OFFICIAL: BMW i3 BEVx Still Doesn’t Qualify For Clean Vehicle Rebate in California

Despite what BMW’s press corp told us back in February, BMW’s range-extended variant of the i3 electric car still hasn’t qualified for any purchase rebates under the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Despite what BMW claims, the BMW i3 BEVx still doesn't qualify for either HOV-lane access or purchase rebates.

Despite what BMW claims, the BMW i3 BEVx still doesn’t qualify for either California HOV-lane access or purchase rebates.

Designed to encourage Californians to pick a low or zero emission vehicle as their next car, the CVRP offers a rebate of up to $2,500 of rebates for anyone who purchases a qualifying zero-emission all-electric or low-emission plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicle. To date, pretty much every plug-in car we can think of has made it onto the list, but as GreenCarReports correctly predicted earlier this year and InsideEVs confirmed this morning, the BMW i3 BEVx still isn’t on the approved CVRP list.

The all-electric i3 BEV however, is.

No rebate yet

Look at the official CVRP list published by the California Centre for Sustainable Energy and you’ll note that the BMW i3 BEV — BMW’s all-electric version of the i3 — is top of the eligible vehicles list. Eligible for $2,500 in CVRP rebates, anyone who buys an all-electric BMW i3 will also be eligible to apply for a white “Access OK” HOV lane decal, giving them single-occupant access to California’s many high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

In total, there are thirteen other purely electric vehicles and two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles listed alongside the 2014 BMW i3 BEV as being eligible for the full $2,500 CVRP rebate. Below them, a further six highway-capable plug-in hybrid and range-extended EV models are listed as being eligible for $1,500 of CVRP rebates.

They include range-extended electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR, Ford’s CMax Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids, and even the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid, both of which have tiny all-electric ranges.

Reason unknown

The real mystery here however, isn’t why cars like the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and Honda Accord Plug-in hybrid qualify for a $1500 CVRP rebate and California’s Green HOV-lane access program: it’s why the BMW i3 BEVx doesn’t appear to.

Buy a BMW i3 BEVx in California, and you'll miss out on purchase rebates for now

Buy a BMW i3 BEVx in California, and you’ll miss out on purchase rebates for now

Here’s what Transport Evolved was told by BMW North America earlier this year.

“The i3 with Range Extender (BEVx) qualifies for the ‘green’ HOV lane sticker. The number of ‘green’ stickers is limited in numbers and will eventually run out (possibly late in 2014). The BMW i3 BEV qualifies for the ‘white’ sticker which is not limited in number. This is not a reversal of position on stickers for the i3 BEVx since cars equipped with an internal combustion engine, which may emits [sic] fuel vapor, generally do not qualify for the Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV) status required for the ‘white’ sticker. It also bears mentioning that the i3 with Range Extender (BEVx) qualifies for the full CA incentive amount of $2,500.”

Yet the car hasn’t appeared on either the CVRP or HOV-lane access program lists yet, which leads us to suspect that the car hasn’t been submitted for testing — or hasn’t passed.

Late last month, we spoke to sources in California who confirmed that the California Air Resources Board had yet to certify the BMW i3 BEVx as being compliant with the HOV lane access program. What we were unable to ascertain from our sources — who were understandably nervous about talking publicly about the issue — was if BMW had submitted the i3 BEVx for testing.

While the BMW i3 BEVx isn’t the first car to go on sale in the U.S. with a range-extending gasoline engine — that accolade went to the venerable Chevrolet Volt — the BMW i3 BEVx does occupy a new regulatory class under CARB regulations.

Unlike the Volt, whose 1.4 litre gasoline engine can operate almost indefinitely once the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack has been depleted, the BMW i3 BEVx’s tiny 647cc range-extending engine is designed to get you to the next charging station. It has been designed to operate as an emergency backup to alleviate range anxiety, not an alternative power source for long, cross-country trips.

It’s conceivable — although we think unlikely — that the i3 BEVx’s first-of-its-type drivetrain is causing some unique issues in testing, delaying the car’s certification and inclusion on California’s various rebate and incentive lists.

With deliveries of the BMW i3 due to start in the U.S. any time however, it’s not looking good for BMW’s first mass-produced electric car and its range-extended sibling. Unless the situation changes, those on a waiting list for an i3 BEVx in California will have to choose between no rebates and no HOV-lane access, the all-electric i3 BEV instead, or perhaps even another plug-in car altogether.

At the time of writing, BMW hasn’t issued any updated statements on the matter of the HOV-lane access sticker program — which will likely run out of green HOV decals in less than a month — or the CVRP rebates.

We’ll let you know as soon as this changes.


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