Updated with statement from BMWNA

The i3 with Range Extender qualifies for the green sticker, which is limited in numbers and will run out in the eventual future (possibly late in 2014). This is technically to be expected since the car is equipped with an internal combustion engine which potentially emits fuel fumes, and thus makes it harder to qualify for the white sticker which typically can be obtained by full battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and Hydrogen vehicles. The white sticker is not limited in terms of numbers. There is a continued, constructive relationship between BMW and CARB executives, and there has been no reversal of position. It also bears mention that the i3 with Range Extender qualifies for the full CA incentive amount of $2,500 – so the statement in the original article that the owners will not receive CA state incentive money is also wrong.

According to TheStreet.com, California State just did an about face on BMW and changed their mind on how they categorize the BMW i3 REx (Range Extender).

BMW i3 REx was going to be viewed as an Federal Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEVs), essentially an electric vehicle with a portable gas generator on board for just in case. Thus the i3 REx would be eligible for the oh so coveted white “clean air vehicle” stickers and good for CarPool Only lane. However, now California has changed the rules of the game and is calling the i3 REx in the same category as a plug in hybrid – ouch!!!

Why is this a big deal? The i3 REx is still eligible for the green sticker, right? While that is still true, California has said they are going to only issue 40,000 “Green stickers” and as of November they’ve issued about 25,000, and are going fast. Once they hit 40,000 green stickers, no more. The white sticker is much more coveted because there is no limit on the number California will grant. The Street.com says that they 40,000 decals could be all gone by the time the i3 REx hits the road later this year. So essentially you bought an environmental car and you won’t have access to the coveted Car Pool lanes.

Part of the theory on why BMW kept the gas tank so small on the i3 REx, a mere 2.4 gallons, was to keep the California regulators happy allowing it access to the unlimited number of white stickers. White stickers go to California pure-electrics, and green stickers go to hybrid electrics like the Chevy Volt. Why the sudden and dramatic about face for California, is unknown. This issue will obviously not apply to the other states in the country, but California is seen as one of BMW’s biggest markets.

“The i3 with range-extender won’t be eligible for the California white sticker, period. Second, by the time you get your i3 with range-extender in California, the 40,000 green stickers may have already run out…”

BMWBLOG will report more on this developing story as more information comes to light as we have reached out to BMW North America for a comment.