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So a funny thing has happened to my family since getting our 2017 Volt. We've been car enthusiasts for a long time and have had a plethora of mid-performance vehicles from GTIs and MINIs to various BMWs. Most recently, our daily drivers have been a BMW M235i coupe and a Porsche Macan S.

My job requires me to drive around from school to school in the district and pays me for my mileage. I've wanted an electric car for a while and decided it made sense to swap the 2 for the Volt. I average about 30 miles a day and the 2's fuel economy in town was kind of ridiculous for such a small car. Not to mention its performance capabilities were just woefully wasted on the streets of our little town. Well, not always wasted, actually sometimes a nuisance. The 25 mph speed zones around the schools were laughably easy to accidentally break in a tiny car with 322 hp, as evidenced by an official warning from Russellville's finest.

So we made the decision to part ways with the 2 and get the Volt, and the realities of driving an electric car started to take hold. I drove for two weeks straight without using a drop of gas. At my local electrical rates, I've done a back-of-the-envelope calculation and figured that since I use about half the car's charge for a typical daily commute, I spend about $0.22 per day in electricity. The district pays me $0.42 per mile to drive, so there's a win.

My other half, excuse me better half, has been using the Macan as his daily driver. While that car is audibly rewarding and the fit and finish is second to none at that price, it just started becoming more and more obvious that the 17 mpg in town he was getting compared to my 'infinite' mpg was maybe not so worth it. So we started toying around with the idea of getting a second electric car. Initially we thought it would be best to wait for the Bolt but we decided it would be best to get something with a range extender like the Volt. Arkansas is called 'The Natural State' for a reason. Lots of instances where trips can be long and civilization can be far between.

The problem is, range-extended electric cars are...well....quite limited. The Prius Prime was a nope from the moment I saw the new generation. Ick. Ford's C Max was also a nope, kinda for the same reason. We've been Bimmer fans for a long time and that brought us to the i3.

Now in the exterior looks department, it's kind of difficult to give the i3 any accolades. The Volt has a sleek, aerodynamic design that is visually appealing. The i3 is kind of the antithesis to that. Blocky, upright, weird. But getting in and driving it made the decision for us. Acceleration produces giggles and the interior is like stepping into a modern artsy apartment.

So earlier this week, we said goodbye to the Macan and hello to the 2017 BMW i3 REx. She'll do around 100 mi on a charge, and up to 180 mi with the range extender. Unlike the Volt, the i3's range extender (being a 2 cylinder) isn't capable of producing enough energy for the battery to keep it running at interstate speeds, but it is more than capable to keep it running at normal highway speeds. So the Volt will become our longer distance cruiser, and the i3 will more or less be for shorter journeys.

Now we're day-dreaming of a few years from now when we can install a large solar array in the field behind the house to provide all the electricity we need for home and transport.

Before getting the Volt, I would never in my right mind have imagined getting rid of a car like the Macan for something like the i3. But really, driving a car like the Volt can change a person.

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The i3 was a close second to the Volt when I was making my decision to purchase.

Look into getting the software "hacked" to European spec. The ability to engage the REX at 75% battery really increases the range.
 

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Great story. And yes, the Volt can change a person indeed. And in doing so, the Volt can lead to change in an industry!

Congrats on your i3. Sounds like it will fit your needs well. I for one, can't stand the exterior design and that alone is enough for me to never consider owning one. The Gen 2 Volt's sleek, sporty design has gotten me lots of compliments in two weeks of ownership and I have really come to appreciate its lack of visual quirks.
 

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Great story. And yes, the Volt can change a person indeed. And in doing so, the Volt can lead to change in an industry!

Congrats on your i3. Sounds like it will fit your needs well. I for one, can't stand the exterior design and that alone is enough for me to never consider owning one. The Gen 2 Volt's sleek, sporty design has gotten me lots of compliments in two weeks of ownership and I have really come to appreciate its lack of visual quirks.
Absolutely understandable! I remember the first time I saw one when running through the Amsterdam airport in 2013 I thought "ohh neat" followed shortly by "ewww WTF?" I guess the looks have grown on me in the last 3 years, or maybe I just became numb. I think it'll be a good companion for the Volt and a great way to avoid buying gas most of the time.
 

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SkepTeach - How do you feel the i3's low speed ride quality and freeway handling compare to your Volt. I did a 3 day test drive of the "smaller battery" i3 a year+ ago and the short wheelbase couple with a what I considered to be poor suspension tuning made it ride rough at low speeds and it had darty freeway handling to boot. I loved the performance and fun to drive hot hatch factor, but I knew the ride would get "old" quick. Most reviews have noted the same. However, the 2017s with the larger battery and considerably more weight (particularly the rex version) MAY have tamed this down somewhat (note: I've owned two BMW M cars so the old "BMW's ride sporty, you are probably aren't used to them" doesn't really apply to me). ... and yes, I sold my 2002 BMW M5 back in 2012 to get a Volt. Electrics do sort of ruin you as a "car guy" sometimes!

Thanks!
 

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Way to be. Two EV household must be amazing. Ive tried over and over again to get my wife to drive an i3, but we can't seem to get over the looks.

and yes, I sold my 2002 BMW M5 back in 2012 to get a Volt. Electrics do sort of ruin you as a "car guy" sometimes!

Thanks!
Is this the most insane thing in the world to explain to your car friends? Mine think I am nuts. Ive had Z4M, 335i, 335d and driven most of BMWs range over the past 15 years. Nothing compares to driving electric. Each time I drive a gasoline car I wonder why anybody would do that?
 

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I think that's great. Yeah, not going to the gas station grows on you. Were you in a CARB state it might have made sense to wait a few months for the Bolt EV -- faster, better handling, more range, more room, and a cheaper price. Unfortunately might be a while before Bolts show up in Arkansas.

Enjoy your new electric experience!
 

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I definitely pitted the i3 against the Volt before I went for the Volt back in June. The i3 really lost out for me because the larger battery was still months away and the price differential just wasn't justified for me. I would liked to have considered the Bolt, but it was clearly well over a year away from showing up in Western Virginia. I have yet to see another Gen2 Volt in the wild here, though I have evidence that at least three others have passed through local dealers.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
SkepTeach - How do you feel the i3's low speed ride quality and freeway handling compare to your Volt. I did a 3 day test drive of the "smaller battery" i3 a year+ ago and the short wheelbase couple with a what I considered to be poor suspension tuning made it ride rough at low speeds and it had darty freeway handling to boot. I loved the performance and fun to drive hot hatch factor, but I knew the ride would get "old" quick. Most reviews have noted the same. However, the 2017s with the larger battery and considerably more weight (particularly the rex version) MAY have tamed this down somewhat (note: I've owned two BMW M cars so the old "BMW's ride sporty, you are probably aren't used to them" doesn't really apply to me). ... and yes, I sold my 2002 BMW M5 back in 2012 to get a Volt. Electrics do sort of ruin you as a "car guy" sometimes!

Thanks!
Honestly I was a little worried about how the car would feel at high speed because of how short and tall it is, or how it might handle road undulations or tram lining because of the tires, but so far I've been very impressed. We drove it back to Arkansas from Tulsa, so that required quite a bit of interstate travel and it was fine. The only downside was that we had to reduce speed once the battery was depleted because the little generator can't produce enough charge for the battery to keep it going at high speed. I had read about owners being forced down to 45 mph in those situations so to mitigate it, we varied between 60-65 mph and it was fine. That's definitely one advantage the Volt has with its larger generator. There was very little wind buffeting I noticed, which kind of surprised me. In town, you can really tell how short the wheel base is when you hit successive bumps and the whole car sort of...bucks. But nothing too terrible.

So definitely not as normal of a ride as the Volt, but perfectly acceptable for us.

I still have a 2003 BMW Z3 3.0i (25k original miles!) in the garage for those occasional weekend good weather jaunts where I want some top down fun, but I am almost certain that from here on out, our DDs will be EVs.
 

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Whenever I see an I3, I always wonder how many clowns are going to jump out of it.
Probable more than a few. I swear that car is like the TARDIS.
 

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But nothing like this Austin Mini I used to have.
 

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Love the picture of the Austin!
It's great to see car people who get into EV's, it give us some cred.
 

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It's great to see car people who get into EV's, it give us some cred.
My trade for the Volt was a 2005 Magnum HEMI. I used to be all 'V-8 will never die'. Now, I'm considering a CT6 PHEV to replace an ELR later down the road.

The ELR easily gets up to 90mph with little effort and has more left. Good enough. Best road car I have ever owned. The seats are amazing.
 
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