BMW i3 on lorry

I was gutted to hear the news from BMW. My BMW i3 review was over.

I called to find out what time they’d be passing by to collect the BMW i3 hoping they would be massively busy and maybe we could give it back next week? You know when your head goes into scheming mode: How can I convince them to let me have it a little bit longer?

But alas it wasn’t meant to be. Geoff was waiting in the street by 8.30am; a change of plans from the initial late afternoon pick up. I had barely showered let alone clean the car but that wasn’t a problem as MY beautiful BMW i3 was to be cleaned and sent off to another person from the press to review, *sigh*.

Can you believe it? Geoff told me some of these press people don’t even use the car. Madness….

Oh the shame of a decimal point!

Thank heavens for readers of BMW i3 part 2 who spotted I had misread my electric meter and missed the decimal point. I quoted an outrageous cost for recharging the car at home – something like £27.00 where in actual fact had there been more light I would have spotted my decimal point and quoted a much happier £2.67 for a full charge. Thank you to everyone who came and left a comment.

Bitter sweet last day

We spent our very last day with the BMW i3 testing out a longer journey as we’d been invited down to Butlins at Bognor Regis to taste the brand new Scooby Doo ice creams by Beechdean. A journey of approx 85 miles.

BMW i3 sat nav

I put in the postcode using the joystick on the central control unit between the passenger seats and up came our journey with estimated time arrival and current time.

The onboard computer is totally amazing and you can add all your contacts in plus a USB for any Apple product. I didn’t do this as I knew I had to give the car back and wasn’t happy sharing all my contacts on there. However I used the Sat Nav and enjoyed the touch buttons for the various radio stations and other features on it.

I set off with a full charge and a half tank of petrol, I knew at some point I would have to recharge and it would be the perfect opportunity to see how it worked.

Re charging at motorway services

I had been set up with an Electric Highway ecotricity account and on checking the website I noticed there was one just after Crawley at Pease Pottage so I made plans to stop there on the way down to fill up both the charge and the petrol tank and that would get me safely back home.

Please note that charging at these points across the UK is completely free of charge.

The eco charger came up on the Sat Nav too so it was very easy to find what I didn’t know is that the electric charging stations will never be found alongside the petrol pumps…. BOOM!

So if you do get one of these cars, look out for them closer to the services as they’ll be there.

What I didn’t know next is the lead of the plug isn’t that long so I had to reverse the car out turn around and reverse into my parking spot again to have enough slack on the plug to reach the car.

Then I had to work the machine out. I swiped my card and chose AC charge as the DC charge wouldn’t have fit the car and sadly (and very annoyingly) I discovered that the AC charge was unavailable.

I was unable to test this part out and it did make me wonder about the service all over the country, luckily I could rely on petrol but if my car was a 100% electrical vehicle I would have been stuck.

I then made my way to the garage to fill the petrol tank.

Re fuelling at motorway services and garages

The BMW i3 fuel tank cannot be opened from the exterior of the car as per normal, there is a release button on the inside to allow the pressure in the tank to come to a normal level so when you open the flap you don’t get covered in petrol. Then fill as per normal.

Luckily for us a full tank of petrol and the rest of my charge would suffice for our journey.

Cost of full tank of petrol = £10 ish.

Pro Eco mode

En route to save charge and fuel I changed the driving mode from Comfort to Pro Eco. I noted that the car’s performance changed, the speed was deliberately kept down and a picture would come up on the computer showing me which parts of the car were affected by this change.

There is a third setting ECO mode to use in emergencies which I didn’t use as it completely shuts down the air con and it was an incredibly hot day.

bmw i3 at butlins

We arrived at Butlins with ample time to spare and had a wonderful Scooby Doo inspired day.

I had to recharge with fuel once again on my journey home just to be sure I made it and in fact when I handed over the keys the next day you can see the electric charge is empty (Geoff told me not to bother charging as the car goes on a van to go back to base) but the petrol tank was still looking very healthy.

bmw i3 total usage

Please also note that in 6 weeks I had clocked up 851.9 miles. I recharged three times (£2.67 x 3) and filled the tank 3 times too (3 x £10 ish)

Total cost for 6 weeks  = £38.01

Things I wish I’d known

I have learnt that to charge every day rather than let the charge run out completely is a much better practise.

I have learnt that if you hammer the hell out of your beautiful BMW i3 to test it’s performance your charge will be consumed more quickly.

I have learnt that for local short trips it would be better to use Pro Eco rather than Comfort and that would save charge too.

Hindsight eh?

 

Would I invest in an ULEV?

The answer is YES.

I would look for one that first fits our family needs and for that as I mentioned in the last post’s comments we would look for an EV that can tow our caravan. I didn’t think  there was one but I am wrong there is the Mitsubishi Outlander as Mike kindly noted.

#goultralow comment

So the prospects of change for us become even more exciting.

#GoUltraLow

I haven’t been the only blogger to take part in this campaign, five different models were handed out for the same period of time and the conversations happening around these cars is really interesting. Please take a look at these models too, each blogger writes three posts during the 6 weeks so lots of information.

Actually Mummy drove a Renault Zoë

Mummy Barrow drove a Toyota Prius

Geekmummy drove a Nissan Leaf

Juggle Mum drove a Vauxhall Ampera

 

Lastly an enormous thank you for the Gravesend Reporter picking up on my review and spreading the #GoUltraLow campaign even further. I hope to see more of these cars on the road very soon. One last photo of my BMW i3 being packed away forever

bmw i3 lorry

BMW i3 bowling party

HELP!!!! They’re taking the BMW i3 back tomorrow.

I have fallen in love with my BMW i3 without a doubt. The more I drive it the more driving becomes a pleasure and this became crystal clear the day I had to take out our diesel car as I hadn’t changed over the child seats after the weekend.

Why did I revert back to our car for the weekend? Because we had to tow our caravan for a quick weekend trip ;)

Anyway I jumped into our diesel run Picasso and it felt sluggish and had no power to the accelerator. I pushed my foot down but it was slow working through the gears and slow to get going. 

In our first #GoUltraLow review we spoke about what are ULEV’s and gave lots of basic information that will be very helpful to read if you are considering investing in an electric car. This time I want to talk about charging and costs.

BMW i3 at Bluewater

Charging an electric car

When the car was dropped off I sat in the car for an hour whilst Geoff, the BMW man, went through all of the details with me and we also spoke of charging the car. The car came with two cables to cover the different types of charge:

Standard charge

This cable allows you to connect your car to any household 3 pin socket. We tried this overnight and got an 80% charge the following morning. It’s an AC type 2 charge giving up to 2.4 kW/10Amps an estimated 7 hour charge giving 0 – 80% charge.

BMW i3 keys

AC Fast Charge

For regular fast charging this method is extremely convenient, to use it you will need a Wallbox fitted on the exterior of your house in a convenient place to plug your car in. Please note that British Gas will install a charging point at your home free of charge until 31 March 2015. The AC Fast Charge is extremely easy to use and it locks into place so no passer by can pull the plug out whilst you’re charging. The Wallbox can also be padlocked to prevent any cheeky chargers whilst you’re away or switched off at the mains.

This AC type 2 charge uses 7.4kW/32 Amps and will give a 0 – 80% charge in 3 hours.

Take a look at my video here at just how simple it is.

How much does a full charge cost?

I have checked our meter and on average a full charge will use about 20kW. We’re on a Standard plan and pay 13.37p per kW. That’s a cost of £2.67.

NB. Thanks so much to @shovelbarn_mike who spotted I had completely misread my meter reading and have since updated this post to show a full charge costs me

£2.67

@shovelbarn_mike

How long will one charge last?

It will obviously depend on how fast you go, if you have the AirCon switched on (I have!) and music blaring out (yep). A charge would normally last me more than 10 days for short after school activities, a trip or two to the supermarket and a trip to Bluewater our local shopping mall. Longer journeys use more juice.

I have also noticed the car loses some charge when sitting unused as various electrics are still functioning I imagine.

I tried out a longer journey to Essex to visit Talliston House and Gardens a 50.8 mile journey one way which takes 1 hour 7 minutes. I didn’t have a full charge so knew I would need to charge at some point to get home as the petrol was running low as well. I stopped at a supermarket garage and filled her up which took about £10 and gave me circa 70 miles. I got home with no problem.

DC Rapid charge

I have yet to try this method but will be doing so on our trip to Butlins Bognor Regis. The DC Rapid charge is the best and quickest solution and can be found at a public DC rapid charge stations across the UK. The charge uses 50kW/125Amps. It gives a 0 – 80% charge  in 30 minutes. It is also currently FREE. There are various networks but I have an Electric Highway credit card which I swipe and charge at no cost to me. This is current at the time of writing as the aim is to encourage more and more people to convert to electric.

On a long journey half an hour goes really quickly for us, by the time we’ve all visited the toilets, had a peek at the shop and filled our water bottles half an hour is for the best part done. I will discover more on our trip to Bognor

BMW i3 charging times

So as I write with only one more day to go with this dream of a car I would love to know any questions you may have which I can address in my next #GoUltraLow blog post. I’ll be back with news on how our long journey went (85+ miles one way)

The most common question so far has been – do you like it? And the answer to that is YES, I love it. It’s a dream to drive.

Pssst. Have you seen the new BMW i8 *swoons* 

BMW i8

Disclosure: This BMW i3  is on loan to us for 6 weeks so that we can test how it fits into our lives and I can report back with my honest opinions as part of the #GoUltraLow campaign.

BMW i3

On the 16th June, I was handed the keys to a brand new BMW i3 and asked to drive around it in for 6 weeks and report back on my findings. I had applied to be a part of the #GoUltraLow campaign as husband and I have spoken about hybrids before but never got any further plus, I am constantly hearing such negative comments in relation to electric cars. If we were ever to invest in one I’d want to be pretty sure that we can do all the things we can do today in our diesel fuelled car.

What is an ULEV?

An ULEV (ultra low emission vehicle) is a motor vehicle that emits extremely low levels of emissions, it produces 75g or less of CO2 per kilometre from the tailpipe. They fall into three categories; Electric, Hybrid and Range Extender. Our BMW i3 is a Range Extender.

You can find out lots more on the Go Ultra Low website

Electric

These are zero emission, 100 per cent electric vehicles, they have a very quiet operation that drives the wheels via an electric motor that uses a single gear.

It is recharged via charging points or by plugging into your home supply – usually via an outside power point. When using the brakes, some of the energy is recaptured and the battery can recharge itself whilst on the move.

Hybrid

Plug-in hybrids supplement an electric motor with a conventional petrol or diesel engine, either system can drive the wheels.

The battery can power the car for 10 – 20 miles – more than enough for your average journey on British roads. After this, the petrol or diesel engine kicks in giving CO2 emissions of 40 – 50 g/km. Conventional hybrids do not need plugging in, but the new types use electricity to extend their zero-emission range significantly.

Range Extender

E-Rev stands for Extended-Range Electric Vehicle – our BMW i3 is one of these – where the electric motor always drives the wheels using a conventional engine as a generator to recharge the battery.

They provide 20 – 30g/km CO2 emissions making them the most eco-friendly compromise.

BMW i3 interior seats

First impressions of the BMW i3

There is no denying that the BMW i3 is a gorgeous car, a lot of care and attention has gone into the design making this an object of beauty. From the excellent use of space, the choice of interior furnishings and the exterior colours available, BMW have not held back and sitting in this car is a very comfortable experience.

BMW i3

The two child seats were easily fixed to the ISO bars in the back seat and there is no worry of children opening the back doors as they can only be opened once the front doors are open. The children also have two containers in the middle of their seats to hold water bottles.

The car is an automatic drive which is easy to get used to; you have four options, P- Park, D – Drive, R – Reverse and N – Neutral.

It has automatic lights and windscreen washers which come on as and when needed.

The onboard computer is a novelty to us and we LOVE it. A big screen with lots of options to put in at the start of your journey.

There is a ‘joy’ stick on the centre piece between the front seats which accesses the menu and after a quick look around I think you could quite easily set up office in your BMW i3. There is also a USB to connect your iPod, Phone or Touch directly to the onboard computer.

BMW i3 interior design

Cruise control was something that husband was very impressed with and used on our trip to the beach last weekend, a 55-mile journey (more about that later).

Our first impressions were extremely favourable and it’s been amusing watching local petrol heads slow down in their cars to get a better look or even walk up to the house and chat to my next door neighbour whilst he’s gardening out the front asking for more information.

Performance of the BMW i3

One very exciting discovery for me has been the performance of this car. For some reason, I had assumed that electric cars wouldn’t have a lot of power in them and boy was I wrong. As I headed down the slip road onto the A2 to try the car out on a motorway for the first time, I was amazed at the power I had under my foot and quickly had to take my foot off the accelerator to avoid speeding – like in seconds!

My second amazing discovery is there is no engine noise! The car runs silently which at the beginning is confusing after years of listening to the engine. However, on our first long trip to the coast, we were able to detect the fuel engine kicking in (seamlessly I must add) and could hear the hum as we drove along.

BMW i3 beach run

As you are driving along you have a second screen placed directly behind the steering wheel where you can check how much charge your battery has, how much fuel you have in the tank and the computer keeps tabs on how many miles you can drive on each individually AND offers an overall total too. It also shows exactly which fuel you are consuming at any one moment.

On coming to a stop, I have learnt to coast the car – (take my foot off the accelerator and let the car come to a natural stop). This also recharges the battery as does applying the breaks. You can actively watch this as you drive along on the screen; when the car is recharging itself a white line is displayed between the two fuel gauges.

First impressions: After two weeks of driving the BMW i3 I can honestly say it is amazing to drive.

BMW i3 inside

Re-charging and re-fuelling

The car comes with two cables both kept in the boot of the car. One is to connect the car and charge from any household plug and the other is to use at a service station (which we have yet to trial).

As part of this trial, we have been fitted with an external charge point. It took the best part of a day to fit and has its own trip box connected to our home electric fuse box. This is to avoid affecting the entire house should the charger trip at any moment.

BMW i3 wall charger

Each company have their own charger and from what I understand at this early stage there are two different kinds of plugs. The engineer who came to fit ours said the companies were already looking at agreeing to one communal plug to ease future buyers.

The external charging box will become a permanent feature to your home so choose wisely where it will be placed. Had I known how big the BMW one was I would have chosen a different spot to the side of the house in all honesty as it’s a big unit on the front of the house.

I was disappointed to see that on this huge unit there are no other plug points available for outside use. A household plug point would have been handy for vacuuming the car and maybe a point to attach a caravan or at least the option to do so in the future would have been very handy indeed.

The charging box is a better charge, it is quicker and a full charge can be gained in 4 hours or less whereas attaching the car to the household mains never manages a complete charge and takes 8 hours or more.

Lifestyle

I have found this perfect for everyday use, jump in and off I go – school runs, after school activities, shopping at the supermarket, trips to Bluewater and meeting friends too. I rarely use the entire battery for all of my weekly normal activities so I have only recharged twice so far. Whereas a tank of fuel on our family car costs around £60 and will last 3/4 weeks with our normal activities, I have yet to work out what a full charge has cost us but it lasts about a week. Costs of running the BMW i3 will follow in my second post.

BMW i3 shopping

Husband was initially very negative when he heard we had been selected for this campaign and this made it all the more interesting for me. He is now reformed in his ideas, he agrees the car is beautiful, that it runs exceedingly well, it is easy to charge and a dream to drive. My next hurdle with him will be the recharging on longer journeys as it will mean allowing half an hour for the charge to complete and adding this time into our journey.

App for BMW

For all BMW drivers there is a handy app to download

Cost: Currently the BMW i3 costs between £25,680 or £28,820 and the government are offering a £5000 electric vehicle grant

More reading for the BMW i3

What Car?

The Daily Telegraph

Disclosure: We have the BMW i3 on loan for 6 weeks for the purpose of this review and we will be reporting back to you regularly with our opinions and how we find, as a family, the BMW i3 Range Extender fits into our lives. To follow will be posts on longer journeys, planning a journey and recharging via the Rapid chargers at supermarkets and service stations.