BMW 330e: Living with a plug-in hybrid
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We have long-term loan BMW 330e
As our electric vehicle fleet increases in New Zealand, Driven was given the chance to live with product for an extended period of time, rather than a week-long test.
BMW New Zealand offered us the 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid as a long-term loan. It is based on the 3 Series sedan with the combination of a 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine producing 185kW of power and 420Nm of torque combined with a 64kW electric motor.
The high-voltage battery is stored underneath the boot that, with 370 litres of storage, doesn't impede on functionality or space.
Priced from $91,600, my model had optional extras including M Sport Package (including 19in alloys) and head-up display for a total of $99,400.
So, what is it like to live with such a vehicle? Here's our 'how to' guide to adding an EV/plug-in hybrid vehicle in your life.
Living with a plug-in means needing access to electrity to charge it overnight, preferably a garage for safe charging, especially in winter.
My house has an attached double garage that, until recently, housed my son's computer gear, furniture stored for a family member, and general household items that I've lugged from house to house.
So to make room for the 330e, it meant reorganising my son's computer gear into a corner, a trip to the rubbish dump and folding up the clothes horses instead of having them take up half of the garage.
Auckland | Mount Wellington
$112.53 p/w $450.13 p/m
You can set the 330e to when you want it charged, either immediately or to two set times. I set it for the low electricity cost period, from 11pm, and ready by 5am, with it taking five hours to fully charge.
It was a case of trial and error when it came to overnight charging of the 330e. The charging outlet sat above the left front wheel so, for the first few nights, I parked the 330e nose first and used the plug by the back door for the BMW's charging unit.
Except the 330e was on a circuit that included some other power-sucking appliances -- including my son's hard drive in his downstairs bedroom and our fridge.
So, on night one when 11pm clicked over, and the 330e clicked on, it broke the circuit and turned off the fridge and my son's hard drive. Of course we didn't realise this until the next morning when we awoke to a semi-cold fridge and uncharged car.
So plan B was to back the 330e into the garage and plug it in to the usual spot I use for EVs and plug-in hybrids; the laundry area.
Success, plus it made for an easy exit onto my shared driveway.
You can drive 24km in pure electric mode, before it either clicks over to the petrol engine or you can set it to regenerate power via the hybrid system.
The eDrive button allows you to choose between three different electric drive modes: auto eDrive, pure electric eDrive or save battery where the charging status of the high-voltage battery is maintained at a constant level.
When the battery charging status is low, the save battery mode enables the battery to be charged by the petrol engine or allows the charging status to be maintained. This means you can save the battery capacity for purely electric driving later, especially for around town.
The 24km pure electric drive was fine for my weekday commute which was a 9.3km drive to work on suburban roads at a maximum of 50km/h, and then a return trip via the motorway - again a 9.3km trip but at speeds up to 80km/h.
But during my first two weeks of 'ownership' of the 330e, I wasn't office-based. I attended day long car launches around New Zealand so I used it to go to the airport (a 40km round trip). When I was on annual leave, I used it throughout the day which meant the 24km electric cycle was gobbled up fast.
But being a plug-in electric hybrid doesn't mean that it's just a city car. You just dial in sport or sport + mode for motorway and country driving, giving you more dynamic driving.
While the fuel economy is outstanding in the vehicle (where I'm averaging 4l/100km on daily city commute drives), there is a downside: pedestrians.
Mall and supermarket car parks become fraught with danger, as shoppers can't hear you driving up behind them.
My kids remindd me that the pedestrians aren't deliberating walking slowly in front of the 330e, and they tell me to not honk the horn. Instead I have to be extra cautious as the shoppers suddenly move in front of me without realising there is a German sedan creeping behind them.
Reversing out of car parks is also nail-biting as people in other cars can't hear you as your engine is silent.
The electric vehicle onslaught is coming to New Zealand not only with the Nissan Leaf dominating second-hand sales but more premium brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz including more plug-in hybrid versions or EVs to their line-up. Then, of course, Tesla has arrived with its Model S, Model X and, soon, the Model 3.
This means we need more infrastructure for the increase in EVs and plug-ins. Is New Zealand ready?
My next long-term loan story will focus on our charging stations and the practicality of them.