• BMW Add-On Mobility service for i3
  • X5 or X3 SUV loaner vehicle
  • No pricing announced yet

New electric vehicle (EV) models are arriving every year as auto manufacturers seek to improve average fuel economy among high-efficiency choices for drivers. The latest is the BMW i3, a 4-passenger hatchback with an all-electric range of 80-100 miles. The i3 is also available with a gasoline engine that effectively extends its range to at least 160 miles. That may be enough for a weekend getaway for some drivers, but it's certainly shy of the range of a conventional gas- or diesel-powered vehicle.

That shortcoming may turn away some potential i3 customers, so BMW has introduced a service it calls Add-On Mobility for i3 drivers. BMW will provide customers with a conventionally powered loaner vehicle for occasions when the limited range of the i3 isn't enough.

Most drivers typically use their cars -- even conventional gas-powered ones -- on shorter trips, such as commutes to and from work or around town for errands. Although research indicates that the range achieved by today's EVs is suitable for most drivers' daily routines, many potential EV drivers still worry about being stranded with a dead battery. Range extenders such as the optional gas engine for the BMW i3 help to alleviate some of the so-called range anxiety.

Doubling the range with gasoline is helpful, but longer trips pose a problem. A trip from L.A. to Las Vegas, for example, is well outside the i3's range. Plus the i3 is a small vehicle that may not be suitable for a family and its stuff. This is where Add-On Mobility comes in with a loaner SUV -- a BMW X3 or X5 -- that has the range and space to make a road trip worry-free.

The program will be managed by an i-approved BMW dealer. According to the automaker's website, a BMW i3 driver will request a vehicle for a certain time period. The dealer will then provide an individualized quote for the loaner vehicle.

BMW has not indicated the cost of using the program. For some, renting a vehicle the traditional way may be more cost effective. That option is always open for drivers of EVs of any brand that, once or twice per year, need the range of a conventional vehicle for long distance trips.

What it means to you: Besides giving EVs larger batteries, automakers are devising ways to quell range anxiety with innovative ideas like BMW's Add-On Mobility program.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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