Monday, May 19, 2014

"Monroney Hold" Has Hundreds of Range Extended i3s in Limbo

i3s lined up at the port in New Jersey
For a little over a month now, cargo ships from Bremerhaven, Germany have been arriving weekly at the port in New Jersey to unload anywhere from dozens to hundreds of shiny new i3s. My i3 arrived last week on the Fedora, which left Germany back on April 30th. Back when I learned it was booked on the Fedora and would arrive here on  May 15th, I assumed that by the 20th or 21st of May, I'd be at the dealer signing the paperwork and driving my i3 home. I was wrong.

The BEV i3s Monroney label
I now have no idea when I'll be getting my car, and neither do the hundreds of other people that ordered an i3 with the range extender and whose cars are currently here in the US sitting at a port somewhere. Officially the holdup is a "Monroney Hold" - the fact that the EPA certification has not been completed so BMW doesn't have a Monroney label (window sticker) to post in the window before the car leaves the port, which is required by law. The range extender option changes (shortens) the car's electric range, and also requires an official MPG rating so BMW couldn't use the same Monroney label as they did for the all electric i3. The i3 REx would need to be fully tested and certified as a completely different car. To make matters worse, the majority of i3's sold in the US have the range extender option. For example, my client adviser Manny Antunes of JMK BMW has sold thirteen i3s so far and only two of them are the BEV version. Eleven of the thirteen have the range extender and his clients are beginning to call him frequently now, wondering when they can expect delivery. He has no information to offer other than he'll contact them as soon as he hears something from BMW - or a truck somehow magically pulls up to the dealer with a load of i3s with range extenders!

Where's mine?
BMW is indeed delivering i3s to customers now, but all of them sold so far have been the fully electric BEV i3. The i3 RExs keep arriving in the US alongside their BEV brothers, but they cannot be released and trucked to the dealerships until they have the EPA Monroney label. BMW isn't communicating the exact reason for the lack of EPA certification, but it appears to be a combination of BMW providing the EPA with the required information a little late, and the fact  that the i3 REx is different than anything the EPA has certified before so they are taking their time to make sure they get the certification right. The closest thing to the i3 REx would be the Chevy Volt, which for most of the time the gasoline engine is running is a series hybrid and only charges the battery. However under certain conditions the gasoline engine of the Volt does indeed directly power the wheels, and in those conditions it is a parallel hybrid, like a Toyota Prius. The i3 REx is the first (second actually. The Fisker Karma was also a series hybrid - thanks to reader Andrew Chiang for pointing that out to me. Fact is, I've tried to block out all memory of the Karma!) true series hybrid the EPA has ever certified and the range extender will only serve to charge the battery. I don't see why that would be a problem because to me it seems like the Volt would have been even harder to certify because it is both a series and a parallel hybrid depending on the driving conditions. In any event, BMW claims to have furnished the EPA with everything they need for certification and are cooperating with the EPA in an effort to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible.

Battery log sheet courtesy George B
This is clearly an example of a "first world problem," but those who have been waiting patiently for their car are growing anxious as the days pass and their car is simply sitting at the port and waiting for the label. Some have even wondered what the state of charge of the cars are, and if by sitting so long (some have been sitting at the port for over a month now!), have the "vampire loads" reduced the charge level to dangerously low levels? Personally I don't believe this is an issue, and I'm sure BMW is monitoring them. BMW ships the cars with only about 25% state of charge and charges them up at the port. All of the cars used for test drives had a battery log sheet in the glove box which shows BMW is certainly monitoring the SOC of all the cars from manufacture to delivery. Plus, if the i3 is anything like the ActiveE, then the car will hold the SOC very well when not in use. My ActiveE would only lose about one percent per week when sitting unused. I doubt sitting for a month or so will have any noticeable reduction in charge and unless the cars arrived with less than 10% SOC and weren't monitored and charged I doubt there is anything to worry about. However, let's hope this "Monroney Hold" gets resolved soon and BMW can begin deliveries of the i3 REx cars that are already here and waiting - and mine in particular!

36 comments:

  1. Nice write-up Tom! I have experience this pain myself - back in November of 2010 waiting on the first of the Nissan LEAFs ... never fun, but it will happen, (=

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  2. Fingers crossed all goes well for you and the other REX owners, of which I'll soon be one. My REX will be build this week so should be here in NJ in about two weeks of all goes to plan...

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  3. Not sure I understand what the holdup is about - the recent EPA rating of 81 miles was FOR the REx!

    And regarding the battery level, I would have the dealer do a check on the health of the batt when you take delivery. If less than 100%, I would get it replaced. The dealer can check, as this is how they determine if the battery is to be replaced under warranty.

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    1. The 81 mile EPA range was for the all electric BEV i3 Matt. The i3 REx will have approximately 6% to 8% less electric range since the range extender automatically turns on once the SOC drops below 6%. Also, it i3 REx is 265lbs heavier than the i3 BEV and it also has a higher drag coefficient (.29Cd to .30Cd) so it will definitely have a significantly lower EPA range rating. I suspect it will likely be rated at 75 or 76 miles per charge.

      The battery concerns are baseless as far as I'm concerned. Unless the cars were allowed to completely drain or were held for a long period at 100% (neither is happening) there is no reason for any concern. Our ActiveE's were held by BMW for about four months after they were built and the batteries were perfect when we got them. BMW knows how to manage the cars.

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    2. Tom, would not the 6% be available after the gas tank is empty? I plan on using that while looking for a gas station (maybe in the distant future, to look for a level 3 charger...).

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    3. Yes Alex it would, but I suspect the way the EPA range rating will work is how far the car goes before the range extender turns on, which is how the Volt is rated. I believe the Volt can also go a little further if it were out of gas when the range extender would have turned on.

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  4. Is it me or has the i3 launch been amazingly poor? Every i3 news alert is some problem. No moonroof, no California HOV access for REX, no REX hold function like the have in europe, no custom ordering for three months only special edition launch model then a week later they say they have a leather shortage so they can't make the launch model, all electric i3 gets 81 mile rating which is lower than much less expensive ev's like leaf, spark, fit, 500e, then they have to remove all the gas tanks an install a smaller one, now BMW and epa are fighting over REX certification. WTF is going on?

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  5. As far as EPA is concerned, the Rex is a different car and it needs testing. It also needs testing on the US model so most likely BMW had to provide a new car, one with the tank replaced few weeks ago, hence a long delay because they must have lost priority. The car with sunroof is also a different car for NHTA (crash testing).
    As for the chain of bad news, most were US customers realizing how different the same car model is between here and EU. Minus the leather issue which can happen on a niche product at launch...
    Thing could have been smoother but when introducing so much new stuff into a system at the same time, things happen... And the REX is much more complex than the BEV.

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  6. I asked the EPA if they had an official statement, and they just responded: "EPA tested the i3 REx and provided the results of that testing to BMW on May 13th. EPA is not aware of anything that would prevent BMW from importing the vehicles since May 13th." This was from Linc Wehrly, Director of the Light-Duty Vehicle Center Compliance Division.

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    1. Thank you for reporting this Chad. For those wondering if this is good information, Chad is as solid as they come. He is a Washington State representative for the 5th Legislative District and if he says he got this response from the EPA then I believe him 100%.

      http://houserepublicans.wa.gov/chad-magendanz/

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  7. I'm in the same boat with the i3 REx we have we have on order. I went through the exact same thing when I bought my Fisker Karma, where the Monroney sticker took much longer than expected and the car sat in port. Not sure why you took a swipe at the Karma, Tom. Company headaches aside it's been a pretty terrific car. The i3 and the Fisker will be sharing a garage soon!

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  8. The Karma is a terrific looking car and I wish you the best of luck with it. I'm just not a fan. It's incredibly inefficient for an EV (54MPGe on electric and 20MPG on gas) mostly due to its weight 5,300 lbs. It actually weighs just about exactly as much as two i3s! It only seats four and has very little room for luggage. I get that it's an "exotic" though and utility wasn't a high priority, but the problems they have had with fires had really tarnished the whole EV industry in my opinion. Then failing to pay back the $170,000,000 low interest DOE loan gave the anti-EV crowd even more ammunition to rail against electric cars. The car is really beautiful, but other than for the few owners that are enjoying them now. I think overall it was unfortunate and damaging to the EV industry in whole. Just my 2 cents :)

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    2. vdiv: I don't know why you would think because I'm not a Karma fan that I wouldn't like the Volt. I've always supported the Volt and have even recommended it to many people. I've probably even sold a couple dozen of them for GM! The Volt has been an incredibly important car in the adoption of electric vehicles, as its brought many people into the plug-in world that wouldn't have considered a pure electric as their first car with a plug. You've never read me write anything negative about the Volt, it's kind of puzzling why you would ask this.

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    4. Been there, done that... I did look into the got but the mainline exterior and plastic interior were no match for the price, so I passed on it. Did not even consider the reputation of gm, which is less than stellar. So here I am waiting for the Rex i3 that though it did not invent the wheel, it is the best answer I found to me going electric. How exactly the volt works at all stages is irrelevant, but having to pay tax on it in NJ because it is a hybrid is relevant to me. It may be relevant to others too, because volts are sitting on dealer lots even after major discounts...
      Not sure what disservice you think Tom did but I find your post biased and misplaced - this is not the volt board but the i3 one, moreover, nobody here attacked the volt. Moreover, both i3 and the volt were born from the same cooperation BMW, GM and Daimler were part of (that prototype car was the voltec) and there is something to be said for rushing to Marxist vs taking the time and getting it right - I support the second (Daimler is the wild card, after all that effort they commissioned a Tesla drive train in their B-class chassy... A wasted opportunity and a "me too" approach to the i3).

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    5. Sorry,Google autocorrect made volt into got and market into Marxist!?! Funny, the last one...

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  9. Tom...
    Is it possible that they could hold you up long enough that you will have to give the ActiveE back and end up with no car?

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    1. No, everyone with an ActiveE can keep it until our i3 comes in, regardless of how long that is.

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  10. Who is the writer of "ActiveE in SECT"? I want him to keep writing now that he has his Ford Focus Electric.

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    1. He will. His name is Troy and he is getting an i3 REx also. Should take delivery soon.

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  11. Tom:
    The I3 REX I ordered just entered the vehicle processing center yesterday here in New York. The BMW agent told me yesterday that the vehicle is scheduled for delivery at the dealer in Westchester on Thursday, May 22. That was yesterday. After reading your blog, I suspect that it will be delayed. I'll post any news on the delivery here on your blog

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    1. Yes Larry, but Dave Buchko, a BMW spokesman announced today that the i3 REx deliveries will begin before the end of this week so you should be getting it very soon (and me too hopefully!)

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  12. How about Chris Neff? What's he been up to lately?

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    1. He has an i3 REx waiting at the port also. Still driving his ActiveE :)

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  13. I hope it is just a paperwork issue, but I wonder if it is a ZEV credit issue. If the EPA results came in slightly lower than expected, it would not qualify for the new class of vehicles in California and receive less ZEV credits which BMW needs to sell it's other ICE cars in the state...

    It would not be easy for them to correct at this late stage...


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  14. Everybody's been ordering a REx i3. You, Chris, Troy, Larry, Peter, etc. etc. Everyone's got a REx i3 except me and my monkey (and the Thwaites).

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  15. Who is the first Volt owner in Georgia (ordering a new REx i3 as well- Seriously?)? What is his name.

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    1. The first Volt owner in Georgia was Chris -----. He actually cancelled his i3 order months ago because BMW could not provide him with the answer to a query that seemed quite important to him at the time.

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    2. Does Chris still have his Volt or did he get another car?

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    3. Chris no longer has the Volt. He picked up a Ford Focus Electric, his first BEV. He's still considering the i3.

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  16. There is an i3 listed on eBay.
    ,CDspeed

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-Other-14-BMW-I3-4DR-HB-BMW-i3-/360937069450?forcerrptr=true&hash=item5409869b8a&item=360937069450&pt=US_Cars_Trucks

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  17. Looks like it was just approved.
    http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?6976869-BMW-i3-Range-Extender-Window-Sticker

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  18. I'm considering a Tesla Bluestar in 2018. Any suggestions?

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    1. Start saving. You have about four years to wait :)

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  19. I just got my i3 EX delivered yesterday 05/23 in Palm Beach FL.

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