Sunday 21 December 2014

BMW i3 is a game-changer in electric cars world

Published 07/07/2014 | 11:34

The BMW i3 is a proper game-changer in the world of electric cars

It’s been simmering under the surface for a long time now, electric power in a car.

Car companies are taking it seriously and it’s not just because Tesla motors are making headlines every time Elon Musk blows his nose, there’s a desire for cheaper, greener motoring out there.

Back when the Horse was the only form of transport most of them had a hard life, they were frequently beaten to death because they were too tired to go on any further. Horses had to be delivery trucks, taxis, fire brigades, ambulances and personal transport pulling around large families to everything. They were working animals and they worked every day.

Today everything is done by some sort of combustion engine and leaving horseracing out most Horses have a fairly good time of it, there’s even laws covering animal cruelty, in a way the car saved horses from the hard lifestyle that we humans imposed on them.

Now the electric engine will begin to save the humble fossil fuelled lump that sits outside your door.

You see more and more car makers are becoming electric bound, for some it’s a mixed bag of hybrid with battery back-up and for other’s it’s more about total electric.

There’s a new kid in town though, the BMW i3 and it’s a proper game-changer. The i3 is an all-electric car that, in my real world testing, can do 120kms even when you zip about on the motorway. Added to that, my test car came with a range extender that is to say there’s a 700cc engine in the boot provided from a BMW motorbike. That can give you another 120kms from good old petrol.

The big upside to this is that I can finally travel right across the country in an electric car; the petrol engine serves its power to the battery so there’s only a small hum from the back of the car when it’s running.

The outside of the i3 is quirky but in a very good way, it attracts attention and smiles from everyone you pass. There are five doors but the two rear doors can only be opened when you open the front doors. The up-side here is when you open the two doors access to the rear is easy the downside is you have to open the front doors for anyone in the back to get out.

The interior is superb, a mix of recycled materials mixed with top class plastics, there’s a real sense of luxury and it’s nicely mixed with tonnes of electronics that allow you to track your consumption and even get the news read out to you by an electronic voice.

If the BMW i3 is the direction electric cars are going I want to get one, it’s a proper fun drive thanks to the massive torque from the engine. I bet I’d get away from the lights faster than anything fossil-fuel powered.

The only problem is the price, with the grants and rebates taken into account the RRP for the entry version is €34,010 and if you want the one with the range extender €41,040 that’s over €7k more and that’s a lot of money in anyone’s wallet. I’m not so sure you’d save that much on fuel over the life span of the car.

One thing I am sure of is the war for the electric car is really picking up and that means it’ll be taken more seriously by all the competition, with more investment in research the prices will start to fall so while I won’t be running out to order one just yet, when the price comes down a bit the BMW i3 will be on my shopping list of cars I want to buy.

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