BMW 330e (PHEV) Learnings

BMW 330e (PHEV) Learnings

Since 23-Jun-2020, I have used my hybrid electric car, a BMW 330e iPerformance (F30 platform), built in 2016. I bought it from the BMW branch office in Kirkel, and I have gained quite some experience with this model since then. While some learnings may be unique to this type of car, I believe that a great deal of my experience is also applicable to other plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). My experience is not applicable to electric-only cars (battery electric vehicles aka BEV).

These are the points that I would like to hightlight to someone interested in buying or using a PHEV:

General Points

  • A hybrid car makes most sense when most trips are of a short or medium distance. It is not a good choice for a someone who mostly has long trips (then, a Diesel engine would be much more efficient). When I switched the job in early Oct 2021 and now have to commute to a location 220 km away from home, I could realize that the average fuel consumption went up significantly, now ranging between 6…7 l/100km (see first graph below). Some consumption values that I would like to point out are:
    • On a recent trip from home to Portugal and back (6000 km in total), I could yield a consumption of 6.21 l per 100 km which I consider to be very good. This is due to the fact that the traffic flow is smoother than in Germany on large parts of the way and that speed limits are in place in France, Spain and Portugal.
    • On a small trajectory during that trip, I reached an average speed of 110 km/h and a consumption of 5.7 l per 100 km which is truly an extremely low consumption for the achieved average speed. That trajectory was on an even terrain with a constant speed over a large part of the trajectory. It cannot be reached in Germany as there is too dense traffic here.
  • If you use the hybrid car on a daily basis and always charge it at home, the electric energy that you charge per month is not much different (see second graph below).
  • One gets the best economy in the default mode AUTO eDRIVE when the onboard navigation system has the final destination programmed, this is also advised in the manual. On a longer trip, the car will then combine both engines in a way that it tries to run on the electric engine only in cities and on the combustion engine outside of cities. Most of the times, the battery will then be depleted when you reach the destination, and I suppose that the inherent idea is that then, the car would be charged anyway. However, if you plan to do a round trip and only charge the car when you are back at home, then my strong recommendation is that you program the navigation system in a way that you map the complete round trip, that is Home Address 🠖 Destination 🠖 Home Address. If your destination is located inside of a larger city, the car will then leave enough electric charge in the battery so that you can leave the city in the electric mode again (as long as the overall electric range is not exceeded).
  • Despite the efficient hybrid mode of the BMW 330e, I would switch to SPORT mode when I drive up a curvy road in a mountain area, simply in order to avoid the constant switching between combustion engine and electric engine. On the way down from the mountain, I would always have the car run in COMFORT mode so that the battery charges while I am breaking.
Average fuel consumption
Average monthly electricity charge

Pure electric Mode (MAX eDRIVE)

  • I use the purely electric mode (MAX eDRIVE) when I know that I can achieve my whole trip with the electric charge of the battery (e.g., shopping in the nearby city). When I already know that this will not be possible or when I do not yet know the extension of my whole trip, I leave the car in the default mode AUTO eDRIVE.
  • I can reach a realistic maximum range of 24 km under very good conditions (no need to brake too often, summer, flat terrain). When temperatures fall, this range decreases to 15 km, and below +3°C, MAX eDRIVE does not really make sense, as the combustion engine will kick in as soon as I would only accelerate modestly.
  • I get a real consumption between 0,20 kWh/km (summer time, little start-and-stop) and 0,32 kWh/km (winter time, a lot of start-and-stop). Pre-heating the car in winter would bring the consumption closer to the summer time values, but pre-heating also has a cost to it. Below are some examples of electricity consumption at various conditions.

Examples of electricity and fuel consumptions

Consumption Pattern on a road trip at +8°C.

Public Charging

  • While things have become better, public charging is still some kind of unregulated domain where you can have unpleasant surprises in some cases. My recommendation therefore is to charge the car mostly or almost exclusively at home.
  • Tariffs can vary greatly, from reasonable to outrageously expensive. One must check the tariffs at the charging station just before each recharge again, as they can change from one day to the other. Even then, this does not mean that you will also be charged the cost that is advised in the app.
  • With the consumption values given above, I have set my personal limit at 0.45 €/kWh. If the tariff is higher than that, I am equally or better off if I use the combustion engine.
  • Most operators will charge you additionally if your car stays longer than 4h at one charging point. So be aware to stay within this duration. A few operators however have the nasty habit to charge you 0.10 €/min from the first minute on, in addition to the electricity cost.
  • If you plan to drive abroad, it is often a better idea to get a charging card or app from a local supplier rather than using your usual apps in roaming mode.
Charging the car in autumn (Klingenmünster)

Posted on: 2021-12-26Gabriel Rüeck