ElectraGirl: My Final Acceptance of the BMW i3 and What an Efficient Electric Car It Is.

Saturday 11th July 2015

It has finally happened – and this only happened this past Friday – that I do in fact rather like the BMW i3. Yes, yes, I know, I have had the car for over a year, but some things just take time! I think I am only just getting to fully appreciate what I have with this car and finally accepting it. It isn’t the MINI E – most unfortunately, and isn’t the ActiveE either – not so unfortunately. It is the i3 – it is itself and it is different and unique. I realised that for over a year I have been telling myself that I liked the car, when I really wasn’t so sure, and knew it was just okay, and going along with what I had. However, if BMW offered me the MINI E back again, I would still take it – even in its experimental state, it’s still the best EV for me. But I think I have realised that it isn’t likely to happen so it appears that I have finally come to appreciate and accept the i3.

Now I have decided that it is staying, for a little while at least, then I am looking at the efficiency of this Electric Car. It should be super efficient, after all it is made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic making it nice and lightweight. Then there is the fact that they didn’t add a lot of things to the car (according to the visit we had at BMW HQ way back before the cars were even released!) – all to keep the weight down apparently. I remember being most unimpressed that day as all I was hearing was, ‘Well we didn’t put that in and we took that out and we didn’t do this, etc., etc.” I was originally imagining a car that would have not much left in it at all – just the bare necessities – a steering wheel and a couple of seats!

Anyway, during this past week, and I am not sure why, but I have been particularly interested in my i3’s efficiency and I have to say that it is one very efficient Electric Car.

2015 BMW i3 at 5.7kWh

I am currently at a steady average of 5.7miles/kWh and regularly see 98 – 105 miles of estimated range each day. The i3 seems to glide through the air with little resistance and it probably gets such good miles/kWh because I keep it so clean! I am finding I can drive my first 3 miles on a morning using only 0.3% of battery and usually increasing my range by 2 or 3 miles. The journey is one of a mixture of flat and hilly roads.

In the i3 there are potentially three driving modes – Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro Plus. I always drive in ‘Comfort Mode’ and find there is very little difference, if any at all, in range guesstimates between the three driving modes. We actually tested this theory with the ActiveE and found that it’s all down to how you drive the car, drive gently in ‘Comfort mode’ and you will see the same results in mileage range as you would in ‘Eco Pro’. In my experience ‘Eco Pro’ and ‘Eco Pro Plus’ just dumb down the car for you – softer accelerator, no AC and speed limited to 55mph. I can do all this myself and can moderate the accelerator rather well, if I do say so myself! I have heard some one call the Eco Pro settings the cars nanny! If I drive gently in ‘Comfort mode’ with no AC then there is no need for all the Eco Pros. It’s just all about how you control the car, and for me, I prefer to make those decisions myself, rather than have the car do so. Although even in Eco Pro you can still floor the i3 off the line, you just have to press the accelerator a bit harder.

2015 BMW i3 One Year Anniversary

2015 BMW i3 One Year Anniversary Gathering

I often return from a journey in my i3 with more miles than I set of with – this is usually the case when my sidekick has driven it the day before!

On our recent trip of 158 miles round trip to Philadelphia we were at 99% efficiency as reported on the BMW i-Remote App – that’s pretty impressive for a route that was hilly and had road speeds that varied from 25 – 55mph, oh and it rained on the return journey. Also, our last few miles home is a climb of 360 feet, up a few very steep hills.

In conclusion – my BMW i3 is very efficient and I like that!


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  • Stephen Noctor

    5.7 m/kWh, impressive!

  • Farmer_Dave

    But it’s so ugly!

    • vdiv

      That is why it deserves extra love 🙂

      • Electra Girl

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It took me a year to like it and it’s not your everyday blob.

    • possen

      Compared to what? Leaf? Prius? Soul? Mirai!? Not a fan of any of those. I like the looks, it grows on you and it is different, which I also like.

  • nath

    I like it, but will wait to see if the Tesla3 really gets 200+ miles on a charge.

    • vdiv

      BMW has a real chance to do that with the i3 considering the investment they made in making it light and eventually they will do it. The real revelation to many EV drivers is that they can use their 80-mile fast-charging EV to go pretty much everywhere.

      • Electra Girl

        By the time my i3 lease is up, things are going to look very different but, to those that are waiting, I say jump in today, the future’s another day.

      • D. Harrower

        Everywhere except Canada. I have to drive 100 miles to get to the grocery store. 😉

  • The A/C in my Leaf only costs a couple of miles of range in the Texas summer – less than 500 W on a 100+ degree day. Have you measured the actual impact on using the A/C in your BMW?

    Using the resistance heater in my 2012 model is quite a different story, of course. That’s why I love seat warmers! 🙂

    • Electra Girl

      I’ve always worried that the range will fall a lot however, when we’ve had range to spare, I’ve always been surprised at how little the impact is… another day trip is in order I think.

      • MEroller

        About those three driving modes, what you have found is exactly the same thing as I did on my simple Chinese Motorcycle/Scooter with it’s “High” and “Low” switch on the throttle grip handle:
        In “High” the throttle signal is routed unaltered to the controller, giving me full control over motor power (and energy usage).
        In “Low” the throttle signal is intercepted by by some kind of diode, the effect being the same starting signal, but followed by a less steep signal gradient, thus limiting maximum current to the motor and top speed to just 55km/h.

        Of course riding in “Low” mode extends my range considerably, but manually modulating my throttle accordingly in “High” mode gives me precisely the same range – without giving up total power control to a stupid switch 🙂

        • Michael Thwaite

          We must ‘stick it’ to our computer overlords and take charge of the power ourselves! Flip that switch!

    • D. Harrower

      I’m a bit surprised that there’s a mode which actually disables A/C. Doesn’t this reinforce the sterotypical image of the EV driver creeping along at 10mph below the speed limit, freezing in their full winter gear with no radio or heater (A/C in the summer) for fear of running out of power? I guess modern short-range EVs can’t quite separate themselves from that image yet.

      • NotRappaport

        “disable ACC” means disable Adaptive Cruise Control

  • Brian Keith

    I agree with you, the various eco modes are kind of lame on the i3. The Leaf had a decent eco mode that affected climate among other aspects and we always drove in that mode. On the i3, we are always on Comfort. It’s a decent car if there weren’t so many bugs and issues. The adaptive cruise control is useless and cuts out on you randomly. That in itself is manageable but when you have the typical tailgater behind you and the regenerative brakes come on unexpectedly, it’s dangerous! We gave up using it. There is an odd clunking suspension noise in the front that comes on when temperatures drop near freezing, and the check engine light comes on randomly and you never know if it’s a legit issue or just the ‘bug’. Try selling it in a couple years and informing a would be buyer ‘it’s just a bug and nothing to be concerned with’. It’s been in the shop over 30 days in total this year in an effort to take care of some of these issues. This week it’s the tire low indicator that is on even though my tire gauge shows all tires are at the same pressure.

    As for people thinking the car is ugly, it’s either a love it or hate it. But, based on the near daily comments I get, most people love it. I think it’s neat and one of the better qualities of the vehicle. There are other good attributes to it as well plus the range extender extends the usefulness of the vehicle. But, the initial bugs are beginning to outweigh the positive aspects.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Hey, did you know that you can disable ACC? It’s buried in the manual but, if you enable cruise with a push on the first left button then press-hold up or down for a few seconds, it deactivates the ACC part and works like traditional cruise control, fault free.

      • D Gatewood

        Regarding the looks its down to being a conformist or nonconformist. I often wonder how many of the former choose items that do make a statement without realising it but are ultra conservative about their mode of transport.
        Everyone waits for the next new model but how many would be disappointed to find it looking the same as previous.

  • Jo Nathan Bala

    I’ve had my i3 for 9 months. I have a lot of fun accelerating with a heavy foot. I’m getting around 3.7 mi/kwh. 70-80 miles per charge.

  • carlerik

    For comparison, I have a 2014 Nissan Leaf. For the months of May, June and July my averages have been 6.2, 6.1, and 5.7 m/kWh. I drive in Eco mode mostly, and highway driving 55+ mph infrequently, maybe 20% of the time. In the cold New England winter my monthly average went down to about 4.

    I test drove the i3 and liked the power, but your finding that the modes don’t really change things is a bit disappointing. It would be nice to know that an “eco” mode will really increase your range. In Drive mode the Leaf is nicely powerful, but the Eco mode regularly gives me well over 100 mile range, as long as I watch that accelerator foot!

  • Nonni

    BMW i3- great that BMW is in the game, but this car looks dorky!