2019 BMW i3 REX: Range anxiety reducer

    Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 3 months ago

    BMW’s funky i3 has been one of the company’s more controversial vehicles. Among BMW’s hardcore fanbase, it’s been polarizing, to say the least. But among EV drivers and green enthusiasts, it’s a hot commodity – being one of the top selling electric cars  year after year. If you were to read a description of it, sight unseen, it almost sounds like a performance car, with its carbon fiber chassis and the instant torque signature of electric cars. But looking at it is another story. Some love the out there styling of it, while others hate it. BMW’s little electric car has been on the market for over 5 years now – and this latest model year features arguably the biggest improvement to an electric car one could make – increased range. We’ve reviewed the i3s, so for information in its driving dynamics and features, click here.

    Range anxiety is a very real symptom of driving an electric car. It’s that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you might run out of charge and find yourself stranded. With everything from driving conditions, weather, temperature, and even use of amenities like heated seats affecting your battery life, it’s hard not to think about it as you drive along. Even with the use of regenerative braking in play, if you have to take a jaunt on the highway, those range numbers can go down faster than you might expect. But the latest i3 can help alleviate that. For 2019, the i3 was fitted with an uprated battery pack, gaining a boost from 94Ah to 120. For those of us less familiar with electrical terminology, this translates to a new total range of 260km, up from 195.

    It’s important to bear in mind that these ranges are calculated under the best possible conditions. Your real world driving likely won’t yield a range so lengthy. The aforementioned factors like driving conditions, weather, temperature and your driving style will have an impact on your total range. But once you get to know the i3, and your driving, a little better, your range anxiety will dissipate. The only time I ever let the car run out of charge is when I intentionally did it to test its gas generator. This REX model of the I3 is fitted with a tiny 2-cylinder engine that serves as a battery generator. The engine is only good for about 30 horsepower so don’t expect the same kind of power you get on electricity. But the important part is the extra range it grants. It’s not meant for long distance travel mind you. The Range Extender is really intended to give you enough juice to get to a charging station. But I was able to drive the i3 home from work – about 45km – without worrying about losing range and going flat on the side of the highway.

    The i3 is an innovative car for BMW, no doubt, but its facing increased competition with many automakers acknowledging the need and desire for electric cars. Some, like Volvo, have committed to go purely electric. The i3 is still one of the strongest players in the EV market in Canada, but it’s been out for quite some time now and competition is getting stiffer and stiffer. We think it’s still a great choice – albeit an expensive one. But that’s not a knock against the i3 specifically. All electric cars in Canada are priced far higher than, say, a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. Even an entry level electric car like the Nissan LEAF. The price of entering this market is still out of reach to the average consumer. Plus, the infrastructure in Canada just isn’t there yet. But year after year, the idea of going all electric seems to get just a little bit more realistic. With luck, and the right government incentives, that idea may one day become reality.

    BMW, BMWi, BMW i3, i3, i3 REX, Electric Car, Green Car, Green Vehicle

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