BMW i3 in Nordic winter

A strong reason to choose BMW over other electric car brands is that they know what brisk Northern climate may bring. They have lived up to expectations and the car has many smart features that make the car really good during winter time.It has built-in heat pump, insulated heated batteries, functionality to set heating preset times or start it immediately through an app; and has good traction control system.

Heat timer or direct start by app

With BMW iRemote and a car that is always online you can see interesting statistics about your car no matter where you are. For example, you see where it is, charging status and how far you can drive with it.

The function that we have come to use the most is the heat control. It is possible to set a specific time and whether if it should be applied only once or repeated every week (can set different schedules depending on day of week). This feature is really great and we use it almost every morning. When you step into the car it has heated interior and batteries. The energy is then from the wall outlet so that the full range can be used to drive.

Heat timer

Heat timer

It is also possible to start warming directly through the app. It is excellent if you do not know exactly when you are leaving. Maybe you’ve been to a meeting and as you wrap up you can start the heater.

If you start the heater in a fully charged car (but unplugged) fifteen minutes before leaving it will “cost” about 4 % of battery capacity, equivalent to 5 km range.

Start heating immediatly

Start heating immediatly

Heat pump reduces power consumption

BMW i3 has a heat pump as standard for all cars sold in Sweden. Unfortunately heat pump is only available on cars without Range Extender (REX). Cars with REX has no place for the heat pump, since the space is used by the combustion engine and fuel tank. A car with range extender has lower electric range partly because it does not have a heat pump and partly because it will need to carry 150 kg extra engine and fuel wherever it goes.

A heat pump reduces energy about 30% and since the display says that the interior heating consumes about 12 km during a charge cycle the heat pump should be able to increase the range 5-10 km.

Insulated batteries with heater

BMW has insulated batteries on the i3 and heats them to get the optimal energy. In the summer it will cool down the batteries. This is probably a feature that will make the driving range more stable during winter compared to for example the simpler design of the VW e -up.

Cold weather affects range

Obviously temperature affects an electric car negatively. Interior heating and reduced capacity from batteries will lower the range. With the car in comfort mode, heat on and a normal driving you can wintertime expect 80 – 100 km drive on a single charge (20 – 25 kWh / 100 km). That’s more than twice as much as we normally drive in a day.

But BMW says that one should be able to go 130-160 km on single charge – is that not true? Well, my experience is that if you turn off the heat and drive really carefully you can without difficulty drive at 12 kWh / 100km. But then it is neither convenient nor fun.

The driving is good with traction

After four weeks and about 1000 km of driving on Swedish winter roads, I am impressed by the car. A rear wheel drive with tremendous torque should be difficult to drive but it is not. The traction control system works well. It slips a little bit in the back at times but never so that it is unpleasant.

However, what is unpleasant is strong crosswind. It is noticeable in the car. I have not yet had strong crosswind and poor road conditions, but I suspect that the combination is worse in a BMW i3 than in other cars.

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27 thoughts on “BMW i3 in Nordic winter

  1. Am I right to expect that the i3 becomes less of a one pedal car in snow because the traction control has to limit regenerative braking to avoid the rear wheels locking so it becomes necessary to use the brakes more (gently of course) in order to bring front wheel braking into use? Presumably this also means that the heavy regenerative braking is less effective during your Winter.

    1. From my experience it is about the same, but if the roads are very slippery the regenerating breaks cannot slow down the car as much. But I would not say I use the brakes more during the winter – rather the opposite.

      1. Thanks for that. I can understand what you mean about using the brakes less in Winter. I guess most drivers who are energy conscious try to avoid using the brakes and rely on lifting off power early and coasting for maximum efficiency whether in an EV or not, I certainly do. If so, our driving style will often be close to a Winter one all year round.

      2. Hi.
        Have you bought swedish winter tires for the i3 or are you using the continental friction tires?
        If ao, did you have to buy a spare set of rims in aluminum or are there steel rims?

        1. Hi Stefan
          For winter tyres there is a choice between two rims: LM427 and LM428 (the rims are also available for summer tyres so you see them in the brochure). On the LM427 rim the price for the four wheels is 15900 SEK and on the LM428 19900 SEK.

          1. The winter tyres in france, cost approx 1100Eur
            Do you know if we can order them outside the BMW service?

          2. Hi, in response to Cristovao Mineiro, the Winter tyre and 427 wheel set was recently available from ProCarShop in Germany at €799 including VAT plus shipping which was a further €99 for me in the UK. They come fitted and balanced and include the tyre pressure sensors. It took just over a week from order to delivery in the UK. I’ve just checked the site and see the price has increased a little but still looks much better than buying from BMW. They also list the 428 set at €1299.

  2. Hej,
    Jag är eventuellt på väg att skaffa en i3 som tjänstebil. Är egen företagare. Har idag en Subaru Outback rent privat. En skön bil att köra men som rent krasst kostar rätt mycket pengar per mil. Jag bor och jobbar dessutom runt Stockholm och de flesta resorna jag gör är kopplade till korta resor. Handla, köra barn, till- från jobbet.
    Har du testat att använda SIXT för hyrbil för längre resor? Jag har fått info från BMW som säger att man som ägare av en i3 får medlemskap i SIXT Guldklubb. Jag börjar undra om jag inte skulle spara pengar rent privat på att göra mig av med Subarun, köra i3:an i jobb/privat med förmånsbeskattning och hyra bil på SIXT de gånger jag behöver det (kanske 2-3 dagar per månad i snitt).

  3. Thank you for this!
    Question about range on the highway. I live in Canada, so probably see similar weather as you do.
    What is your estimate on the range when going 120 kph in -20 C weather?
    Assume that the car is not pre-heated.
    Would you get 80 km on a charge?
    Assume you have the heater on, but you are in Eco Pro…
    Thanks very much.

    1. Hi

      The temperature never dropped to -20 C in Stockholm this winter so I would have to guess. In +5 C my experience is that you can go just under 100 km in 120 km/h. As written in a separate post (Range for Speed 2) you can dramatically increase range by decreasing speed.

      Eco pro mode is saving energy by stopping fast accelerations. It saves energy in city traffic but cruising a highway you are not doing a lot of fast accelerations anyway so I do not think you can expect a lot of extra range under those circumstances.

      Eco pro + is shutting down all heating, but if you travel in -20 C you do not want to do that. It could even be dangerous to do since you will eventually have condensation and ice on the inside of windshield. Eco pro + will also cap speed to 90 km/h to save energy.

      Conclusion is that you cannot use eco pro + if you want to travel 120 km/h in -20 C and eco pro is not going to give you a lot of help. If I was forced to guess you will probably be able to go about 80 km. If you decrease speed to 90 km/h you will probably be able to reach just over 100 km.

      1. This is very helpful, thank you.

        The reality is that it’s rarely -20 here in Toronto, more like -10 to -5C on average. It seems like ~90 km @ 120kph is probable at the avg temp, and maybe somewhat less ~70km? with the REx, since you lose about 20% with the extra weight and no heat pump, and the battery min. is 6% in Canada/US with REx

        And the REx would add another 70km, do you think?


  4. Hur är det med vinterdäck?
    Finns det att tillgå “nordiska” friktionsdäck?
    Fick du köpa till extra lättmetallfälgar eller finns det plåtfälgar?

    1. Hi Stefan
      For winter tyres there is a choice between two rims: LM427 and LM428 (the rims are also available for summer tyres so you see them in the brochure). On the LM427 rim the price for the four wheels is 15900 SEK and on the LM428 19900 SEK

      1. Hi BMWi3Owner and thanks for sharing your i3 knowledge with us!
        I have a question about winter tyres. For Winter 2014 there is actually a choice of two different ones: Bridgestone Blizzak LM500* and Bridgestone Blizzak NV M+S “Soft”, which is softer and according to BMW “developed for the Nordic Winter”.
        I live right outside Stockholm and shuttle drive mainly highway and city streets. Apart, of course , from my own street and drive way, which may be snowy and icy from time to time, the fact is that Stockholm area is mainly time snow and ice free during the winter. My question is: are the soft tyres, developed for Nordic Winter (eg Norrbotten, Nortn of Finland), the best choice even for Stockholm mainly muddy and ice free Winter and just ear too soon?


        1. Hi
          Good question. I asked BMW Stockholm and they recommended the softer for Nordic winter conditions so that is what I purchased. I also drive in Stockholm and these tyres work well. However, if the other tyres work better I cannot guarantee…

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for the information.

    Do you think it’s worth to buy original winter tires? Or how was it during the winter?
    Have you used winter tire, and it was onriginal or personally purchaed?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Kevin,
      The dimensions are very odd and I could not find any alternatives when the car was delivered to us in January. By Swedish law you need to have winter tires in when there is “winter conditions” so it was not much choice.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I’m also living in Sweden now.

        I was about to order but considering again winter season condition.

        Before, I drove 3 series sedan, not xDrive, was sometimes really hard to drive though winter tires were used (After that experience, I changed to X3, and of course, it was fantastic in winter)
        Hopefully, i3 is definitely better than normal rear wheel drive 3 series sedan..

        One more question, I have house and garage is “outside” of house.
        Do you think it will be OK to park i3 outside during the winter like me?
        Let alone snow, i mean cold weather during the night or several days for parking outside.

        Thanks and have a nice weekend.


        1. Im sure it is ok to park the i3 outside during winter. I have done it many times. What I have not tried is charging outside. The inlet on the car is robust but there has been concerns that the standard charger is only IP44. I think it should be ok, but if you will park outside everyday a wallbox of some sort could be advised.

  6. For accessories, e.g. winter wheels, you may try:

    They seem to have the original BMW parts at a very competitive price and do international shipping, at least within the EEC. I am going to order winter wheels style “428” at € 1299,- = app. 12000,- SEK. Shipping to Denmark is an other € 100,- but still much better than the local price 🙁

  7. Hi There,
    I am new to this forum. I live in Mississauga, Ontario Canada and just got my I3 (w/o REX) last month. i am also shoping around for my winter tires here. There is not much choice and i got quote from one dealer for $1500 CAD for
    BLIZZAK LM-500 ologic
    155/70 R19 84Q
    Any input on that. Also, for some reason i don’t know my App on iphone “i remote” does not recognize the car, i called the assistance many times, all they do is reset the password. No one knows what is the issue. As going through this forum i wanted to use the app but its not helping out. Any suggestions would be highly appriciated.

    1. Hi Puneet,

      Congratulations to the car!

      As you have probably already read in the post Winter tyres for i3 there is not much choice when it comes to tyres.

      Not sure what the iRemote problem could be. I had a problem with the app not updating the status of the car, but the issue disappeared. At least in the beginning some functions were a bit bugg in the iRemote app so I would suggest removing and adding the car in the BMW portal again, remove and add the app, etc. In my experience it then starts to work when you least expect it. Overall everything is fairly stable on my side now.

  8. Is there any problems with the regen braking causing rear end to skid?
    Do you just drive with normal DSC on or do you need to use DTC?

  9. Hi,

    If i read the specifikation on BMW Sweden web the REX modell should have the heatpump as standard is that thrue? according to the early comments

  10. Hej!
    Vi funderar på att skaffa en BMW i3 och jag undrar hur du gör med parkering. Vi bor i villa och har möjlighet till laddning på tomten. Dock har vi inget garage utan bilen skulle i så fall få stå utomhus året om. Fungerar detta på vintern?
    Tack för en informativ hemsida.


    1. Hi Erik,

      It should not be a problem to park or charge your car outside all the time. However, as the standard charger is only IP44, it is probably a good idea to install some kind of fixed charger that is better protected.

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