A BMWi3 hooked up to a street-side fast charger in Amsterdam. An hour there will get you home with ease. (Photo: BMW)
The test cars at the international launch of the BMWi3 in Amsterdam, slept in a public parking garage equipped with a long wall of chargers. (Photo: BMW)
The BMWi3 magic key fob! – It opens doors, starts the car and gives access to recharging. (Photo: BMW)
The BMWi3’screcharging cable folds into a small forward trunk under the hood. (Photo: BMW)
The BMWi3 electric ‘gas’ cap! – And when the cable is ‘refuelling’ overnight nobody is disconnecting that baby without a key. (Photo: BMW)
The BMWi3’s rear hatch lifts to reveal a generous luggage area, which grows still more when the split rear seat backs are flipped forward. (Photo: BMW_
The BMWi3’s central display offers crisp views of maps and other information. The mode featured here shows pictorially how far the car can be driven along a chosen route in either the Comfort or Eco Pro driving modes. (Photo: BMW)
This display mode in the BMWi3 shows where the nearest recharge stations can be found along the chosen route. There are close on a thousand public recharge stations in the Amsterdam metro area. BC has a long way to go! (Photo: BMW)
Rear-hinged doors on the BMWi3 provide fabulous ease of access to the front and rear seats. Note the ‘step’: it forms an important part of the shell’s strength. (Photo: BMW)
The click-switch gear changer in the BMWi3 seen here through the steering wheel is easy to operate but it is so unlike any other gearshift it does take a good few klicks at the wheel to get used to its operation! (Photo: BMW)
The BMWi3 dash is simply elegant. Lovely wood finish on the passenger side on the test car and the material used around the dash has that flecked raw carbon fibre look, which is what forms the car’s external shell. The central hi-def display screen is as crisp as your home big screen TV. (Photo: BMW)
Now the front end of the BMWi3 does look like a Bimmer! – That said; take a closer look at those ‘kidney grilles”. They are false because the electric car needs no rush of air to cool what’s under the hood. (Photo: BMW)
The BMWi3 wheel design is traditional but the tires are slimmer than typical BMW products. (Photo: BMW)
The look of the all-new 2014 BMWi3 electric car is based on functionality rather than on beauty. It’s designed to tote up to five folks and their everyday baggage primarily in city areas, though its driving range of 160 kilometres-plus on a full charge makes it a serviceable car for the near- Boonies! (Photo: BMW)
The deeper rear side windows on the BMWi3 are quirky in the appearance in that they break the line from the windshield to the rear. However, it does provide a view for passengers that would be denied if they did follow that line. (Photo: BMW)
Of course, if you don’t fancy bussing or walking home you can always take the bike you locked up earlier in the day or take a rickshaw ride in Old Amsterdam. (Photo: Keith Morgan, Driveway)
The intermodal display will also show on your smart phone steering you home on foot or transit. And you can keep checking all night to see how your baby is charging! (Photo: Keith Morgan, Driveway)
The BMWi3 is hooked up to the juice but home is more than a few blocks away. When the central display is intermodal mode it displays your way home via transit or on foot! (Photo: Keith Morgan, Driveway)
AMSTERDAM – BMW has joined the race for the electric car dollar. On the evidence of two days driving the funky-looking all-electric BMWi3 through the narrow streets of old Amsterdam and alongside the picturesque canals of rural Holland, the German manufacturer may have a winner.
For starters, it is simply great fun to drive. The lithium-ion battery, encased in aluminum cage below the five-seater cabin, provides enough instant zap to the electric motor to propel the car smoothly to 100 klicks in less than eight seconds. Left the stopwatch at home, but counting “one-and-two etc.” to count seconds, my lips barely mouthed “six” before the speedo leapt from 80 to 120 km/h while passing.
It handles beautifully at any speed and hugs the road; thanks to the technology-laden aluminum platform, that gives it a very low centre of gravity. Turns on a Euro too, as we found during the many U-turns made on blocked streets.
Of course, F1 take-offs will suck the battery dry somewhat more quickly but you need not be a snail in the so-called Comfort mode to achieve the advertised 160 kilometres range on a full tank, sorry, fully-charged battery. Plug it in at home overnight and you are ready to roar; go for the enhanced charger and raring to go in three hours.
VIDEO: 2014 BMW i3 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The remarkable efficiency is largely due to two factors. The carbon-fibre body is light and regenerative braking generously juices up the cells. In a two-hour drive, the only time I dropped the anchors was when one of Amsterdam’s kazillion cyclists cut in front of me. Ruined my score, the blighter.
Accepting the more sluggish EcoPro and EcoPro+ modes will add 20 and 40 km to the range.
Frankly, in this configuration the i3, is good for any daily commute between Vancouver and Abbotsford and most journeys in southern Vancouver Island. The very areas where BMW expects to do the most business.
The i3 offers premium brand luxury for few dollars short of $45,000. Shell out another $4,000 grand for the unimaginatively named ‘range-extender’ and you have a car for the Interior and beyond. Way beyond. As the battery runs low, a two-cylinder, 647cc gas engine, which sits neatly by the side of its electric brother, kicks in and generates power to top up the battery. Push it and gas stops will be frequent because only a minuscule nine-litre tank feeds it. However, most folks will get a chance to recharge before too many visits to the pump.
There is another hope for those living beyond Hope. Private companies are seriously evaluating the supply of fast chargers that top up batteries in less than half an hour. Eyes will be on the Sea-to-Sky Highway where 10 chargers have been installed at Britannia Beach. And they are popping up in parking lots the length and breadth of the province as the popularity of plug-in hybrid models by other brands grows.