Six Months with the BMW i3

Saturday 20th December 2014

Well, actually, seven months on….

I am now into month 7 of owning and driving a 100% electric BMW i3. I have 5,400 miles on the car. Not many for 7 months of driving but we just don’t do the same kind of miles that we did in the ActiveE and, as our i-MiEV is going back at the end of January, we have been using that a lot more to pile the miles on there – the i-MiEV is a 24,000 mile lease with just 14,000 miles on it and I don’t think we can add another 10,000 in just over a month. We’ll save the i3 miles for when MiEV goes back.

Well, what to say about the i3? It is still working, so that is a plus point. There isn’t anything really earth shattering to say about the car, it gets me from A to B without any trouble. However, there are some niggles with the car, but more on those in a bit.

The i3 is very quiet and stealth like, its presence is unassuming, well it was until we put the stickers on the car and now it gets noticed.

The i3 is a fun car to drive, it has good acceleration but not quite in the same league as the Roadster… as I found out the other day – note to self, do not try to race your sidekick unless you both have the same car!!!! I feel that I am still getting used to the more upright seating and am still undecided on whether I like that aspect or not. I’ve spent too many years in more laid back cars that the uprightness is taking a lot of getting used to.

One of the things I really like about the car is the dimming rear view mirror and door mirrors, they make night time driving much more acceptable. I like the funky look of the car and it always amuses me when people do a 180 to look at the car as I drive by. I don’t think many people know what it is, as it certainly doesn’t look anything like a BMW. It’s an easy car to drive and the regen is more than acceptable, not quite as good as the ActiveE but certainly up there so I can pull up to the white line very precisely.

I’m also still getting use to the forward/reverse selector and often find myself reaching down to where the direction selector should be, then quickly remembering that it is tucked behind the steering wheel, still don’t get that one BMW.

However, there are a few too many niggles that are beginning to spoil the fun side of the car. These have been present pretty much since day one, and the reason we haven’t said anything about them until now, is we had expected that they wouldn’t still be an issue at this point. After all, this is a full production car but, it is feeling like another BMW experiment that we are testing for them. Oh dear!

To the niggles. The one that I am finding particularly irritating is the ‘wub-wub’ noise from the 20in tyres. I won’t change my wheels for anything less than 20’s so I feel that BMW need to address the tyres to get rid of the noise. On smooth newly tarmac’d roads the noise is particularly annoying.

Fortunately we haven’t seen the dreaded ‘Drivetrain Malfunction’ from the ActiveE days but, there are plenty of i3 owners that have seen it and, been left stuck waiting for a tow truck. Is it just a matter of time or should I consider myself one of the lucky ones?

I’m also getting annoyed that I cannot put the cars ventilation into recirculate mode, it will only stay on for a few seconds and then turns itself off again. When I come across a cloud of white or black smoke emitting from one of those old fashioned petrol vehicles I have to turn the ventilation off altogether or I get a car full of fumes. Most frustrating as then I am wasting the heat I have just amassed and therefore waste miles heating the car again when the cloud has passed.

The car often reports that the rear doors are open when they aren’t. Some wonky sensor somewhere I guess!

Weird niggle – the key fob unlocks the doors – correct, but also unlocks the froot but not the boot – that’s just wrong. I want to get to the boot with all my shopping, what good is the froot for all my shopping?

For some odd reason the steering wheel has developed a weird squeak – is there a chipmunk spending its winter in there?

We are still stuck with a slow charging rate – 6 months now. Apparently I cannot charge at full rate otherwise my onboard charger might go “pouff!!” But, that is restrictive as now, if I go anywhere and need to charge it takes a long time. Come on BMW, get your act together and get these things fixed faster.

The mobile app no longer functions correctly. I think it’s telling me that it’s charged and the predicted range correctly about 45% of the time, but nothing else is updating. I can’t tell from the app what my kWh used per journey is or the distance travelled. Not a big deal, but why has it stopped working? I can’t pre-condition from the app either – Yes I have been spoilt.

Our range has fallen much more than expected. I had hoped that with the heat pump on my i3, my range would not have fallen so much. I mean 68 miles range – unacceptable. My sidekick can no longer use it for his 72 mile commute as he has no charging. Well, he could use it without heat, but we have done that for too many years and this car was supposed to be finished, not still an experiment.

We purchased the Parking Assistant Package as we wanted the cameras and park distance control. The package came with Parking Assistant but, we cannot use as there have been reports from other users that their wheels have been scraped. We have tried this out but only in our driveway with no kerbs – the alloys are too expensive to risk scraping.

My sidekick’s biggest niggle is the fact that we paid for an expensive cruise control package with Active cruise control that doesn’t work properly. It will disengage without waring and throw the car into major regenerative breaking mode. Highly dangerous when out on the motorway. It thinks it has seen something and that it needs to stop accelerating but, there is nothing there! He’s also irritated by the cars ever changing regen levels, especially when cornering coming off the motorway.

BMW won’t consider any of these items an issue unless verified by our dealer. Are they saying we are lying? Are they saying everyone on the i3 Facebook group is lying? We’re all experiencing the same. So, we now have to book the car in at the dealer and spend time and our precious miles proving what doesn’t work as BMW stated it would. That’ll be happening in January. More to come…


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