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.
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.
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.