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2014 BMW i3 Electric Car: Why California Set Range Requirements, Engine Limits

The 2014 BMW i3 electric car, which we drove last week, is generating intense interest among both plug-in proponents and BMW fans.

Among other things, it’s the first car in the world offered with an optional range-extending engine, at an increased cost of $3,850.

MORE: 2014 BMW i3: First Drive Of BMW’s Radical New Electric Car

But versions of the BMW i3 that are fitted with the range extender have been very specifically designed to meet California regulations on what it deems the “auxiliary power unit.”

The APU, which maintains battery charge at about 30 percent after the pack has been depleted in normal use, is strictly limited in the additional range it can provide.

2014 BMW i3, 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

2014 BMW i3, 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

According to rules adopted in March 2012 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the 2014 BMW i3 with a REx unit fitted will be the first car to qualify as a “BEVx,” or range-extended battery-electric vehicle.

That’s described as “a relatively high-electric range battery-electric vehicle (BEV) to which an APU is added.”


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