VW Vortex - Volkswagen Forum banner
  • Mwerks and Fourtitude have rejoined VWVortex. For more info, see this thread.

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,463 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I missed out on the BMW i3 the first go-around when they came to market in 2013 as a 2014 model year BEV and there were robust state and federal tax credits to incentivizes buyers. Since then they've come out with the optional range extender (REx), there's been a life-cycle impulse (LCI) refresh and the battery tech has continued to get better. The trim levels and options have changed slightly also.

I've grown to like the quirky looks of the i3 and I feel like I'm almost ready to join the BEV bandwagon for my daily 70mi round trip commute to work that consists of city and highway driving. I always figured BEVs like the i3 were throwaway cars, not unlike my iPhones: good for a couple of years but when the batteries wear down it's time to upgrade to newer hardware/software anyways as tech improves over time. Which I suppose is why most owners lease them for 2-3 years rather than buy.

Lately I've seen some super inexpensive used i3s for sale, which always intrigues me (who doesn't like a good deal?). I figured there's got to be a good reason: probably low battery health resulting in low range capability combined with very expensive battery replacement. But are there bargains to be had? Is there a sweet spot in the used market? Or should I be looking at leasing a new one to minimize my monthly out of pocket expenses? Which options are a must?

 

·
Premium Member
'20 V60, '14 ATS
Joined
·
11,866 Posts
I always figured BEVs like the i3 were throwaway cars, not unlike my iPhones: good for a couple of years but when the batteries wear down it's time to upgrade to newer hardware/software anyways as tech improves over time. Which I suppose is why most owners lease them for 2-3 years rather than buy.

Lately I've seen some super inexpensive used i3s for sale, which always intrigues me (who doesn't like a good deal?). I figured there's got to be a good reason: probably low battery health resulting in low range capability combined with very expensive battery replacement.
The data from higher mileage BEV/PHEV vehicles generally shows that battery degredation is minimal assuming a proper battery conditioning setup, generally with water cooling. Nissan Leafs have air cooled batteries and have shown significant issues as a result.

Resale value drops like a rock because the technology is evolving very quickly, so what was a $40k new car four years ago is a $25k new car now. Thus the value of the used car is dropping at close to double the normal rate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Generally (except for the early Leafs ((Leaves?))) battery degradation is not an issue, unless you abuse of DC fast charging.

The i3 and other used BEVs are basically very cheap DDs to be picked up now. If I could sell my Audi I would jump into a used BEV in a heartbeat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,463 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Good to know! See, this is the kind of info I appreciate the TCL hive mind sharing with me. It seems I've got a steep learning curve to understand how to best utilize my transportation dollars on an entry-level premium BEV.

What else is there to know about the i3 that I might not otherwise glean from reading magazine articles about them?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,620 Posts
I am not going to say it's worth it or not, that is up to you to decide.

What I can say is this though: They are truly great cars, kinda the opposite of disposable given the materials used. Battery packs seems to hold up well to mileage and age, much better than older Nissan Leafseses. I drove our first 60AH 75000km over two years with no degradation reported in the service menu, and no degradation of observed range. I understand that it is wise to stay away from the REX cars as they are compromised by the additional heft of the gas engine and seems to be less reliable than the BEVs. We are currently on #3 and #4, and across all of them, all BEVs, we have not had a single problem or issue. Nothing. But, if you try, make sure you access the service menu to check the reported battery capacity, before you buy. You will find the info you need for how to do this, and what to look for, online.

With 70 miles round trip I think you need to rule out the cheapest cars with the 60Ah pack. With those you'd be pushing too close to what's possible on a daily basis. Instead you'd need to look at the 94Ah, or a 60Ah REX. I currently observe 100 miles range in the black of winter with our 94Ah, and suspect 150 miles is doable in the best of conditions. With our other 60Ah car, the range spectrum is 65 - 85 miles between winter and summer.

Options: That depends, we had one without the H/K audio system, and I found that surprisingly good, changed my mind about this being a must have. But I would def. want parking sensors, and the larger navi screen. Comfort access (keyless) is also nice to have. DCFC port is also a must IMO. I am not so sure anymore if I prefer the leather seats over the cloth. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

But, I rattle on.

You probably should go out and try one on for size. Pay attention to trim levels to see what you are getting, and/or missing out on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,244 Posts
Good to know! See, this is the kind of info I appreciate the TCL hive mind sharing with me. It seems I've got a steep learning curve to understand how to best utilize my transportation dollars on an entry-level premium BEV.

What else is there to know about the i3 that I might not otherwise glean from reading magazine articles about them?
hmm. there are a few of us here that own various models. I have a '14 tera BEV with ~36k miles I think now? Only issue we had was with the LEDs on the HVAC control in the interior got wonky at some point but were replaced under warranty. GoM still shows ~85 miles in good weather on a full charge but can get below 60 easily in really cold weather (for TX anyway).

Nice thing about the 1st gen EVs aside from them being so cheap is that you can charge them on level 1 the vast majority of the time and still have a full battery in the morning. We don't have an L2 charger in our garage despite having the car for more than 2 years now.

You'd have to pry it from my wife's cold-dead hands. It's her favorite car we've ever owned. It's a blast to drive being RR and light weight. My only real complaints as an enthusiast is with the seats (virtually zero bolstering) and that it's a combination of way undersprung and too tall, so it takes a while for direction changes to resolve and the car leans like crazy.

Practicality wise we take the car with our two kids all over the metroplex with almost no issues. Trunk is decent when loaded up but not amazing and you do have to deal with the triangle that the suicide doors create when trying to get people/kids out of the back seat. The tires are debris magnets and no reputable shop will repair them most of the time because they're like 75% shoulder block for the tread. Backup camera is amazing but it's in a different package than the big infotainment screen and I think I'd have to have both now that I've owned it. first year cars didn't all have heated seats or DCFC standard but I think all the other ones did? Early REX models can be coded to hold more fuel, but almost all the issues I hear about are from the REX. Most of the other issues that get reported are solved by replacing an old/cranky 12v battery. I hear about a few HVAC compressor failures, and that's important because the battery is cooled by refrigerant too. Generally very reliable from anecdotal evidence reading the FB group, etc.

Edit to add a couple relevant factors: we paid $15k two years ago and that included delivery. We also have two gas powered cars that we can fall back to if necessary so we don't have to rely on the limited range.

uhh, ask away about anything else.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,334 Posts
You also don't need to worry about brake pad changes for the foreseeable future. ;)

https://drivetribe.com/p/the-owner-of-a-bmw-i3-never-changed-SXdg01LwSNy-Ay8nRzvVaw?iid=Ia6wYMoNQx-uctON5ZYM3w

Really battery degradation isn't a big issue until well down the road with most BEVs. What you should focus more on is how far you typically drive per day. Where you will be charging. What you are going to do if you want to drive further than what a single charge will get you. Once you nail down the answers to these questions then you can see if a BEV is right for you.

From a personal experience I think they make the best commuter cars. I drive 40-50 miles per day so my 85 mile per charge eGolf is perfect for that. I charge at home every day on a 120V charger with no problems and if I need to go further I have a couple of other gas cars to take if needed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,959 Posts
I ended up getting a 17' REX CPO car to use as my daily. Combined with the solar at my home and a 240V charger in the garage, I couldn't be happier.

Engaging drive, RR setup that loves to stick its ass out with the systems turned off (especially with the extra weight of REX in the back)



Overall - would buy again 5/7.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25,971 Posts
I cannot think of another car that is as exotic in its construction that can be purchased for $16k.

Full carbon fiber reinforced plastic body shell (50% lighter than steel/30% lighter than aluminum), the strength of which allowed for the b pillar to be totally eliminated. This, in combination with the aluminum intensive battery and suspension module, allowed a total curb weight for non-REX models to be as low as a tick under 2,700lbs. The interior has door panels made of hemp mixed with recycled plastics, sustainably harvested woods, and leather tanned with olive leaf extracts.

Having said that, it's not a car for everyone. The driving position is high, and the some controls are a bit awkward. The very narrow tires take a bit of getting used to if you're someone who likes to corner enthusiastically. The rear-hinged, forward opening rear doors are not ideal if you regularly have rear seat passengers you need to let out (dropping the kids at school, for instance).

I enjoyed the times I've been able to drive one. In the battle of the used EV's, it'd be this or an E-Golf for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,244 Posts
The rear-hinged, forward opening rear doors are not ideal if you regularly have rear seat passengers you need to let out (dropping the kids at school, for instance).
Front seat belts are anchored to the rear door. so you have to remove your belt to let rear passengers out. Forgot about that one.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,150 Posts
In for more info, saw one in all black the other day and it actually looked really good. The looks of these have grown on me and if it weren't for the fact that I occasisonally do drive cross state (500-1000mi round trip) I would have given consideration to one. This is the type of car I see myself owning in a few more years when I can afford and have the room for a DD and a toy.
 

·
Registered
2016 A6, 2014 X3, 1967 Bus, 1963 356
Joined
·
22,415 Posts

I find this part the most interesting..

Neumann did, however, change his car's battery, not because he had a problem with it, but mainly to get more range. So he swapped his 60 Ah and 22 kWh battery for a 94 Ah and 33 kWh unit. BMW, for its part, claims that no i3 battery has yet been replaced. The BMW i3 will be produced until 2024 before being definitively discontinued.
..the i3 is a great platform that is only being made obsolete because of ever-improving batteries. That said I think there's an opportunity to buy a used, low mile i3 for mid teens, invest in a new battery for $5-10K, then have an up-to-date BEV for low 20's. Of course, if you don't need the added range then by all means, go buy one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,011 Posts
My wife was very interested in picking one of these up for her commute, so I researched them pretty extensively. My impression from all of the digging I did was the early ones had some issues, and can become problematic.

There is an entire subreddit dedicated to the i3. Tons of useful info, and real life experience in there.

https://www.reddit.com/r/BMWi3/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,970 Posts
I cannot think of another car that is as exotic in its construction that can be purchased for $16k.

Full carbon fiber reinforced plastic body shell (50% lighter than steel/30% lighter than aluminum), the strength of which allowed for the b pillar to be totally eliminated. This, in combination with the aluminum intensive battery and suspension module, allowed a total curb weight for non-REX models to be as low as a tick under 2,700lbs. The interior has door panels made of hemp mixed with recycled plastics, sustainably harvested woods, and leather tanned with olive leaf extracts.

Having said that, it's not a car for everyone. The driving position is high, and the some controls are a bit awkward. The very narrow tires take a bit of getting used to if you're someone who likes to corner enthusiastically. The rear-hinged, forward opening rear doors are not ideal if you regularly have rear seat passengers you need to let out (dropping the kids at school, for instance).

I enjoyed the times I've been able to drive one. In the battle of the used EV's, it'd be this or an E-Golf for me.
This is a good take. I spent some time behind the wheel of an i3 demo and thought it was pretty fun. The whole instant-torque electric thing combined with a little, light-weight vehicle makes for a good time, but the skinny tires keep the fun in check... It also attracted a surprisingly high amount of attention when we drove around -- people literally rubber-necking and pointing.

Seems like you could really peg the unusual-versus-value-o-meter with a used one of these. :thumbup:
 

·
Registered
Model 3P, AP2 S2K, 981 Boxster S
Joined
·
3,450 Posts
Finally and thread i know a few things about! OP, I've had 2 of them and it's one of my favorite cars out there now. My wife will have another in 2 years. A lot of good info in the responses above:

  • Exotic construction - called the Model T of our time
  • Fun to drive
  • Lets the tail hang in an advanced traction control mode when it's slippery out
  • Batteries are epically reliable - researchers have rated it to 80% charge at 500k miles

Do you live in a cold and or hilly area? My ideal i3 is this:

  • 2017 because range when up. You decide if you need the REX or not. something like 90% of the 2017+ came with it so you may not hav a choice
  • I like the split sunroof with the individual sun shades.
  • Get the one with auto cruise
  • I havent heard the HK sound package but it's prob nice
  • I don't mind the cloth seats. Think of it like a "superlegerra edition".
  • I prefer the wide professional screen.
  • Not every car came with a backup camera. Not needed but nice to have and one of the best out there if equipped.
  • Make sure it has DC fast charging if getting an early one.
  • L2 is worth the price at home. I promise


Do note that the 2017s were a tad heavier with the bigger battery and not as fast as the earlier ones. Throttle mapping changed a slight bit too. I would stay away from the 2014-2015s. Not unreliable cars but some noted issues with the REX and motor mounts making things $$$.

It's seriously one of the coolest little cars out there. I cannot wait to get another.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,463 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thanks all! I appreciate all the feedback. I’ll check out the subreddit and try to test drive one. I’m getting excited planning my next car purchase. This car is definitely a top contender. Just need to find the sweet spot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,244 Posts
Data point for anyone curious from my 60Ah BEV. Here's my car after my morning commute. Things to note; conditions were pretty much perfect in terms of climate and drive (~60F, average road speeds in the 30-50 mph range). There was some traffic, and I was booting it a few times out of lights because it's fun:




So GoM shows 64 miles remaining, but that's super conservative as you can see going 10.3 miles used about 11% of the battery which is more like a 93 mile range for a full charge. FWIW the last time I drove I think temps were about 20 degrees lower and included some brief highway stints, which is probably why the GoM is so conservative. Car has just under 38k miles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,469 Posts
I guess it's highly dependent on your location, but it seems like I can find i3 BEVs in California relatively easily, but pretty much all of the i3 in the Northeast are the REX model.

I got a ride in one a few years ago and was surprised how quickly it got off the line. Then I recently drove one around, loaded model with the big nav screen, leather, HK stereo, etc. That was a pretty neat car to drive, although the dash was really strange, shifter was strange, damn near everything was weird. Quick off the line, responsive steering, roomy enough for two people and some cargo. I never expected to like it, so I was impressed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Last year, I spent a lot of time looking for a used one of these as a commuter. I really liked how it drove but went a different direction (very cheap lease on a Wrangler).

Since you have gathered all of the i3 experts in one thread, I do have a question that I never got answered when I was looking: What is your insurance like? My agent in South Florida was quoting VERY high rates on the i3 and I was curious whether that is true for everyone based on the exotic construction or whether my company just didn't want to insure them.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top