BMW i3 REx model is the only model that is currently in the market that complies to California regulations with its zero-emission electric car even though it has a range-extending engine. This is achievable because the gasoline range (EPA-rated at 78 miles) is more or less equivalent to its battery range (EPA-rated at 72 miles). This figure is managed by restricting driver’s ability to fill its gas tank to a minimal 1.9 gallons.
If we use i3 REx European version which has a larger tank capacity of 2.4 gallons, keeping the gas tank to a minimal 1.9 gallons means the car owners might need to stop frequently at gas stations and this might bring an impact on travel time although some owners said that they can fill up in less than two minutes. Alternatively, the car owners could switch to a mode that allows them to conserve battery energy if they know that they going to use it in the near future such as driving on hills.
Another way is to modify the car’s software coding by following instructions posted online. However, this way could bring safety hazards as some of the hardware function may not work or the software update to patch certain things could fail.
Some of examples of features that can be implemented by modifying the car’s software coding such as allowing fuel tank to accept full capacity to 2.4 gallons, adding suppressed European “hold battery charge” function, enabling suppressed AM radio, suppressing US-mandated seat belt warning tone among other things.
These software functions are actually already available in BMW i3 US-version. However, it is disabled due to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations or BMW North America’s perception of consumer preference.
Apparently BMW i3 US-version does not have AM radio which is especially useful for local traffic reports and news headlines. When Green Car Reports asked BMW for the reason behind it, BMW’s product and technical communications spokesperson, Rebecca K.Kiehne, responded that AM was not offered due to negative performance influenced of the electromagnetic interference of the electric drive train. She further added that while it could be offered, BMW’s performance standards were very high and they did not offer a product that met less than those high standards.
By modifying the car’s software, it could give carmaker a reason to deny warranty coverage for any conditions that deem related to the modifications made.