BMW’s i3 is one of the most popular EVs in the UK and Europe, and the only one available as both pure-EV and range-extended i3 REX. A battery upgrade in July 2016 improved the official range of the EV to 195 miles from the previous generation’s 118 miles, putting it among the best in its class in terms of distance capable on a single charge. Both EV and REX are eligible for the OLEV Category 1 Plug-in Car Grant, with up to £4,500 off the cost of a new i3 available from the UK Government. If buying the BMW, owners will also be eligible for the £500 Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme grant, reducing the overall cost of a fully installed home charge unit.
Next Green Car says: “Futuristic looks set the i3 apart from the competition, as does the driving experience which is first class.”
Find out more in the below Zap-Map BMW i3 charging guide.
BMW i3 Range
Official NEDC Range
BMW i3195 miles
BMW i3 REX195 miles electric - 276 miles inc. fuel use
BMW i3156 miles
BMW i3 REX156 miles electric - 221 miles inc. fuel use
BMW i3 Charging inlets
The BMW i3 uses the CCS charging standard, so only requires the one inlet. This incorporates a Type 2 inlet for slow and fast charging, with an additional expansion inlet attached to accept CCS rapid charger connectors.
|Type 2 – Slow & Fast||CCS – Rapid|
BMW i3 Charging times
Below is a table showing approximately how long it will take to charge a BMW i3 94 Ah. Times are for a 100% charge for all but rapid charging, which is quoted at the usual 0-80%.
It is worth noting that these times are only a guide as very rarely will an EV driver want to charge from 0%, preferring instead to keep some battery charge in hand. Other factors that might vary the charging time – either reducing it or extending the time taken – include the issue of battery capacities having upper and lower charge restrictions to extend battery life and protect against potential damage, and charging rates slowing down as maximum charge approaches.
The BMW i3 – both EV and REX – is fitted with an 11 kW on-board charger for all applications apart from Rapid 50 kW DC. This means that even when connected to a fast charger with a higher maximum output, the BMW i3 will only be able to accept up to 11 kW.
|Rapid 50kW||Fast 22kW||Fast 7kW||Slow 3kW|
|35 mins - 0-80%||3 hours - 0-100%||4:30 hours - 0-100%||11 hours - 0-100%|
How much does it cost to charge a BMW i3?
The table below shows a high level estimate of cost to charge the 33 kWh battery in the BMW i3 (EV or REX) at home or where a charge is made on the rapid charge network – many public points are free.
|Type||Cost/kWh||Cost to charge*||Cost per mile^|
|Home Economy 7||7p per kWh||£2.30||1.5 p/mile||Home Standard||11p per kWh||£3.60||2.3 p/mile||Public Rapid||£3 fee + 17p/kWh to 80% charge||£7.40||4.7 p/mile||Public Rapid||30p kWh to 80% charge||£7.90||5.1 p/mile|
* Approximate cost to charge a BMW i3 from 0% to 100%. Actual cost dependent on charge remaining, usable battery capacity, and age of battery pack.
^ Cost per mile calculated on real-world range for a more accurate figure than one based on official figures.
The BMW i3 should only cost around 1p-5p per mile to run, though that’s with a number of variables in your favour. Expect a cost of 2p-6p per mile for a more accurate real world cost, presuming that the majority of charging is done at home. Prices for a full charge are almost a worst case scenario, with very few drivers leaving their BMW i3 to get down to 0% charge before plugging in. In reality, costs will be around 80% or less than the quoted figures.
According to a Zap-Map survey, more than 80% of EV drivers charge their car at home, making it an important aspect of owning an electric vehicle. The most common level of charge for an EV to get down to before being charged at a public point is 21%-30%, with 60% of drivers surveyed starting charging between 11% and 40%. Only 11% of drivers regularly see a charge of 0%-10% before they start charging.
Charging a BMW i3 on public networks
The BMW i3 is able to be fast and rapid charged from public points, depending on network coverage. Fast charging will require a Type 2-to-Type 2 cable, often supplied with the vehicle. Rapid charging uses a CCS connector which is tethered to the charge point.
Costs vary network to network, but you can find out more by clicking on the button below, taking you to Zap-Map’s public network pages.
Charging a BMW i3 at home
Buying a BMW i3 will likely entitle you to an Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) grant. This will give you up to £500 off the cost of a fully installed charge point at home. Certain criteria need to be met, and off-street parking needs to be available too.
Costs vary depending on installer and charge point chosen, though you can find out more information by clicking on the button below.
BMW has its own charge unit so doesn’t set up recommendations with charge point manufacturers in the way that some other EV brands do. Chargemaster is listed as an official charging partner though, with literature and information available from the charge point supplier often found in dealerships.
Customers can buy an OLEV approved charge point from any supplier, as long as it is also fitted by an OLEV approved installer in order to qualify for the EVHS. Buying a BMW charge point might make life a little easier since the process can be started at the dealership, but it might be worth shopping about beforehand so you know what products and prices are on the market.
How to charge a BMW i3
The BMW i3 is available with the CCS charging standard – with the inlet found on the off-side rear 3/4 panel where you would expect to find a petrol flap.
The top portion of the inlet is for the Type 2 connector, which is for the leads used when charging at home or at public fast points. This cable will have a Type 2 connector at both ends – one to plug into the car, and the other for the charge point.
The extra section beneath the Type 2 inlet allows for the connection of a CCS rapid charger. This will be tethered to the rapid charger units so you don’t need to take the cable around with you.
Charging using either standard requires the user to simply plug the connectors into the correct port, before the car then ‘talks’ to the charging unit to make sure there is a power supply, that there are no faults, and that it is safe to start charging. If charging at home or at some work place charge points, there is no further need to activate the charging process.
In public though, there will usually be an activation process needed. Depending on the charge point provider, this will usually be an RFID card or smartphone app, often linked to an account you have already set up. Once activated, the car and charge point will have the same ‘conversation’ as when plugged in at home, before starting the charging process.