ElectraGirl: 2014 BMW i3 Six-Month Report

Saturday 20th December 2014

Well, actually, seven months on….

2014 BMW i3 HeaderI am now into month 7 of owning and driving a 100% electric BMW i3. I have 5,400 miles on the car. Not many for 7 months of driving but we just don’t do the same kind of miles that we did in the ActiveE and, as our i-MiEV is going back at the end of January, we have been using that a lot more to pile the miles on there – the i-MiEV is a 24,000 mile lease with just 14,000 miles on it and I don’t think we can add another 10,000 in just over a month. We’ll save the i3 miles for when MiEV goes back.

Well, what to say about the i3? It is still working, so that is a plus point. There isn’t anything really earth shattering to say about the car, it gets me from A to B without any trouble. However, there are some niggles with the car, but more on those in a bit.

The i3 is very quiet and stealth like, its presence is unassuming, well it was until we put the stickers on the car and now it gets noticed.

MPT BMW i3 AE Stickers FrontThe i3 is a fun car to drive, it has good acceleration but not quite in the same league as the Roadster… as I found out the other day – note to self, do not try to race your sidekick unless you both have the same car!!!! I feel that I am still getting used to the more upright seating and am still undecided on whether I like that aspect or not. I’ve spent too many years in more laid back cars that the uprightness is taking a lot of getting used to.

One of the things I really like about the car is the dimming rear view mirror and door mirrors, they make night time driving much more acceptable. I like the funky look of the car and it always amuses me when people do a 180 to look at the car as I drive by. I don’t think many people know what it is, as it certainly doesn’t look anything like a BMW. It’s an easy car to drive and the regen is more than acceptable, not quite as good as the ActiveE but certainly up there so I can pull up to the white line very precisely.

i3 drive selectorI’m also still getting use to the forward/reverse selector and often find myself reaching down to where the direction selector should be, then quickly remembering that it is tucked behind the steering wheel, still don’t get that one BMW.

However, there are a few too many niggles that are beginning to spoil the fun side of the car. These have been present pretty much since day one, and the reason we haven’t said anything about them until now, is we had expected that they wouldn’t still be an issue at this point. After all, this is a full production car but, it is feeling like another BMW experiment that we are testing for them. Oh dear!

BMW i3 20inch WheelTo the niggles. The one that I am finding particularly irritating is the ‘wub-wub’ noise from the 20in tyres. I won’t change my wheels for anything less than 20’s so I feel that BMW need to address the tyres to get rid of the noise. On smooth newly tarmac’d roads the noise is particularly annoying.

Fortunately we haven’t seen the dreaded ‘Drivetrain Malfunction’ from the ActiveE days but, there are plenty of i3 owners that have seen it and, been left stuck waiting for a tow truck. Is it just a matter of time or should I consider myself one of the lucky ones?

I’m also getting annoyed that I cannot put the cars ventilation into recirculate mode, it will only stay on for a few seconds and then turns itself off again. When I come across a cloud of white or black smoke emitting from one of those old fashioned petrol vehicles I have to turn the ventilation off altogether or I get a car full of fumes. Most frustrating as then I am wasting the heat I have just amassed and therefore waste miles heating the car again when the cloud has passed.

The car often reports that the rear doors are open when they aren’t. Some wonky sensor somewhere I guess!

Weird niggle – the key fob unlocks the doors – correct, but also unlocks the froot but not the boot – that’s just wrong. I want to get to the boot with all my shopping, what good is the froot for all my shopping?

For some odd reason the steering wheel has developed a weird squeak – is there a chipmunk spending its winter in there?

2014 BMW i3 Power level settingWe are still stuck with a slow charging rate – 6 months now. Apparently I cannot charge at full rate otherwise my onboard charger might go “pouff!!” But, that is restrictive as now, if I go anywhere and need to charge it takes a long time. Come on BMW, get your act together and get these things fixed faster.

BMW remote app failureThe mobile app no longer functions correctly. I think it’s telling me that it’s charged and the predicted range correctly about 45% of the time, but nothing else is updating. I can’t tell from the app what my kWh used per journey is or the distance travelled. Not a big deal, but why has it stopped working? I can’t pre-condition from the app either – Yes I have been spoilt.

Our range has fallen much more than expected. I had hoped that with the heat pump on my i3, my range would not have fallen so much. I mean 68 miles range – unacceptable. My sidekick can no longer use it for his 72 mile commute as he has no charging. Well, he could use it without heat, but we have done that for too many years and this car was supposed to be finished, not still an experiment.

i3-park-assistWe purchased the Parking Assistant Package as we wanted the cameras and park distance control. The package came with Parking Assistant but, we cannot use as there have been reports from other users that their wheels have been scraped. We have tried this out but only in our driveway with no kerbs – the alloys are too expensive to risk scraping.

My sidekick’s biggest niggle is the fact that we paid for an expensive cruise control package with Active cruise control that doesn’t work properly. It will disengage without waring and throw the car into major regenerative breaking mode. Highly dangerous when out on the motorway. It thinks it has seen something and that it needs to stop accelerating but, there is nothing there! He’s also irritated by the cars ever changing regen levels, especially when cornering coming off the motorway.

BMW won’t consider any of these items an issue unless verified by our dealer. Are they saying we are lying? Are they saying everyone on the i3 Facebook group is lying? We’re all experiencing the same. So, we now have to book the car in at the dealer and spend time and our precious miles proving what doesn’t work as BMW stated it would. That’ll be happening in January. More to come…

How’s your EV working out? Any niggles?


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  • MEroller

    I can wholly understand your being upset about so many niggles and outright faults! After all you (plural) have been testing BMWs’ steps into electric propulsion for years already and very rightly expect them to have actually LEARNED from those experiecnes gleaned from hundreds of “electronauts”, two of them being being you… nParticularly those drivetrain malfunctions should be a thing of the past. What on earth were all those Active-E test mules with their i3 drivetrain tested for??? My engineer’s mind simply cannot comprehend how BMW could not work out those troubles before the drivetrains were sold in their original i3 form. Some real basic development rules where apparently not applied in this case.nnOnce again the fundamental difference between classic car makers and Tesla comes to mind: with the classics it is always the customer that must prove to a certified dealer that his/her claims are valid. Tesla Motors check the car’s logs over the air and see to it that issues are resolved ASAP.

  • TedKidd

    Hmmm. One part of BMW serious about EV and another part not received the memo? nnIf they keep this up they’ll leave the market wide open for the Model u00b3 to completely dominate the market.

    • D. Harrower

      IMO, no automaker save Tesla is serious about selling EVs.nnNissan and BMW are certainly making an effort, but they are merely the best of the worst.nnThere’s too much conflict of interest with traditional OEMs. In order for them to talk up EVs, they have to talk down the rest of their lineups. And they’re not prepared to do that. Yet.

  • 1. You don’t provide a link for the “slow charging” issue. Readers who do not frequent BMW i3 forums will be unaware of the reduction from 7kW to 5kW or less that has been programmed into the BMW to prevent overloading the charger.nnn2. Reduced range in colder weather is to be expected in this current crop of EV’s powered by Li-Ion technology with liquid gel between the anode/cathode.nnn3. You bought a car with a small battery pack size. Were you really expecting to get significantly longer range from a battery pack only a few kWh more than your existing EV?nnnAll in all, I’d be happy having a BMW i3, even with the issues you reported. But then again, my Smart ED has been perfect since I bought it in 2013. The more I drive it, the more I like it. Looking forward to more exciting offerings in the EV space over the next few years!

    • Electra Girl

      I did expect to lose some range but not as much as I have, I have the heat pump and that was supposed to help with range. The i3 has a smaller battery pack than that of the ActiveE, it’s a disappointment. I expected that the i3 as a full production car would not have any issues. That was why we tested the MINE and the ActiveE for them – or so I thought!! My i-MiEV just works!

      • Yeah. Daimler is on their third generation of electric Smart cars. I feel they did a good job on my 2013, as the fully conditioned battery pack has worked even in extremes (-24C + wind chill) here in Canada.nnnGood fortune on getting your issues fixed by BMW.

      • D. Harrower

        Exactly!nnUnfortunately, we seem to live in a world where the “new-ness” of something (from homes to automobiles to phones) does not guarantee its quality. Too much pressure to release things quickly and cheaply, I guess.nnGood luck in January!

  • johnbl

    We have the 20″ wheel but have not experienced abnormal sounds. We drive in the Phoenix area so our BEV range is consistently 80-90 miles per charge. We are so delighted with the performance of the i3 and with EV driving in general that the few niggles experienced are overlooked..would love the rear camera to be active in any driving mode, found the optional floor mats get terribly dirty with foot prints (had to spray them with a Varathane’s water-based spray “Sparurethane” …but let it dry for a few days and problem solved), would like the head lights to have a wider range right to left, yet it’s hard to complain with the car having so many great features…we are delighted and think the comment by Sandy Muro to be on the money…””This is, without a doubt, one of the best engineered vehicles on the planet,” said Munro. “We’ve taken apart a lot of cars, planes, wind turbines and more, and the BMW i3 continued to pleasantly surprise us throughout the teardown process. This will be the vehicle that other automakers look to for next-generation improvements.” (http://goo.gl/zoR8sv)

  • vic

    I have the squeaking in the steering wheel after a few weeks as well