The BMW i3 REx features a small range-extending engine.

BMW i3 EV Rated by EPA: 81 Miles Range, 124 MPGe, Gets Full CA Rebate

Just days ahead of going on sale and with the first shipment of cars already waiting on the docks, the all-electric 2014 BMW i3 EV has been given its official fuel economy ratings by the EPA.

At 124 MPGe, the BMW i3 is the most efficient car on sale in the U.S. today.

At 124 MPGe, the BMW i3 is the most efficient car on sale in the U.S. today.

At 81 miles per charge, the BMW i3 EV’s range isn’t anything to get particularly excited about. In fact, there are plenty more cars on the market today that achieve a higher EPA-approved range per charge, including the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, 2014 Nissan LEAF, 2014 Honda Fit EV and of course, Tesla Model S to name a few.

But while those cars may be able to travel further per charge than the luxury German four-seater, the i3 wins hands down when it comes to energy efficiency.

Rated at an official fuel economy of 124 MPGe, the BMW i3 is the most efficient car ever sold in the U.S. Ever. Period.

For those who are interested, MPGe — or mile per gallon equivalent — is the distance an electric car can travel on the same amount of energy contained in one gallon of gasoline.

If we ignore purchase or lease costs, this means that the BMW i3 uses less energy than any other full-size electric car on the market today. And that equates to lower fuel costs, or in this case, a lower electricity bill.

How does a car like the BMW i3 — which doesn’t exactly make you think of aerodynamic prowess when you look at it — manage such an efficient fuel economy figure? In a word, weight.

Now the EPA has rated the BMW i3, you'll soon see them on the streets of the U.S. Yay!

Now the EPA has rated the BMW i3, you’ll soon see them on the streets of the U.S. Yay!

Because the BMW i3 EV’s body makes extensive use of carbon-fibre in its construction process in place of more traditional construction materials like steel and aluminium, it is far lighter than most cars on sale.

At 2,635 pounds (1,195 kg), the i3 is a good 656 pounds (298 kg) lighter than the 2014 Nissan LEAF. That’s more than three average U.S. adult men. To put it simply, the less weight a vehicle has to carry around, the more efficient it can be.

It’s worth noting at the time of writing that official EPA ratings for the range-extended i3 variant — the BMW i3 REx — haven’t broken cover yet. Since neither the i3 EV nor the i3 REx EPA figures are listed yet on the official U.S. government fuel economy listings website yet, we’re guessing it will be released shortly.

(In case you’re wondering how we found out the EPA rating for the i3, we were alerted to the presence of an official EPA sticker on a BMW i3 waiting at a dealership by former BMW Mini E and Active E driver and i3 reservation holder Tom Moloughney, who posted the news to Facebook yesterday.)

For BMW i3 reservation holders in California, there’s more good news too: following on from the announcement that the i3 REx had been approved for the state’s Green HOV-lane access program, the California Centre for Sustainable Energy has finally listed the i3 and i3 REx as being eligible for the full $2,500 purchase rebate under California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

This makes the BMW i3 REx the first range-extended electric car with a gasoline range-extended engine to be eligible for the full $2,500 rebate normally reserved for pure electric vehicles. Until this point, range-extended EVs and plug-in hybrids have only been eligible for a maximum of $1250 in rebates.

For those who have been waiting patiently for their new BMW i3, both pieces of news mean one thing: their cars really are closer than ever before to being driven off the lot.

We bet they can’t wait. Be sure to share your first drive with us here at Transport Evolved!


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  • D. Harrower

    Finally, something slightly compelling about the i3. Styling…no. Performance…no. Price…no. Features…no. Efficiency…maybe…nnnDon’t agree about the REx getting the full rebate though. No hybrid will ever be as efficient as an EV.

  • Surya

    Wait… How can it be more efficient and still travel less far on a similar size battery?

    • offib

      18kWh (usable, me thinks) battery. EVs that typically do in the 80s region have batteries that store more than 20 or 22kWh.

      • Surya

        But other cars have similar useable sizes, no? Like the Spark EV (21.3 total, so similar useable size) or the Zoe (which isn’t rated in the US of course)

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