Friday, January 31, 2014

BMW i3 Born Electric Guest Blogger: Meet Hil from Holland

My i3 was delivered to my home on a flatbed truck, more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) from my i Agent. Traveling that distance in an i3 BEV on one charge isn’t possible and the i3 being my first EV, we agreed that the car be delivered! As it stands, I’m probably the first i3 owner in Frysl├ón, Holland and I’d like to report on my first month’s experiences!
A while ago I announced that I would be starting a new series here called, "I was Born Electric on...". The series will be featuring readers who are i3 owners and who are willing to share their thoughts on the car after owning it for a while. They will begin the post by introducing themselves and stating the date they were Born Electric, which is when they picked up their i3. Last week we had the pleasure of kicking off the series with a post from Andy, who lives with his new i3 in the UK. We'll now be hopping over to Holland to visit with Hil and his new Ionic Silver i3:       

    Hello, my name is Hil and I was Born Electric on Monday, December 30th 2013. 

My recent BMW history
My BMW before the i3, was a 5 door 118i (F20) which I bought for it’s economy and comfort. It was less the sports car than the Z4M Coupe I had before it, but with more room and an adjustable suspension, it meant super daily driving pleasure! Just after the “1” came, BMW launched their ActiveE program with a preview of the concept i3 and i8 in Rotterdam. With my eldest son Tom (also a motor head!) our short, snowy test drive in the ActiveE sold us to the i concept!

The big wait...
This past summer, BMW made production slots for the i3 available in Holland. An i3 in the autumn? Great! In early September the i3 was ordered and after a few glitches in the ordering process (an other color and not fully optioned!), the i3 turned up in the early winter, on snow tires, in Ionic Silver (which is more blue than silver) and with it’s cool Adaptive LED headlights.

Daily Use:

I use the car mostly for local trips, from one village to the next.  As a rural Family Doctor, it’s great to do my rounds in the pre-warmed comfort of the i3! To now the only EVSE I use is the standard socket plug-in, delivered with the car. It charges at 3.4 kW which is fast enough for my daily trips. Occasionally I make a longer trip to meetings, for post-grad education or visits to family and friends.  Those trips are between 100 to 140 kilometers (60 - 87 mi), but according to my i Agent (and BMW), form no problem to the all-electric i3! For on the road charging, there’s also a growing network of quick DC chargers in Holland, thanks to Fastned!

Adventurous Start:
True to the EV pioneer calling, on New Years Eve, the family traveled with the i3 to our traditional  New Years celebration at good friends. They live 103 kilometers (61 miles) away.  At the start, the i3 gave me a range of 120 kilometers, more than enough! But beware,  this figure is based largely on previous driving habits and I had only driven 70 km! But 120 km should be enough! We left at 6 pm, outside temperatures 5 degrees Celsius with a stiff southwesterly headwind and 3 adults in the car with the trunk packed. My normal ICE driving style is to limit my freeway speeds to 115 kmh (70mph) and on two lane roads, I drive 100 kmh (60mph). That evening I set out to copy my 118i driving style to see how the i3 fared. After 40 km (26mi) the battery had just 50% charge left! What??? Total i3 range as claimed by BMW to be 130 km (80mi) per charge, not a scanty 80 km (50mi)! At this rate we’d have to walk 20 km to our friends house. What now? Turn back and take the reserve ICE car or charge up somewhere?

I knew of a quick charger along the freeway nearby, so we decided to drive on! In the confusion we took the wrong exit and drove an extra 10 km to get back on track.  My first encounter with a public EVSE was a disappointment. Fumbling in the dark with wind and weather. the quick charger didn’t charge! I called the ANWB help desk number (=AAA in the US) who told me that there was a working charging point 30 km ahead on my route. The question again: press on or turn back? Well, we decided to "Go (South-) West"!

By now I had become a bit more EV savvy and after studying the settings and menu of the i3,  it seems I had started out in the standard, uneconomical but sporty “Comfort” mode! In “EcoPro” mode (EP) the range sprung from 55 to 65 km and in the EcoPro+ (EP+) mode, all of a sudden I could go 81 km! I kept it at EP+ and drove on with the Southwesterly storm at full head. On the freeway ahead, a Motor Home drove a leisurely 85 kmh (50mph) so I slid behind it and slipstreamed further. Meanwhile my hands and feet had turned to ice, as had everyone in the car! EcoPro+ is a spartan experience, with no heated air or seats, but it got us to our friends house, with 3 km to spare. We had become true pioneers on New Year’s Eve!

A Second Go…
The next week I had a meeting in Utrecht, at 138 km (84 mi) from home. After the cold experience on New Year’s Eve you might think that I wouldn’t consider an even longer trip. But that’s not what EV pioneering is all about my friends, and to be honest, the first trip turned out fine! But for this trip, I prepared myself. To ward off the cold, I took a hot water bottle along, put it on my lap, covered with a fleece blanket. From the start, I drove moderately (max. 100kmh=60mph) in EP+ mode and strictly followed the EcoPro route chosen by the BMW Navigation. It takes you over roads with lower maximum speeds but the route is shorter. My planned 1st destination was a public charging station 10km (6mi) from the meeting place and I had a folding bicycle in the trunk (yes it fit!) for the last leg. But the range expanded as I drove! I left with a calculated range of 124 km (77 mi) and after the first 25 km (15.5 mi), still had 119 km (74 mi) left! With this kind of magic the i3 grew on me! Once on the freeway I hit headwinds, so chose a truck to slipstream behind at 93 kmh (58 mph) on the cruise control.  Except for some wind buffeting I really enjoyed my radio in the quiet of the cabin! I reached the meeting venue at 138 km (86 mi) without the wayside charge! Range anxiety is a thing of the past!
DC Quick charging at 50kW's on a Fastned CCS Quick Charge Station

In the parking garage there was an EVSE which only charged at 3.4 kW instead of the expected 7.4 kW. After 2.5 hours the state of charge increased from 5 to 27%, not enough to get home! But I had enough range to get to the nearest Fastned DC 50kW quick charger, 40 km away. Within 30 minutes I had more than 90% of charge, enough to get home comfortably. When the Fastned network is expanded from the present 5 to the planned 100 stations at the end of 2014, cross country trips in Holland with the i3 will be no problem! At the end of 2015 the projected planning even calls for 200 stations, one for every 40 to 50 freeway kilometers!

EcoPro EcoPro+ and Comfort:
The difference between Comfort and EcoPro modes is purely performance. The i3 Comfort mode would be the Sport mode in an ICE BMW mainly because of the incredible acceleration! EcoPro differs from EP+ more because in EP+ the Seat and Main Heaters are turned off.  In cold seasons, choosing EP+ mode makes the cabin icy cold, even with a hot water bottle and fleece blanket!

My lesson is: when range is at issue, put the i3 in EP mode but turn the heater off with the dashboard button. The seat heater still works and hardly reduces range, but keeps you warm! If the windows fog, the heater rapidly clears them and when done, switch it off until needed again.

In Conclusion:
Yes, the i3 is the future of mobility, now! It’s quick, quiet, economical and clean! Range anxiety is unnecessary if you drive the i3 according to your purpose (range or fun!) and because this car also happens to be a BMW, that fun begins on your driveway!
The future has never looked brighter

Big thanks to Hil for sharing his experiences and thoughts here! If you own an i3 and would like to participate in the "I was Born Electric on..." series here email me at: and I'll get you in the queue.


  1. Hil, thank you for sharing your experience with your new i3. I am sensing your excitement with your new baby and I recall of feeling the same when I got my i1 (read Mitsubishi iMiEV) 2 years ago. The relationship between driving style and use of heater for both vehicles follows just about the same pattern with the factor of 0.8-0.9, which means that iMiEV has systematically 10-20% lower range than i3 under the same conditions. The big difference is the fanciness of i3 letting you manage the range. You also learned that slowing down and sacrificing the comfort (heat) gets you further and you have no problems doing so.
    The big game changer is availability of fast charging stations. We do not have the rich network here in New Jersey, not yet. As for heating, after the exercise of last Winter, I jumped into a serious modification and installed diesel fired heater in my iMiEV. With this Winter being so cold, I could not make better decision. Now, when the temperature is -15C (5F), my range is 113 km (70 miles) when driving up to 80 km/h (50 MPH). The diesel heater burns 0.15-0.5L/hour, depending on heating needs, so 2L (1/2 Gal) bottle of diesel is more then enough.

  2. Nice that he could find a CCS / DC FC station. Wow. More info on Fastned:

  3. Hi Hil, Nice to see the car with cautious driving, could do 86 miles with some to spare in the cold and wind. I draft all the time on my longer trips in the ActiveE.

    Thanks for the great report!

  4. Interesting post and thanks for writing it.

    Hot water bottles, blankets & lorry drafting might sound fun for the adventurous but can't help thinking that is not very encouraging for most people considering a purchase. Saying that, it's a very good selling point for the REx.

  5. BMW i3 is a great model itself having the electric feature. Well described Tom! You have written almost everything about this car. Anybody does not have any idea on it can know all about it, from this blog. Of course the electric models are quite popular now as they don't require fuel and ultimately are environmental friendly. Coming days, these are going to be at the replacement of normal fuel/gas vehicles. Thanks for the insight Tom.