BMW Coded US-Bound i3s to Show 1.9-gallon Fuel Tank Capacity instead of 2.4

bmw i3 1 photo
Photo: Catalin Garmacea
There’s been a heated debate online regarding the fact that the European i3 fitted with a range extender and the US one might have different fuel tanks. There’s also a reason for it but nobody knew how it was pulled off up until now.
A Bimmerpost member did some rather tedious research into the matter and found out that the differences between the two were done using coding. Basically, the engineers coded the US model to run out of fuel after sipping 1.9 gallons of gas despite having an addition half a gallon still in the tank. Basically, the range will drop to 0 miles even though the car still has fuel.

The discovery came after our hero investigator started looking in detail at how the two models differ from eachother. If the US tank was smaller, then it would have a different part number in the ordering programs but it doesn’t. Furthermore, the part diagrams show exactly the same construction, with no added restrictor placed inside the tank.

Why was this done?

It might seem like BMW is tricking its US customers but it’s actually not. This measure was taken because the company wanted to comply with CARB requirements in order to get the car certified. The current legislation asks ranged extended cars to have a smaller range on petrol than on electricity and the difference was so small, they decided to cut half a gallon from the tanks mileage estimates. Problem solved!

The best news is that you can actually disable the coding and get access to the full 2.4-gallon tank and its range with a couple of simple lines (that’s if you’ve done coding before, of course). For a guide on what you have to change, check out this thread.
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