By on September 28, 2018

Originally dubbed the “Mega City Vehicle,” BMW’s i3 garnered a lot of positive attention for its modern styling and adherence to alternative-energy powertrains when it launched in 2014. This did not translate into sales, however. As its former name implies, the i3 isn’t incredibly useful outside of an urban environment due to its meager range. Customers seem to have noticed. Despite moving 11,024 units in the United States in 2015, BMW looks to be on pace for half that volume this year.

For 2019, the automaker is offering the little EV with a new 42.2-kWh battery, which Bimmer says is good enough for 153 miles of all-electric driving. That’s a significant improvement over the the current 33-kWh model’s 115 miles of electric range and an absolute triumph over the i3’s initial 60 Ah (roughly 18.8 kWh) cell, which was only good for about 80 miles.  (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2018

It seems like we get a new update about Mazda’s plan for the rotary engine every few months. The automaker kept tinkering with the technology after the RX-8’s demise, but efficiency mandates left the high-revving Wankel on the sidelines, prohibiting the introduction of a true successor to the rotary coupe. Yet the motor hung around as the company’s likely solution for hybrid cars, recharging the battery while electric propulsion takes care of forward momentum.

While that makes the probability of an RX-9 sound rather bleak, the company doesn’t want anyone to give up hope. Mazda still desires such a vehicle and the company’s European vice president of communications, Wojciech Halarewicz, has basically said it will be a done deal if they can find enough money in the budget for a flagship sports car. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2018

Nissan Note e-power

After a year’s worth of build-up, Nissan has finally confirmed it will bring its backward-working “e-Power” series hybrid system to the United States. Unlike a conventional hybrid, e-Power drivetrains use an internal combustion engine to generate electricity for an exceptionally small battery. However, the gas-burner doesn’t also drive the wheels — it only runs at a constant speed to charge the battery pack. All propulsion is handled by an electric motor, making the internal combustion unit a full-time “range extender.”

According to the automaker, the end result is a car with the characteristics of a battery-electric vehicle with an exceptional range and no slow-charging plug-in requirements. Cars using the e-Power system don’t even come with an electrical port. Nissan was spotted testing a few Notes equipped with the system last year in Michigan — presumably to get them ready for the North American market. But, despite e-Power seeming like the perfect way to create a low-cost EV (the bizarro hybrid Note retails for $19,000 in Japan), executives are suggesting the technology will initially arrive on higher-priced nameplates.  (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2016

2015 BMW i3 Range Extender, Image: © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

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.

(Read More…)

By on November 25, 2015

audikey

Good news! That “mysterious device” that extends the reach of keyless entry systems so meth heads — um — ICP fans — er — idiots can rummage through your car and borrow your wallet, purse or golf clubs without bringing them back is now on sale!

For 15-percent off for the holiday weekend only, you can have your own Chinese-made codes that totally won’t be used for going through your neighbor’s Prius and stealing his iPod.

The code scanner uses “brute force” or “nerd magic” to pick up key codes and open car doors. The device sells for around $100 on many easily found sites, but for savvy shoppers looking to spend their saved dough on cheap cough syrup, it’s 15-percent off for you!

(Read More…)

By on March 20, 2015

2015 BMW i3 Range Extender
Some call it a hybrid, some call it an EV. Some have called it a REx, a BEVx, a landmark vehicle in EV production, and others simply call it ugly. One things is for sure however, the 2015 BMW i3 turns more heads in Northern California than a Tesla Model S. Not since I last drove the Jaguar XKR-S have I received as many questions while parked at the gas pump, or visited a gas pump so frequently, but I digress. In a nutshell, the i3 is technically a hybrid or an EV depending on the version you get.

(Read More…)

By on July 11, 2014

Mazda-2-Range-Extender1

The oft-rumored Mazda2 RE PHEV, powered by a range-extending rotary engine, may soon become reality, appearing sometime after the next-gen hatch debuts in showrooms between October and the new year.

(Read More…)

By on June 25, 2014

mercedes-benz-b-class-ed

Mercedes-Benz is offering a range extender option for the new all-electric B-Class, but it’s not what the name suggests.

(Read More…)

By on March 19, 2013

The gasoline range-extender that will be optional in BMW’s i3 electric car will be built by Kymco, a Taiwanese firm that is best known for its scooters.

(Read More…)

By on February 25, 2013

The Tesla vs. New York Times controversy has finally left the news cycle, forgotten in less time than it takes a Model S to juice up at a Supercharger station.  Meanwhile, BMW is ready to introduce its new range of “i” vehicles, which will conveniently dodge the whole question of range anxiety.

Select European outlets were invited for ride-alongs in BMW’s new i3 city car and i8 supercar. The impressions gleaned from ride-alongs are generally next to worthless, but the technology being used by BMW is worth examining. Rather than a pure EV, BMW will be adopting a three-pronged approach – a pure EV, a range extender and a plug-in hybrid.

(Read More…)

By on August 29, 2012

The rotary engine and Mazda have had a tumultuus, on-and-off relationship that rivals an Old Hollywood marriage. Market conditions and government regulations have made mass production of the rotary a constant challenge, and the death of the Mazda RX-8 looked like the final nail in the Wankel’s coffin.

(Read More…)

By on May 31, 2012

While on the Infiniti JX launch event, I met a gentleman who now works with Nissan. He had a number of interesting stories about his tenure at GM, and what it was like to work on the EV1 program, as well as the technology that he swears was the forerunner to the Chevrolet Volt.

(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2012

Despite Toyota’s announcement of a new generation of RAV4 EV, mostly for CARB compliance, it seems that RAV4 EV production has never really stopped – at least not on a one-off basis.

(Read More…)

By on March 8, 2012


Consumer Reports recently bought a Fisker Karma, which ended up breaking down in the driveway of their vehicle testing facility.

(Read More…)

By on March 1, 2010

The Wankel rotary engine returns to its native land at last. Since the NSU Ro 80 went out of production in 1977, Mazda has been the keeper of the flame. But Audi has announced that it will show an A1 e-tron concept at the Geneva show this week, and the pug-in will feature a single-rotor Wankel range extender (gen set). Rotaries and micro-turbines have often been suggested as the ultimate range extenders due to their compact size and low weight. (Read More…)

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