• 09.06.13

BMW’s Cure For Electric Car Range Anxiety: A Rental SUV

Got a new electric car but are a little worried about it making it all the way to your next destination? That’s fine: It comes with a gas guzzler, too.

The curse of the electric car in 2013 is “range anxiety.” The average range of the bestselling Nissan Leaf, for example, is 75 miles, according to the EPA. That’s enough for most commutes, but not for a daylong road trip. That murky area in between is where anxiety kicks in, especially when refueling isn’t a rest stop away.


BMW thinks it has a solution to this problem–and it’s not copying Tesla’s fleet of battery-replacing robots. It’s called “add-on mobility,” and while it sounds like additional electric capacity, it’s actually a rental service:

With BMW Add-on Mobility, you can decide on flexible access to a BMW pool of vehicles with a specific amount of usage days that you can take advantage of if you need to make longer journeys. For example, the use of a BMW X3 for a ski trip.

BMW isn’t the first to offer such a service–the Fiat 500e comes with credits for about 12 days of gas-guzzler rentals. But that’s a California-only car made to appease regulators. Unfortunately, the BMW rental program might seem like an admission that the five-year, $2 billion dollar project to build an electric Beemer still isn’t everything consumers expect from a car.

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a print, radio and video journalist, regularly reporting for WNYC and NPR. He grew up in New Mexico.