BMW's simple solution to EV range anxiety?

BMW thinks that giving EV owners the option of getting a gas-powered car on loan could ease range anxiety.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

For the most part, running out of charge in an electric car isn't a problem as long as you can plug-in at home. In fact, BMW found out that having adequate range (in EVs with 100-mile range) was only a problem in 10 percent of daily trips. But for those times when electric car owners need to drive more than normal or go on long trips, the lack of charging infrastructure is a problem -- except for, maybe, Estonia. It's hard to justify spending the same amount or more on a car that can't get you where you need to go.

But BMW might just have a simple solution, Technology Review reports. Instead of adding a gas motor, like the Chevy Volt, or Tesla, which offers larger batteries that (for now) make the cars more expensive, BMW is planning to loan gas-powered cars to EV customers during times they might need a car to drive longer distances.

The cost of such a program could be worth it to BMW, if only for the marketing value, says Michael Omotoso, an analyst for LMC Automotive. It would both address customers’ concerns over range limits and prevent potential negative publicity that could come from frustrated drivers. He noted that Tesla’s fast-charger approach suffered a setback after a reviewer who was testing the charging network ran out of power and was stranded.

Details are light on this gas-car loaner program, but Technology Review says that the amount of times you can borrow a gas-powered car will be limited. More details will likely come as we get closer to the release of the company's i3 plug-in electric car. Mass production of the car is expected to begin later this year.

Without more details it's difficult to say if this program makes sense. (Does it cost for a loaner? How long can you actually use it? How easy is it to get a loaner car?) But considering all the best cases in those scenarios, would you rather have a loaner option or just a get a hybrid with a gas-powered motor?

BMW’s Solution to Limited Electric-Vehicle Range: a Gas-Powered Loaner [Technology Review]

Photo: BMW

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards