One BMW i3 owner says dealership education needs to be better.

By: Danny King

Tesla's argument that it needs to own its stores in order to sell its electric vehicles and give customers better information is about to get bolstered by an unlikely source: BMW. The German automaker is the subject of a class-action lawsuit stemming from the performance of the range-extended version of its i3 plug-in. And at least one green-car advocate and i3 owner says the problem could have been avoided by better education at BMW dealerships.

The lawsuit was filed in California by some owners of the BMW i3 REx, i.e. the version that's equipped with a gas-powered "range extender," according to Green Car Reports. The issue is that, when the car's battery starts running low and the powertrain is subjected to extended stress, such as a long uphill highway stretch or a fully loaded vehicle, the car can slow from highway speeds to as slow as 45 miles per hour without warning. The claim states that the vehicle can post a danger as a result, while BMW has declined comment, citing pending litigation.

Meanwhile, Tom Moloughney, owner of the first BMW i3 REx to be sold in the US, says the problem might rest at the dealership level. Moloughney says that if dealers explained the car's mechanics better – especially the fact that the range extender is essentially a 34-horsepower, two-cylinder motorcycle engine whose power is limited – drivers would be better informed about what could happen when the battery power is sapped at highway speeds. While Tesla EVs don't have the same sort of REx powertrain, this argument nicely dovetails with what Tesla Motors has been saying for a long time, that its cars should only be sold at company-owned stores because third-party dealers are less likely to understand and explain the nuances of electric vehicles.

No word on whether Elon Musk's lobbyists are getting together with lawyers representing the Ultimate Driving Machine.


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