BMW i3

BMW i3

I had the pleasure of viewing this vehicle in RIGHT HAND DRIVE, pre production in Australia this morning. It will be a direct competitor for the model E. Let me say that this is a very impressive car, albeit with funky looks. Yes, it is a commuter car, but BMW with its ICE package loaner for those rare occasions when one wants to travel long distance make it a compelling and realistic alternative for those of us waiting and waiting on the list (now for 3 plus years), with no store or sales staff in Australia to really give us realistic hope that the car really will be delivered here in the first half of 2014.
The car comes either in full electric or with range extender motorcycle 650cc engine, which gives it an extra 100 km (60miles) of range. Range with battery only is 130 - 160 km and with range extender quoted as 240 to 300 km.
Tesla really need to come forward with pricing for this market, since if they come in at say $150000 to $160000, they are going to lose sales, that to me included.
Yes, i know the advantages of the Tesla only too well. I have been to the factory in 2011 and had the test ride then, and have been assiduously following the forums ever since. A startup company in Australia is different to the USA especially since the factory is there. BMW has the advantage of gravitas.
In truth, the modelS is probably too large a vehicle for my needs now, but i am sold on the electric vehicle concept. The Volt does not appeal, mainly because it is a GM product, and i have had bad experiences with GM products previously.

Roamer@AZ USA | 28 oktober 2013

Lots of wanna bee low end short range cars coming into the market. I bought Nissan Leafs to drive while I waited for a "real" EV. Tesla is the only true EV that can replace an existing ICE car.

You may have to learn EV on a shorter range less capable car while you wait for Tesla to deliver there. I had to do it for a few years while I waited for the Tesla to be available. The limited range and limited performance cars being rushed out by all the legacy automakers will just make you appreciate the Tesla more when you can finally get one.

The major car companies are all market cowards. They are trying to get into EV with econo box low end electric that are pricy for normal low end econo box buyers. Tesla was brilliant to start at the high end with a higher end high performance product. That is the market segment that can afford what it costs to go full EV with performance and quality. Everyone else is cautiously dipping their toe into the market with short range econo boxes.

Roamer@AZ USA | 28 oktober 2013

Not a big fan of plug in hybrids liked the Volt. You end up wit the least of both worlds, a crappy ICE married to a limited short range EV with all the maintenance of both car types rolled into one. Go big or go home.

Right now Tesla is the only company that has gone big.

jajabor | 28 oktober 2013

I don't think i3 is any competition for Tesla. Not even close. Just like Leaf is not a competition nor Chevy Volt. Tesla is in a different class. If BMW wants to compete with Tesla they need to first hire someone who can design a better car.

Roamer@AZ USA | 28 oktober 2013

The I3 looks like a high speed collision between a Leaf and a Smart car. Would have to drive it with a bag over my head. That from someone that has owned and driven lots of BMW products over the years.

Bighorn | 28 oktober 2013

Good thing you liked the i3 since the Model S doesn't seem to be an option--good luck with that.

jat | 28 oktober 2013

Nissan has been offering loaners to LEAF buyers for years.

What currency are you using $150-160k for the GenIII? Surely, that can't be AUD as the exchange ratio is close to 1:1. Everything so far indicates it will be around $35-40k USD, which will be less than the base model for the i3, much less with the range extender. Note that even with the range extender (which they don't want you to use in normal situations), you don't have as much combined range as the 85kWh Model S.

jcaspar1 | 28 oktober 2013

I think the I3 is more evidence that other EV manufacturers (with the exception of Ford) are trying to out ugly each other!

dborn | 28 oktober 2013

The model S may come in here at 150 to 160 Australian dolls even at parity with the US dollar. If so, that will be too rich for me. 125 to 130 then yes, i will get the Model S.

Car t man | 29 oktober 2013

What are your customs and taxes like? What are you basing your price estimate on? Also, do you have any incentives for EVs? While a Volt isn't in the same league as a Tesla by any means, it could help you wait for it (maybe a used one or smth) but I think it is easiest if you email Tesla and ask them when they expect to be operational in Australia and have steering wheels on the wrong side :) Do you plan on placing a roadkill bumper on it? :)

Skip the i3 but you may consider a Fiat 500 electric in between since it is a fun little bastard but I don't think they sell them in Australia.

xradr | 29 oktober 2013

dborn, not sure what your time frame is, but it sounds like you've been waiting anxiously for quite some time (3 plus years).

Is there any great urgency to buy a car right now? If not, is it possible to wait, continue to save and make up the difference in the next 2 years through saving?

I had a similar experience about 3-4 years ago (with model S). I was in the market for a second car (one for wife and me). instead of buying something we held off for 4 years, and we basically saved and saved and saved. In the end, was able to afford the Model S because we planned and put aside money each month. Our main car was a honda civic hybrid (and you can imagine that the MS was an upgrade for us).

When that time rolls around, you can see what the differences will be between the GenIII and model S. If you opt for BMW i3 or Gen III, keep the 100K AUD and invest it. If you opt for the Model S, congrats and enjoy it ... you've earned it.

I guess the key is ... do you NEED a new car right now, or can you hold off?

Captain_Kong | 29 oktober 2013

I saw prototype i3 and i8 at BMW Welt during a recent trip to Munich. Both of them are very credible competitors to the MS. In terms of built-quality and fit / finishing and comfort / conv features, BMW is probably miles ahead of the MS. Though I'm anxiously waiting for my MS, but currently drive both BMW and Mini.

Having said that, I just don't get that spark within me to desire a i3 or i8 when comparing to the MS when I looked at them. If you're a rational person, you should go for i3 or i8 with BMW behind them; but if you like your car or the drive, this is going to be an emotional decision. I placed my order for the MS (unsight / un-test drive) because it looks cool and it's an awesome product concept.

Shame about Australian pricing for the MS (as well as i3 and i8), Australia is an unlucky country when it comes to buying a new car... hope this changes with Tesla. I was told for Asia-Pac markets, the base price will be similar to "Other European Markets", plus local applicable taxes.

If you can afford to wait for 2-3 more years, I believe Gen III and BMW i5 should be out by 2015 with similar and lower pricings. Hopefully you can decide with your heart then!

2050project | 29 oktober 2013

Always happy to hear when ICE manufacturers are (often against their will) begrudgingly taking the plunge into EVs. Especially BMW. But, it's frustrating that the range of the i3 is that of the Leaf for twice the price... and that they offer a side-by-side lawnmower engine - as if an EV drivetrain is still not enough for your driving needs.

There is one excellent analysis of the BMW i3 that really captures the essence of this:

carolinagobo | 29 oktober 2013

I don't get it how i3 is competitor of MS? is like saying that BMW 3 series is competitor of Mercedes S class. i3 is competitor of Volt and the Leaf 44 Kw/h will be competitor of i3. Now that you love i3 "I'm BMW lover" tell me how the small ICE motor sound while charging like a blender?

AmpedRealtor | 29 oktober 2013

Tesla gets glowing testimonials from those in the racing industry (Leilani Munter), those in the automotive media (Car and Driver, Motortrend), and Consumer Reports. Who does BMW have to say good things about the i3? Hold on to your pants, people...



Bighorn | 29 oktober 2013

Didn't click--are they using it as a golf cart?

AmpedRealtor | 29 oktober 2013

Exactly. This video is posted at the BMW i3 web site. It's almost absurd to watch pro golfers drive an i3 and proclaim how wonderful it is. Maybe it's an inside joke at BMW, but why promote your flagship hybrid-in-EV-clothing as a golf cart?

Lessmog | 29 oktober 2013

Now, that is funny. Although didn't click.

David70 | 29 oktober 2013

Well, golfers do like carbon fiber.

PapaSmurf | 29 oktober 2013

Is there any automaker (besides Tesla) that has a pure EV in development that gets over 150 miles of range on a single charge? I don't count that fake GM announcement. Is there any other EV with a name on it?

kawaiia | 29 oktober 2013

This has always been the issue with the “traditional” car manufacturers. They don’t want to cannibalize their mainstream money makers. Billions of R&D dollars were invested into their internal combustion engines and all related parts (transmission, exhaust system, etc.). Their supply management is fine-tuned to deliver the best pricing to support building an ICE vehicle. Their dealership networks are working in concert to squeeze as much money out of you in acquisition and ongoing maintenance. For them, it make little business sense to switch gears (pun intended) to build an EV that a consumer will want to drive.

Al1 | 29 oktober 2013

"why promote your flagship hybrid-in-EV-clothing as a golf cart?"

Maybe they don't want to promote it at all.

dborn | 29 oktober 2013

Folks, I am a Tesla fan. However, don't get too blinded. This car makes a great deal of sense for those living in crowded cities such as New York, Chicago or San Fran. It does not make a lot of sense in other areas of the USA . It makes a great deal of sense in most of Europe. If you rarely drive more than 30 or 40 miles a day, then this car could well work for you. It's displays are hi res and the main screen is 10 odd inches. If only two people are likely to use it most of the time such as retirees, it is a really good option. It has a high level of equipment and safety features and all the latest technology. Yes the appearance is funky, but google the reviews, they are universally positive with some detractions such as looks especially from the rear, but from a technical standpoint the reviews are basically all favorable.

Brian H | 29 oktober 2013

BMW i8 Official Launch Video

The first clear demonstration that the BMW grill is mean to subliminally suggest a bust! Sex sells.

Brian H | 29 oktober 2013

mean meant

Lessmog | 30 oktober 2013

No kidney, BrianH? ;-)

chrisdl | 30 oktober 2013

I always think of this when I read the word "bust":

AmpedRealtor | 30 oktober 2013

Is that the first archeological evidence of an afro hairdo?

chrisdl | 30 oktober 2013

Another Roman invention? Who would have known!

Webcrawler | 30 oktober 2013

I would not expect much love for the i3 on a Tesla forum.

For the record, I have a reservation for the Model X. I firmly believe that my Model X is about two years away since I am number 6336 and will not order a loaded X for cost reasons.

So far, I really like what I see in the i3. It is a quirky little city car with decent performance, luxury and range for it's cost. I actually like the looks. I really like the interior. It will have a higher ride height and seating position for people like me (and my wife) with bad backs. This is why I did not order a Model S. We are going to order one next month with delivery in the spring of 2014. We are going to order the REX version as we will probably make a trip or two each month just over the 80-90 mile range of the pure BEV model.

I realize that the models S is better in almost every way, but it is also at least $28,000 more expensive. I still think i3 will be a comfortable and fun little car to drive around town. The 0-60 in 7-8 sec performance is not exactly a "golf cart" as a few of you have stated. I also own a converted EV with a similar range (and even less performance) and find it extremely fun to drive. Admittedly it is mostly a toy.

You can see it at if you like.

The wife likes my little car too, but wants a modern EV with all of the creature comforts. The i3 is a bit of a compromise, but if her i3 performs well over the next year I would be very tempted to cancel the Model X and just get an REX i3 for myself. If the i3 does everything I need and it is fun to drive, I would have a hard time justifying the extra $30,000 to $40,000 to get the Model X.

I know I would prefer a Tesla Model ___ (GEN III), but that is at least 4-5 years away and I do not want to wait that long so the Model X is the only real alternative for me...

jonerickson1 | 30 oktober 2013


I like you reasoning but its seems odd that you would have such a wide range of what you want out of an EV. The Model X and the i3 are so different. Why even consider an EV like the Model X if you don't need or really want it?

Webcrawler | 30 oktober 2013


All I really want is a comfortable and quite EV with four doors that will seat 4 adults and have about a 150-200 mile range. The Leaf would not work for me because I have to make two or three trips a month just over it's range without any way to charge it.

The Volt probably suits me better than the Leaf, but I drove one and just did not like the car. I especially do not like the very short EV range of the volt. Most of my drives are in the 40-70 mile range. I would probably just get a Ford Fusion Hybrid over the Volt as it would give me nearly the same economy and I think it is over all a better car.

So that kind of leaves the Model S/X and i3 as the only EV's on the market that can do what I need. I really DO NOT want to spend $70,000-$90,000 on any car. I reserved the Model X more or less because I think it will be the only pure EV in the next five years that can suit my needs. The GEN III sound like my perfect EV, but I think it is at least five years aways and it might well be as low to the ground as the model S and I would not like that.

So, that is why I am cross shopping vehicles that are quite different...

AmpedRealtor | 30 oktober 2013

I still don't understand who wants to spend $50k on a BMW i3 just to use it around town, but not be able to use it for any type of meaningful long distance travel. Even with the 2 gallon gasoline range extender, the i3 still has a maximum range of 160-186 miles. That is less than a Model S 60 which has an EPA rated 100% EV range of 205 miles.

Anyone who buys a BMW i3 will still need another ICE or hybrid vehicle (or Model S) for trips where you need to drive farther than 160-186 miles. Don't think one way, think round trip. So you would have to spend $50k on an i3 plus another $20k-$30k for a backup ICE vehicle to take you skiing or to Aunt Martha's house. Why not just get a Model S 60 for the same total price?

ecarfan | 30 oktober 2013

Amped, he said that he and his wife have bad backs and the Model S is too low for them to get in and out of comfortably. Hence his interest in the Model X. Other than that your reasoning would be sound, as a base Model S 60 is not much more than an i3 and a much more capable car.

Apparently the i3 seating is higher off the ground then the S?

Webcrawler | 30 oktober 2013


I do not disagree with your reasoning. In many ways the Model S makes more sense. However, the 60Kwhr is still at least $28,000 more than the i3.

The way I would want the Model S configured would be $80,570. That is 60Kwhr, supercharger enabled, Tech Package, blue paint, parking sensors and panoramic roof. I am 6'-4" and would need the extra head room of the panoramic roof. A similar equipped i3 would be $50K with the REX. So for me it is a $30,000 difference in cost. I can certainly afford the model S, but the difference in cost is not trivial to me. The i3 is nice enough I could justify treating myself to a little more luxury than a leaf or volt.

I work in sales and my territory is a 50 mile radius of Atlanta and I live in the upper north west corner. I do have other ICE vehicles to drive longer distances. I have a F150 Truck and will keep the truck for various reasons.

Brian H | 30 oktober 2013

AFAIK, the pano makes no diff for the driver. Just rear seats.

chrisdl | 31 oktober 2013

Brian & Web:
Other people have noted that although the panoramic roof does give them more headroom in the front, there's bump of the mechanism on the left side which may be bothersome. Personally, I sit straight in my seat and close to wheel (as you should for safe driving), so with the pano roof I have loads of headroom (I'm 6') and the bump on the left is far away from my head.

Use Volkerize and TMC Search to find more information.

jonerickson1 | 31 oktober 2013


Where are you from? What is your proximity to superchargers?

JonathanL | 31 oktober 2013

As an ex-BMW owner, I think the i3 is the fugliest thing to ever come out of Bavaria. I bet Chris Bangle (the often maligned designer of the square trunk BMW's from the early 2000's) is laughing his ass off. I think Elon was correct when he recently mentioned that it's as if they purposely designed it to look weird. BMW can do a lot better, it is just that they don't want to. They want to make something that won't canibalize their existing line-up, and they have succeeded! The problem is they are going to let Tesla cannibalize their 5,6 and 7 series sales instead. Reminds me of how desktop computer manufacturers responded to the iPad, they ignored it or tried to make smaller desktops or even laptops, instead of responding to what the market wanted, in order to milk their existing products' life cycle as much as possible. I never bought another desktop or laptop since I bought my first iPad when it was released.

chrisdl | 31 oktober 2013

I share your point of view.

But here's another train of thought: What if BMW wanted to seize the opportunity to experiment with new, futuristic, and daring design? They knew that they weren't going to sell the i3's by the hundred thousands, so it is the ideal car to experiment with. And why not? Maybe it is more meant as a driving prototype or beta-test platform than an actual mainstream product. Call it the "Roadster of BMW", if you like. And I obviously talk about the intention when I say that, not about the design ;-)

AmpedRealtor | 31 oktober 2013

Believe it or not, a lot of environmentally conscious people gravitate towards the Prius exactly because it looks futuristic and "weird". They want to make a statement and want to be seen driving a car that clearly displays that the owner is sensitive to the environment. You don't make that same statement in a Civic hybrid, but you do in a Prius.

I believe this is the crowd that BMW is going after. The ones who want to advertise their environmentalism.

evpro | 31 oktober 2013

If Nissan could upgrade the Leaf battery to around 160 miles would it not be an instant competitor to the Gen 3, and beat it by several years?

(But without the Supercharger network - that seems like Tesla's biggest advantage).

AmpedRealtor | 31 oktober 2013

No, because Gen 3 range will start at 200 miles and go up from there.

JonathanL | 31 oktober 2013


I agree there are Ed Begley types out there who want to flaunt their internal weirdo. However, I think they purposely designed it to look weird so as not to cannibalize their existing line-up. You don't need to design an ugly car to flaunt your environmentalism, and Tesla is proof of that. An EV does not have to expensive to look good either. Design a Tesla-like body for the Prius and you now have a great looking Prius that still costs the same. BMW may find a new target market, but they lost me and many others.

Webcrawler | 31 oktober 2013

In the interest of fairness I thought I would add this info that I just learned. I live in the Atlanta, GA area and we can get a $5,000 state income tax credit for electric vehicles. However, you lose the credit if the vehicle has any type of range extender ICE engine.

So, the delta between the Model S and i3 just shrank for me by $5,000 to $25,000...

This kind of shifts my decision toward the Model S.

P.S. I did test drive the Model S with and without the pano and it definitely has a little more head room with the Pano, but as one person stated you can still hit the edge of the headliner...

Webcrawler | 31 oktober 2013

Forgot to add...

Now if I can just lose 30 pounds so I can easily get in any out of the thing...

cloroxbb | 31 oktober 2013


Seems a little fishy that all of the "advantages" of the i3 that you said made it look like a better purchase for you is all negated by a $5000 tax credit that you wont be able to use...

That confuses me a bit.

jonerickson1 | 31 oktober 2013


I thought you wanted the Model X?

Webcrawler | 31 oktober 2013

Still trying to decide... And yes I would prefer a model X...

Brian H | 31 oktober 2013

AFAIK, the i3 by default comes without the range extender, and it is for emergency "find a plug" use. BMW is discouraging its purchase, which makes it a max 80 mi. pure BEV. Eligible.

JonathanL | 31 oktober 2013


That is a possibility, especially if they felt that dual fuel (battery, plus gas backup) was the way of the future. However, they made a somewhat compelling all electric vehicle, the Active E, which by no means is a Tesla, but could probably be sold for a Gen III price. Yet they decided to limit it to like 1,000 vehicles for lease and then kill it when the leases were up. I think they are sitting on the technology and just waiting until they feel they have milked the ICE cow for all it is worth before going prime time with a real EV.