Getting Started With Your New BMW i3

My “New” 2015 BMW i3 with REX

I recently purchased a used BMW i3 with the Range Extender (Rex) option. The i3 is a true electric car, not a hybrid. But, the model I bought does include a small gasoline-powered generator (the Rex) to help extend the range of the car when a charger isn’t available or convenient.

In addition to being electric, the i3 is different from other cars in many ways. For that reason, I’m writing this post to offer some tips to new owners of the BMW i3.

Read the Fine Manual

The first thing I’d recommend is to skim through the owner’s manual. I received a printed copy in a fancy case with my car. There are also electronic versions available through the car’s “infotainment” system and online at:

The printed version is generic, not tailored for your car. The version available electronically in the car is customized to the features of your car, but is awkward to search and available only when you are in the car. So, I recommend using the online version through the bmwusa link above. You can enter your car’s VIN so that the online version that you view will be accurate for your car’s options (until you start fiddling with coding!).

Reviewing the manual will help you discover little things about your car, such as how to move the second front cup holder into a useful spot, and more important things, such as how to use the accelerator pedal (which works differently than the pedal in most cars). Check out how to use the windshield wipers and headlights before you need them while driving.

ICE and ICEd – If you visit one of the online discussions about the BMW i3, you may come across the terms “ICE” and “ICEd” as in “I was ICEd by an ICE at the mall, yesterday.”

“ICE” is short for “Internal Combustion Engine” and is often used as a short-hand label for a typical gas-powered car.

Imagine that you are looking for a public charging station because your battery is low. You follow the directions in the PlugShare app only to discover that a gas-powered car (an ICE) is parked in the space by the charging station, blocking you from using it. You have been ICEd!

Hurry Up and Stop

Your first time driving the i3 will probably be a unique experience. The electric motor provides instant and quick acceleration. And, when you lift your foot off the “gas” pedal, the car will break … oops I mean brake! The car will slow quickly, not fall apart.

The car automatically turns on the brake lights when appropriate even if you don’t press the brake pedal.

It takes a while to get accustomed to this kind of driving. But, soon, you will find yourself seldom pressing the brake pedal except to hold the car still at stop signs and red lights.