Take a Summer Road Trip and Get to Know your Other Electric Car Better

Saturday 6th June 2015

Day two and it was the turn of the BMW i3 to see how many miles you can drive on one fully charged battery. Part One, if you’ve not read it, covered the Smart Electric Drive.

The BMW i3 has a bigger battery by 25.8% (4.5kWh) but then also weighs 25.8% (541lb) more at 2,635lb compared to the Smart at 2,094lb… yes, both 25.8%. Let’s see what happened.

The idea for this adventure was the same as the Smart Electric Drive, to drive on regular roads that varied between 25mph and 50mph and see just how many miles we could drive before the battery went flat. We didn’t use the AC but had the windows open about an inch, we didn’t go on the motorways and we did keep to the speed limit on all the roads. We drove in Comfort mode, as we always do. The temperature was around 32℃/90℉. Just as with my previous report on the Smart, we didn’t drive to maximise range as though we were trying to set a record but, didn’t rush either. We certainly didn’t get in anyones way!

Pit stop at Spruce Run State Park
Pit stop at Spruce Run State Park

We took the same ish (I say ish as we had made a couple of minor errors with the Smart route!) route as we had done with the Smart Electric Drive, figuring it would be a good comparison.

We passed the house that we would like to live it again so that must be fate, right? It must be the house that is meant for us!!

We decided that as it was even warmer this day than with the Smart drive that a cool refreshing drink was definitely needed. We stopped at the local convenience store again in Sergeantsville. Then onto the covered bridge for photos with the i3. Once again I jumped out of the car while my sidekick did a loop around so I could take some photos of the i3 emerging from the bridge – old meets super new once again.

21% battery left at 100 miles
100 miles – 21% left
2014 BMW i3 Navigation display showing range very close to home
Encroaching range limit

We seemed to be using the same percentage amount of power with both cars per mile. Both cars had covered about 1.1mpp (see part one for definition of mpp)

At 100 miles, we snapped the state of charge at 21% – That would be 1.2mpp if it was true.

On the last long hill we lost 2.5% of battery power, which was interesting as it was a very, very steep hill. Had we not climbed such a steep hill would we have been able to drive more miles?

The State of Charge on both the BMW i3 and the Smart Electric Drive proved very useful in determining how much further we could drive. At the limit, in the last few percent, neither reflected the actual miles very well. Both finally gave up guessing at the very end.

With the battery getting ever more lower, we felt we were really beginning to push its limits. We were at 1.5% state of charge with 0 miles left showing for the predicted range. The map kept showing Comfort and EcoPro+ in a circle around our current location. We think that meant that that was how far we could go with our current range, but it was weird as they kept swooping around the screen then disappearing then returning. We kept driving until we were down to 0.5% and the power was severely limited as you can see on the photo.

Battery flat - power limited
All done – power limited
118 miles on the counter
118 miles

There was definitely no more foot to the floor power available, just enough to move the car around. Just as we hit 0.0% we decided to pull into the drive and with 118 miles driven we think the BMW i3 can go a lot further than it’s EPA rating of 81 miles.

Smart and BMW Road Trip Range

Once again, the careful driver sets a distance record far higher than the EPA combined.

Now it’s time for a charge…