Early on, our readers knew about problems with Range Extender on the BMW i3 REx models. A class action law suit by claims 2014-2016 BMW i3 REx vehicles lose speed when switching from battery power to the gas-powered Range Extenders. When at high speeds or going up hills the range extender is engaged the BMW i3 models go so slow they become dangerous claims the suit. This lawsuit was filed before the latest recall that very small petite drivers without a seat belt can be severely hurt.
The plaintiffs say BMW promises the Range Extender doubles the range of the i3 from about 81 miles to 150 miles by using a two-cylinder 650cc gas-powered engine hat powers a generator to keep the battery at a constant level.
“But rather than a safe, reliable range-extended electric vehicle that could maintain battery charge and carry drivers and passengers to their destinations with “plenty of energy left,” BMW NA and BMW AG delivered a vehicle that essentially becomes a golf cart once the Range Extender feature is activated—suddenly and terrifyingly decelerating in the middle of fast-moving traffic. During this deceleration, the brake lights of the vehicle do not engage. Consequently, neither the driver of the REx vehicle, nor the drivers following the REx vehicle are put on notice of the abrupt deceleration, thus creating a safety hazard for the vehicle owner and other vehicles on the road.”
Plaintiff Thomas Munk on a short trip through Arizona, had to flahs his hazard lights most of the way, and was almost run over several times by semi-trucks. The lawyers claim that it is therefore practically impossible to get a range of 150 miles because the range depends on operating the vehicle in a dangerously under-powered condition.
NHTSA complaints include:
“I was traveling down a freeway at 75 mph, ssing my electric car. As the battery was almost out of juice, I knew the fuel range sxtender would kick in. However, when the extender kicked in, my mph immediately started to drop. Within the 15 seconds, I was down to 35 mph from the 75mph. I was traveling. I had the accelerator floored, but could not get any power to keep up with the flow of traffic .. Thank goodness there was not a car following close or a semi truck, I would be dead or in a serious accident if there was.”
The i3 REx lawsuit claims BMW charges $3,850 over the base price of the purely electric model so that plenty of energy is left for a trip
According to the lawsuit, BMW added an option for drivers to activate the Range Extender earlier than normal, when the charge was 75% or less, but the plaintiffs say that well before the release of the 2014 model year i3, BMW removed the holdstate-of-charge mode from vehicles offered for sale in the U.S. Neither BMW NA nor BMW AG tell consumers that when the Range Extender is activated, the charge level of the battery can drop well below 6.5.
They apparently changed the charge state because the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a “zero-emission-vehicle mandate” requiring automakers to allocate 15% of sales to zero-emissions vehicles by 2025. Under this mandate, BMW can earn credits for range-extended i3s as if they were pure battery-electric cars rather than hybrids, but only so long as the electric range meets or exceeds the gas range.
In order to receive a credit under California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, BMW NA and BMW AG worked together before the release of the 2014 model year i3 REx to remove the hold-state-of-charge feature from i3 REx vehicles sold in the United States.
The lawsuit also claims that in 2013 or earlier, BMW negotiated with the California Center for Sustainable Energy, which administers the clean vehicle rebate program of CARB, to be able to make necessary changes to the U.S. model of the BMW i3 REx so that it qualifies under the clean vehicle rebate program.
The original version of the European BMW i3 REx did not meet this criteria for approval, so the VMW modified the software of the European version Then BMW allegedly removed the function enabling a manual start of the Range Extender, limited the use of the fuel tank to 1.9 gallons and programmed the Range Extender to start only automatically when the car charge drops to 6.5 percent.
.By manufacturing and selling cars with defective Range Extenders, BMWNA and BMW AG defrauded their customers and engaged in unfair competition understate and federal laws,” contends the class action law suit.
The plaintiffs argue that while the Chevy Volt and the European-market BMW i3 can run fully under all conditions, the U.S. BMW i3 goes into “limp mode” where the vehicle slows rapidly, cannot accelerate and may not have functioning brake lights.
The plaintiffs say owners of 2014-2016 i3 REx cars have been defrauded by BMW as the automaker engaged in unfair competition under state and federal laws and caused the cars to diminish in value.
The court filing noted
“Autoconnectedcar.com published a review titled, “Why I’m Returning my BMW i3 After Three Months,” addressing the same problem—the inability of the i3 REx model to maintain performance while the Range Extender is engaged. “[T]he last straw,”describes the reviewer, “came when I was driving back from the Inland Empire, I was in the fast lane on the freeway. I ran out of battery power and the gasoline extension started. I couldn’t keep up with traffic and I had to pull over.”
The BMW i3 REx class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California – Barry Braverman, Hakop Demirchyan, Joel Green, Chevay Jones, Dr. Glynda Roberson, Edo Tsoar, Peter Weinstein, Thomas Munk, Peter Bernard, Lawrence Curcio, Naveen Parmeshwar, Adeel Siddiqui, Charles Olsen, Robert Desatnik, Eric Wonderly, John Lingsweiler, Steve Ridges and Brandon Redmond, v. BMW of North America, LLC, and BMW AG.