Buyers of BMW’s new i3 have a decision to make, whether to opt for the range extender or keep the pure-electric drive of the regular i3. And that decision should be made with an understanding of how you currently drive (not necessarily what you drive).

I have never given great thought towards achieving the most fuel efficient operation of a vehicle. I’ve never really owned any ‘gas guzzlers’ either though, so fuel economy has always been decent even when I’ve exposed my inner hoon.

But there’s always been a gas station nearby. The occasions I’ve run out of fuel have been because of my negligence, not a lack of a gas station nearby. There have only been a couple of times that I’ve planned fuel stops to ensure I wouldn’t be stranded, and that has been in the American west.


And that planning was because there are areas in the American west where gas stations are few and far between. Kind of like the situation is for fast charging (or any charging) stations for that matter. And this is one reason that a range extender makes a lot of sense.

If you can imagine the first automobile trip in the late 1800s, there were no gas stations to fill up at. You had to stop at drug stores and hope they stocked ‘benzene’ (a solvent/cleaner in those days). Otherwise you were stranded. It was a chicken and egg problem. You needed demand for benzene to make it readily available, and you needed readily available benzene to create the demand for it. Of course, benzene is also known as gasoline.


So until we get to the point where charging facilities are as ubiquitous as Quick Trips, the range extender may be the way to go – unless you are coming from previous electric automotive experience.

And that raises another question – given the increased wait time for ‘refueling’ for electrics, would there be a different approach than the convenience-store/gas-station? Juice bar? Internet lounge? Restaurant? Is it time to resurrect the Harvey Houses?