We recently bought a used BMW i3 EV – and it surprised all of us!
TFL Studios’ newest aquistion is a 2014 BMW i3 EV with a range-extender (“REX”) system. Simply put, it has a tiny gas generator that will supply extra energy to the batteries, when needed. It’s not exactly a hybrid. Those vehicles supplement power to the drive-wheels using a gas or diesel engine. In this case, the generator isn’t connected to the drive wheels at all.
Basically, it’s a generator that was used in scooters in the past.
As for the rest of the vehicle, it’s surprisingly advanced – especially for a $12,500 price tag. These cars could easily fetch $50,000 new. Unfortunately for BMW, the i3 was never a hot seller. Part of that may have had to do with the bulbous styling, skinny wheels and two-person rear seat.
Did we mention it’s rear-wheel drive?
It’s a shame really. This was a vehicle that had almost all of its components bespoke. The chassis is an aluminum “skateboard” topped with a carbon-fiber composite cocoon for safety, strength and light weight. Depending on the year, the BMW i3 can get 72 to 81 miles in battery-only driving.
When the system detects that you’ve dropped to six-percent battery, the REX system kicks on and adds more juice. Keep in mind: when that happens you get an additional 150 miles – max. There is a two-gallon gas tank and, when using the REX system, the i3’s performance mellows to conserve.
The funny thing about the BMW i3 is that it’s a lot faster than it looks. Using EV mode, it can scamper from 0 to 60 mph in about seven-seconds. Despite its ridiculously skinny tires, (basically motorcycle tires) it handles well. If you push it, the traction control will kill the fun – rapidly.
Our point with this car, which will become evident in the video below, is that – for the money – it’s a killer bargain!