And now they're suing.
The BMW i3 recently celebrated a significant milestone when the 200,000th example rolled off the assembly line in Leipzig, Germany. First launched in 2013, the i3 has become an important model for BMW in the fight against the Tesla Model 3. In fact, BMW is considering a plan to double production if demand remains high.
Currently available in two flavors, the i3 and the more powerful i3s, both can be had with the optional range extender consisting of a small gasoline engine. This system only kicks in once battery capacity drops below a specific level (6.5 percent) and is intended only to be an emergency backup energy source for the battery until the driver reaches a charging station.
While the range extender, or REx in BMW-speak, provides some peace of mind it's apparently not without its faults. According to Car Complaints, a new class-action lawsuit has been filed against BMW in California by owners claiming the system has a potentially dangerous design defect the company has been trying to hide. These owners claim that i3s built through 2016 contain a defect when switching from battery power to the gas engine that results in the inability to adequately accelerate.
Instead of doubling the vehicle's range from 80 to 150 miles, owners allege their i3s go into limp mode while driving when they should be doing the exact opposite, acclerating. In some cases, even the brake light no longer works.
Simply put, the $4,000 Range Extender feature is not operating as it should and is even a potential safety hazard due to the inability to accelerate while driving. Why spend $4k on something that doesn't work as intended? That's what the lawsuit is all about. This legal issue isn't new for BMW. In fact, it recently filed a motion to dismiss the suit and the presiding federal judge agreed; a majority of the claims were indeed dismissed.
However, the judge is allowing the suit to continue for some claims for both purchased and leased i3s, so BMW hasn't defeated this in court just yet.