Up until now, electric cars have been either a rude shock to the wallet, half job hybrids or so uninspiring that you couldn’t jump start your excitement for it with a defibrillator. Enter the BMW i3, 100% electric, made from recycled eco friendly materials and starts from just AU$63,990. A small price to pay to start doing your bit to save the world.Curious about how practical it would be to live with a BMW i3, we took one out for a week to put it through ‘life’. A typical week for me would involve heading to and from the office (5km from home), attending a number of events usually around the city (5km-7km) and visiting my folks on the weekend (25km).
The first couple of days of driving the i3 around was fun, the cabin space is generous, the interior design is slick and the displays are big enough to excite even a millennial. There’s no doubt there’s power in this little car, I found out when a Lexus IS 250 driver tried to overtake me at a red light. I left him weeping from the dust off my skinny meticulously engineered eco friendly sized tyres. The only downside to the whole event was that I did it in complete silence… yes, the electric motor is inaudible even with the pedal to the metal.Skip to the 3rd day, I started to get this strange feeling in my stomach whenever I drove it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I kept looking at the power gauge. Turns out I had developed something called ‘range anxiety’… probably about the time when the battery hit 50%. I was constantly checking the amount of power I had left even though I wasn’t really going anywhere too far. This particular i3 did have the range extender option, which is basically a little petrol motor that acts as a charger and helps maintain the battery level. I turned it on and this helped a little but because it wasn’t actually increasing the battery level, I still felt a little uneasy. The only way I could relieve the feeling was to find a charger to get it back over 50%.
I guess if I had the car for a few weeks, I’d be able to manage my ‘range anxiety’ a lot better once I could see what the 130km range looked like overlapped on my weekly schedule. Mind you this was only a problem because I live in an apartment and there’s no power point near my car spot to charge it every night.On the flip side, I developed another feeling driving the i3 around, it was zen. I would always feel guilty sitting in traffic with the petrol engine running, feeling like I’m slowly choking the earth to death. In the i3, I didn’t feel any guilt at all as it didn’t burn anything when it was standing still. As a result I was nicer to other drivers… kind of, I still overtook everyone because I could.
The i3 is great if you’re a city dweller who doesn’t need to travel long distances and also has somewhere to charge the car every few days. I seriously considered it as my next car and used this comparison calculator to work out how much money and carbon emissions it would save compared to my current BMW 3 series. Turns out I will pocket an extra $132 per month and spare our planet 2,532kg of CO2 emissions per year. Not bad at all.
Alternatively, there’s always i3’s bigger brother, the BMW i8… now that’s a whole other experience.