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Surprising Science

BMW’s New E-Car Comes With An Optional Gas-Powered SUV

Influenced by a study showing that “range anxiety” was a big barrier between consumers and electric cars, the German automaker decided to make sharing of a traditional car available for long trips.

What’s the Latest Development?

On Monday (July 29), BMW unveiled their first fully-electric car, the i3, along with a “mobility option” that, for an as-yet-undetermined price, will give drivers access to a gas-powered X5 — one of the automaker’s mid-size SUVs — for several weeks a year. Because the i3’s battery has an official range of 80-100 miles, the mobility option is meant for those who see themselves making occasional longer-distance trips. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Until batteries are built to last longer and/or more charging stations become available, electric car manufacturers are going to have to devise creative ways to avoid the “range anxiety” that prevents more customers from adopting completely gas-free vehicles. BMW came up with their idea after funding a study on the psychological barriers between customers and electric cars. Writer Russell Brandom notes: “There’s a mismatch between how much range drivers really need, and how much they think they’ll need — and when they’re considering which car to buy, they put more weight on the second one. Drivers like to think about taking their cars cross-country, even if they rarely do.” 

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Read it at The Verge


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