Lots of this information will apply to other EV and even some Hybrid vehicles out there. Different professionals may have different opinions and recommendations. We are learning, and training just like everyone else should be doing for BMW i3 service and BMW i3 repair along with others makes and models from GM to Toyota.
Like I predicted, preventive maintenance would be ignored by the manufacturer and the customer is stuck with the bill. All of this free maintenance nonsense is almost over. It was a great sales tool while it lasted for them. Welcome them back to the 80’s and 90’s when they didn’t care about their customers and lied to them. That is where they are again. There is no such thing as free. Well, maybe if you pull up to our EV charging station. That is free for our customers and there are some other free ones out there in parking garages as a courtesy. The BMW i3 is a great vehicle. I was not a big fan of electric or Hybrid vehicles but the more I train on them and drive them, the more I like them. They are cool. Whether you want to save the planet or just have fun, they are cool cars. I am servicing them, repairing them, having fun, and I guess saving the planet too? But wait! This car has a range extender attached to it. What is that? It is a gasoline powered generator that has two spark plugs, and oil filter sourced from BMWs motorcycle division, and holds some 5w40 as well.
No big deal. So what. An electric car with a safety net. You don’t need the range extender unless you go a long distance. Even then, it costs very little to fill the small 2.4 gallon tank, with a usable 1.9 in North America, and is energy efficient. It even shuts down at stop lights and uses regenerated energy from the i3’s electric motors to coast below 10-12 MPH. That energy is generated as you lift off the accelerator pedal and actually acts as a pretty good brake to stop the car. Once you adapt to it, it is really fun and interesting. Like a game. There is also brake fluid to change because the car also has a conventional BMW hydraulic braking system which is used very lightly due to the EV motor stopping assistance. Don’t expect to replace brake pads too often. There is a plus for you. Ours had 16k miles on it and they are original and still look new! Ok….Now we have antifreeze, also known as coolant. There are two coolant tanks. This coolant needs to be changed at some point. It is used for heat, generator cooling, etc. Electric motors are typically cooled either with refrigerant or coolant. The cars are still new to tell what the interval will be. We are going to make the recommendation based on our experience and several other factors. For example, if you have a customer that is not charging their battery, the generator will need to work overtime. This generator DOES NOT charge the battery. It simply provides electricity to drive the electric motors. We have two issues here. One problem is the generator is being over used and will need to be on a severe duty maintenance schedule. So oil and filter every 6 months instead of 1 year. There is also a 12v normal “old school” battery to start this generator. We will recommend 1 year intervals for this because without that you are in deep doo doo if you run out of High Voltage “BIG” battery power. The generator will not start.
Then it is tow truck time. The antifreeze interval we will decide on. BMW says 15 years or some outrageous interval. Remember that your owners manual is written so you buy a new car and not keep the one you invested in. The iDrive service screen only has two items on it!!! They don’t mention anything about the generator service, cabin air filter, vapor canister filter, tire rotations, etc. If you plan to keep these i3’s on the road, we will have a maintenance schedule to follow. Remember to NOT let the car sit too long without being driven or plugged in. The High Voltage battery needs to be “duty cycled” meaning it likes to be discharged and re-charged. It is designed that way and is very smart and will communicate with the i3’s internal management center to give a health status. But sometimes human experience and interaction is needed. We will continue to keep you posted. If you would like to drive it, come on down and make an appointment. If you need some training, you may also make an appointment. You DO NOT need to go to the dealer.
We are equipped with everything needed to check, service, repair, maintain, and answer questions you may have. We can explain Level 1 and Level 2 chargers. We can recommend chargers for your house. We will have ways to extend your range on the generator by at least 20 miles, and also eventually develop a larger tank, maybe, to fit this i3. The newer i3’s have about 50% more range than the first generations. They also have more gismos that use more power. Expect more range in hot weather and less in cold weather due to battery resistance. Average total range can be about 140 miles if you drive in EcoPro Plus mode. Remember you can always stop and fill up the generator and keep going. Once you get to your destination, plug it in.
On our way to Charlotte, we only drove about 90 miles. We were driving the car hard and fast so we consumed energy very quickly at 75-80MPH at some points in the trip. We made it without stopping. Had about 18 miles to spare on the generator. We filled the generator up, found a parking garage with an EV charger, and grabbed something to eat. After about 2 hours, we had 50 miles on our High Voltage battery, about 70 showing on the generator meter (These are all estimations and change frequently when driving), and headed back to Winston-Salem without stopping. It was a very nice, comfortable, and an interesting ride. I cannot believe it, but I enjoyed it. Oh, one more quick thing….We have noisy front control arms on ours with only 16k miles so we will pass that information along too. Also the iDrive is programmed to mainly find the trademarked ChargePoints which are great but did not locate the one we needed. We did that with our phone. Probably a software update. I am officially an EV and Hybrid car fan. I still love my gasoline cars though but mainly for the sport.
SIDE NOTE aka Carmine’s Transparent Opinion: If you want an ALL electric car, you should purchase everything else but the fancy guys with there fancy special charging stations. Lots of reasons behind that in my opinion. If you don’t know what I mean, I will give you a hint. It ends in “la”. After learning about those cars in class, I was very disappointed. During training we had a chance to look at that companies battery packs compared to Toyota, BMW, GM, Nissan, and some of the others Big League players.
We had an Electrical Engineer at the class with us and even he was blown away. The battery packs look like an elementary science project. Basically 17,000 AA batteries wired in series and parallel all placed in dangerous locations where the driver can get hurt or killed! You want to look cool and go fast? By something else. Basically they are a Delorian with batteries. I am thinking within 24 months you will not see much more of them after the big girls and boys move in and squash them. They even tried proprietary charging stations wasting the publics money the owner raises instead of going with the world standard Level 2 plug style found in 99% of all EV and Hybrid Plug-In cars.