sapphire
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:37 pm

Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:52 pm

Hi,

I am thinking of a road trip from east coast (Ohio) to west coast (Arizona). I have a 2017 i3 w/ range extender that seems to have a lot of leased miles remaining. Not sure if it is practical, but I am thinking the possibility of driving my i3, around 2000 miles one way. Upon checking the plugshare map, there are quite some charging stations on the way, mostly Level 2, but in the mid-west states, the charging stations are pretty scattering and limited. Then I assume the trip will rely heavily on the range extender.

The thing is, the gas tank is small, so I have to pump it every 60 miles, or around 35 times for the entire trip. is it too much? probably a 2.5-gallon or 5-gallon gas can is needed in case that there is no gas station around. Or to be safe, should I just have the i3 coded to unlock the "hold state of charge" mode? I feel that doing so may void the BMW warranty, and thus the roadside assistant, but roadside assistant is beneficial for a road trip. Please advice.

Did someone ever drive an i3 in such a long distance? This is just to try. If it is not practical at all, I can switch to be renting a regular car.

First post here. Thanks in advance!
Last edited by sapphire on Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jadnashuanh
Posts: 5196
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:10 pm

It can be done, but you really would want to recode the REx hold to the max of 75%. Even then, crossing a mountain pass could be an issue if you don't plan properly. Overnight, even the OUC that comes with the car may not top it back up, depending on how discharged the battery is (it could take nearly a day to recharge on 110vac with the OUC with a nearly discharged battery pack).

But, if you can get over stopping about every hour or so to refill the tank, you could just keep driving the thing forever - on the flat, driving over about 72mph will start to discharge the battery as that's about the max the REx can output. Throw in an uphill grade or a good headwind (more likely on the way back), and that speed will drop where the charge will gradually drop. Take advantage of any CCS chargers you can, and try to pick restaurants that have EVSEs for their customers.

Personally, I find the car fine for running around locally, but do not think I'd enjoy myself on a 4,000 mile round-trip in one.
Jim DeBruycker
2014 i3 BEV, 2021 X5 45e
(The i3 will be sold soon, <17K-miles, interested?)

theothertom
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:08 am
Location: South Carolina

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:52 pm

It would be an adventure for sure. Practical ? Only you can decide that.
If you decide to do it, I wold definitely code the car. Many, many people have coded their car and I haven't heard of one with a warranty issue. Try to stay in a hotel that has an L2 charger, or a DC fast charger. There's an app for that called EV Hotels.
I would not recommend carrying a can of gas in the car....too dangerous in case of an accident, and the fumes wouldn't be pleasant IMO.

jadnashuanh
Posts: 5196
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:22 pm

The stopping every hour or so would be maybe the biggest hassle. If you're on interstates, in some sections, you might be on fumes between available gas stations, and it could be a real problem if one of them was closed when you got there! You might get close to 70-miles or so on the REx, but you might not, either. On I-90 that I travel fairly frequently (in my ICE), getting on/off of the highway means going through the toll gates, and the service areas on the road are sometimes 40-miles apart...shorter than you'd like to go by one, and maybe problematic if you went to the next.

FWIW, the front of any modern car is designed to crush...not a great place to have a gas can. People do it, but they're called accidents since you do not plan for them...sometimes your luck runs out. Are you feeling lucky?
Jim DeBruycker
2014 i3 BEV, 2021 X5 45e
(The i3 will be sold soon, <17K-miles, interested?)

theothertom
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:08 am
Location: South Carolina

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Tue May 01, 2018 5:06 am

It's my understanding that if the REx runs out of gas and shuts off, the car will continue to "run" if it has a battery charge greater than ~6%. So if you code your car to turn on the REx at 75% and you run out of gas, you would probably have enough charge to get you another 50 miles or so. Just something else to consider.

rtanov
Posts: 208
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:55 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Tue May 01, 2018 6:04 am

Why not use the BMW Flexible Mobility program. I've used it a number of times on quite long trips and for a number of days at a time - 12 days the longest. If the dealers around you participate that might be the best option - you get a new ICE bimmer for free - just put in gas and drive.

The i3 is doable - I've read people going ~1k miles, not quite 2k at a time but it is not a highway car - it will definitely be an adventure and not the pleasantest of experience. And I will not even think about it if you don't have the car coded to unlock the REX & gas tank.
2014 BMW i3 REx
2014 BMW i3 BEV - retired

graememwl
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:42 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Tue May 01, 2018 8:07 am

I say go for it. If you plan your fuel fillups and charging carefully.

This is an adventure in your i3 to use up lease miles rather than "I have to get to Arizona and my only vehicle is an i3 Rex", so why not?

Sounds like it could be a lot of fun.

Good Luck!!!!!

viking79
Posts: 110
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:04 pm

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Tue May 01, 2018 12:57 pm

I drove mine from Los Angeles to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (2000 miles) through AZ and NM, lower passes than CO or WY. I wouldn't encourage it, but definitely possible. Worst case was 30 mph going up mountain pass. Coding would be advisable to avoid that issue.

5 gallon spare fuel tank is mandatory (2 gallons would be barely adequate). 35 gas stops (counting 3 or so fill ups from my spare tank). A well sealed container and I had zero smell from it, make sure it is secured and can't tip.

Mine wasn't coded or anything. Also, dont do in summer or winter (climate usage, hardly had any AC on hills in AZ nor heat in mornings) and check wind directions and strengths. The car can reliably hold 60-70 mph on relatively flat ground, but strong headwinds could cause issue.

Wrote about it on my blog:
https://carswithplugs.wordpress.com

jadnashuanh
Posts: 5196
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Tue May 01, 2018 5:13 pm

It's all about how willing you are to compromise your 'normal' car trip experiences. About the smallest gas tank on any ICE will still get you at least 200-miles without much difference summer/winter, and could be significantly more (mine will go 500). And, there's over 100K gas stations in the USA, each with multiple pumps that can refill the car in less than 10-minutes with rarely a wait to get to one. In most cases, you don't really have to think about where you want to stop much. That is NOT the situation today when driving a car like the i3. Even if you can find an EVSE or CCS unit, there's no guarantee that it is working or that someone isn't using it (or parked to block your access!). Then, that refill rate can vary significantly from maybe a low of 10A to 32A for an EVSE, and anywhere from 10Kw to 50Kw on a CCS unit. Note, on the EVSE, even at its maximum current rating, many of them do not use 240vac...208vac is a more common commercial supply, so that decreases the charging performance by about 20% (power = volts * amps, lower the voltage available, and even at the maximum current, your result will decrease).

Yes, you can find a quality gas can to fit in the i3's frunk...that may have no saving grace should you have a frontal accident...that area IS designed to crush. Now, your odds are low, but do you run with scissors or knives? Best to be safe verses sorry. Only you can asses your risk tolerance levels, but it does help to be informed of the potential consequences.

There may come a day when long-distance travel with an EV is as simple as today's case with an ICE (fast, numerous charging options). But, even with Tesla's supercharger network, should you wish to go the path less traveled, you could be far away from one, and need a long time to get your vehicle back in operation. The REx was designed as an emergency backup crutch...it works. It's not the best way to travel long distances. Other hybrids are designed for this...the i3 was optimized for maximum efficiency, not maximum range so compromises had to be made. Today, you can't get one configuration for everyone. Maybe never will.
Jim DeBruycker
2014 i3 BEV, 2021 X5 45e
(The i3 will be sold soon, <17K-miles, interested?)

viking79
Posts: 110
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:04 pm

Re: Is coast to coast road trip by i3 possible?

Tue May 01, 2018 6:43 pm

The Rex wasn't designed as a crutch, in Europe it allows holding at 75% charge, so it means you can maintain full power for quite a ways on the highway as long as you start with charge. The US they handicapped it pointlessly to let it get EV credits. Thankfully, that restriction can be lifted.

A person just has to realize the limitations that the engine only has a bit over 30 hp and since it only has a small buffer it means you are limited to lower speeds.

I do think it would be improved by a 75 hp engine, but then it would be less EV. Tradeoffs. I will regularly be making 200 mile trips in mine, it does well enough on the highway (I avoid interstates until I get my coding adapter).

Filling up gas is 20 times faster than charging it, only takes a couple minutes for a fuel stop. Even filling mine up 35 times over 2000 miles only added about 3 hours, less than 1 L2 charge, plus the rest breaks meant I was never tired.

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