Top Gear praises BMW i3

Top Gear praises BMW i3

GeekEV | 25. Juli 2013

Wow. Maybe their anti-EV bent is finally getting straightened. I can't help but wonder what they'd have to say about a Model S. To bad it'll probably never happen.

cloroxbb | 25. Juli 2013

I find it funny how the BMW is praised because it offers a gasoline range extender, and is "the first automaker to get EV drive right..." That is funny to me.

Oh and it "ruddy spritely" @ 0-60 in 7.2 seconds.

It would be a great article if it didn't totally ignore the fact that Tesla does everything better than anyone IMO.

Bubba2000 | 25. Juli 2013

The i3 is a weak plug-hybrid with a limited range battery good for may be 90 miles and a really weak 2 cylinder motorcycle engine. These kind of ICE are unreliable for any kind of sustained use. Going to sound like a lawnmower engine. They should have named it Elektroboot!

In terms of safety, I would not want to drive in the US with all the SUV and big trucks in the streets. Carbon fiber does not do too well under impact.

Timo | 25. Juli 2013

Hum? Carbon fiber is what they use in F1 cars. It does better than steel in most impacts. Only problem I see with it is that in extreme impact it shatters, not bends, so you need replacement panel.

Brian H | 25. Juli 2013

The i3 is technologically trivial.

Jolinar | 26. Juli 2013

when somebody says that i3 (or any other modern car) is technologically trivial, he's probably too blinded or complete moron. It's like saying that Model S is just a bunch of laptop batteries, same bullshit. I am fan of Tesla but not going to be blinded fanatic.

Timo | 26. Juli 2013

Well, it is :-P

Model S does not have any single piece that is "new", it's just the combination of old things that is new. In a way Model S is also quite "technologically trivial". In a way if high enough energy density batteries would have existed about 50 years ago we could have had Model S already by then, just not the touch-screen.

Vawlkus | 26. Juli 2013

Nice to see Top Gear is still making retarded statements for the same of ratings.

Just another reason not to watch their crap show.

Vawlkus | 26. Juli 2013

Same = sake

GuyDormehl | 26. Juli 2013

I don't think that the i3 will compete with the MS in any way as it aims for a different market altogether and there will be little, if any, cross pollination between the two.

However it is likely to be more successful than the Volt has been (so far...)as BMW has more market savvy. Also any successful electric car will promote the electric car revolution so should be welcomed by Tesla advocates. The Volt may have actually been detrimental to the cause....

When you read Volt owners' reviews, they are generally very complimentary and often state they have used virtually no fuel since they got the car - despite a less than 50 mile elec range. So range is not the main issue - it is re-charging speed (cleverly addressed by Tesla). Even an elec car at a public charging point is tied up for too long to make it practical to get anywhere if you run out of range - or even to get home! (Well that is my understanding)

Every 'dead' electric car on a flat bed does the elec car revolution immense harm so I understand BMW offering a minuscule gas engine (cheap and out of the parts bin!)to just drag the car to the next practical charging point or home and out of sight....Despite the additional range, I suspect the car is pretty under-powered running on a 650cc twin! (will it get up a steep hill with drained batteries and 4 adults on board?)

I suspect BMW has thought this thru carefully. The Volt effectively has elec systems AND a 'proper' ICE engine which can't help cost/weight/space/complexity. I wonder if BMW will be able to cheaply retro-fit the range-extender package for people who did not order it at first and now have range-anxiety?

I think that sophisticated hybrid cars are the worst option as they have all the complexity and cost of a conventional ICE car PLUS all the electrical stuff and batteries.....!

carlgo | 26. Juli 2013

Strange style, a mix 'n match blend of motive parts, just seems uncommitted. And I am a fan of BMW, loving my X5, but waiting for an X.

My brother once had a 2 cyl BMW car. I forget the model, but it was powered by the famous opposed-two cylinder motorcycle engine. He rigged up a couple of SU carbs, probably got at least four more hp....We should have added a stack of DieHard batteries and gotten ahead of the game.

Timo | 26. Juli 2013

I'm not very familiar with i3, but if that 650cc ICE is just for sustaining speed and emotor with batteries is used for accelerations and hill-climbing, then that's what Fisker should have done. Even Model S with it's huge mass doesn't use more than 20kW to keep going at 60mph, so that's what the ICE in range extender needs to be able to do, no more. 20kW is not much, BMW G 650 GS motorcycle engine can generate about 50hp which is about 37kW, so in fact you could go with even smaller engine than that for a small and light car like i3.

Timo | 26. Juli 2013

Found this:

and now I'm rather interested about that car. I hope Tesla gets GenIII available soon (and some SC in Finland between Helsinki and Oulu), so that I don't make a mistake and buy i3:

"Optional range extender acts as a spare tank.
If desired, the BMW i3 is also available with a range-extender engine, which maintains the charge of the lithium-ion battery at a constant level while on the move as soon as it dips below a certain value. Performing this role is a 650cc two-cylinder gasoline engine developing 34 hp/25 kW, which is mounted immediately adjacent to the electric motor above the rear axle. Specifying the range extender has no effect on luggage capacity: the 2.4 gallon (nine liter) fuel tank is located in the front section of the car."

That's exactly how range extender should work IMO and it is about right size for me too, just not quite as sporty a I would like it to be.

frmercado | 26. Juli 2013

@ Carlgo,

I think the i3 is anything but non commited. If you research about the car you will find that BMW set up two factories and a dedicated supply chain for the production of this car. It's the first mass produced car built on its majority out of carbon fiber, also almost all of the energy utilized in the production of the car comes from renweable resources, not only that but the actual plastics and fabrics used are as envriomentaly friendly and sustainable as possible, recicled materials are used extensibly and natural fabrics and dyes are used in the upholstery (althogh all of us here love Tesla you got to admit in this respect Tesla doesn't come close in their use of clean energies and materials).

It has other breakthrough technologies such as laser headlights that use even less power than LEDS and are more powerful. So far all of the test drives done on the car have also praised the handling of the car. I wish other car manufacturers were to make such "non commited" efforts in producing an EV.

frmercado | 26. Juli 2013

I got the headlamps link wrong.

Brian H | 26. Juli 2013

Trivial. Does not advance range or any other market priority. It may find some sales, but it's polishing a turd: the hybrid.

Timo | 26. Juli 2013

Actually if I read the texts correct you can order a one without range extender. It's then pure EV with near exact same configuration as Model S (flat battery under the floor, rear motor). Range extender is just what the name says. Of course with that small range without extender it is just city car, but as such a great one (turning circle less than 10 meters). It is far more interesting thing than Leaf to me.

frmercado | 26. Juli 2013

The range extender is only an option and its not expected to sell very much. BMW is marketing this car as a full EV.

It does advance range, it is the most efficient EV to date by energy density, this is due to the light weight of the chassis.

cloroxbb | 27. Juli 2013

Im not going to lie, if I were in the market for a Volt or a Leaf, I would seriously consider the i3. But Im not, Im into the Model S, and cannot wait til I can get mine.

Howard2013 | 29. Juli 2013

The BMW i3 has two versions pure EV with 2kWh LESS than the NISSAN LEAF and a hybrid version. So less than half the battery size of the ROADSTER they beat up on.

Howard2013 | 29. Juli 2013

They could have at the least put a 48kWh battery in the thing.

Timo | 29. Juli 2013

BMW i3 has larger range than Leaf, probably thanks to much lighter curb weight. Both are still just city cars with pure BEV mode.

frmercado | 29. Juli 2013

This is the Wired review of the i3. It goes a little more in depth than all the other I've read so far, specially when it comes to the technology that this car brings to the table in comparison to the other cars in its segment (stop comparing it to the Model S, the i3 is in the Volt, Leaf bracket NOT the Model S's, -its almost half the price-).

Brian H | 29. Juli 2013

Bloomberg makes a good point in one of its videos: the mass-marketing muscle of BMW will make electric "respectable" in one swell foop.

But stay away from crashes. Splintered CF is nasty stuff.

Brian H | 29. Juli 2013

We await, with bated breath, the options price list.

LionPowered | 30. Juli 2013

BMW claims:
"The world’s first fully networked electrically powered car, courtesy of BMW ConnectedDrive... "


Cindy I II III | 31. Juli 2013

It's too ugly, to me.

JAFIC | 01. August 2013

Eh, forgive me but what's the difference between i3 (with addon engine) and volt ? Sure it's different manufacturers but....isn't it just a range extender like Fisker Karma and Chevy Volt ?

GeekEV | 01. August 2013

This is a true serial hybrid, whereas the Volt technically is not. Oh, and much greater electric only range than the Volt.

GeekEV | 01. August 2013

I just watched this weeks episode of Top Gear where the reviewed the Mercedes SLS AMG Black against the Mercedes SLS Electric. They were quite complimentary of the electric - aside from range issue. Jeremy seemed quite blown away by the raw performance and utter silence of it. Favorite quote: "This car shows that when the petrol does disappear, high performance cars won't." Between the i3 and the SLS-E, is this a sign of changing opinions at Top Gear? :-o

bgospel | 01. August 2013

This is what Elon wants, car companies competing to make the best electric car, if every car company jumps on board there may be hope for the planet. Tesla can't do it all by themselves, it is electric against gas, not electric against electric. If Tesla's success causes other companies to actually make nice looking, competitive electric cars, Elon will win another battle.

With China and India getting millions of new gas cars in the next few years, we need as many companies as possible mass producing electric cars.

BjörnF | 02. August 2013

A quick fix for the I3 would be to remove the RE option to get more trunk space and instead offer an additional 10 kWh battery pack option.

Yes, i know that BMW says that you won't lose trunk space with the RE. But the reason for that is that they've made the floor of the trunk high to make room for the RE:

The I3 RE = 3850 $, 10 kWh with Tesla prices = 3200 $. 10 kWh should give the I3 an additional 50 miles of range for a total of 130-150 miles instead of the 80-100 it has today. And those additional miles would be with full performance instead of the "emergency only" additional range you get with the RE:

And of course, a bigger battery would enable them to give the I3 better performance and probably also better warranty for the battery pack.

ian | 02. August 2013

But, but, but, you can't fill it up at a gas station if your battery runs low! ;-)

Brian H | 03. August 2013

A minor issue. It would be easy for gas stations to install a couple of 14-50s.

ian | 03. August 2013

You do realize I was kidding don't you? Of course they could, but will they? I was merely voicing the (however misguided) argument most people seem to have regarding BEV's, that there aren't enough charging stations.

Brian H | 03. August 2013

As someone pointed out, gas sales are low margin, and the attached snack and variety stores generate most profit. They would get even more traffic from drivers waiting 30 minutes or more for a minimum charge than from slurp-and-scoot ICE drivers. ;)

Skotty | 06. August 2013

The i3 range extended version is probably a straight serial hybrid. The Volt can run in parallel. Parallel "feels" more hybrid and less EV, but it's also more efficient. The potential upside to serial is it could potentially be simpler/more robust/cheaper.

The i3 range extender probably should NOT be considered similar to the Volt range extender. The i3 range extender is a much smaller engine and will have much more difficulty with hills and acceleration; it may have to turn the engine on earlier to ensure a good battery buffer exists for this. This would be similar to the Volt "mountain mode", but for the i3, it may be a much more commonly needed "hill mode", if you will.

If the i3 was offered with a bigger engine and gas tank, something similar to the Volt, I would seriously consider it. I need the long range regularly, and would love an extra 40ish miles of EV range over what the Volt provides. However, with the range extender the i3 offers, it can't be seriously considered for regular longer range use, and my best option for now remains the Volt.

lyonel | 08. August 2013

Half the power for half the price.
Hopefully they come up with a more powerfull battery.

Mark K | 08. August 2013

Top Gear's remarkably different tone for the i3 vs. their roadster piece seems more a function of money.

BMW buys a lot of TV ads.

Tesla doesn't.

GeekEV | 08. August 2013

@Mark K - They were also very complimentary of Mercedes SLSe (or whatever it's called). Same thing, I suppose.

Ven Rala | 11. August 2013

BMW i3 is competition for the Leaf and Volt, not Model S. Top Gear still owes Tesla an apology for the Roadster episode.