The BMW i3 Squared
The i3 is a springboard in the evolutionary scale for cars, as was the first fish that exited the sea. It’s not the answer, but it’s where Darwin would have started his search for the missing link in the ‘Origins of the Electric Species’.
When I was 25 and going away for a trip at the weekend, I threw a few things into the car (including my lucky date), checked I had enough petrol and was off. Everything else I may have needed I either bought en route or rushed around at midnight looking for it. The point is that I only needed one bag… a small one at that.
Today as I set off for a weekend away I still only needed one bag for me. And a Nike kit bag for all the ‘chargers’; phone charger, tablet charger, kindle, toothbrush, camera, torch, baby coms, and various game chargers. Oh, and apparently one for the car too! Now, I am all for the green planet (or is that blue, don’t dolphins have a say as well as LGBT activists?) but somewhere a ‘grid’ must be quietly smouldering, perhaps in Mr Burns’ Springfield power station with only Homer watching the results.
When I arrived at my destination which I booked on Secretcheapo.com, the manager’s face dropped as I ask for a wheelbarrow and two pit-crew with a forklift to unload my electric accessories. He then ran to the internal phone and warns ‘Scotty’ his janitor that he ”Needs More Power!” to room twenty-one as the Griswolds have arrived, and that he better increase the cooling system to the national grid and shut down the heating to the pool. What he didn’t expect was for me to say, “Where’s your outdoor plug for me car mate?” With a puzzled look on his face he replied, “We have a plug outside, but the Christmas lights are plugged into it…” And there you have it; it wasn’t the Grinch who stole Christmas, it was me in my “Ultimate Charging Machine”. The lights dimmed outside and the hotel plunged into darkness, but the Griswolds got to put another 80 miles on their BMW rubrics cube.
I like the i3 and I think it’s a springboard in the evolutionary scale for cars, as was the first fish that exited the sea. It’s not the answer, but it’s where Darwin would have started his search for the missing link in the ‘Origins of the Electric Species’. The interior is more ‘Ikea’ than ‘Harrods’, but the seats are better than Mr Musk can fit. The dash layout is bonkers and very distracting as your eyes switch from speedo to centre console for your next ‘bit’ of digital info. Nothing feels real, save the BMW circular centre menu control switch. Acceleration is quiet and rapid, 6.1 seconds to 60, but then if you do that a few times your range just went down to that of a Black Cab faced with going south of the river at midnight. On a wet road all hell breaks loose. I hit some leaves and the electric drive went momentarily catatonic with information and control overload. It coped, but for a second your foot on the throttle feels as much in control as your thumb did on a Scalextric controller. The real ‘topper’ is the ‘dolly’ generator that clearly some egghead thought would save the day when your batteries go all ‘not so ever ready’. When it kicks in it sounds like a little fridge in a caravan, something that Doc Brown would have fed with rubbish to fuel it with on his return from the future; not petrol which seems self defeating!
At £35,000+ this is a car for the City. Its progenies will look fondly at the I3 in much the same way Focus owners look at a Model T. And that’s a compliment. The horizon is full of exciting ‘leccie powered’ derivatives coming our way. If VW keep to their concepts we should see in less than 36 months (about the waiting time for a Tesla 3) a VW with power cells that will sell for a purported £20k – and it looks great!
So my feeling is that the I3 seemed like a good idea 10 years ago, and would have been the car of the future back then, but now we have ‘event horizons’ calling us and the future holds the evolutionary key. And it won’t be long; 36 months and we will all be going back to the future!