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Owning an EV for 12 months

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X5Sport
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Owning an EV for 12 months

Post by X5Sport » Fri Mar 22, 2024 11:08 am

I’ve now been the proud owner of a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) rather than a hybrid of any kind and thought I’d share so,e thoughts together with the costs. As some may know, I bought a BMW i4 M50 a year ago after waiting 14 months from order to delivery.

The i4 is based on the current G26 4-Series platform so not a dedicated EV from the ground up. That has some advantages as well as some disadvantages.

Advantages:
+ It looks like a normal BMW - you’d have to know to know it’s an EV if not looking at the number plate.
+ It drives like any other normal BMW that many members are used to.
+ The interior feels just like every other BMW - well screwed together and things where you expect them.
+ It’s much quieter because there’s no 4/6 or V8 rumbling away in front.
+ Really easy to drive.
+ It’s stupidly fast. Instant torque from 0-140mph!
+ No gearbox so it’s just smooth from off the line until the computer says no (limited to 140mph as the motors are running at 19k rpm).
+ On an EV tariff the i4 is far far cheaper to run than my X6.
+ The i4 is a hatchback - the ICE 4-series isn’t.
+ Despite being a heavy car, its handling is really good. The M50 is not an electric M4 (it comes damned close though) but unless you do track days you won’t notice or care.
+ The M50 is AWD so stable in wet and ‘interesting’ conditions
+ Home charging is the way to go if you can.
+ On board automation and iDrive is much better than earlier generations (some disagree with the touchscreen approach)
+ I have BMW Laser headlights which are really excellent and can light a road up for 800metres. Note BMW have withdrawn them from all new models as modern LED lamps have caught up so the laser main beam isn’t needed anymore.

Disadvantages
+ It’s built on the standard ICE car platform so you lose room underneath the seats for rear passengers feet. The floor is 25mm higher than the ICE 4-series.
+ It’s heavy. The car weighs 2.23T. That’s 500kgs more than an M4. The battery pack weighs 350kgs and takes up the bottom of the car.
+ It’s stupidly fast - you’re into licence losing territory very very quickly so care is needed when booting for an overtake. From a standing start in normal driving modes (there are 3 plus individuals) 120mph takes about 10 seconds. 50-70 is less than 2 seconds!
+ It’s expensive to buy. Mine was £68k at point of order, and three years later is £82k for the same spec.
+ You really need home charging or the operating costs are far higher. Installation can be expensive - but doesn’t have to be.
+ Insurance is expensive. EVs are computers on wheels and damage to the main battery can be seriously expensive (the i4 battery in parts is about £90k). My first year cover with the i4 was £1,500 or about double the X6. I have yet to see this year’s figures but I do know car insurance generally has got much more expensive (around 60%) in the last year.

So, running costs.

So far I’ve charged the car with 3,478kWh (3,478 units) of electricity. That averages out at around £1,008 for 9,800 miles of motoring. Because (until April 2024) I get free charging (at half the home charge rate), that means my electricity costs have been £511 for the first year. I have not been in an EV tariff at home. The same distance in the X6 averages out at around £3,800 in diesel so the costs are significant.

On a standard power tariff, a full charge (0-100) would be about £24.30. On an EV tariff such as Intelligent Octopus that falls to just £7. Range wise the M50 has about 1/3rd of the X6 range so we’re talking £21 to go the same distance (against £123 for one tank for the X6). Obviously that figure will vary depending upon what you drive.

I’m lucky to be in my own home and have off-street parking. That enabled the installation of a home charge point. The cost was £2k but has paid for itself in its first year. I know there are challenges for a huge number of homes in the UK where home charging is either difficult or impossible for now. It’s important to note that your home charger will need a separate circuit. These are rated at 32A (7.4kW) unless you are lucky enough to have 3-phase. Ideally your home supply fuse should be 100A - many are 60A though the upgrade is simple and may be free when done by National Grid.

If you are reliant on public charging then the case for an EV is far harder to make. Some operators are charging £0.85/kWh (£68 for a full charge) and that is a major downside. You also pay 20% VAT rather than the 5% home rate. Public charging infrastructure is not good enough yet. It’s getting better but has some way to go. New legislation will force the bad operators to either step out of the market or up their game considerably.

The range quoted by the manufacturers has to be read into with a bit of care. The figures used are the maximum you might expect going from 100% to 0%. In truth, you never do that because all manufacturers tell you to stay between 20% and 80% to preserve the longevity of the battery. That’s a 40% real world reduction, so the range will be less! That may not matter. Cold weather does matter though. When temps in the UK dropped to -6°C, my range dropped to under 200 miles against the quoted 307 miles. For me that didn’t matter because I was charging most days and my commute is 60 miles/day. For others that will matter. Pre-conditioning the battery and car (warming both up) on shore-supply before leaving makes a big difference as you aren’t using the main battery to heat the car.

There’s been a lot of comment in the press about battery life. Most owners will see no significant reduction in battery capacity in less than 200,000 miles. BMWs battery warranty is 8 years and 100,000 miles (it may change for newer models). The vast majority of the rumour is just that, rumour and myth and not borne out by fact.

EVs are heavy so tyre will wear faster - but most BMW Drivers already have that challenge! You should fit EV tyres but you don’t have to. The i4 isn’t fitted with them.

Another myth regards fires. EVs are not more prone to fires than ICE cars - far from it. All the rumint & comments about the airport fire at Luton last year was it was an EV. It wasn’t, it was a diesel landrover with an engine bay electrical or fuel fault. If more fire extinguishers had been full then things might have been less serious, but no EVs were involved! If an EV does catch fire then it is more serious, but that’s a different problem.

I think that it’s safe to say that electric vehicles are (for now) a future option although their initial costs can be frightening. These costs are reducing though, with more and more models falling into the more affordable parts of the market - especially when the Chinese models are concerned. Battery chemistry is improving and the next generation (using Sodium rather than Lithium) are very likely to be cheaper as well as longer ranged.

If you are looking for going to an EV then go in with your eyes open. Things to know about are whether or not the heating system uses a heat-pump. This tech is recommended as critical for an EV as these devices are much more efficient at running both battery temperatures and cabin temps. Cheaper EV models don’t have them! Understand about range, the weather and how it might affect your use case. Understand about whether you can change at home or not - and what your house wiring can accept as ideally you need a 100A main supply.

Note that All EVs will be subject to road tax from April 2025 (as they should be). This applies to EVs registered since 2017. The current VED rate is £180.

I am very happy to have made the change and would have another EV (unlikely now as retirement beckons). My use case does mean needing to have an ICE available for the long distance runs to my outlaws in Wales, but that’s only a couple of times a year. For everything else the i4 does the job very well.

.
:ant: Never anthropomorphise computers. They hate that.

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Owning an EV for 12 months

Post by Leslie » Fri Mar 22, 2024 2:05 pm

Nice informed real world writeup , :thumbsup: I just wonder who would take a chance on these cars once the battery warranty expires at 8 years and you are on your own as such .I know many will last longer but as it stands that car will be scrap if the battery does fail.
You must as you say have home charging otherwise you won't be saving much and its good the i4 doesn't need ev tyres as I hear these are much more expensive much like runflats when they came out.
There's no arguing how fast these are though :driving: :driving:

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Owning an EV for 12 months

Post by IanP » Fri Mar 22, 2024 5:17 pm

Regarding the charge costs, the question in my head is are the charges you pay at home a reasonable charge for the power used, or is it being subsidised by other consumers?

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Owning an EV for 12 months

Post by X5Sport » Fri Mar 22, 2024 5:53 pm

I use Octopus Energy’s Intelligent Octopus Go as my tariff. They use green energy (so they say) rather than power station derived energy. Their ‘normal’ tariff is the Ofgen capped rate (£0.2525p/kWh).

The daytime rate is £0.2376p/kWh and runs from 05:30 to 23:30. Their off peak (23:30 to 05:30) rate is £0.075p/kWh with a standing charge of £0.47p/day. You can only get IOG if you have an EV. If there is surplus capacity (wind or solar) and my car is both plugged in and needs a top up, the IOG will give me added 30 minute ‘blocks’ at the off-peak rate. That rate applies to all electricity used by the house, any day, car plugged in or not. My gas is also slightly cheaper. I don’t see me being subsidised by anyone. Octopus are now second only to British Gas. BG’s EV tariff was more expensive, had a shorter cheap rate and put the unit price of gas up (why?!) when I looked.

EV Tyres are about £1k a set as they are still extra load types (SUV) to cope with the weight. BMW no longer offer RFT on their EVs. Too heavy. I’ve got almost 10k on the first set (Pirelli P-Zero 19”) and they’re about half gone at 5mm tread remaining. Better than I expected to be honest. You can have 20” wheels as an option but you lose 50 miles of range. 18” are also offered however the range difference is marginal so most go for the 19” set. Given the M50 has 544bhp on tap, no one should be fitting cheap tyres.

With regards to the battery packs, BMW have made theirs modular (unlike say Tesla) so if a single cell or module goes bad it’s replaceable. Modules will be a dealer/specialist replaceable part but cells will go back to the manufacturer. As owners, we would have a module replaced. The challenge with some manufacturers is they place all of the cells in one big pack, wire it together and fill it with foam. That makes it a complete swap job, rather than just a module. Tesla are repurposing old cells in their Powerwall System batteries that go with solar cells for home use. That decision by BMW looks to be future thinking around repairability. The main pack is just a big aluminium box that the parts fit into. The i4 has nine modules - seven under the floor and two in the ‘transmission tunnel’ for an ICE car - like this (an M50 so dual-motor):
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I think as time goes on, specialists will spring up and it will be possible to get batteries swapped out. The same thing has happened with ICE cars after all - it just took time. Once the process is known and the hardware more readily available then this will become realistic. There are plenty of ‘damaged’ packs in specialist places that are fully repairable, the industry isn’t quite there yet, but it is coming.

There is a big question mark over warranty and then what? At present there aren’t enough cars out there that have hit much more than 10 years, or have and the batteries are cheaper because they’re much smaller - think Nissan Leaf or some of the Citroens. With some of those you lease the battery rather than own it, so it gets swapped out. The Chinese are looking at ‘hot swap’ garages where a pack is swapped out in minutes. For the i4 there are four coolant connections, 4 power connections and the CANbus etc, plus 22 large bolts! Unlike the i3 which uses ac refrigerant, the i4 coolant is normal coolant like we’re all used to, so no special handling. Refilling does need vacuum kit, but if hot swap becomes a reality then using auto close valuing can easily fix that.
:ant: Never anthropomorphise computers. They hate that.

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Owning an EV for 12 months

Post by Leslie » Fri Mar 22, 2024 6:19 pm

I think it will take legislation to force batteries or modules to be easily swapped out by manufacturers , at present they are more than happy for them to be seen as a problem after the 8 years and help sell more new cars . :D

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