformation on the Tesla forum and others. I don't find myself ignorant of other EVs, but the same doesn't always appear to be true in reverse.
      With regard to range and the 90 miles you mentioned...hmmm. I have a feeling people will be seeing ranges of 60 miles on the i3 in Winter (and by "Winter" I mean 30 degrees not negative 20). A couple of the Europeans on the i3 forum are starting to report their numbers. Like you, I am in a warmer area (Dallas for me), but it has been in the 30s here several days and I'm getting about 30 miles of range out of my 10.4 kWh used. I tend to think the much lighter i3 SHOULD get more than twice that with its 22 kW battery (I think that's the size), but I wouldn't count on much more than 65-67. Ultimately, you already know your driving patterns and the that's all that really matters. Hopefully we will start to get a little more info from the European owners built up.

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  15. Where is the gas cap? I've heard you have to pop the hood to access. Also, do we know how visible the tail pipe will be and where?

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    1. The gas filler door is on the front passenger side quarter panel. You cannot see the pipe at all. Even if you lay down on the ground and look under it's very hard to see.

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  16. Another great post Tom. I have been following here for over a year now and I have to tell you this is the best stop on the net for information about this car. I visit all around and nothing has the content and depth of detail that you provide. Just wanted to give you the thumbs up and say thanks!

    Kindest regards,
    Diego

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  17. Tom, as you know I have been driving an ActiveE for almost one year now (thanks for helping me get it!!). Every time I talk to anyone about the car it goes like this. I tell them it's all electric, they say no gas, I say no gas, they say none, I say none. Then they pause....I love that part. I am going all electric Tom! No Rex...none :). But you will now have plenty of range to visit me on Long Island with your new i3. Lunch will be on me this time.
    Ed B

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  18. Excellent post Tom. If I decide to get the i3, I'd want oil products nowhere near the car, for many of the reasons you mentioned. However, I was hoping the i3 would best my ActiveE in terms of range, which now sounds unlikely. But, what about EcoPro Plus mode? Doesn't that offer some hope for those longer days?
    Tom L. (Long Island electronaut)

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  19. Great post Tom. I read your blog from five years ago and still enjoy it with your posts. Like other times I have translated this post in the spanish electric car forum reference. I hope I have your permission to do so.

    http://foroev.com/index.php?topic=972.0

    Although my commute is shorter than yours, I too would choose the REx option because I like to go out on weekends to the mountains or the countryside and is a trip of 100 miles and climb from 700 m of Madrid to 1600m high. Is best to use an electric car driving a few miles with gas than use a gas car all the trip.

    Hope you enjoy your i3

    Greetings.

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  20. Great post. My feedback is that REX is a great choice but don't expect pay back at trade in. I am shopping for a used or CPO i3 with REX and the prices for i3 with and without REX are the same. Most likely due to dealer ignorance (including BMW) on the i3. It's seen 2014 i3 with REX with 5k miles on them sell for $32k. I'm going to wait until 2016 models are out this fall and get a CPO 2014 i3 with REX & Tech pkg for less than $30k

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