To give you a better idea of how small the gas tank on the BMW i3's range-extender will be, it's about equal to a quartet of those two-liter plastic Coke bottles you'll get at the supermarket for your next football bash. That's it.

The German automaker is limiting the size of its range-extender's gas tank to 2.4 gallons in order to comply with a California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandate, Green Car Reports says. Specifically, CARB is classifying the i3 as a "BEVx," or a range-extended battery-electric vehicle. To qualify for this status, instead of a range-extender set-up like the Chevrolet Volt's, where the gasoline tank provides about 10-times the range as the electric battery does, the Bimmer's gas-powered range can not be higher than that on electricity, putting the range-extender strictly in "auxiliary" territory. And with the i3's electric range estimated to be anywhere from 80 to 100 miles (BMW says it's 118, but that's using the European scale), the gas tank has to be rather miniscule.

Either way, the range extender will both reduce the all-electric range supplied by the vehicle's 22-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and lengthen the acceleration times of the 170-horsepower vehicle, albeit very slightly. Check out AutoblogGreen's fresh-off-the-press First Drive impressions of the i3 here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 49 Comments
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW-i3 = DOA.
        jeff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        At lest 8000 pre orders say you might be wrong...
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        As early cars were stuck, or broken down by the side of the road, people would ride by on horses and taunt, 'get a horse, get a horse!'
      Carguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't really blame people for wanting longer range and bigger tanks, most people don't realize that they rarely do more than 40 miles of driving a day on average. The range extenders and the ability to rent a larger gasoline car for long trips will solve most of the issues people will have with EV's. Why drive a 6000lb 7 passenger SUV with 90 cu ft of cargo space when all you are carrying on most days are two school back packs?
      transpower
      • 1 Year Ago
      California regulations are ridiculous. The state is bankrupt and their colleges are a joke.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @transpower
        And their potpourri tastes like crap!
        gpmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @transpower
        Yes, colleges like UCLA, Cal Berkeley, CalTech and Stanford
      Tony Belding
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, now we know that the i3 is exactly what it always looked like: a compliance car. Well, that explains a few things. Let us know when you decide to get serious about electric cars, BMW!
        jeff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tony Belding
        A compliance car would only be sold in specific regions like the Spark and Rav 4. The fact that BMW did a general release is more than enough proof that this is not simply a compliance car.
        RC
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tony Belding
        BMW didn't have to build a brand new manufacturing process for a "compliance car". They developed the light weight platform because they believe it is the right way to move forward. The i3 is part of BMW's core business.
          danfred411
          • 1 Year Ago
          @RC
          It can be both an insincere and sincere effort rolled into one. Remember, these people aren't entirely rational. It's only a couple of years since they made it clear they are sticking with the combustion engine. They put on a good show but they don't know what they are doing. Make no mistake about it :) Bob Lutz who was basically in charge of the largest car maker in the world still believes global warming is something Al Gore made up. They are just schmucks like everybody else. I think it's a rather safe bet that BMW is still of mixed mind. They want to go electric and they don't want to go electric :) and they are not smart enough to realize that those two aren't entirely compatible.
        jeff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tony Belding
        Compliance or not it is still a very cool car....
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Credit to Rotation for pointing this out in the comments section here a year ago.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Yes but they can't just print your insightful comments, they need to do investigative journalism: check with multiple sources, gather expert opinions, compose the story, have it edited and checked for accuracy, then work with layout and print artists to format it appropriately before publication. Just kidding, that was the old way. Now autoblog has 1000 monkeys that type stories for the submission queue.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Naw, it's okay. I do agree they go through the trouble of checking with BMW, having BMW tell them they'd rather save that story for later when they are putting a PR blitz on and then run it later as a verified story.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Paul??? Have you read some of the articles here? Let me say one word: Danny Now let me channel my inner Sebastian: (Brushes quaff...stars down from slightly upturned nose, while looking pained to even have to address this): at ABG, our crack team of investigative journalists have researched every article, and every angle. We have a que of articles built up, strategically designed to be released at the proper time. Your comments are irrelevant to me, with the exception of generating clicks for revenue, that I detest having to deal with, due to my dreams of being a novelist. But suffice to say, your opinions and research are worthless. The only person who commented that we have ever mentioned in a positive manner is Nick, who used to threaten to beat in the face with a baseball bat to those that he disagreed with. Although I abhors physical violence, against those we disagree with, I would support, as I am above you all. Now, I must get back to my vital work.
      • 1 Year Ago
      A larger tank would not give the car more range as the ICE engine is small and not capable of powering the car while the battery is flat, or even keeping the battery charge constant while driving. The advantage of the small engine is less weight, and less pollution control is required. This has nothing to do with California ZEV rules.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        According to the ZEVx rules, the range extender cannot kick on before the car would normally cease to operate if it were a BEV. So in order for BMW to hold back a lot of battery for RE use (like the Volt does), it would also have to cut that same amount of range off the non-RE version of the car. So unless you think BMW is willing to degrade the range of the regular version, you're wrong about the battery not being flat. And the pollution control is very significant regardless of engine size. You aren't just allowed to dump in a dirty engine because it's small. It has to meet the same regs as PHEVs, which are TZEV figures.
          jeff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          According to the rules, the total Range of the REx assist cannot exceed the electric range. However, the REx has to cut in before the pack is completely depleted to work properly. There has to be a buffer to allow for the necessary surges that would temporarily exceed the Kw output of the REx. An Average of 34hp over time would be plenty to power a car this light over most driving situations. The only exception might be up a very long steep grade. However, it would have to be a fairly steep grade well over the 10 miles in length to cause an issue.
        jeff
        • 1 Year Ago
        You do not know that and are simply guessing....period...
      throwback
      • 1 Year Ago
      How dumb is that. Will they offer a larger tank option for people who want a larger tank? They only way this car works for me is with a range extender, why limit the range of that option?
        gpmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @throwback
        It's dumb if it doesn't work for you? Go buy a different car.
        Carguy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @throwback
        Your absolutely right! How will this dumb car tow your imaginary speedboat to your imaginary lake house 200 miles away in the remote mountains where you have no electrical outlets and ?
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @throwback
        The answer to your question is contained within the article. It's in fact the reason for the article. Did you read it?
          RC
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Actually no, not exactly. Yes BMW takes advantage of Zev. But the i3 is an EV and pure electric drive is the focus.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          No really, it's right there, the 2nd paragraph. The one talking about "BEVx".
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      If the demand is there, I'm sure the aftermarket will find a solution. Either a larger tank, or a 2nd transfer tank like back in the old days with 4X4's that had dual tanks.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        And then ABC News can attach rocket engine igniters to make sure when they film one in a crash test, they blow up as ABC wants them to do! :D
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        He talks about modifying a tank and gets downvoted?
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          It is just the auto-downvote I get for every post I make in every thread by a certain individual. Nothing new. I can set a clock on his downvotes, they are so predictable. I guess if it makes him happy in some silly way, I chock it all up to making him happy. *grin*
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Extended range mileage is between 33-40mpg, not very good for a high tech advanced-fuel-train vehicle. BMW wants the owners to run the car in electric mode the vast majority of the time(which they will) so the gas tank is sized appropriately for a daily driver but not for long distance cross country trips.
      Actionable Mango
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why put a 2.5 gallon tank on it for sales all around the world in order to the meet the regulation for a regulatory subset of one country? Why not give everyone else a normal tank and just gimp gas tanks heading for California?
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        Because we are Califonia. :-D California Uber Alles! What more more do you need to know? ;-) (The same ZEV rules adopted in California apply to all the other ZEV states. California got an exemption from Federal preemption since we had a particularly bad pollution problem. All the other states can either adopt the more strict California rules or the more lax Federal rules.)
          Actionable Mango
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          I just remember back in the day that companies made a CA emissions model, and a rest-of-the-USA model. Even motorcycle manufacturers, which sell their product in relatively small numbers compared to cars, took the time to do this.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          Although Soec was having fun, he is essentially correct. Where do people buy these things in the biggest numbers? Think of all of the things that have to comply with American standards....why? The USA is a huge market. California is a huge market for these types of vehicles.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          Well, it is not just that California is a big state, it is that the same California rules apply to ALL of the other states that adopt the stricter California emissions rules. So even though the rules originate in California, the same rules apply to many other states.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        I hear your thinking there. I rather expect the performance on the range extender isn't great and BMW doesn't want people to use the range extender frequently. So they are limiting it worldwide. It's just a guess, I don't have any kind of inside info.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation "there is nothing in the regulations that requires it be so" That can easily be updated to be more strict if CARB feels BMW (or others) don't match the "spirit" of the regulation. See what happened with Tesla and battery swapping as qualification for "fast refueling".
          jeff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Rotation, The is NO credible information the the performance of it i3 is significantly restricted when the Rex is in use. You are simply guessing at this point....
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          JakeY: It could be updated, but it wouldn't be retroactive or even necessarily speedy. Tesla got away with their ridiculous interpretation of fast refueling, even though CARB doesn't like it. They won't lose this credit until 2015 despite CARB not liking it.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          JakeY: CARB never approved of battery swapping. They just forgot to preclude it in the rules. The rules were designed for hydrogen cars.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          JakeY: CARB already said that while the intent of the regulation was that the range extended mode be just a "limp-home" mode, there is nothing in the regulations that requires it be so. If BMW wanted it to be fully capable and it made sense to do so, BMW could do it, they'd just still have to limit the range in the US. I personally thing a fully-capable range extender would take up too much space (think Fisker Karma or Chevy Volt) and so they undersized it because it make it a better EV, which is what the car is in the first place.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          But part of the reason why the range extender doesn't perform that great is because they already had this regulation in mind (where the x part of BEVx is supposed to be for emergencies only). There is no need to build an excellent range extender if it's intended for backup anyways.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation True, but in that case it seems CARB approved of battery swapping initially but changed their minds. In this case, it seems CARB jointly developed the BEVx regulation with BMW. BMW probably wouldn't be able to sell their idea to CARB if the range extender was as good as the one in the Volt.
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        I said the same thing in an older article about the i3 and the BEVx regulation. I was downrated and lots of people disagreed with me, but it's nice seeing an article clarifying point.
      Mariachi
      • 1 Year Ago
      One solution is to just carry a gas container in the car.. if they dont comply then it just gets a different HOV sticker right? id rather get a bigger tank. They just extended HOV lane access till 2022 i think.
        jeff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mariachi
        Not real safe to have a can of gas in the car for many reasons.....
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mariachi
        It'd have to qualify as an EREV to get that sticker. I can't think of a reason why it would fail to do so if they wanted that.
        gpmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mariachi
        One solution is to just buy a different car
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