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back to article ULTIMATE ELECTRIC driving machine? Yes, it’s the BMW i3 e-car

People can sometimes behave like sheep. They will go somewhere, do something or buy a certain product simply because other people are doing so or because they recognise the brand. Call it consumer herd mentality. It’s one reason why the Toyota Prius sells so well in the States. BMW i3 Brands Hatch bound: the BMW i3 Here in …

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That's some battery

An 8 year warranty on a battery - that's impressive. They should go into the laptop business.

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Re: That's some battery

Devil in the detail.....

Will they swap out when you only get 90% of the original mileage on a charge? 75%? 50%? Or does it have to be completely dead.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's some battery

If you spend 8 years driving a car as ridiculous looking as that then I think you deserve a fresh battery.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Devilish Detail

Cant speak for the i3 but the Ampera's 8 year battery warranty is for at least 70% capacity remaining (at year 8) since it's got an engine too that doesn't mean you are stranded sooner, just that it goes to petrol a bit sooner. So not really a problem.

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Re: That's some battery

Has there ever been an attractive BMW ?

Must confess a soft spot for the 1970's 2002 saloon.

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Re: That's some battery

Everyone has different taste, but I fully admit to thinking that the i3 is a good looking vehicle. Something different, unique and dare I say futuristic. Certainly better than some of the electric/hybrid design disasters that have hit our roads in recent years,

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Re: That's some battery

In the USA the traction battery is considered an emissions component which has a mandatory no-deductable non-prorated 8 year 100k mile warranty. In California and certain other heavy-handed states the warranty is 10 years or 150k miles on emissions equipment.

Tesla warrants their 85 kWh battery 8 years unlimited miles while the 60 kWh only gets the standard Federal warranty.

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Thumb Up

Re: That's some battery

We have a product with an automotive size battery pack. early units have been in customer hands for eight years now, and we see no degradation.. so yes it is possible.

Note that the 8 years are with regards to natural aging of the cells (which is mainly dependent on charge state (higher is worse) and storage temperature (higher is worse). Each charge cycle also has an effect on battery life, but if you buy good cells, then you can get more than 4500 SAE cycles (80% discharge - recharge). I am convinced that we will all be driving electric cars in a not so far off future. The advantages are simply to many, and the technology is progressing steadily.

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Re: Has there ever been an attractive BMW?

They have made some hideous cars of late. However, here are some more suggestions for attractive BMWs:

M1

3.0CSL

8 series

I'll grant you that the pickings are slim among BMWs that the average person can afford though.

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Re: That's some battery

I'd love to be driving an electric car, but I remain sceptical that we will within the next decade or two. Not because batteries die, or because there aren't enough places to recharge - those can be overcome with a good warranty like this has, and with just building out some infrastructure. The real problem is that recharging takes too damned long. Even half an hour to recharge will lead to mammoth queues at recharging points on the motorway network.

Electric vehicles are great for short local journeys, but if you ever need to make a journey longer than the battery can support, then you either need some technology that doesn't exist yet for ultra-fast charging, or you need a car that can burn dinosaurs.

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I realise that being "seen to be green" is kinda the point for a lot of people but I wish manufacturers would make them look like normal cars.

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It's ugly

That's it really, why bother buying a BMW to drive such an ugly car?

Why couldn't they make an electric car that looked pretty much like a series 3? That could have a chance, this doesn't.

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Re: Why couldn't they make...

Have you seen the i8?

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Re: Why couldn't they make...

Yes and that's ugly too. WTF is wrong with BMW, they decided all their e-cars will be ugly as hell?

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If only...

we weren't already only a few percent away from blackout on the electricity grid, according to the generators...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If only...

we weren't already only a few percent away from blackout on the electricity grid, according to the generators...

could be a selling point for electric cars if an idea from Japan (where, due to the nuclear power shutdown they are also very power critical) which allows the mains charging to be reversed so that the batteries in an electric car can be used to provide mains power to the house if there's a power cut!

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Mushroom

Re: If only...

... and if only those generators weren't twiddling their thumbs all night with little demand.

... and if only we had distributed amongst the grid large battery packs that could charge up during the night and then return some of that energy to the grid during peak times.

Nah, I'm dreaming. That would require a country wide radio network upon which wireless communication could occur to request vehicles stop charging and or to request vehicles to return some of that charge. This is so impractical. It would require base stations to be built all over the place.

Seriously though, in a parallel universe....

Have you heard that some nuts want to power cars by filling them with highly flammable liquid hydrocarbons. Whenever you run low on this fuel, you will need to go to one of the filling stations and pump more in. I mean where is all this fuel going to come from, and how will it be delivered to these filling stations. Not only that, but the country is going to need to add exhaust fans into all the road tunnels and underground carparks so we don't get poisoned to death. The whole thing is just so impractical.

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Real world driving conditions

I wonder what such a light slab sided car feels like in a decent cross wind on the motorway?

On the other hand maybe I don't want to find out.

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Re: Real world driving conditions

Was never a problem in my Aygo, which is quite similar in size, shape, and weight.

GJC

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FUGLY

Jeeeesus H Christ on a Fucking Bike! - that thing fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. the designer shoud have stuck to doing ridiculous running shoes.

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Re: FUGLY

True.

It's got that deformed looking front end that some Fiat SUV thinggies have.

Nasty.

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Re: FUGLY

The lines and seams are a wreck. It's like half the parts were too small and the other half of the parts where stretched to cover the naked spots.

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Whilst the BMW has some good points, it still doesn't get around the major problem of electric vehicles i.e. where does all the electricity come from?

For a few thousand people in the UK, electric vehicles can be a realistic option; but there are over 28 million cars registered in the UK. If all of these were electric we'd need betweeen 10 and 20 coal or nuclear power stations to keep them running:

28,000,000 * 7.4 kW * 2.0 hours charging per day = 414400 MWh (assuming you only need to charge each one for 2 hours a day).

If the charging is spread evenly over 24 hours (a bad assumption, but gives the lowest power requirement) = 17,226 MW, so about 10 power stations; more likely the charging will be predominantly overnight so a more realistic figure is about 20 additional power stations.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of electric vehicles, but if the infrastructure isn't planned for them, they will just saturate the demand for electricity leading to rising electricity bills as the rich buy power for their thirty grand electric vehicles and the poor get priced out of the market.

And what about fuel duty? I don't think the government will want to support hte building of 20 power stations with a reduced income from fuel duty as people choose electric over fossil fuels; don't be surprised that if the proportion of electric vehicles increases there is a move to tax electricity usage for transport (like we currently distinguish between red diesel, for agricultural use, and diesel fuel for cars).

Other than that, it's fine, and I do like the interesting use of alternative materials in the BMW (but twenty five grand for a city car!?).

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not so even handed

I loath and detest all electric vehicles with a passion that could put an edge on a diamond.

stupid pointless wastes of time driven be sanctimonious wankers.

however,

your estimate of the extra generation requred is a bit off.

mostly these ludicrous running shoes will be charged over night, when demand is low.So there is plenty of spare capacity at the moment.

secondly BMW's designers... err fisher price in this case i believe, have very helpfully made this car look so stupid that small children _will_ point and laugh whenever they see one. The kind of tosser that buys a beamer will not tollerate this for long. They'll be queuing up to trade em in for ford probes quicker than you can say knife.

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Re: not so even handed

And I think you are a sanctimonious wanker for thinking that.

Wood - meet trees. Can you see the problem yet?

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You are assuming that the daytime and nighttime electricity demand is the same; it isn't. As this PDF (page 16 shows) UK 9am-7pm demand is 45-60GW, whilst evening is 20GW to 45GW. If the cars can be set to autocharge using 20GW for 6hrs, that's 120GWHr, or enough for 7.5 million 16kWhr cars.

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@ Collin Miller

Thanks Collin, I'd forgotton about the day/night usage difference, but the point still stands that we'd need a tremendous jump in generating capacity to accomodate a full move to electric vehicles. I also didn't factor in any additional infrastructure to distribute the extra power (high tension links and sub-stations etc.)

I've recently been working in Norway, and it's the first time I've ever been in a traffic jam of electric vehicles (in the Bus/Taxi/Electric Vehicle lane at Sandvika); but in Norway the situation is better for electric vehicles as they have existing hydroelectric capacity, and can probably add more, to support their 2.5 million cars. According to this they already use three times more electricity per person than the rest of Europe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Norway

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Solar panels on houses.

Problem solved.

Now you get to tell the electric company AND the oil companies to both fuck off.

In the US, Tesla has built its own FREE charging stations powered by... yep, solar panels directly overhead.

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"Now you get to tell the electric company AND the oil companies to both fuck off"

For a few hours a day during the summer.

Tesla charging stations are not solar powered - slightly solar assisted at best.

In the UK it would take more than 2000 square meters of solar panel to run one Tesla supercharger for 8 hours a day and that's only when you are allowed abuse the grid as a giant free storage battery.

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BRILLIANT!! A couple of solar panels per house would work really well in, say, Aberdeen. Can't let that 5 daily hours of drizzly, grey winter murk go to waste now, can we?

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good points

However, it will take a while before adoption of EV poses a threat to the grid given the high prices and lack of choice.

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Parking ticket is in the post

El Reg incriminating themselves by posting photos of the car parked on double yellow lines.

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Happy

Re: Parking ticket is in the post

Parked? Looks as though it was left in the street and a taxi taken to the kerb.

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Re: Parking ticket is in the post

Ran out of puff and was abandoned.

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Headmaster

how precise is a piece of string?

Excuse this first paragraph, this is just an aspie engineer being aspie..

"aluminium, carbon fibe and plastic" is hardly precise. Firstly, by carbon fibre, you mean CFRP and by plastic you mean a polymer the precise nature of which you do not divulge and I suspect that by aluminium you in fact mean an aluminium alloy. Furthermore you make no mention of the precise P within which the CFR is contained nor the nature of the CFs and their orientation nor do you mention the precise construction of the overall composite structure or the manner in which it is affixed to the other structures.</aspie>

An E92 M3 (as pictured) will do 0-60 in 3.9 seconds with M-DKG and ~4.1 without so I seriously doubt it's going to be slower to 50 than a car which takes 3.7 seconds to get to 37mph and 7.2 to 60, that would imply it does the 37-50 sprint in 0.4 seconds (assuming the slower manual box M3) and 50-60 in 3.1 seconds.

Yes, those numbers stack up don't they? Was my mum driving the M3?

I have nothing against the i3, I think it's an impressive car and it's commendable that BMW are pushing the boundaries like this AND I quite like the looks!

They only need to knock 95kg off the weight and 0.5 seconds of the 0-60, add 44mph to the top speed, give it wider tyres (say 205) and a proper driving position and ride height, bin the ABS and it'll be about as desirable as my current car (a 10 year old Clio :p).

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Re: how precise is a piece of string?

Being desirable to you isn't really on their list, so I guess you'll be waiting some time. For the VAST majority or people it'll be fine.

If it wasn't so expensive It would be on my list to replace my 203k miles, 11 year old Honda Civic. (My other cars are a couple of Locosts, one race, one road - those for fun, electric for commuting)

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Re: how precise is a piece of string?

Seen as you missed the opening <aspie> on your first paragraph and claim to be an engineer. I sentence you to write out your first paragraph 100 times with the correct <MrLogic> ... </MrLogic> formatting.

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Re: how precise is a piece of string?

oh please, that is standard and accepted practice.

aanyway, I reckon "desirable" really is the most important trait for electric cars now, I need to drive one of these to be sure of comfort and NVH but it sounds like it pretty much does what a regular car does now, the only outstanding points are:

>battery life, I'm not sure what study of real-world used EVs, HEVs and REEVs has been done or what lease deals exist.

>real world fuel economy is like when running in range-extender mode (as in quite literally how many miles per gallon you can get, considering the conversion efficiency).

Otherwise it replaces most hatch backs which will never need to tow or do anything else particularly stressful and it's faster than most people will ever use.

/post

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Re: how precise is a piece of string?

Seems autocar have done this properly and bothered to point out that the range extender not only gains 150kg (though I think I've seen bigger figures elsewhere) but also gains 0.7s to 60. So if you want to (supposedly) beat an M3 to 50 you have to sacrifice range.

But no one anywhere has yet told me what the engine is (i.e. fuel type, aspiration, what cycle it runs etc.) some are saying it's a BMW bike engine but I don't buy that and the power output is something pitiful and I don't imagine that running off the RE engine all the time can maintain full pace and no one has made any mention of what happens when that happens. I imagine BMW are deliberately being cagey about this but someone should be asking the question of them and frankly reporting the answer or lack thereof. I'm actually perfectly ok with this type of limitation, it's how I would do it.

The weight of the RE is also rather large for the relatively small tyres isn't it? Although I think autocar said the rears were wider (on the RE at least).

Really needs deeper seats too, are the flat seats really somehow much lighter? iirc 1 series seats are quite bad too though.

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Finally an electric car I may want...

.... but won't buy, as if I had £29k I'd spend £25k on a caterham, and £4k on a cheap runabout .

Seriously though, this is starting to tick the boxes properly - range extending motor I can use if I want to do the occasional longer trip; doesn't handle like it has jelly for suspension; decent performance; phone app to manage charging etc.

Still not going to spend £29k on one though.

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Re: Finally an electric car I may want...

Agreed, it's just about there (as a 2nd car in our case).

But... it's ~£8k too much. By my calculations, it'd start to be cheaper than our Splash in about 14 years' time (which would probably be 4 years after we'll scrap it).

Even if you compare it to more luxurious competition, the TCO balances towards the i3 only after 6-8 years - just as the battery runs out of warranty.

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Re: Finally an electric car I may want...

Yes, agreed. So nearly there. Can't wait to buy one when they finally cross the line.

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Re: Finally an electric car I may want...

Sorry but 29k is way too much, say 60 miles a day is a normal commute, which is all this is good for really, even a cheap £15K diesel can get over 60MPG, which is 260 gallons a year, 1182 litres, which at £1.40/litre is £1654/year to commute to work...

That £14k you save pays for your petrol over the 8 year battery life!

Until the cost of electric cars rivals the price of diesel they will not be as viable an alternative.

it is not as if an electric car is complicated either, and the only really expensive unique part is the battery!

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Re: Finally an electric car I may want...

...and the power controller. A 125kW electric motor power controller doesn't come cheap --- a quick Google shows one for £9000. I once talked to a guy who did aftermarket conversions of cars; rip out the IC engine, install batteries and an electric transmission. He said that you typically paid 1/3 each for the batteries, motor, and power controller. That adds up to about £30k for this thing, which makes the price not unreasonable for what you get.

Not that I'm willing to pay it, mind, although this thing does tick all my electric car want boxes. I think it looks great, too.

Would be really interested to rent one, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Finally an electric car I may want...

Isn't the answer two wheels?

I commute 24 miles per day at around 85mpg on a machine that cost under a grand and tax/mot/insurance less than two tanks of fuel in the car

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Re: Finally an electric car I may want...

"Until the cost of electric cars rivals the price of diesel they will not be as viable an alternative."

You have to remember that the i3 is designed specifically to fleece Shoreditch hipsters. The technology'll go into the Mini version for the masses.

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Zot
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Nice review, I want one.

But it's far too expensive. :(

One thing that always amazes me with electric cars, is WHY do they always think they should design them differently from 'normal' cars? They are so often styled like they fell off a Transformer or some hideous child's toy robot. STOP designing them to look like toys!

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Anonymous Coward

Did they intentionally make it look as uuuugly as the iPad/Phone?

How very pedestrian.

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generator

I'm confused - it says it can keep the battery at a stable level when engine on.

and it has 9 litres.

So it's getting around 45/50 mpg effectively if you were to just continually fill it up with petrol and have it maintain the 3.5% left in battery.

If that is true, then its managing to generate enough leccy from a 650cc engine to power the car.

125kw motor... now there is no way it's managing that.

even assuming they are suggesting its generator output is 60kw (at 360v apparently) that is very impressive... Well... utterly unbelievable tbh.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 125kw motor

Do you think a 125kw motor uses a constant draw?

in reality its only close to that for a second or so when you put your foot down. on average the draw will be more like 40kw, which the generator should be able to sustain.

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