|On REx models the i3's range extender sits next to the electric motor above the rear axle.|
Many people considering a BMW i3 are a bit torn between the full electric version (BEV), and the range extended version (REx). What they may not know is their decision will indeed help BMW decide what electric range their future EV offerings have.
Now that the EPA range rating for the BEV i3 has been announced at 81 miles per charge customers can finally decide if they BEV i3’s range will suit their needs. If it doesn’t and they still want an i3, their only choice is to fork over the extra $3,850, and get the range extender. There are electric vehicle enthusiasts that consider this unacceptable because they don’t ever want to put gasoline in their electric vehicle, it just seems wrong to them. Others don’t mind, since they will be driving on electric the vast majority of time and using a little gas is OK with them.
Basically there are four main groups of perspective i3 purchasers:
1) They are interested in the i3 but the 81 mile EPA rating is just too low for them and the range extender is out of the question. They walk away from the car and consider their other electric vehicle offerings.
2) The 81 mile range works for them. They get the BEV i3 and understand its limitations.
3) They really wanted the BEV i3 but the range rating was too low for their comfort so they reluctantly ordered the i3 REx. (I fit in this box)
4) They really liked the idea of the range extender from the start and wouldn’t have bought an i3 without it. The ability to drive primarily on electric but have the range extender there for the few times they need more range is perfect for them. Not ever worrying about getting stuck on the road because they ran out of charge or a public charger was broken or blocked is paramount for these people.
Of course there are other factors, like local incentives and especially HOV access in California, but these are generally the four boxes the typical potential i3 customer will fit in. It will be interesting what the percentage of BEV buyers to REx buyers are, and don’t think BMW isn’t watching that very closely. I have personally spoken to BMW mangers that have said the breakdown of BEV to REx sales will give BMW a clear indication of what range people are comfortable with. If BEV sales dominate, BMW will take that as verification that the range they gave the i3 was right for this vehicle and perhaps consider future low-range EV's. Conversely if the majority of i3s sold are range extended versions, or if sales in general don’t meet expectations they have a clear message: The potential customers didn’t believe 81 miles per charge was enough, especially for premium brand EV and they are more likely to make the next EV they offer have a longer range. In other words, your purchase is your vote. Buying a BEV i3 is telling BMW that 81 miles is fine, and buying a REx i3 is telling them it’s not.