BMW i3 Range Extended Models Sit Idle For Lack Of Stickers


You know what a Monroney sticker is? It’s that large official looking notice pasted on the window of every new car sold in America. It tells you the price of the car, what options it has, how much the transportation charge is and what its EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings are. It is a federal offense for a new car NOT to have a Monroney sticker.

BMW is smack in the middle of rolling out its new, all electric i3 model. The car is selling well, but there is strong demand for the Extended Range version, which adds a small gasoline engine (and another 80 or so miles of driving range) to get you to the next charging station if you run out of juice before your ride is over. The regular, EV-only version of the BMW i3 is rated at about 81 miles of driving per charge.

Unlike other plug-in cars, such as the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-in, the engine in the BMW i3 REx model is not meant for constant use. It is more of a “limp home mode” to keep drivers from being stranded along the road. BMW has thousands of the REx cars sitting at ports, readyto be delivered, but they can’t be sold because they have no Monroney sticker yet.

That’s because the EPA has not yet decided what the correct mileage estimates should be for the car. They have never seen anything quite like it before. For ordinary plug-in cars, the EPA comes up with a miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) based on a government standard that says one gallon of gasoline equals 33.7 kilowatt/hours of electricity. The REx is new technology that doesn’t fit in the usual EPA pigeonholes. Before the agency can determine its MPGe, first it must devise new protocols to evaluate the car’s performance. Bureaucracy often has a hard time with new ideas.

So until the  EPA figures it out, the cars sit.

All of which begs the question: what earthly good is the Monroney sticker anyway? I bought a Prius in 2007 that was rated 60 mpg city and 50 mpg highway. In three years of driving, I averaged 42 mpg. Now, 42 mpg is not bad, especially compared to the ridiculously low fuel economy of America’s favorite vehicle, the Ford F-150. But it was a long way from the EPA estimates, so far off that the EPA is forced to constantly revise their rating system reflect more real world numbers.

My guess that all those REx buyers out there waiting for their new car to arrive at the showroom couldn’t care less about the Monroney sticker. They already know more about the car than the EPA will ever know. They just want to be driving their new cars. Today.

Source: Transport Evolved

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.