Saturday 18 November 2017

10 electric BMWs join GoCar ranks as technology extends range

GoCar will now have 10 of BME's electric i3
GoCar will now have 10 of BME's electric i3
The interior of the electric i3
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The battle to win people over to electric cars in urban areas continues but no one is getting too excited about a possible surge of buying.

However, every journey begins, and continues, with one step at a time and maybe the decision to have 10 electric BMWs ferrying people around Dublin is another stride along the way.

BMW and car-share company GoCar joined forces to make it possible. It means you will now be able to rent an electric i3 from GoCar (there are 10 on the fleet) to get around the city.

It's a good idea and it will be interesting to see how people react to see so many (relatively speaking) around.

You'd never know; it might spark a real interest. We won't hold our breath, but at least it represents action of some sort.

The announcement of the venture coincided with the rollout of the longer-range i3 which now can, technically (but not really) cover 201km (say 130km?) for the electric-only (BEV) version and 332km (220km?) for the range-expanded (REX) model which has a two-cylinder engine that serves as a charging boost for the batteries.

The new i3 BEV 94Ah costs €36,300 on-the-road, while the REX 94Ah costs €43,330. That is a price increase of €1,860 for each.

They replace the current 160km (official figure but seriously optimistic in real-world driving) and 270km (ditto) models.

The new ones can go further on one charge because of improved battery technology. And DC rapid charge is now standard on both. They say it features 'preparation' for 50 kW DC rapid charging which allows 0-80pc boost times of under 40 minutes.

BMW here are not retro-fitting new battery packs in existing models. I think, from what I'm told, it would be quite expensive.

There have been no changes made to the i3 itself except that a few interior trims can be paired and come as separate options.

It was nice, if not exactly revealing, to re-take an i3 for a quick drive in Dublin on Monday.

It is such a pleasant car to sit into and drive though I had to re-acquaint myself with the sharp slowdown (who needs brakes?) when I lifted my foot off the accelerator.

Watch out for these cars. You should be seeing a good deal more of them, I suspect. There haven't been that many of them out there really.

So far this year 46 people/companies have bought an i3 with the REX model twice as popular as the BEV version.

The link-up with car-sharing company GoCar is the first venture of its kind here.

The ones being used by GoCar have the range extending petrol engine by the way.

Those renting an i3 can simply access it with a swipe card, then key in their pin number.

And GoCar have altered their pricing structure for the new premium members of the pool.

The hourly rate for the i3s will be €8.99. It is usually €4.99/hour plus 45c per kilometre with other cars on the fleet but with the BMWs there will be no charge for distance covered.

So long as people plug the vehicle back in when they're finished with it. If they don't there will be a 20c/km charge applied.

A new computer system allows for cars and their charge levels to be monitored.

Each of the electric locations will have two charging points for Go Car vehicles. Let's hope they are respected because I see a lot of petrol/diesel cars occupying charging points.

The i3 bases are: Point Village 3 Arena; South Lotts Road; Mark Street; Merrion Square; Clifton House Fitzwilliam Lower; Greek Street; St Johns Road West; Ranelagh; Parnell Square; Earlsfort Terrace.

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