BMW i3

Subscribe to This – I Don’t Think So.

About two weeks ago, the iPhone app that I use to talk to my car stopped working. For the last 18 months, I have been able to use the BMW Connected app to do things like climatize my i3 before I get in so it’s cool or warm depending on the weather. I can track my driving habits to see how efficient I am and get tips on how to improve my driving to extend my electric range. Or send destinations to the car so when I get in, it knows where I’m headed, and the navigation system is ready to go. Like I said, this all ended a couple of weeks back.

My first I thought it was an app bug since iOS had recently upgraded. My initial thought was OK BMW simply needs to upgrade their software to work with the latest version of iOS. This however turned out not to be the case. What happened is, BMW like so many other companies in the world have gone to a subscription model requiring me to make an annual purchase in order to get the most features out of my car.

I have a couple of issues with this. First off cars aren’t cheap and if I’m shelling out a large chunk of change for my daily driver, I should get all the features that came with the car in perpetuity. Second, it’s not costing BMW anything for my iPhone to talk to my car. There is no proprietary network involved, no server farm to maintain, no hardware to be upgraded. It’s my phone, communicating directly with said automobile. So, in my opinion, this subscription sucks.

The problem I have is this. BMW knows how many people depend on the Connected Drive service. They also know that as cars become dependable and last longer, they require less service or the need to replace them. The average car is now on the road for 10 years or longer. That means BMW has to make up the revenue somewhere else and asking their customer/drivers to pay up for software as a service was a logical step.

The thing is, I’m getting tired of being nickeled and dimed to death by company after company asking me to open my wallet on a monthly or yearly basis so I can access something I already paid for or would like to buy once and upgrade as needed. It’s why I buy my iPhone outright and upgrade every 3 to 4 years. Yes, I don’t need a new iPhone every 12 months.

Another great example of this is my home security system. I have multiple Arlo Ultra cameras installed at my house. I bought the hardware; I have everything backing up to the base station via a memory card. I got the Arlo set up because it has some great features like package detection, monitoring zones, HD recording, etc. The problem is most of the features you get with the camera die after one year unless you are willing to pony up more money in an annual fee. Money for things that really don’t require anything on Arlo’s end like package detection, push notifications, 4K recording to your base station, two-way communication to the cameras via my iPhone.

Once again, I bought the hardware and because Arlo knows that is probably a one-time purchase, or a repurchase that will only happen if the hardware were to fail after the warranty runs out, they need or I should say want, another revenue stream. Like BMW, they got me hooked on the feature set and now want to charge me for it. It feels like that classic drug dealer scam, “I’ll give you a taste and if you like it you can get some more from me later”. Get them hooked then charge them for it.

It seems like everyone is going to the subscription model and I don’t see any company ever going back. It’s like the 21st century form of leasing a product that is designed to make you think you are getting the benefit of new shiny stuff on a regular basis, when you really don’t need it. I get subscriptions for streaming services. You are paying for content, infrastructure, storage, bandwidth, convenience. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Spotify are what the cable companies used to be. Software companies like Adobe and the Creative Cloud subscription offer the convenience of having the latest feature set, and individuals are making money off of what they create using the software provided.

Subscriptions like these seem more logical to me. I’m paying for content or software not hardware and related services that are not dependent on cloud-based storage, streaming, or bandwidth. I’m paying for features that allow me to get the full functionality of that pricey piece of hardware that I purchased a year or so ago. It just seems a bit skewed to me. More about greed rather than providing an actual benefit. I know, you are probably saying “But you are paying for the benefit of being able to have your phone talk to your car and get notifications from your security system”.

My point is, neither of these examples really require anything from the manufacturer of the product. My phone and car don’t directly interact with some cloud-based system controlled by BMW. My security system is not communicating directly with Arlo because I don’t store any recorded video to the cloud. The Arlo services are simply turned on and interact with the base station in my house, on my Google Fiber network.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting tired of it, and unfortunately, I think we are reaching the point of no return on subscriptions. Hell, there are even car companies that now allow you to subscribe so you can get a new car as regularly as every month.

Here’s a thought. Add up everything you subscribe to now, and ask yourself is the subscription model slowly making me poor and allowing me to own very little? Is it worth it?

I’m spending about $2500.00 a year on subscription services. I have a feeling I’m using about $500.00 worth.

I Bought a CPO i3 Not C3PO. I Kind of Feel Like I’m Driving a Star Wars Car Though.

A little over a year ago I began looking for a new car. The lease on my GTI was coming to an end in August of 2019 and I was thinking about going electric. Since the VW electric models wouldn’t be available in America for another 12 to 18 months, I began researching the usual suspects, Tesla, Nissan, BMW, Chevy, etc. What I discovered was there are quite a few models available. All of them have pros and cons, and the prices ranged from reasonable to astronomical. What I didn’t expect was to find was what you could get if you looked at certified pre-owned models of specific brands.

After almost a year of looking, reading, watching YouTube, test driving, pricing, and pondering, I decided to purchase a certified pre-owned BMW i3. Why? Because I found out I could get into a 2-year-old car with about 20,000 miles on it for less than half the sticker price of the new car. And since it is a CPO BMW it comes with an additional warranty.

I chose this vehicle for several reasons. Proven Brand, Styling, Technology, Fun Factor, and Size. There is also that I never have to buy gas thing too.

closed

The styling can be quite polarizing. In most cases, people either love it or hate it. I love it. I feel like I’m driving a little space pod most of the time. It’s short, squat and tall. It doesn’t look like any other car on the road on both the exterior an on the interior.

With wheel s pushed close to the corners, it accentuates the stubby look of the i3. Its window line expands at the small rear doors, dips into the body line, then pinches together at the rear. Visually this creates a flow down the body line that I like quite a bit. One disadvantage to this is that the rear windows don’t lower. Technically it’s a 4 door car, but the rear coach (suicide doors) are more like funky half-size extensions of the front doors. The car sits on 19-inch wheels that seem impossibly thin, designed to reduce friction with the road and improve range. At times they almost look like mountain bike tires though. One nice thing that BMW did was to leave the iconic kidney grills on the front. Technically they don’t do anything, but without them, I’m not sure the i3 would read as a BMW since it’s such a styling departure from every other car they make.

open

The interior is a mash-up of environmentally friendly materials produced from sustainable and recycled sources. The i3 I purchased doesn’t have leather seats, by choice. I actually prefer the look of the cloth seats over the leather or leather and cloth combo. If you did opt for the leather seats though, the tanning process is done with olive-leaf extract rather than chemicals to keep it greener. It’s hard to describe the materials used. You need to see them in person, and while at first, it might seem like a bit too much they work well together combining into a series of well-matched textures.

Another thing I love about this car is how big it feels on the inside. With no transmission hump, the floor is flat adding to the feeling of space. The interior roof gives plenty of headroom. At 6 foot 4, this is a big deal for me. I will say this, the back seat is cramped for someone my size. It’s probably cramped for anyone over 6 feet, to be honest. This is, after all, a car designed for city driving and to only seat 4 people. Cargo space is ample, and with the back seats folded down, it’s pretty amazing how much stuff you can get in this car.

From a technology perspective, the i3 doesn’t disappoint. Actually, for my model year, it does in aspect, (I’ll get to that in a minute). The i3 dash consists of 2 floating screens. There is the unit directly in front of the driver that contains the speedometer, battery usage, and the gauge showing energy use and regeneration. This screen can be configured to display any number of items from the iDrive system in the car.

The second screen is equally configurable and primarily houses the infotainment system which includes navigation, phone systems, messaging, radio and media displays and more. Below it is 6 buttons that can be programmed to do everything from radio presets to function as shortcut keys for any additional functionality.

All of this is connected to the center console dial of the iDrive system located in front of the center armrest. I’m not going to go into detail with all of the functionality here. Let’s just say that the system is deep and has a bit of a learning curve. Coming from 8 years of VW’s it was quite a bit different.

In addition to the built-in systems, there is also an iOS and Android app available that can be used to control the car remotely. It allows you to climatize the car, lock and unlock doors, set charge times, send destinations to the car, and more.

Other tech tidbits include the ability to lock the doors by touching a small patch of raised ribs on the door handle. Unlock the doors by simply sliding your hand inside the door handles. Unlock and lower the windows by holding the unlock button on the key fob. One foot driving using the regenerative braking system. Self-parking (yes it can park itself, but every driver should know how to parallel park or forfeit their driver’s license). Adaptive cruise control and more.

I didn’t get the REX (range extender) version. I don’t need the range extender. I never drive more than 120 miles in a day so the BEV (battery electric vehicle) i3 was perfect for my needs. After 90 days of ownership, I can honestly say I have never had any range anxiety at all. Frankly, I don’t think most drivers would. The navigation system can be configured to show you every charging station close by as you drive around town so you will always know where you can charge up if you need to.

One thing I wish this car had was Apple CarPlay. It doesn’t and I miss it. You can, however, upgrade the main head unit of the car with this upgrade from Bimmertech. I watched the install video and it looks like something anyone with a bit of technical know-how and set of tools could do themselves in a few hours. I have a feeling this voids the warranty on the car so I’ll be waiting a couple of years before I do this.

Speaking of upgrades, the battery is upgradable as well and Lion Smart announced an upgrade option a couple of months ago that would extend the range of BEV i3 to about 400 miles. No word on when this will arrive, or what it’ll cost but if you own an i3 and plan on keeping it for an extended period of time this is something you might want to look into.

One great thing about living in Kansas City is the fact that KCPL has partnered with ChargePoint and many local businesses to install level 2 charging stations all over the city. Each grocery store run, trip to the library, visit the Kaufman performing arts center, Nelson Atkins Musem, Restaurants in the Cross Roads or dozens of other places guarantee that I can plug the i3 in and charge it up.

Every Hy-Vee has at least 4 ChargePoint charging stations

As for fun factor, the i3 is a hoot to drive. It really is a blast. The electric motor delivers instant torque with a distinct “push you back in your seat” feeling. Acceleration is quick delivering a 0 to 60 time in about 7 seconds. It handles like a BMW with responsive steering. You have to drive the car to understand how the i3 performs.

The car is absolutely silent aside from a bit of road noise from the tires, and an almost imperceivable whine from the electric motor. It’s one of those things you notice at first and then become so used to it you don’t realize how loud the interior of other cars are until you ride in one with an internal combustion engine.

So, is a certified pre-owned BMW i3 worth it? Yes. Think about this, you can get a low mileage, highly optioned i3 for about half the price of new. If you get a CPO i3 you get 2 years of warranty on a car that require little to no maintenance. In my case, I got a $60,000 car for a little over $20,000. It had just over 20,000 miles on it, was a one-owner vehicle, and was purchased from a reputable BMW dealer here in the Kansas City area.

If you use a site like Car Gurus you can find plenty of examples just like this all of the United States, and depending on where you live have the car delivered to you for less than a grand. Sites like Carvana, and Carmax also have i3 inventories available for delivery. The only downside is the car won’t be BMW certified, and the warranty options might not be as good.

If you are in the market or are thinking about going electric, I highly recommend going with a CPO i3. Save your money and skip the Tesla. Skip the Bolt, Volt, Leaf, or any other traditional-looking EV sedan and get something a bit more unique looking.

Oh, and while you could buy new and get a $7500.00 federal tax credit, chances are it still won’t be as affordable as going with preowned. If you are curious about why EV’s depreciate so much, Doug Demuro has a great article here that answers, or attempts to answer that very question.

BMW i3 “Become Electric” Immersive 360° Interactive Film.

When BMW announced the i Series cars a couple of years back I was all ears. As a former BMW owner, I can attest to the quality and design of their automobiles, so the i3 had me intrigued. Just last week I was on the phone to the local dealer asking if they would have a preview model anytime soon, since the car will be available in California early next year. Sadly they said no.

To support the launch of the i3 BMW has developed a very cool interactive campaign in the form of a fully immersive interactive film available for iOS and Android.

“Become Electric,” is  an interactive experience shot in fully immersive 360 degrees that leads you through a unique story that reveals the car over time. As you head through the streets of a foreign city in a race against time the participant picks up a mysterious stranger and engages in a thrilling mission. The goal is to outrun the sinister “Shadows” that are pursuing you and deliver “The Key” as you help the world “Become Electric.” The game is true immersive entertainment, while advertising and promoting the new i3. The promotion for the car and it’s features are cleverly disguised in an immersive game.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Since BMW is launching the “i” series as a sub-brand I bet we see more of this kind of work from them in the future for the i3, and the i8 as well.

Stichpunkt for BMW. The Sustainable Value Report.

By and large when people think of BMW they don’t think of an automobile manufacturer that is known for sustainable, green solutions. Even with the introduction of the i3 due for 2014, clean diesel, and start/stop technology, most people think of BMW as the guys that make powerful sport sedans and SUV’s that get mediocre gas mileage.

1

Strichpunkt was asked by BMW to design and develop the 2012 Sustainable Value Report for the German automotive manufacturer. The challenge; concept, design, and develop a report that integrates traditional print and responsive digital design, to communicate BMW’s values on sustainability. Strichpunkt was asked to create something that communicates BMW’s strategy, values and actions in a factual way that created an emotional experience for the target audience. And it needed to read well for both trade, and the public.

4

Strichpunkt’s solution; a structured, easy to understand report that explains BMW’s strategy and actions in a series of selected case studies. The case studies were designed to provide the broad range of sustainability activities BMW is engaged in and explain with concrete examples how responsible business conduct works in practice – individual, high quality and playful implemented in vivid collages, illustrations, and striking infographics with high-tech appeal.

The case studies were designed to provide the broad range of sustainability activities BMW is engaged in and explain with concrete examples how responsible business conduct works in practice – individual, high quality and playful implemented in vivid collages, illustrations, and striking infographics with high-tech appeal.

Fact sheets, graphics, info sidebars, editorial that follows journalistic style guides gave the document a clear structure that makes the whole thing a quick and informative read. The focus and design, reflect a high-quality and ecologically produced printed report that shows the pioneering role of BMW and its subsidiary brands – particularly in terms of sustainability.

The online report, was implemented as part of the corporate website which, expands and deepens the theme of sustainability. The result a scalable website that functions across all digital devices from computer to mobile featuring easy to use navigation, and rich informative media that is a genuinely sustainable approach to design.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.