Monday, June 23, 2014

After 2,000 Miles Part Two: Dislikes


I have to say that overall I am very pleased with my i3. It's living up to what I had hoped it would be, and after a month of ownership I'm convinced it was the right electric vehicle choice for me. However that doesn't mean it's perfect. In fact it's far from perfect, but so is every other car out there. As much as I really love my i3, I can probably list a couple dozen things that I would have done differently. Listed below are some of the top things that I'm not particularly fond of.

I took this picture from an i3 display at the LA Auto Show. Somehow 100 miles turned into 82 miles once the production i3 was revealed.
The Range. So let's just get this out of the way now. I'm disappointed that BMW didn't deliver a real "100 mile" electric vehicle as they had been promising. The 81 mile EPA range on the BEV i3 and the 72 mile rating for the REx, falls a little short in my opinion. If the BEV i3 had an EPA range of 95 miles per charge or greater then I wouldn't have ordered the REx, and I think a lot of others share that opinion. I hope I'm wrong, but I believe this is going to hold back BEV i3 sales significantly. I think 82 miles falls just short of what many US customers will find acceptable for a premium electric vehicle.
Looks like the battery is 3 & 3/16th's out of 4 bars full. Wonderful.

No Proper State of Charge Gauge. When I first found out that the i3 wouldn't display the state of charge in numeric form, I was dumbfounded. Instead, the i3 state of charge display is just four bars that slowly erode as the range diminishes, and it displays the predicted amount of miles the car "thinks" you can travel. In other words, a Guess O Meter. When Nissan initially offered the LEAF, this is basically the same way they displayed the state of charge. Their customers complained so much, that after a couple years Nissan finally realized they made a mistake and added a proper state of charge display. I dedicated an entire blog post to this back in December of last year when it was revealed that the i3 wouldn't display the SOC. Still to this day I am in denial and refuse to believe it's not coming in a future software update. There is absolutely no logical reason for omitting it. It was simply a mistake on BMW's part and like Nissan they will indeed realize that and add it to the display at some point. I'm not saying they need to eliminate the bar system they have, just give us both and let the customer decide which they prefer to rely on.

Like the MINI-E before it, the ActiveE had a clear state of charge and battery temperature display. It's puzzling why both of these important features were omitted on the i3.

No Battery Temperature Readout. Like the state of charge gauge but to a lessor degree, this is a little puzzling. Maybe the majority of i3 owners might not really care what their battery temperature is, but I do and I know quite a few others who do too. It's further puzzling because both of BMW's beta test cars that I drove, the MINI-E and the ActiveE, had battery temperature displays. I like to see how well the thermal management system is performing, how hot the battery may have gotten while baking in the direct sun of a parking lot for a few hours, or how cold the cells are after parking outside overnight in the dead of winter. Knowing the battery temperature helps me know what to expect of the car performance-wise and can also help me to keep the cells from getting too hot in certain circumstances. The car knows the battery temperature, just provide that somewhere on a screen buried in iDrive somewhere and I guarantee many i3 owners will appreciate it.
When you are in "Glide Mode" the white bar is in the position it is shown here. As you use power the bar moves to the right (ePower) and if you are recuperating energy with regenerative braking, the bar moves to the left (Charge) of center.

Glide Position Difficult to Achieve and Maintain. BMW describes the i3's glide feature as such: "The BMW i3’s accelerator has a distinct “neutral” position; i.e. rather than switching straight to energy recuperation when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to decouple from the drivetrain and deploy only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 glides along using virtually no energy at all." I've only had the car for a month, but it seems more difficult to find the glide (or coasting) position and then hold it, than it was on the ActiveE. A few years ago I was talking with a BMW engineer about this and I suggested there be a switch to turn off regen completely if the driver wished. I would prefer to do this on long, high speed highway driving where I want to coast as much as possible. I was told that they probably wouldn't offer such a switch to disable it because they would be worried the driver would forget they deactivated the regen, and possibly have an accident because they expected  it to engage later on. I still think this would be a good solution for maximizing efficiency by coasting at higher speeds.  

The kenaf deck in direct sunlight
You can see the reflection of the dash









Windshield Glare. The majority of the top deck of the dashboard is made of compressed kenaf fibers. The use of this material has garnered some criticism because some people think it looks cheap, and not worthy of being in a car made by a premium automaker. I actually like the look of it but what I don't like is that in direct sunlight I can see the reflection of the entire dashboard up on the windshield. After a few weeks I'm getting used to it and it isn't as annoying as it was when I first noticed it, but it definitely isn't ideal. The shiny kenaf surface does cast a pretty clear reflection on bright, sunny days.

No AM Radio. I like to listen to AM talk radio and I am a Mets fan (unfortunately). Mets games are only broadcast on AM so I was disappointed to find out that i3 doesn't have an AM radio. BMW spokesman Dave Buchko recently told Jim Motavalli the reasoning for excluding the AM radio was primarily due to interference from the electric motor: “We learned from our experience with MINI E and BMW ActiveE that the electric motor causes interference with the AM signal. Rather than frustrate customers with inferior reception, the decision was made to leave it off. HD Radio is standard on the i3 and through multi-casting, many traditional AM stations in key markets are available on secondary and tertiary HD signals.” I admit the AM radio in the MINI-E had really bad interference, so much so that I rarely listened to it, but it wasn't bad on the ActiveE. Other electric cars have AM radios and they don't seem to be all that bad. This is a little bit of a head-scratcher to me. I'm learning to live without it, but why should I have to?

Grooves like this in the pavement can be felt more in the i3 than in other cars. I believe it's because of the vehicles light weight combined with its narrow tires.
The Thin Tires Can Get Caught in Pavement Grooves. When roads are paved, unless they are narrow secondary or tertiary roads, they are usually done in multiple strips. This also allows the street to remain open with one lane of traffic flow at a time during the paving process. The problem is, the line where the two sections of the new pavement meet has tiny gaps and over time the road degrades with the help of water and ice and a groove develops. The i3's tires are so thin that they are effected by these grooves and uneven pavement more so than most cars that are heavier and have wider tires. It doesn't present a safety problem; the car doesn't lose any control, you just have to be cognizant of this and make sure you have a grip on the steering wheel when one wheel dips into pavement grooves - which is a good idea in any event. I also believe the very sensitive steering of the i3 adds to this sensation that the grooves are trying to steer the car for you. The i3 has very tight and sensitive steering. You only need to slightly lean in one direction or the other to make a turn, and it is something that takes a week or so to get used to. It has by far the most sensitive steering I have ever experienced on any car. The turning radius is also a freakishly-short 32.3 feet.
The Key FOB will open the front trunk, but not the rear hatch.

Key FOB Doesn't Open the Hatch. This is a minor complaint, and since my i3 has comfort access I can open the locked hatch just by grabbing the hatch handle as long as I have the key in my pocket. I would still prefer to have a button on the FOB that remotely opens the hatch. There is a button that opens the front trunk, which I will rarely ever need to open, I don't know why BMW didn't use that button for the rear hatch, or just add a button and have one for both.

Regen Braking is Less Aggressive. Before I start complaining, let me say that I've driven just about every modern electric vehicle and plug-in-hybrid and I believe the i3 has absolutely the very best regenerative braking system on the market. Telsa probably comes in second and the Volt, when driven in low mode, is right behind the Model S. BMW dialed back the regen on the i3 a bit, probably in the vicinity of about 10% when compared to the ActiveE. People who never drove the ActiveE or MINI-E won't understand what I'm complaining about because the i3's regenerative braking is still strong and very smooth. It can bring the car to a stop without using the friction brakes faster than any regenerative braking system on any other EV will. Still, I liked it stronger like it was on the ActiveE and MINI-E. I guess regenerative braking is like coffee. Some will prefer the Blonde Roast with cream while others want the Dark Roast served black. Give me my regen as strong as possible please. I recommended to BMW that they offer different regen settings and let the customer decide how strong they like it, but that didn't come to pass on the i3. It's still very good, and integrates seamlessly when decelerating, I would just prefer it a bit stronger.

When the car is locked the connector will not release, even when charging is finished

Locking Connector. While charging, the connector is locked to the car as long as the vehicle is locked. The connector cannot be released unless you unlock the doors, even when the charging session is complete. I've found this very annoying and so have many other i3 owners. The ability to lock the connector to the car should be configurable in iDrive, giving the owner options like "Unlock when charge is complete" and "Do not lock connector". Allow the owner to decide what works best for them. Many people like to share chargers, especially in EV-friendly California. These people will leave a note on their dashboard telling others it's OK to unplug them and use the EVSE once they have finished charging or after a specific time. The locking connector prevents any charger sharing unless you leave your vehicle unlocked, which is not a viable option in most circumstances. I can understand this locking feature would be necessary in Europe because the charging cables are not tethered to the EVSE like they are here in the US and this prevents theft. It seems BMW may have built the i3 for the European charging process and didn't consider the inconvenience it would cause for US customers. This is another feature I believe we'll see changed in a software update at some point in the future.

When I navigate this bend in the road by my house, the regenerative braking disengages. Since the road is also downgrade I find I have to use the friction brakes to keep from accelerating down the  hill. I didn't have to do that in the past while driving my MINI-E or ActiveE as both would allow the regenerative braking system to hold back the car during turns like this.

Regen Braking Disengages During Hard Turns. I'm a little surprised with the second complaint I have with the regenerative braking. While negotiating turns, the regen sometimes disengages which will give the sensation that the car is actually speeding up. Of course it isn't (unless you are going downhill), but when you are in full regen and it suddenly disengages, it does feel like the car is accelerating when if fact it just isn't being slowed down by the regenerative braking. During the MINI-E and ActiveE programs, I personally spoke to dozens of people who contacted me asking if my car ever suddenly surged ahead. What was happening with those cars was different though. If the regenerative braking system was operating and the car hit a pothole or a bump that caused the wheels to lose traction, the traction control would disengage the regen in an attempt to prevent the loss of control. When this happened, it would give the driver the sensation of sudden acceleration, especially when driving downhill. This was unsettling if you didn't understand what was happening and typically when this happened the owner would take the car to the dealer for service. The dealer would look it over and find nothing wrong and give it back to them. Frustrated, many of the drivers then contacted me to ask if anyone else had complained of this sudden acceleration problem. After explaining what was actually happening to them they understood what was going on. I would also caution them to always have their foot ready to press the friction brake when they were using regen to slow the car down, especially if they were approaching the car in front of them as they were decelerating.

BMW has indeed improved the whole traction control/regenerative braking system communication and the i3 performs much better than the MINI-E or ActiveE did when the tires lose traction during regenerative braking. However it now disengages during cornering, and neither of its predecessors ever did this. I can tell by how it's working that it isn't a flaw in my system, it was intentionally designed to do this, perhaps to prevent the thin tires from losing traction while negotiating hard turns. Again, it's not a problem as long as you know it's going to happen and you are ready to use the friction brakes if necessary. I've found it mostly happens while I'm taking a highway off-ramp that circles down under the highway overpass. It seems the speed I'm traveling combined with the sharp, constant turn is too much and the traction control preemptively disengages the regen in an attempt to prevent the loss of traction. I believe this is something the dealers need to communicate to the customer. It can be a safety issue if new i3 owners aren't prepared for it. Just like with the MINI-E and ActiveE, I'm certain there will be customers that believe there is something wrong with their car and will take it to the dealer for service. And just as I'm sure that will happen, I'm sure the service departments won't have a clue what the customers are talking about and will tell them they checked it out and car is fine. Unless the service manager happens to read this post ;)


I haven't had this happen to me, but a couple people have reported it.
Software Bugs and Various Glitches. There have been a number of various software bugs and other issues reported since the car launched here in the US about two months ago. For example, all of the i3s with the range extender option have had their check engine light (CEL) come on sporadically. Evidently there is nothing actually wrong with the engine, it's just a software bug and BMW has just released a patch to stop the light from coming on, but it's still not something you want to see on a new car. I've also heard of a couple people have their onboard charger fail, and a few others report that the car flashed a "Drivetrain Malfunction" warning. In the cases I've heard about, it just cleared itself and the owner was able to take it to the dealer to be checked and there was no problem found. Honestly I did expect there would be some initial glitches, and it's really too early to tell if these are isolated cases or if it's an indication that there are indeed going to be more problems to come. Other than the phantom CEL warning, my car has been perfect so far, but I'll be watching it closely and reporting on what I experience as well as what I hear from other i3 owners as time passes.

Minor Annoyances:
There are a few things that really don't bother me that much, but I know other i3 owners who have complained about these things:
The dangling plastic charge port cap seen here isn't really too high on my list of annoyances, but I have heard quite a few other i3 owners complain about it. I even know a couple that have cut it off.

1) Charge port plastic caps. After you open the watertight charge port door you need to remove a plastic cap before you plug the car in. It really doesn't bother me, but I agree it isn't the best solution. a spring loaded cover that flips over and snaps in place like the ActiveE had would be better. Is this really even needed though?

2) The adaptive cruise control system will sometimes disengage for no apparent reason. When it works, it's really a great feature, but it does have a tendency to disengage by itself. It seems like driving in the rain, in direct sunlight and going under overpasses give it the most trouble. I have used it a couple dozen times now and it has disengaged four times by itself. Not a big issue, but one that BMW will hopefully improve.

3) The "Door Ajar" warning light is very sensitive. If you don't close the doors pretty hard, the door ajar warning light will come on while you are driving. The doors aren't in any danger of opening, I just think the warning trigger is just too sensitive.

4) BMW advertises that for home charging "a maximum charging power of 7.4 kW can be reached".  I have yet to be able to crack 7kW's and usually see my charge rate at around 6.7 kW to 6.9 kW. Sure, this is a minor complaint, but my supply is more than adequate to accommodate at least 7.2 kW, so why won't the car pull it? I've talked to other i3 owners about this also, and 6.9 kW is about the most anybody has seen the car pull.

5) No programmable button on the key FOB to initiate battery and cabin preconditioning. The European i3s have this feature, but for some reason it was left off the US i3s. You can still initiate cabin and battery preconditioning via the smartphone app, but having it on the key FOB is easier. Some people (you know who you are!) have told me it was a deal breaker and wouldn't buy an i3 without it.    

I'm sure I'll come up with more dislikes as time goes on, and I'll continue to post them here. Even considering everything I've detailed here, I'm thoroughly enjoying my i3. I drove it a total of 162 miles today and less than 2 miles was with the REx running. The range extender allows me to really push the range limit without worrying if I'll make my destination. Oh yeah, that reminds me of one more complaint. I want the ability to turn the range extender off if I know I'll make my destination. Twice so far the range extender turned on when I was less than a 1/4 mile from my house and once it turned on while I was pulling up my driveway! I believe the European i3s do allow the operator to turn it off manually, so that's just another feature (sunroof, programmable key FOB, REx hold mode) that we don't get here in the States. Yeah, I know... first world problems. :)

54 comments:

  1. A question about your comment on the key fob and the rear hatch: without comfort access, how does one open the rear hatch? If it can only be opened from inside the car that would be highly annoying.Thanks for posting this list.

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    1. If you used the FOB to unlock the doors then the hatch would unlock, but not pop open. When your hands are full it's inconvenient to have to reach under and press the hatch handle to open it. Having the feature that pops the hatch open for you is definitely helpful but the i3 doesn't have it.

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    2. You can get a special SCAN GAUGE to see the battery temp and REAL SOC from Linear Logic. They make them for the FORD plugins and will do others. contact James and if they need an i3 I can bring one over to them to check the data before offering the SCAN GAUGE.

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    3. Tom wrote: "Having the feature that pops the hatch open for you is definitely helpful but the i3 doesn't have it". On the European model you can actually program the "diamond" (♦) button on the key fob (which is replaced by a silly red "horn" button in the US ?!?), to open and pop out the rear hatch - but you'll still need to grab the handle opening to physically open the hatch (it doesen't swing up by itself), so it doesn't really give you much more convenience than clicking the opening button at the same time as you grab the handle. Would be useful if the hatch had a motor mechanism for open/close, yes. But since it doesn't, we normally end up with programming "Vehicle Pre-condition" on the "diamond" (♦) button, over here ;-)

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  2. I am one of those with a car charge regulator failure. .. twice...
    A great account and hopefully one which bmw will read as positive criticism.
    I think it is wrong when a manufacturer decodes fir the user what they will want and will not want to see. I think a majority of i3 owners want to understand what's happening 'under the bonnet' . I too would use the combination of state of charge and battery temp to estimate (along with the guessometer) my probable range. BTW. . I achieve about 100 miles at 65 mph highway cruise from a full charge and preheated batteries..

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  3. As always we can count on you to be fair and balanced Tom.

    It's good to see that your advocacy doesn't cloud your judgment and you are still able to make fair assessments and criticize when appropriate. There are others that would lead you to believe everything is perfect in the world of e-cars and that is just folly. Keep up the great work!

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  4. Tom - I was eagerly awaiting your "dislikes" posting, and you've done a great job. But I'm surprised that you didn't mention the reduced size of the REx fuel tank in the U.S. models. Even if BMW did feel they needed to reduce the fuel capacity (I've still got no idea of how they actually did it) to 7 liters to qualify the car as "BEVx" under CARB regulations (the rumored reason, albeit not confirmed by anything official), could they PRETTY PLEASE give buyers in non-CARB states the larger 9-liter European tank?

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    1. I could have included that at the bottom with the other minor annoyances. The thing is, it doesn't bother me at all. In fact I would be totally fine if they reduced the gas tank even more!

      99% of the time I use the REx it will be for those times I just needed a couple more miles to make it to my next charge point. But I understand that's just me and others may want to drive the car hundreds of miles at a time. While I drive a lot (30,000+ miles per year) I don't need to drive it like that. In fact, as I mentioned I would actually prefer not to have the REx, if only the BEV range was about 20% greater.

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    3. Thanks for acknowledging that my fuel tank size issue could be included in your list of things others have complained about but that don't bother you that much. 99% of the time, we'll use the REx just as you describe. But once or twice a month, we'd like to use our i3 for a specific route that requires driving 200 to 225 miles in one go. I've done this trip with the i3 once so far, and the 7-liter tank works just fine because there's a gas station in the right place. The 9-liter tank would give more flexibility for situations when the gas station is farther down the road. (We're in Arizona, and in some places here, there can be quite a few miles between fuel stops.) In the interest of fairness, I suppose I should admit that I might be pouting just a bit--if there's obviously space for the larger tank, and the Europeans have it, why can't we?! :-(

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  5. I am always amazed at how a simple "competitive best practices" study could have eliminated usability shortcomings. I'm thinking specifically about things such as locking charge cord and lack of SOC. As an example of the opposite, at the April 2013 press/media introduction of the Fiat 500e, the engineering team explained how they had interviewed LEAF and Volt owners and had come to this result, among others: People want to sit inside the cafe and quickly glance at their car to see its state of charge. In order to do this, they had to place five large lights very high up on the dashboard. These lights had to be placed so high up that they could be viewed from (almost) any angle all around the car. Moreover, the nature of the light had to be such that it could be viewed from inside the cafe with tinted windows, by a person wearing polarized sunglasses. They came to this conclusion after extensive interviews with hundreds of LEAF and Volt owners.

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    1. To make it worse Anton, BMW has a group of people in their MINI-E and ActiveE program they could have easily tapped into to ask about this information. I guess the German engineers know whats best for us ;)

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    2. I really don't understand your SoC-concerns at all. You can always read the SoC in % on the phone-apps (and also in the web-portal that you'll most probably will get access to in the US soon). It will ALWAYS show you the current SoC while you're charging (the iOS app even refreshes itself every 2 minutes), and it also shows you the SoC when the car was parked unplugged (the i3 doesn't have any "vampire loss" like i.e. Tesla, so the SoC when parked is perfectly accurate for many days ahead). Ok, it won't update while driving, but you have the 4x25 % bar display right in front of you, accompanied with what you REALLY need: a VERY ACCURATE range indicator (mi/km) that is constantly updated by BMW's servers for a lot of various parameters (surrounding topography, weather type, wind force/direction, temperature now and forecast), as well as your current and previous driving behaviour. There is NO chance that a human being (no matter previous experience) can estimate the car's range any better than this, by simply reading off the SoC in percentage - so I can't really understand your complaints...

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    3. Ole: Everyone is entitled to their opinions here and I certainly want you and everybody else to continue expressing them, that's what this is really all about - not just my voice. However I cannot possibly disagree with you any more! :)

      We are so far apart it really isn't even worth debating this here. The thing is, I'm not saying that BMW should remove the bar graph and Guess O Meter. I know there are people that like that system. All I'm saying is they should also include the numeric state of charge for those that prefer to use that over the estimated range. I don't want them to remove the features you like to use, so why can't you understand that there are people that are unhappy that BMW removed the features we like to use?

      This is far from my stance alone. As I noted above the Nissan LEAF didn't have a proper state of charge gauge and the LEAF customers complained so much about it, that Nissan added it two years later. This was consistently at or near the top of the lists of complaints LEAF customers had.

      As for no chance a human can be more accurate than the i3's range estimator, that is simply not true. I've been driving my car for a month now and I already know the car better than the range estimator does. I know when I'll be driving slowly and when I may be driving above the speed limit. The app is useless as it doesn't update more frequently then once an hour while your driving and is really only good for watching the SOC while charging since it refreshes instantly.

      I can nearly guarantee that BMW adds the SOC. They've got some good people over there, this will sink in eventually.

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  6. Oh, one thing you know but didn't mention regarding your request for a numeric state of charge readout--the i Remote app does report the state of charge percentage. I agree with your comment, but at least the number is available somewhere.

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    1. Actually it's nearly useless. It only updates in real time if the car is actively plugged in and charging. If it's not plugged in (like when you are driving), it only updates about once an hour! That is absolutely useless for monitoring your SOC.

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  7. I see the lack of a convenient "charge timer overide button" as a mistake BMW shouldnt have made. Those Leaf owners know how easy it is to pop the charge door and hit the override button. On the I3 one must go into a menu on the i drive. It pulls up when you shut the car down , but after that? guess I could use the phone app to initiate a charge.

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  9. Tom - Just want to say GREAT posts! My i3 Rex (US) is on order (hasn't started actual production, so still will be a while) and I have learned more useful stuff from your blog then all other sites and reviews combined. Keep up the great posts. - John Connor

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  10. Tom: A couple of others--the pathetic horn, and piercing alarm acknowledgment beep. The horn is anemic, and the alarm pierces ears. I know the alarm beep can be completely suppressed, but that wouldn't be necessary if it was a normal beep. It is as if BMW robbed from the horn and gave to the alarm beep.

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    1. Google wouldn't authenticate me...so I went anonymous. :-) Joel

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    2. Their might be room for a Hornblasters train horn system in the frunk and under the frunk for the trumpets to be mounted.
      Or one could just get a high end electric horn system to replace the stock horn

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  11. Very through article that all i3 owner must read, very good jobs. Waiting for my Rex delivery, but really enjoy reading it, knowing we are brave enough to hug the new technology, if you are ready to pay the full MSRP price, better knowing you would pay the price of debugging it for future generation.

    Will try starting a Chinese Blog on my own once I have the car, as you know BMW is also planning to sell it in China, hopefully, they will get the EU version. I just feel the US version is a slightly water down solution in order to make the CA official happy.

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  12. Nice post, Tom! The only annoyance I would add to your list is the aggressive warnings and chimes that kick in the moment you power on the vehicle. Between the incessant iDrive confirmation alert and the seat belt warning, it feels like I'm being scolded from the moment I get in the car. The iDrive warning should be permanently dismissible and the seat belt warning should give you at least 15 seconds grace period.

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    1. Totally agree with you Chad! The instant gong warning for the seatbelt is really annoying. There should definitely be a 10 to 15 second period to allow you to buckle up before you get reminded. The iDrive warning could be changed so it only displays when you activate the navigation system. I suppose there is a legal requirement to warn the driver they use it at their own risk.

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    2. Well, if there's a legal requirement then Tesla is deficient as they have no nag screens at all. Sounds to me like classic corporate CYA instead.

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    3. On the European model, the seat belt warning only comes on when the car has moved 200 meters, and there is no iDrive warning. It seems like the US model is cranked and limited on a lot of similar issues, and all this must have been decided by the the ones that decided the US technical specifications. We are not having most of the complaints you're discussing, and in general we are very happy about the i3 here ;-)

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  13. Welcome to the brave new world, Chad! My 2012 BMW 328i does the same thing so this is not i3 specific. On the post, Tom, great job as usual, my i3 is just about to embark for Sunny SoCal. I will say it *seems* like people get 100 + miles on a charge and others not so much. I guess range is a difficult thing to average out and I wonder if the "official" government rage (81) is really a guesstimate in itself?

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    1. Scott, are you aware of any iDrive firmware hacks that have been able to disable these annoying warnings and chimes? I tried some of the old secret menu access tricks to see if there might be hidden options, but had no luck.

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  14. Pretty much agree across the board especially the trunk release - what were they thinking? I've been surprised by the locking charge cord - it's really more frustrating than I'd imagined, especially when you're sharing an EVSE between cars. However, the good news is that the silly bungs covering the J-socket can actually be unclipped easily and stowed until lease return day.

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  15. I bet with someone having access to an I3 there might be a way to enable and disable options that the European I3 has enabled that the US I3 doesn't have through coding.

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  16. Re:AM radio missing. This may not be a deal breaker for me, but it is a safety issue. Most North America's Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) are still on AM. Even if GPS has traffic update, it won't be as up-to-date or has as much info. -Phil F

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    1. That is a good point. The funny thing is that the HD radio codec works on the AM band as well so radio broadcasts using it are far from finished.

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  17. Re: (lack of) 100 mile range. Totally agree BMW missed the boat on this. Now that MB claims the new B Class Electric can do 104 miles. I probably will wait and test drive the B Electric before deciding which to order. -Phil F

    http://insideevs.com/mercedes-benz-b-class-ed-battery-larger-expected-36-kwh/

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  18. Hi Tom. I pick up my i3 REx on Wednesday (Southern California). You referenced above a patch for the CEL issue. Do you have a software version number, or anything else like that, I can use to make sure the dealer includes this patch before I take delivery of my car? Thanks.

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    1. I posted a picture of the internal BMW bulletin on the patch. Look at my post on the check engine light on June 9th, it's posted at the end.

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    2. Thanks. That's exactly what I was looking for.

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  19. From your picture, it looks like there might be a small tab on the upper left side of the flap door that would hold the cable for the dangling charger cover...not sure, but on my 3 series it has a similar tab to hold the gas cap while refueling.

    Also, I am really enjoying your write-ups. I am interested to see how many owner comments they address in future software updates.

    -Brandon

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    1. There is Brandon. The main complaint isn't that there is no place to put the cap, it's whether the cap is necessary at all. Most other EV's don't have a cap like that, just the main charge port door which is watertight.

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  20. BMW should release a Software Developers Kit, so you can create your own profile linked to your key enabling you to modify displays, sounds, regen, default settings (def. drive mode ...)...
    Now THAT would be great feature !

    f.e.

    on_open_door ()
    cond (equal key "Tom")
    play_wav ("pls buckle up Tom", 15) ;;;Tom is a bit slower
    (equal key "Meredith" )
    play_wav ("pls buckle up Meredith", 10)
    end cond

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  21. I havent tried but I think it is possible to program the key's buttons from the car. I have the european version so perhaps a little different?

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    Replies
    1. Yes Leif, it's different for the US market. Unfortunately we don't have the features that you do.

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  22. How about the missing spare tire? Not sure how well the provided kit works, and if you can reuse the tire after using the gooey thing.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Alex that is a definitely another one. I think that will be it's own blog post all by itself though!

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    2. Just saw today your misfortune with the flat tire you wrote about on fb. I'm strategising in my mind how to go about it... Spare wheel with a winter tire is my fav now, as I plan to get two on the rear anyway. Range penalty but I have a Rex and for peace of mind it is worthy to me.
      Did the fronts or rear tires got more flats in your case?

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  23. Congratulations for bill A-3216! I'm glad to see that Tesla is back in New Jersey!

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  24. Regarding the Remote: In the manual at page 36 there is actually a button shown ( with a diamond on it) that supposedly opens the hatch. BMW USA has said that the software can't be changed so the hatch opens instead of the trunk.

    Furthermore, there is still a hesitation upon acceleration from standing start.

    And (as another commnter has said) the horn is very anemic!



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  25. On my I3 the driver side glass had shattered in my hand while I was exiting the car.
    It did spay shards over me, the inside adn the outside, driveway and yard.
    The regulator was destroyed as well. Nothing had impacted the side window and it had been down during the drive before I had parked it in my driveway.

    Furthermore I've had multiple reboots / freezes of the control display while driving. The BMW engineers had asked me for my android phone to see if that was the culprit. It is still in the shop.

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  26. Thanks, Tom, for the best, and most balanced review of the I3 REX I've seen in any media outlet. Going through the experience of ordering and awaiting delivery, many of your comments came alive. One possible dislike I'm now experiencing is the residual that BMW has set for the I3 REX lease, which is 45% for 12,000 miles. This is a very poor number for a lease. However, the other purchase option is "Owner's Choice," which allows one to change the residual by applying the EV credit we have here in NYC ($7500) lease. This brings the residual up to 58%, just 1 percent higher than it would cost me to lease BMW's M4, their hottest ICE performance car. It certainly makes a strong distinction from the 84% residual that came with the Active E lease.

    The Active E's lease and its SOC display make those days seem like Camelot.

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  27. As an aspiring electric car buyer, I'd echo Larry's thoughts. Your i3 reviews (both the good & the bad) are superior to ALL of the so-called professional reviews I've read online.

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  28. Excellent list items Tom, thanks for sharing! One little dislike for me is the fact that the heated wheel is not available on the i3.

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  29. No AM radio? What is wrong with you people? Just stream AM radio from your phone to the car like a normal person...idiots

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