We’ve written before about the limitations of electric motorcycles, cars and trucks, all because the batteries we need have been promised for years, but always seem five or ten years off. I wouldn’t bring this up again except I noticed what seems to me to be a glaring surrender to reality on the part of BMW as they get ready to produce their i3 electric car.
BMW’s approach is based on several years of field testing with customers of prototype electric vehicles with a range per charge of about 100 miles. The automaker found that range was only a problem with about 10 percent of daily trips. It plans to provide a gas-powered loaner vehicle for these infrequent trips. “We offer you a fallback solution in case you purchase this car and then need to go on a 500-mile trip,” says Rolf Stromberger, BMW’s vice president of business environment and public affairs strategy.
As always, the company line is how few people really need the extra range on a regular basis, so for those “infrequent trips” they provide a fallback solution, a gasoline powered loaner. Of course, 10 percent of our daily trips means, perhaps, 30 times per year in their sample. Do you want to get a loaner that often, even 10 or 15 times? Of course, the rest of us don’t need a fallback, we just set our GPS and we’re off, without a detour to a dealer first to pick up our loaner and we don’t have to drive to the dealer to turn in our loaner when we get back. The number of times you can use the loaner each year is limited, too, but they didn’t say how many times.
They almost make it sound like there’s something wrong with you if you need or want to take frequent long trips, of course if you do, you won’t be looking at electric cars in the first place.
So, for $50,000 you get a car you can use for short range driving, but still requires a gasoline powered backup for longer runs. It looks like BMW got tired of waiting for the promised magic batteries, but they still felt they needed to produce an electric car because that’s what the greens and the government seem to expect these days. Customers? Not so much.
Hmm, … I wonder what we could use instead of batteries to power our vehicles, something with a lot of energy density, easy to quickly refill, available everywhere, … no, don’t tell me, I’ll think of it, … let’s see, what could it be?
Link: Technology Review