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Video: BMW's i3 Electric Car Fuels Up With a Home Depot Generator

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Elizabeth M
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Suicide doors
Elizabeth M   9/18/2014 5:16:41 AM
It's an unfortunate name for a really cool feature. Nice to see them on a new electric car design. BMW is doing a lot for the high-end EV market. I can't afford one myself but they are certainly cool to check out and imagine driving.

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Re: Suicide doors
Tweet   9/18/2014 8:41:12 AM
It's not the doors that are suicidal. That snorkel needs work. Maybe the generator would fit in that bump over the front wheels?

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what kind of fuel??
archtop   9/18/2014 8:44:30 AM
This is kind of lame, actually (the article, not the car!).  Couldn't you do this with just about any electric car, given the appropriate interconnect?  All you're really doing is plugging in the car to charge it - who cares where the power comes from? And I couldn't help but notice the irony of an electric BMW, which is actually running, indirectly albeit, on a gas powered Honda engine!

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Seppanton   9/18/2014 8:44:42 AM
The idea of using a gas powered generator to charge an electric car battery makes no sense except as an emergency measure.

The fuel usage to run the generator to get the charge for a certain distance has to be higher than that what would have been used to just drive an ordinary car the same distance at the same acceleration and speed. Not to mention that the small engine that drives the generator is horrible in fuel to mechanical energy efficiency and has a high emissions rate compared to a properly built and maintened auto engine. I am suspicious that hte generator efficiency itself might not be great too.

Just becasue something can be done does not make it a good idea.


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Oppenheimer   9/18/2014 9:27:42 AM
Yeah, um, I pretty much assummed the whole point here was that in an emergency, you could recharge the car and still get somewhere, and if the HD generator fits in the trunk, wouldn't it have been possible (and a good idea) for BMW to have desinged in its own solution for such purposes.


Engineers always seem to really bad at assumptions. Ambiguity causes us to mentally list out all the possible realities the situation might represent, then somehow we always pick the least likely one.


This story didn't explain why they did this experiment, so we had to assume the reasons (which I assume there is actually more than one core reason). But I don't think any of those reasons were they thought it would be a good idea to use a portable generator as the normal way to charge an electric car. The key part of the core reason appears to be that the generator is PORTABLE.

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dmorgan   9/18/2014 9:40:11 AM
How about using some of the flexible solar panels to recharge the car? Not sure of how many it would take but integrate them into a car cover. That way you could charge and keep the car covered/cooler. Any takers?

Al Klu
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Re: Nonsense
Al Klu   9/18/2014 10:46:04 AM
Actually, using a generator to charge a car battery is already in the market.  Isn't that exactly what the Chevy Volt does?


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Re: Nonsense
multiac   9/18/2014 12:01:23 PM
not to mention the weight of the generator that increase the energy consumption even when you are not using it!

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BMW i3
jn6147   9/18/2014 12:14:59 PM
Have justed tested a Nissan Leaf, which offered a range of just 85 miles from full charge, I know full well the limitations of electrically powered cars in their current state of development.

The experimentation with a generator to charge the i3 only illustrates the challenge facing the manufacturers. Half an hour's charging to get an extra 4 miles of range! It's clear that the i3 like other electric cars only has in application in cities with short trips. Forget any distance more than 50 miles -- you'll never get back unless you're prepared to wait a few hours at the destination while it is recharged.

Here in the UK, the Nissan people say that there are a number of high-intensity charging stations, enabling longer trips. But who wants to make a diversion to these locations, using up range? 

As they stand electric vehicle techology is only suitable for short hops, making them great for delivery vehicles, buses and perhaps taxis.

It must take a certain type of eco-nut (or rich ego tripper) to lash out premium cash for the inconvenience of worrying about range all the time. Imagine driving your petrol car around with only 50 miles of range.


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Re: gas?
CTHP   9/18/2014 4:07:03 PM
Of course there's nothing practical with this approach, no efficiencies are gained, and energy is wasted (as always). In fact, it's a colossal waste of money. Beside the thermodynamic underpinnings for all the losses in the proposed system, there's the enormous inconvenience of putting this all together and the guy in the video RENTED that generator from Home Depot. Have you seen what HD charges to rent out a generator on a daily basis? The alternative is a $4K gas powered motorcycle engine from the manufacturer? Buy it and laugh all the way back home! Lastly, I agree with dmorgan here - the energy could be based on a solar option, like a solar parking lot that you pay to park in. Again and all things considered, energy is never free and I haven't seen an invoice from the Sun yet.

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