News: One year in the BMW i3 - against the current

No petrol, no diesel, no used oil, no V-belt, no exhaust, nothing dirty, nothing stinks, nothing makes noise. Future mobility, quiet, clean, sustainable and cool.

Loud is out. Never again a car with internal combustion engine. That was my motto over a year ago. The reason: There are better drives, an electric for example. Especially if you are traveling almost exclusively in a big city like Hamburg.

For the marketing strategists I run under the name "Early Adopter" or "First Mover". These are customers who buy a product before the masses do it. Of the BMW i3 is such a product. An electric car with a carbon body, an eco-statement, extravagantly styled, stainless, ultramodern in conception. BMW even thinks it's a bigger jump than the coach to the car.

No petrol, no diesel, no used oil, no V-belt, no exhaust, nothing dirty, nothing stinks, nothing makes noise. Future mobility, quiet, clean, sustainable and cool. All well and good, but unfortunately still outrageously expensive. Even the base price of the i3 is 34.950 Euro. But it does not stay with such a car. Nobody buys a stocked basic model here. With some extras are, as in my case, quickly 45.000 Euro together. So it's not surprising why so few i3 are on the road in Germany.

All well and good, but unfortunately still outrageously expensive. Even the base price of the i3 is 35.900 Euro.
All well and good, but unfortunately still outrageously expensive. Even the base price of the i3 is 35.900 Euro.

On the other hand: you enjoy the exclusivity. Driving differently than the others. With electricity against the current. Since March 2014, the BMW i3 has served me well, for one summer, for a winter and again for a summer. Recently, the odometer exceeded the mark of 18.000. Few i3 owners are likely to have similar experience with the high-tech Stromer. The good anticipation: No compact car ever gave me more driving pleasure. The almost silent and even acceleration are pure enjoyment. Just as the tranquility radiates the i3 despite its sporty performance. In addition, there is a good seating comfort, a great overview, the comfortable entry and exit (at least in front), a reduced, ultramodern cockpit and the generous sense of space, because no center console separates driver and front passenger. After a few weeks, I could not imagine ever wanting to move a conventional car again. Even if it should have 500 PS.

But: The i3 is far from perfect. His Achilles heel - as with any electric car - remains the battery. The Carbon BMW contains hundreds of lithium-ion cells with a total capacity of 22 kWh. Of these, 18,8 kWh will be used. This is to prevent that the battery runs completely empty. Otherwise the cells would suffer. BMW promises a range from 130 to 160 kilometers in everyday driving conditions, further 20 in "EcoPro" driving mode and 90 kilometers again with "EcoPro +" (reduced power, maximum speed 20 km / h). The best value is 190 kilometers. In reality, this value is illusory. Who wants to create it, must sneak on highways with Tempo 50, roll out a lot and accelerate so gently that even Sunday trippers are annoyed. The reality looks like this: In everyday life you can create 130 kilometers - in warm weather.

I was curious about the winter. Batteries do not like cold. Jokes have already been made in my circle of friends. What do a Beetle driver and a BMW i3 owner have in common? They are freezing. Well, that's not how it is. The Beetle driver freezes because his heating is simply bad. The i3 driver, on the other hand, freezes only when or because he has to save energy, for example, to make his way home. Warm air for the interior has to generate additional heating in the i3 - with power from the battery. Once the heater is running, the display will only show a range of 90 kilometers, almost 25 percent less.

But: The i3 is far from perfect. His Achilles heel - as with any electric car - remains the battery.
But: The i3 is far from perfect. His Achilles heel - as with any electric car - remains the battery.

So who wants to save electricity, must shiver - or put on a thick jacket, put a blanket over his legs and wear gloves. The latter because BMW has forgotten the steering wheel heating. The ring is freezing cold in winter. Presumably this extra will be added to the first model care. Even the joy of "preconditioning" is limited. Well meant: If the i3 is connected to the charging cable, it can be conveniently air-conditioned via the "i Remote" app via mobile phone. That works reliably. In winter, the system heats the i3 room to 15 degrees Celsius at the set departure time - start 22 minutes earlier. The windows are de-iced and the cockpit is cuddly warm. Unfortunately, the bill is made here without the host. The power for preheating does not come from the grid but from the battery. As the? Seven to ten kilometers of driving distance are gone before you leave. At BMW it says that the preheating works only with the so-called power wallbox. "There is not enough electricity flowing through the usual home socket," says i-chief developer Ulrich Kranz.

The self-proclaimed 3-degree mobility concept also has room for improvement on the i360. If you are planning a longer tour, you can use your Sixt Gold Card, which BMW i issues in cooperation with the car rental company, to rent a five-seater tour for the trip from Hamburg to Munich at slightly cheaper terms. But nothing more. Volkswagen shows how it can be done better. Electric Golf owners are entitled to a conventional car 30 days a year - free of charge.

How final the adventure i3 a year after purchase comes, the final balance delivers after 16 months. My average consumption according to on-board computer: 11,9 kWh / 100 km. Electricity including charge loss: 15 kWh / 100 km. Driving distance: 18.000 kilometers. At current 27 cents / kWh, this translates into electricity costs of 729 Euro. Cheaper individual mobility difficult to implement, especially not with a 170-PS car, whether diesel, gasoline or natural gas. Previous workshop / service costs: zero Euro. Because the i3-E engine runs as well as wear-free. Oil change is eliminated. In addition, you rarely have to press the foot brake, because the car can be delayed wonderfully about the recuperation of the electric motor. Means: pads and brake discs last significantly longer.

The only electric shock is the residual value. BMW puts it at around 28.000 Euro. That would be a minus of 40 percent. Thus it is clear: I will continue to stream. Also out of conviction, because I believe that, despite the battery disadvantages, this is the future way of driving the automobile.

Author: Michael Specht / SP-X

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