Regular viewer’s of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) popular automotive program Top Gear know that James May, one of the three co-hosts of the show, is not a big fan of BMWs. May, sometimes referred to as “Captain Slow” is known to prefer small, practical, and efficient cars over more powerful premium models. The Top Gear program has made its name touting fast, great-handling cars and have usually panned electric cars as being slow, boring, and impractical.
If any of the Top Gear hosts would ever spring for an electric car, we figured it would be James May, but we never thought that when May announced he was getting an EV, it would be a BMW—specifically the BMW i3.
During an interview on BBC Radio 4′s You & Yours Bank Holiday Monday special on electric cars, May admitted that he actually likes electric vehicles and he’s going to buy one. “We’ve known for a long time that the electric motor is the ideal way to propel an electric car,” May said. “We’re discovering that there’s a different sort of pleasure in motoring in an electric car because of the smoothness, the silence.”
The cars are okay, but it’s the charging infrastructure that is still lacking, according to May. Still, he wants to be “part of the experiment.” As for the BMW i3, James considers it “not that small,” and “almost a small people carrier.”
He’s hedging his bet a little. Since he suffers from range anxiety, he has chosen the BMW i3 with Range Extender. “It really ought to be branded ‘pure cowardice,’ because that’s what it is and that’s why I’ve got one,” he admitted.
We can appreciate James May’s decision to go green, and especially in a BMW. However, he also admitted he won’t be using the electric BMW on long trips. Or any other small, economical, fuel-efficient little hatchbox for that matter. For long distances, May let it slip that he’ll probably drive his Ferrari.
No word yet on what his other co-hosts on Top Gear—Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond—think about his newest car selection.—Scott Blazey
[James May photo courtesy of Top Gear. BMW i3 photo courtesy of BMW AG.]
Top Gear is broadcast in the U.S. on BBC America.