Range Anxiety? BMW Has i3 Buyers Covered

March 13th, 2013

BMW i3

Buying a car that can go only about 50 miles from home is a scary thing. In typical day-to-day driving, the range of an electric car is more than adequate, but there is still the fear of running out of juice somewhere far from home.

Mobile charging trucks, public charging stations and other ideas can help ease some of that worry, but buyers of the coming BMW i3 will have another option:

Free access to a traditional gas-powered loaner vehicle.

The new program to be offered by BMW fully acknowledges the issue of range anxiety in electric vehicles.

A story in Ward’s Auto says BMW is confident its EV will give buyers the kind of reliable transportation they need for 90 percent of their trips. For the other 10 percent, though, loaner cars will be available for drivers who need to venture farther away from home than the battery pack will allow.

The i3, which will probably cost between $40,000 and $50,000, will be good for round trips of between 80 and 100 miles. It uses a 180-horsepower electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack, which will take 4 to 6 hours to recharge when sucking energy from a 220-volt outlet. Eventually, BMW will offer a small range-extending gas engine for the i3, but until then, the loaner program is BMW’s answer to quell the range anxiety in potential buyers.

There will be no extra cost for the loaner program, but there’s no word on how many times an i3 owner can use the gas-powered loaner or if it will come with, ironically, any mileage limits.

I think this is a good move by BMW. It won’t cost the company much to offer, and there’s a good chance buyers of the i3 will find the car more than meets their needs. As anxiety decreases, so will the need for the loaners.

Would a loaner program like BMW’s help ease you into the purchase of an electric vehicle?

-tgriffith

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