AMSTERDAM — The BMW i3 electric four-door comes with a host of special Internet-based services that make it easier to calculate the car's available range and find charging stations.
The 360 Electric program offers a smartphone application that gives the owner remote access to the car and provides the location of public charging stations. BMW will arrange for the installation of a home charging station for a fee.
A smartphone application available for Apple and Android phones allows remote monitoring of the battery level and charge status.
The remote can locate the car, lock and unlock the doors, honk the horn and flash the lights.
The app pinpoints nearby public charging stations and tells via different light colors whether they are in use. Green means one is free; yellow signals that it has been reserved, and red says the station is in use.
An i3 owner can pay monthly for public charging with the BMW i ChargeNow card, which allows access to chargers throughout the United States. Another service that BMW will offer is Park-Now, which can locate a parking space in major U.S. cities.
A "range assistant" feature in the standard navigation system can plan a trip route based on the available charge in the i3. It uses not only distance but topography and traffic to get the most out the battery range. It also will recommend switching from the comfort mode -- which provides maximum torque and acceleration -- to a more fuel-efficient program to squeeze out extra mileage.
The 360 Electric program also will enable owners to rent a larger, conventionally powered BMW for longer trips for a set number of days. BMW of North America hasn't worked out the details of whether dealers or an outside rental company will handle the program, and charges haven't been set.
The rear-wheel-drive i3 goes on sale in the United States in April.—Paul DucheneBack to News