First Impressions: BMW I3 REx – Too Futuristic For Malaysia Right Now

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First Impressions: BMW I3 REx - Too Futuristic For Malaysia Right Now

The most interesting BMW at the Malaysia Autoshow 2018 (MAS2018) was the BMW i3. It is one of the very few electric cars in Malaysia besides the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe at the time of writing.
Battery charging socket is at the back and the fuel filler cap is at the front.

Brief Overview Of The BMW I3

The test unit BMW i3 was the range extender version which means that it has a 647 cc backup generator in case of an emergency. The back-up engine does not power the wheels but only serves to charge the battery.
The car is made of carbon fibre to keep the weight down and most of the stuff in the interior is made from recycled material. With the lack of the B-pillar, the BMW i3 looks very unorthodox.
The dashboard materials are mainly recycled materials

Brief Look At The BMW I3 Specifications

With one electric motor powering the rear wheels, a total power output and maximum torque of 183 PS &270 Nm are obtained.
Without the range extender, the 42.2 kWh battery offers up to 260 km of range.
The main battery is at the back. No spare tyre here.

The Road Tax Loophole

The interesting thing about the BMW i3 REx is that the back-up generator is considered as an engine by the Malaysian authorities. What that means is that the road tax is only calculated based on the 647 cc displacement, and only amount to RM 42.
Fortunately for BMW, even the road tax for the non-range-extender version, the BMW i3s, is calculated similarly.
Had the road tax been calculated based on the EV hierarchy, the BMW i3’s road tax would be around RM 724.

What Was It Like To Drive?

It has instantaneous torque which is a great introduction for first-time EV drivers. It is very quiet on the inside, and the interior feels futuristic and minimalistic with a hint Hippieness.
The gear selector is positioned on the right side of the steering wheel and utilises an electronic parking brake.
I didn’t have the chance to hear the back-up engine running, but was curious to see how it would have elevated the cabin noise.
One thing you need to get used to is the regenerative braking that kicks in as soon as you lift off the throttle. You can’t coast in the i3.
The BMW i3 is a head turner for sure, but perhaps a little too ambitious for the Malaysian market right now.
Arif Chan
With a deep interest and relevant experiences in the automotive industry, Arif writes about everything automotive. His employment history includes being an automotive engineer, a highway engineer, an alternative-fuel researcher, and a motoring journalist.