Test Drive and Highway Manners

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duanew

Active member
Joined
Mar 25, 2023
Messages
29
Hello. I am looking at buying my first electric car and making it an i3. I test drove one a couple days ago and have a few comments or questions.

My main question is this. I took the car out onto the highway and at about 60mph I had a hard time holding the i3 in the middle of the lane. It was a 2014 REX. Is this typical of these cars or was it an alignment issue on this one? I plan on test driving another one soon. My truck on the same road can be driven with a very gentle hand and kept straight.

The one pedal driving is different, especially when most of my cars have been manual transmissions.

I really dislike not having the ability to halt the charging at 80% like basically every other electric vehicle out today. I have had lithium batteries for many years in different devices such as radio control car and airplanes, Onewheel, electric unicycle, and tools. It seems like a step backwards to not be able to help with the health of the battery. It is almost a deal breaker for me.

At the end of the test drive and I had it in park, the salesman unbuckled his seatbelt. The car continually bonged after that. Really? It is in park. I hope that can be modded to stop doing that.
 
I have had both a regular i3 and a few i3s models. If you want more stability, get the i3s. It's just a better ride and overall a nicer car. The regular i3 models can get a little darty at speed...that's their nature due to the thin tires and the dynamics of the car. I rarely experience that with my i3s.

Regarding charging to 80%. I think this is a a very over-rated issue especially for later year models like 2017's and on. People worry far too much about battery health and such when in fact that pack will outlast both you and the car.

Other things like interior sounds, etc. That's the style of the car. I'm sure it can be programmed to stop doing that but it doesn't bother me since I don't sit in the vehicle while it's on and stay there.

Drive a newer version and if you don't like that, then this car isn't for you. However, if you are overly concerned about the charging limit, then this car isn't for you at all. You'll think about it all the time and it'll consume you.
 
duanew said:
My main question is this. I took the car out onto the highway and at about 60mph I had a hard time holding the i3 in the middle of the lane. It was a 2014 REX. Is this typical of these cars or was it an alignment issue on this one? I plan on test driving another one soon.
I bought a new 2014 BEV. One of the first things I noticed was its dartiness at highway speeds. Its steering is pretty quick which exacerbates this behavior. My feeling is that there's enough stiction in the steering that unconscious corrections don't occur with normal steering force applied. Then as the steering force is increased, suddenly the stiction is overcome and overcorrection occurs. This repeats over and over making it feel that an i3 can't easily be driven in a straight line. I experienced no abnormal tire wear and no pulling to either side, so I think the alignment was within spec.

The stiction might just be the force necessary to move the steering wheel before the electric power steering assist kicks in which suddenly reduces the steering force resulting in overcorrection. However, the i3 is the third car I've owned with electric power steering. The previous two didn't have this behavior.

Rolling resistance is decreased by reducing the toe adjustment so that the front tires point almost straight ahead. With the low usable battery pack capacity of early i3's, BMW did many things to increase range. So the i3 might have less toe in than most vehicles. Toe in adds a bit of opposing steering force which eliminates any play in the steering linkage reducing the tendency of tires to follow road grooves. Maybe adjusting the toe in to the maximum within spec would reduce the tendency to wander.

I replaced my 2014 i3 with an essentially identical 2019 i3. The new owner of my 2014 noticed this wandering and asked whether it could be fixed. My 2019 i3 does not wander at highway speeds. Some have surmised that the slightly greater weight of a 2019 might have made it more stable. My theory is that the electric power steering was improved, maybe in software. However, both my 2014 and 2019 i3's have November, 2018, system software, so I would think that the electric steering software is similar or identical on both. Or maybe the toe in of my 2019 happens to be greater even though I don't believe that the alignment spec has changed.

Whatever the explanation, I adjusted to this wandering such that it didn't bother me. I just noticed it and realized that I hadn't experienced this behavior with any other vehicle.

duanew said:
The one pedal driving is different, especially when most of my cars have been manual transmissions.
I really like the i3's one-pedal driving and would not buy another EV without it. I adapted to it very quickly. I adjust the speed, acceleration, and deceleration in almost all circumstances by just adjusting the power pedal position. It's become easy to coast by adjusting the power pedal position so the power gauge is displaying neither propulsive nor regenerative power. There seems to be a significant power pedal position range where coasting occurs making it easier to do. My brake rotors have rusty surfaces from infrequent use :)

duanew said:
I really dislike not having the ability to halt the charging at 80% like basically every other electric vehicle out today. I have had lithium batteries for many years in different devices such as radio control car and airplanes, Onewheel, electric unicycle, and tools. It seems like a step backwards to not be able to help with the health of the battery. It is almost a deal breaker for me.
I agree! However, an indicated 100% charge level is actually ~95% of the actual maximum charge level because the BMS makes the top 5% unusable. The bottom 10% is also unusable. The BMS' of some EV's (e.g., Tesla vehicles) don't have an unusable upper charge level buffer, so charging them to an indicated 100% would actually be 100% which would increase the battery cell degradation rate. I feel that charging and leaving an i3's battery pack at 95% of its actual maximum charge level is still too high for maximum battery pack life, but most i3 owners don't share my belief or concern. Unfortunately, the 60 Ah battery cells in many 2014-2016 i3's have degraded more rapidly than many expected, but many haven't, and this discrepancy doesn't seem attributable to how they charged their i3's. Maybe there was a quality control problem with these cells. The good news is that 94 Ah and 120 Ah battery cells in later i3's seem very resistant to degradation.

I have learned the charge level increase percentage per hour of my home EVSE. In my case, if I unplug the EVSE an hour before the full charge completion estimate displayed on the instrument panel when charging starts, the displayed charge level will be ~90% which is ~85% of the actual maximum charge level. I set an alarm on my watch to remind me when to unplug my EVSE, so limiting the charge level hasn't been a big problem.

duanew said:
At the end of the test drive and I had it in park, the salesman unbuckled his seatbelt. The car continually bonged after that. Really? It is in park. I hope that can be modded to stop doing that.
The behaviors of modern BMW's and Minis are governed by the values of parameters associated with various electronic modules. The BimmerCode smartphone app can change the values of many of these parameters thus changing various behaviors. I've used BimmerCode to silence most of the many annoying bongs and have eliminated all of the warning screens that are displayed when an i3 is started.
 
I have a 2018 REX. The steering is OK at highway speed, but the car is sensitive to strong crosswinds. Did you test drive in strong windy condition?
 
Arm said:
Drive a newer version and if you don't like that, then this car isn't for you. However, if you are overly concerned about the charging limit, then this car isn't for you at all. You'll think about it all the time and it'll consume you.

I will try to find a newer car to drive. I really like the car. I hope I can not worry about it too much.
 
EvanstonI3 said:
You are worried about the life of a 9 year old Battery?

Actually yes and no. I had never intended to purchase the 2014 that I test drove. It is just the closest one that I could go an look at. I tend to keep my cars a very long time, so I might be one day worrying about a 9 year old battery.
 
alohart said:
I bought a new 2014 BEV. One of the first things I noticed was its dartiness at highway speeds. Its steering is pretty quick which exacerbates this behavior. My feeling is that there's enough stiction in the steering that unconscious corrections don't occur with normal steering force applied. Then as the steering force is increased, suddenly the stiction is overcome and overcorrection occurs. This repeats over and over making it feel that an i3 can't easily be driven in a straight line. I experienced no abnormal tire wear and no pulling to either side, so I think the alignment was within spec.

Looking back I think this is exactly what I was experiencing. The car would just keep going back and forth across the lane and seem like it took too much to barely move the steering wheel to the center. I wonder if there is another reason for this stiction besides the electric assist steering. There was some wind but it did not seem like that was causing my issues.

alohart said:
The behaviors of modern BMW's and Minis are governed by the values of parameters associated with various electronic modules. The BimmerCode smartphone app can change the values of many of these parameters thus changing various behaviors. I've used BimmerCode to silence most of the many annoying bongs and have eliminated all of the warning screens that are displayed when an i3 is started.

I do not like all the warning messages but I am glad there is a way to get rid of them.
 
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