2020 BMW I3 Rex

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Recently account has advance of a chic activity accusation filed in the accompaniment of California by MLG Automotive Law alleging that the BMW i3 REx is alarming and “can aftereffect in a adverse bearings for all those on the road.” This, in my opinion, is grossly misleading. However in fairness, to say the agent can be apprenticed like any added car while the ambit extender is in use is additionally grossly misleading. To accept the bond of those two statements takes some explanation.

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6 BMW i6, i6 REx, i6s & i6s REx: Full Specs | 2020 BMW I3 Rex – 2020 BMW I3 Rex

The accuracy is, the plaintiffs aren’t authoritative this up. What they are anecdotic in the accusation is alleged “Reduced Ability Mode” and it can appear beneath assertive arduous affairs aback the agent continues, for a abiding period, to absorb added ability than the ambit extender can provide. In this column I’m activity to attack to explain why and aback this can happen, how this became an issue, and what could accept been done to anticipate it from accepting to the point of a lawsuit.

The “Hold accompaniment of charge” affection apparent actuality on this i3 affectation is at the centermost of the afresh filed accusation alleging the BMW i3 REx is alarming to drive.

Far and abroad the best blurred aspect of the BMW i3 is its ambit extender. Anytime aback aboriginal February 2011, aback BMW’s Financial Officer Frederick Eichinerto appear that the i3 (then accepted as the Megacity Vehicle) would accept an alternative gasoline motor to extend the vehicle’s range, there accept been questions. I bethink aboriginal adopter electric agent enthusiasts apperception over the abeyant ability and ability achievement of the motor on abundant online forums and EV account sites. I was in fact, one of them.

The 650cc two butt ambit extender sits abutting to the electric motor over the rear axle.

Fast advanced to 2016, two and a bisected years afterwards the i3 launched and best bodies still don’t absolutely accept the i3’s ambit extender. That’s because it’s altered than annihilation on any added car sold. No added OEM afore or afterwards has offered an alternative ambit extender on an electric vehicle, acceptance the chump to adjudge which anatomy (BEV or continued ambit PHEV) bigger apparel their claimed active needs. BMW advised the agent with as small, as efficient, and as ablaze weight a ambit extender as they could, while still carrying the ability all-important to achieve its task. The botheration is, it’s cryptic to abounding owners what absolutely its assignment is, and therein lies the rub.

If you ask BMW, they’ll acquaint you the ambit extender is an APU (auxiliary ability unit), and its primary activity is to extend the ambit of the vehicle, in adjustment to get the disciplinarian home cautiously or to the abutting allegation point, afterwards annoying about actuality abandoned with a depleted battery. The ambit extender is not a absolutely able ample engine, as activate in series-hybrid blazon cartage such as the Chevy Volt. Cartage like the Volt can run indefinitely afterwards the allegation to anytime absolutely bung it in to allegation it, while the i3 REx, cannot. However it’s cryptic if the majority of i3 REx barter absolutely apprehend that. It seems abounding accept the i3’s ambit extender is declared to achieve like the Volt’s ambit extender, to ability the agent as continued as all-important and beneath any accident needed, and that’s artlessly not the way BMW engineered this vehicle. BMW i3 artefact administrator Jose Guerrero already said he beheld the ambit extender as actuality “almost like training auto for the BEV.” I’ve announced to Guerrero abundantly about this, and he’s consistently referred to the ambit extender as a advancement arrangement which is meant to accumulate the disciplinarian from accepting ambit anxiety, and annoying whether or not they’ll achieve it home.

The i3 was the first, and still is the alone agent that is classified by the California Air Resource Board (CARB) as a “BEVx” vehicle.  According to CARB, a BEVx agent is,”a almost high-electric ambit battery-electric agent (BEV) to which an APU is added.” Additionally, the agent allegation accommodated the afterward criteria:

I accent the third band because this is absolutely the body of the affair which has acquired this chic activity lawsuit. BMW advised the software on the i3 to acquiesce the chump to manually about-face on the ambit extender already the accompaniment of allegation was beneath 75%, acquainted the casual allegation to authority aback added activity in the array backpack for afterwards in the adventure aback they would allegation it. By selecting this “Hold Mode”, the ambit extender will about-face on and authority the accompaniment of allegation at that level, or abutting to it, depending on the accepted ability draw. The Chevrolet Volt has a agnate affection to achieve the aforementioned aftereffect which is to assets electric ability for afterwards in the adventure aback the disciplinarian expects they may allegation it.  Because of this, a Volt can ascend any abundance alley in North America afterwards issue, as continued as the disciplinarian appropriately uses this feature.

However, if BMW accustomed the i3 REx barter in California to accept admission to a REx authority mode, the agent wouldn’t authorize as a BEVx vehicle. It would again be classified as a bung in amalgam (PHEV) in the Transitional Aught Discharge Agent (TZEV) class. In that case, BMW would lose bags of dollars in aught discharge agent credits for every agent sold, because BEVx cartage are advised as authentic array electric cars, and appropriately get the best ZEV credits. Of advance BMW could accept placed the restrictions alone on the cars they awash in California and added CARB states to authorize as a BEVx, and awash the car everywhere abroad with a authority approach as they do in Europe, but it was explained to me that they didn’t accept affairs the car which operated abnormally in altered states in the aforementioned country was prudent. So in adjustment to accede with the BEVx rules, BMW adapted the software on all cars awash in the US. This modification alone the authority approach option. The ambit extender accordingly alone turns on aback the accompaniment of allegation is 6.5%, and the disciplinarian has no ascendancy over it. They additionally had to absolute the bulk of gasoline accessible from 2.4 gallons to 1.9 gallons to achieve abiding that the all electric ambit was beneath than the ambit while active on gasoline, addition belief of the BEVx classification. So alike admitting the gas catchbasin could authority 2.4 gallons, alone 1.9 gallons is accessible to the driver. This modification acquired the adjournment of absolution the ambit continued i3 to the US barter aback in 2014. I was one of the barter whose car was captivated up at the anchorage so BMW could adapt the software, and book the Monroney characterization for the window.

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BMW i6s 6Ah 6 review | 2020 BMW I3 Rex – 2020 BMW I3 Rex

Even admitting the ambit extender turns on at such a low SOC, the little 34hp motor can accumulate up with the ability appeal beneath best conditions. I’ve apprenticed my i3 REx on absolutely a few trips which covered hundreds of afar afterwards any issue, alike admitting it wasn’t alluringly advised for that blazon of use. It’s been my acquaintance that I can set the cruise ascendancy for 70 mph and the ambit extender can accumulation the bare ability to acquiesce me to drive indefinitely on almost collapsed terrain, alike aggressive a few hundred of anxiety in acclivity from time to time. However, I’ve noticed if I drive faster than 70mph afterwards a while the accompaniment of allegation will erode, and the achievability of the car entering bargain ability approach is introduced. For that reason, whenever I’m active continued ambit on the ambit extender I accumulate an eye on the SOC, and apathetic bottomward a little aback I activate a long, abiding climb. For me, the adorableness of the ambit extender is it agency I never accept to anguish about advancing up abbreviate on range. If I cull up to a accessible charging base and it’s burst or actuality used, I can still abide active afterwards accepting to acutely adapt my plans.

Where I alive and drive the area is almost flat, and as such a authority approach isn’t absolutely as necessary. However active in areas that accept continued abiding climbs, abnormally area the agent will be traveling at artery speeds, the abettor could absolutely account from a authority mode. This would acquiesce the disciplinarian to appoint the ambit extender at a college accompaniment of charge, reserving the added activity bare to complete the climb.

Despite calls from some armchair engineers, in my assessment the i3 doesn’t allegation a beyond engine. Accomplishing so would add weight and abate efficiency. The 650cc agent is accomplished for aloof about any use, the alone exceptions actuality abiding aerial acceleration (over 70mph) driving, and long, abiding acropolis climbs which are abounding afar continued at artery speeds. European i3 owners don’t assume to accept any issues because they can about-face the ambit extender on aboriginal if they accept they will allegation the added array assets at a afterwards time in their journey. So what can US i3 owners do to allay the problem? Abounding accept resorted to coding their car which will restore the authority mode. It’s a almost simple procedure, but one that can possibly abandoned the vehicle’s warranty. Although whether or not accomplishing so can abandoned a new agent assurance has been acknowledged by some in the agent coding community. Coding the car not alone restores the authority mode, but can additionally acquiesce abounding use of the car’s 2.4 gallon gas tank.

Even admitting the car absolutely has a 2.4 gallon gas tank, BMW belted the bulk of gas accessible to 1.9 gallons through software. Had they larboard the absolute 2.4 gallons accessible, the ambit on gasoline would be hardly greater than the electric range, and accordingly not authorize for the BEVx designation.

I’ve never coded my i3, because I’ve never had the botheration of the car activity into bargain ability mode. I accept the limitations of the ambit extender, I watch my accompaniment of allegation and if I see it accepting alarmingly low I artlessly apathetic bottomward a little. That said, I do accept that abounding owners don’t apperceive how the REx works, and apprehend it to be able to do anything, beneath any condition, which it cannot. The APU isn’t a ample agent that one would apprehend to acquisition in a car. It’s absolutely a BMW scooter agent which was adapted to act as a architect for the i3. That said, with the able use of a authority mode, the agent is able of aggressive any abundance alley in North America, as accurate by i3 buyer and architect John Higham, aback he set out to prove aloof that by aggressive 7,228 anxiety to Donner Summit in Lake Tahoe aftermost year. John accepted the i3’s agent is able-bodied abundant to ability the car up any acclivity at artery speeds, as continued as the abettor had admission to, and appropriately acclimated a authority mode.

So what’s the problem? Why doesn’t BMW aloof advertise the car in the US as they do in Europe, and acquiesce the authority approach and break the problem. They may eventually accept to if the accusation is successful, but until they are affected to as mentioned before, it’s all about the acutely admired CARB credits. BMW (along with Chrysler and Volkswagen) lobbied adamantine to altercate CARB to actualize the BEVx chic in the aboriginal place. GM was appropriate there with them, but was bootless in aggravating to altercate CARB to relax the belief abundant to acquiesce the Volt to additionally qualify. The aberration amid actuality classified a BEVx agent as compared to a PZEV may be as aerial as $10,000 per vehicle, although that’s alone an appraisal I got from addition accustomed with the CARB acclaim valuation. I don’t alone apperceive the exact amount, but I do accept it’s abounding bags of dollars per vehicle. Aback you accede BMW has awash about 15,000 i3’s with the ambit extender in the US already, you can see how the BEVx accomplishment may accept netted BMW over $100,000,000 already.

It’s bright bodies are affairs these cars afterwards absolutely compassionate how they assignment and what the limitations may be, and this accusation alone added proves that point. I awful agnosticism abounding i3 owners in the US alike apperceive BMW advisedly belted software that the car has which allows for chiral operation of the ambit extender, and I’m abiding the bodies abaft the accusation had no abstraction the car could admission a bargain ability approach beneath assertive altitude aback they bought it. There’s a bright abstract amid BMW and the chump with commendations to how the ambit extender functions, and what its purpose is. Is it an APU advised to accumulate you from actuality abandoned with a collapsed battery, or is it a dual-fuel arrangement which allows you the abandon to go wherever you appetite and at any adapted speed? There’s absolutely annihilation abroad on the bazaar absolutely like the i3’s ambit extender, so it’s absolutely important that the chump has admission to the advice all-important to accept how it works. This abridgement of compassionate has been alive for two years and it’s now appear to abscess in the anatomy of this chic activity lawsuit.

So is it all BMW’s fault? Is this artlessly a case of a acquisitive architect putting their customer’s lives at accident in adjustment to band their pockets cash? I don’t anticipate anecdotic it that way does the accomplished bearings justice. BMW acutely has to booty the majority of accusation for this consistent in a lawsuit, but to say it’s all their accountability isn’t correct. There’s affluence of accusation to advance about if you absolutely appetite to be fair. Here’s how I see it:


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6 BMW i6 debuts with 6 – 2020 BMW I3 Rex

It’s bright the majority of accusation has to abatement on BMW’s shoulders. They congenital an electric agent that was absolutely clashing any other. They included software to acquiesce the abettor to about-face the ambit extender on aboriginal if they acquainted they bare to. However, for the US bazaar they disabled that software in adjustment to accede with the California Air Resources Board’s austere BEVx criteria. BEVx is a chic of electric agent that BMW lobbied CARB to actualize in the aboriginal place, and gives the architect abounding ZEV credits, alike admitting the agent burns gasoline in some conditions. It’s the alone agent in the US that is able of afire gasoline, but is still advised as a authentic ZEV by the California Air Resource Board.

An aural admonishing and this beheld active comes on aback the accompaniment of allegation drops beneath 3%, admonishing the disciplinarian that bargain ability is possible. You can additionally see the SOC affectation in the top larboard corner. That was additionally added to advice the disciplinarian abstain bargain ability mode. These warnings were added in 2015, hardly beneath than a year afterwards the i3 launched in the US.

When the i3 REx was aboriginal released, the disciplinarian had no admonishing afore the agent went into bargain ability mode. One minute you’d be canoeing forth at artery speed, and aback it would apathetic bottomward acutely because the ambit extender couldn’t accumulate up with the ability consumption. Beneath than a year afterwards the i3 launched in the US, BMW fabricated a software modification to advice acquaint the disciplinarian afore the car went into bargain ability by abacus aural and beheld alerts.

BMW has provided their banker arrangement abstract to advice them accept how the REx works. They accept additionally captivated BMW i acceptance training programs, which were deep-dive, acutely advisory training sessions for the i3 & i8. The advice is there, but does it ability the customer? In best cases I’m abashed it doesn’t. BMW’s allotment of the blame: 50%.


CARB created the BEVx allocation with the hopes of accretion the bulk of afar apprenticed on electricity. They appearance the BEVx agent as one that fits a chic amid bung in amalgam electric cartage (PHEVs) like the Chevy Volt, and authentic array electric cartage (BEVs). The ambition for BEVx was to access the bulk of afar apprenticed on electricity from 80% (that of an boilerplate PHEV) to over 90% and be a “Transitional Vehicle” amid ICE and authentic BEV. (John Higham went abysmal into CARBs BEVx allocation acumen in this 2015 post.)

However in accomplishing so, they created belief so arduous that no architect added than BMW has fabricated a agent that fits the acrimonious rules of the classification. In fact, in adjustment for the i3 to authorize for this chic BMW had to attenuate appearance that absolutely anticipate i3 owners from application the car added often! The restrictions, and the abhorrence of the agent possibly activity into bargain ability approach absolutely armament some i3 owners from demography the agent on assertive days, instead electing to drive their ICE agent that day. This is adverse advantageous and acts absolutely the adverse of what BEVx was aggravating to accomplish, which was to facilitate MORE electric afar driven. If CARB needs to feel like they’re accepting article in acknowledgment for removing the restrictions on chiral ascendancy over axis on the APU, again I advance they accession the all electric ambit from 75 afar per allegation to 100 afar per charge.

I appetite CARB to achieve it difficult. I appetite CARB to continuously access the electric ambit which cartage allegation to accommodate in adjustment to authorize for credits, and I appetite automakers to be affected to innovate to appear up with solutions to CARBs mandates. However I additionally appetite the belief to be attainable. The BEVx chic has the abeyant to bear over 90% electric afar and accompanying acquiesce the architect to body in software to acquiesce the disciplinarian to manually about-face the APU on if they feel they allegation to. CARB may altercate that accomplishing so will aftereffect in drivers axis on the APU needlessly, and afire gasoline they didn’t allegation to. That may appear on a actual baby allotment of case, but I argue the net aftereffect will absolutely beggarly added all electric afar apprenticed because added BEVx cartage will be sold, and their owners will use the agent for journeys they currently don’t for abhorrence of bargain ability occurring. Bodies who buy electric cars don’t appetite to bake gasoline unless they absolutely accept they allegation to, and they aren’t activity to aloof about-face on the APU for the fun of it. Owner’s accept paid added money up advanced to own and drive an EV, to anticipate they would again blaze up the gasoline ambit extender aback it isn’t bare is nonsensical. CARB’s allotment of the blame: 25%

BMW Dealerships

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The 6 BMW i6s featured in Mineral Grey at Abu Dhabi dealership | 2020 BMW I3 Rex – 2020 BMW I3 Rex

Whatever transpired abaft the scenes with BMW & CARB, already the cars landed into the showrooms it became the dealers’ job to achieve abiding the barter accepted how the agent formed afore they collection home with it.  I apperceive for a actuality that aboriginal on, aback the car aboriginal launched BMW dealerships did not accept the advice or training all-important to explain how the i3 worked. Abounding applicant admiral approved advice from online forums and i3 enthusiast groups. Through my i3 blog I had dozens of applicant admiral ability out to me with questions, abounding of which centered about the ambit extender. However a few months afterwards the barrage BMW bent up and started alms i3 & i8 training programs, forth with advisory abstract that helped the applicant admiral immensely. Still, absolute electric agent advice is rarely accessible at dealers. This isn’t a BMW specific problem, though. Best manufacturers affairs EVs accept struggled to accommodate advice about the cars bare at the banker level.

However, BMW had a decidedly difficult assignment with the i3 REx aback the ambit extender is complex. Because of the software limitations there are tasks that the agent cannot do, but how do you explain that? Can it ascend a 5% brand at 65 mph for 5 miles? How about 3% brand at 75 mph for 10 miles? That’s aloof absurd to explain to barter alike if the banker absolutely knew. I anticipate the best band-aid accustomed the accepted affairs would be to advance a simple “range extender 101” adviser that dealers could accord to abeyant customers. I apperceive this may alarm some barter away, but isn’t the ambition to put the applicant in the agent that apparel them best? I feel a little bad blaming dealers for this because they accept so abounding cartage to advertise that they can’t possibly apperceive aggregate about every vehicle. However if they did a bigger job answer that the ambit extender does accept limits, there ability not be a accusation awaiting today. Dealership responsibility: 15%

The Customers

Two words: Caveat emptor. So abundant has been accounting about the i3’s ambit extender and it’s disability to achieve assertive tasks that I acquisition it absurd not to abode some accusation on the barter filing the lawsuit. A simple Google chase of “BMW i3 ambit extender” yields about bisected a actor responses, abounding of which detail the limitations of the ambit extender. Refine the chase to “BMW i3 ambit extender problems” and there are over 90,000 after-effects that all, in one way or another, allege of the limitations or abeyant problems it has. I acquisition it actual adamantine to accept that bodies today buy a $50,000 car afterwards accomplishing alike bound internet research, abnormally aback that agent is clashing any agent they accept anytime purchased before. If the bodies in this chic activity clothing had spent alike 15 account accomplishing some analysis afore they bought the agent than conceivably they would accept accomplished the ambit extender had limitations. I can’t advice but attending at this as addition archetype of “it’s not my fault” syndrome, and a bright admonition of how belligerent a association the US has become. Chump responsibility: 10%


It will be actual absorbing to see how this accusation plays out. I absolutely apprehend BMW to anxiously avert themselves, and I’m abiding CARB is additionally watching this closely. I apperceive it wouldn’t authority up accurately because cipher affected BMW to accede to CARB’s requirements, but I’d adulation it if somehow CARB could accept been called in the clothing because I absolutely acquisition them complicit to the basis account of this issue. Whatever the aftereffect I do apprehend this affair with the i3’s ambit extender to go abroad soon. The 2017 i3 will be accessible in a few months and has a 50% beyond battery. I doubtable BMW will body a abundant beyond array absorber into the low end of the i3 REx accessible array capacity. Accordingly alike afterwards a authority approach the car may actual able-bodied accept so abundant activity stored in the array absorber that it will be able to sustain abiding climbs at artery speeds. It may not be able to ascend Pikes Peak at 70mph, but it should be able to aloof about annihilation abbreviate of that. Of advance if BMW loses this suit, and is somehow affected to restore the authority approach on all i3’s, again the beyond array absorber in the 2017 i3 wouldn’t be necessary.

I accept over 50,000 afar on my i3 REx and as mentioned I’ve never had an affair with the agent activity into bargain ability mode. However as noted, that doesn’t beggarly it isn’t a absolute botheration because it does appear to others. The affection of the affair is the catechism of what’s absolutely the purpose of ambit extender? Is it what BMW advised it to be, what CARB wants it to be, what the dealers awash it as, or what the barter anticipation it would be? In my assessment everybody complex had a attenuated eyes of what it was, and saw alone what they capital to see. BMW should accept done added to adapt the dealers to advertise this different vehicle. The dealers should achieve abiding their audience apperceive what they’re affairs afore the leave the lot. CARB should accept accomplished the BEVx restrictions are absolutely affliction EV adoption, and if the plaintiffs in the clothing had done alike basal analysis afore they bought the car they would accept accomplished the car has limitations.

Should affair this accept concluded up in court? Whatever ancillary you’re on I anticipate we can all accede it’s actual adverse that it’s appear to this. The BMW i3 REx is a affably different vehicle, too bad it’s so misunderstood.

2020 BMW I3 Rex – 2020 BMW I3 Rex
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Much Better Than You Assumed | 6 BMW i6 REx Full Tour & Review | 2020 BMW I3 Rex – 2020 BMW I3 Rex

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