BMW Facing Lawsuit Over I3 REx Power Loss
Owners of BMW i3s equipped with optional range extenders — read: two-cylinder engine that generates electricity — are suing the automaker for an issue that could leave those drivers going slow in the fast lane.
According to Green Car Reports, the BMW i3 REx will drop down to 45 miles per hour under certain conditions, which some owners believe is a safety issue.
The class-action lawsuit alleges the small range extender isn’t strong enough keep up with motivational demand at highway speeds when the battery is nearly depleted. Engine and battery management software steps in and reduces the BMW i3’s speed to 45 mph so that battery charge can catch up with demand.
“The BMW i3 Range Extender feature is a dangerous instrumentality to the owners of the vehicles and to other motorists on the road,” said Jonathan Michaels of MLG Automotive Law, the firm handling the class-action suit. “Having a sudden and unexpected loss of power in a motor vehicle can result in a catastrophic situation for all those on the road. These cars are dangerous and should not be driven.”
Green Car Reports notes three of its editors have experienced the issue in addition to its many owners.
The outlet spoke with electric-car advocate Tom Moloughney, who is also a BMW i3 owner. He stated the issue mostly comes down to a lack of knowledge of how the range extender works, and refrained from blaming the i3 for a quirk that doesn’t affect any other vehicle on sale today.
“The biggest problem is the lack of information on how the REx works at the dealership level. I think if people understood how the range-extender system works, then there would be fewer problems,” Moloughney said.
A representative for BMW said the company can’t comment on pending litigation.
The BMW i3 REx stickers, without options, for $47,245, including destination.
[Image: © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]
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