Introducing the BMW i3 REX

The BMW has been around since 2013 and spearheaded BMW’s launch of its i sub-brand. It’s a premium piece of kit, which becomes apparent as soon as you sit behind the wheel. Its funky looks, addictive acceleration and clever carbon fibre and aluminium construction have made it one of the most popular EV’s around.

Our BMW i3 has a slightly bigger 94Ah (33Kwh) battery with an EV range of around 120 miles (BMW claim around 140 miles). It also benefits from being a Range Extender Model (REX). The REX is essentially a small petrol motorbike engine that acts as a generator for the electric motor. The generator never drives the wheels but will charge the electric batteries, giving an additional 90 miles of range.

Before your drive

Make sure you’ve booked out the car using our booking system: The booking system will have the most up to date information about the cars location. At each location you will find a key safe which will give you access to the car. Unplug the car and be sure to stow the charger lead in the front bonnet (known as a frunk or a froot) for use later. Before you set off make sure you enter the start mileage on the trip sheet and check the condition of the car. 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: i3 Pillar-less doors

The i3 cabin access is fantastic. The pillar-less rear opening doors allow a level of access that is unrivaled in this class of vehicles. It also looks pretty impressive! However, care must be taken to close the rear doors before the front doors

Repeat it: Rear doors first. Front doors last.

Driving the BMW i3 REX

If the quirky looks aren’t for you then the driving experience will win you over. The steering is well-weighted and the instant torque from the electric motor means there is little on the road that can touch this car from 0-30 mph!

From its rear-hinged back doors that open up to create a wide, pillarless opening to its dash-mounted transmission selector, the i3 looks unconventional. Once in the interior feels special as it uses materials more usually found in supercars than city cars!

The start/stop button can be found on the transmission selector to the right of the steering wheel. Press this while your foot is on the brake and the car will be ‘running’ (assuming you have the key somewhere in the car). Once started, the car will sit there silently ready for you to put it into drive. The drive selector is on the same stalk as the start/stop button and using it becomes second nature very quickly. The handbrake is engaged/disengaged with a button located on the lower central console. It’s recommended that when you come to a stop you hit the ‘P’ button located on the top of the transmission selector.

The lights and wipers are automatic, so it’s just a case of getting in and driving.

Tips and Tricks

Here are our tips and tricks for getting the most out of our BMW i3 REX:

Regenerative Braking

Lift off the accelerator or gently apply the brake pedal and the car will start regenerating power from the motors into the battery. The brake pedal is essentially doing two jobs: the first half of the brake travel is for regenerative braking where as the second half will apply the “traditional” brakes to bring the car to a stop. This will feel strange at first but after a few minutes it all feels fairly natural. It’s possible to regenerate a mile or 2 on a downhill, by either lifting off the accelerator or feathering the brake. The i3 has the ability to bring the car to a complete stop using just regenerative braking. Please note: electric cars do not offer regenerative braking when the battery is full.

Driving Modes

The i3 comes with 3 driving modes: Comfort, Eco Pro or Eco Pro+. Comfort is the default setting, here you get all of the performance and air-con/heating capability. Pressing the toggle button on the lower central console (labelled Comfort/Eco Pro) will allow you to toggle to the other modes. The Eco-Pro mode uses a different accelerator pedal mapping which uses less power. The Eco Pro+ mode will do everything to conserve your battery range, top speed will reduce to 56 mph and electrical devices such as the heating and air conditioning are switched to energy-saving mode.

Heating/Air Conditioning

The i3’s cabin is climate-controlled. Like any climate control, we recommend setting this to a sensible temperature and then leaving it in “auto”. The car will then generate the heat/cool air and deliver it when ready. To maximise range we recommend using the windows and heated seats to keep you at a comfortable temperature whenever possible.

After your drive

Please return the BMW i3 to the location noted on the booking system. Complete the trip sheet making sure to note any issues with the car. If you do notice an issue, please also email Put the car on charge using the instructions below and return the key to the keybox.

Charging the BMW i3 REX

The i3 will be charged from a charging post or dedicated wall charger; depending on the location. If you are charging from a post then you will need to initialise the charge from the Vend Electric App.

Setting up VendElectric for the first time

Step 1: An email will have been sent to you when joining the car club inviting you to join a private car club network. Click on CONFIRM INVITATION and fill out your information to create an account.

Step 2: Once your account is created your will need to accept the invite. To do this return to the same email and click CONFIRM INVITATION again. This will then add you onto the HNLC charge network.

Finally install the VendElectric app: which is available for Apple and Android phones. Login using the information provided above. Please note: The VendElectric app has a habit of logging you out if you haven’t used it for a while. If this happens click on the menu (top right) and choose Log in.

Charging using VendElectric

Ensure you have followed the setup instructions above. You will find the charging cable in the boot of the car. Open the charging flap by hand, plug the cable into the i3 and then into the charging dock, making sure it is firmly pushed into the charging dock. Make a note of the socket number (UKEV2077 for example).

Step 1: Open the VendElectric app and find the charging location either by searching for “Hook Norton” or by scrolling on the map.

Step 2: Select the charging socket you wish to use. Type in the vehicle registration and “Free Charge” should appear at the bottom of the screen*. Select Confirm Charge.

*If “Free Charge” does not appear on the screen, click on the menu (top right) and double check you are logged into the application. If you’re not shown as logged in (your name should appear). choose Log in.

Step 3: If the application gets stuck on this screen, please leave the car plugged in and let the car club team know:

Step 4: Once the charge session is active you are free to close the app on your phone. Last remaining step is to check the car is charging.

Charging using a dedicated wall charger

If you are charging the car from a dedicated wall charger (like the one at the school), then the cable is tethered to the charge itself. Open the charging flap by clicking the button to the right of the steering wheel (the button highlighted in green on the picture diagram). Plug the car into the tethered cable, the last remaining step is to check the car is charging.

Check the car is charging

The light inside the charging flap has two purposes, 1. to help you see in the dark, 2. to let you know the charging state. When you plug the car in, the light will change to yellow, idicating that it is initialising. After a very short time, this should change to blue, indicating that the car is charging.

If you are unsure the car is charging please unplug everything and try again. If after a second attempt you are still unsure, please leave the car plugged in and let the car club team know: The team are able to initialise a charge remotely in this situation.

Charging outside of Hook Norton

If you are planning a longer journey then you will need to use the electric charging network, this should be fairly painless and shouldn’t cause concern. We recommend you try the following steps.

  • Go to or download the app.
  • Take notice of the guessometer on the car when you pick it up. The i3 has an EV only range of between 110-140 miles
  • Pick a charging point and plan your route. You should pick a charging point that you guess you will arrive at with around 15-20 miles range. You should also make sure the charging point has the correct charging outlets (plugs). The i3 uses either: Type 2 or CCS rapid charging.
  • You will notice that there are lots of chargers. There are also a lot of different charging companies and lots of different charging outlets. Choosing one may seem daunting at first. We recommend the following:
    • If you are travelling on motorways then Ecotricity run all the chargers at the major motorway services. You will need to sign up, download an app and give credit card details. Each transaction is logged on your app and a screenshot can be sent to HNLC for reimbursement
    • BP chargemaster run as an app called polar instant. This allows pay-as-you-go access to their charging network which are usually away from the motorways. Try to screenshot or document any transactions you make on the app so that HNLC can reimburse you
  • Being a REX model, if all else fails you can fill the car with normal Petrol from the petrol flap on the offside front wing of the vehicle (sometimes known as the flap of shame). This will give you another 90miles of range. You may need
  • If you follow the steps above then your “range anxiety” should be kept in check. In the unlikely event that you run out of range: all of our cars are covered by recovery.