In May, we 'sold' our 03 Prius to our housekeeper who needed reliable, affordable transportation. So the first Saturday in May 2016, I went by the local Toyota dealer to look at the 2016 Gen-4 Prius.
The local dealer would not talk about price unless I took one for a test drive. But dynamic cruise control and accident avoidance was only available on the middle grade, level three with a d*mn moon roof. So we went to a local benchmark loop and after 5 miles, I complained that "99.1 MPG is not good enough."
Back at the dealer, they offered it for $33k and I told them, "Sorry but 99.1 MPG is not good enough" as I'd already used the roll-down parameters and knew the Level two ECO would easily bust 110-120 MPG. They asked me to wait and came back with $28.5k. I knew I could get a 2014 BMW i3-REx off-lease with 6,440 miles for $29.9k ... that was an easy decision.
I drove 66 days in EV mode, $0.25/10 miles, before I got a message,"Please run the range extender." That $0.25/10 miles is misleading as about 1/3d of my EV miles are from free, public chargers. My 'out of pocket' cost is closer to $0.15/10 miles.
The dynamic cruise control makes cross country driving a dream. At 65 mph, I get 40 MPG and follow trucks that already drive in the 65-67 mph range. At 70 mph, it drops to 38 MPG and 75 mph 34 MPG with a 20% loss of SOC with each tank. Slack off to 55 mph, it gets 44 MPG. At 65 mph, it runs about $0.60/10 miles, not great but acceptable.
So far, we've driven three trips:
- 463 miles - Charlotte NC to Huntville AL, 6 fuel stops
- 700 miles - Huntsville AL to Stillwater OK, 10 fuel stops and 1 gal spare can
- 700 miles - Stillwater OK to Huntsville, 10 fuel stops
Since May, we've gone from 6.4k miles to 18.4k miles in 7 months. With 168 hp, rear wheel drive, in a 2900 lb car, it is a sprite ride. But I'm starting to look at efficiency tuning.
I've already figured out a simple approach to doubling the 2 gallon fuel capacity to 4 gallons. This doubles the gas range from ~80 miles which more nearly matches a typical +2 hour drive segment.
The 5 year, 50k mile warranty has been great but being a first model year, we've found:
- BMW "recalls" are called "campaigns" and not always carried out on lease cars. They replaced two rear tires and I bought two front so we're running four new tires.
- Single tire manufacturer for this car so they run ~$150 each.
- Parts always add two days to a shop repair.
- Rare parts ordered from Germany added a week.
- A cracked windshield, $1,800 (the wiper slipped off the arm which snapped down to crack the glass.)
- Repaired motor mount bolt failure is substantially stronger but there is no evidence of a wide-spread recall and repair of other BMW i3.
- A 'code' (i.e., software patch) allows turning the engine on at 75% SOC like they do in the EU instead of the default, CARB imposed 6%. This is critical for safe, cross-country driving.
When the motor mount bolt failed, we didn't have the heart to drive our Gen-3 Prius with ordinary cruise control 1,600 miles to Arizona. During the two weeks to repair the BMW i3-REx, I test drove a Prius Prime and that led to replacing the Gen-3.
I had considered keeping the Gen-3 Prius for a year as backup for the BMW i3-REx. But the long repair delays and potentially high price of repairs outside of warranty changed my mind.
Had the Prius Prime been available in May 2016, I probably would have passed on the BMW i3-REx. But the BMW i3-REx led to getting an L2 charging wiring at home (and a favorite business center.) At the current rate, the warranty will expire between June 2018 and by time, January 2019.