BMW I3 - Do I need one?

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xantia_v6
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BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by xantia_v6 »

I have been thinking about getting an electric car for a while, and a couple of months ago I visited a car dealer with a good selection of them, but found them rather dull. They also had a BMW I3 on display, I looked at the price and decided that it was not for me either.

Since then I have been reading up on the I3 and watching the local prices, and I have almost convinced myself that I want one. I should remind you that at present I am living in New Zealand, and the used car market here has a different dynamic to that in the UK. In the electric vehicle market, 90% of sales are used imports from Japan (typically 3 to 8 year old), 5% are used imports from the UK (benefitting from UK grant and VAT loopholes), and about 5% have been sold through the official NZ dealer networks.

Of the electric cars currently available, 95% are Japanese import Leafs, I visited one dealer who had 50 of them on his forecourt with a couple of other Japanese models and a solitary I3.

Having decided to find an I3, the next challenge is to choose a target specification. There are dozens of combinations of optional extras (many originally very expensive), not to mention exterior and interior colour schemes, battery capacity and of course the fitment of the optional REX range extender engine. Added to all of those, there is the complication that Japanese market cars have Chademo DC charging sockets and Type 1 (not CCS) AC sockets with a maximum charge rate of 7kW. European cars have type 2 CCS with AC charging up to 11kW.

There are currently about 50 I3s for sale in the whole country, maybe 10 of them are local to me. So finding one in a specification and colour scheme that suits me (and within my nominal budget) is like playing the lottery.

Pricing starts at about $22,000 and goes up to about $85,000 (1 NZD = 50p STG). So not bargain basement. I have also discounted the 60AH battery version (2013 -mid 2016) as not having sufficient range. That takes the minimum price up to around $30,000. But I would also like leather upholstery and a dark colour scheme, and I have not seen that combination for less than $35,000... Specification creep at its worst. Even then, the 2 cars currently meeting the spec at around $35,000 are at the other end of the country, and flying in to look at each one will cost $200 - $500, plus $1000 to $1500 to get it home.

I think the time is right for some concerted procrastination.

BTW, I have test driven a couple and they are very nice.
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bobins
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by bobins »

I was looking at an i3 for a customer of mine last year, the thing that put me off recommending it to her was the carbon fibre body on them. Unfortunately, she sees driving more as a contact sport and knowing that repairing meaningful damage to something like an i3 will vary from downright difficult to writing the car off I decided it probably wasn't the car for her. :(
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by xantia_v6 »

I discussed this, in relation to insurance premiums with a couple of EV dealers, and they both said that these days if a collision is serious enough to set off the airbags or bend anything beyond panels, the insurance companies write almost everything off, regardless of make, so the carbon fibre is unlikely to make much difference.

Insurance companies will probably be especially keen to write off EVs due to the high salvage value in the batteries.
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by mickthemaverick »

I fully appreciate the insurance company's viewpoint with regard to serious damage but I would be more concerned with the repairing of minor scuffs and abrasions from car park carelessness etc. My son-in-law is a materials engineer who has worked in F1 and the aircraft industry all his career and he has told me in the past of the grief he has repairing minor scratches etc in carbon fibre panels. You can make a very healthy repair but almost impossible to match it in so invariably a complete refinishing job is needed! :(
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by GiveMeABreak »

Just generally speaking, I've no desire for an electric vehicle at present. We bought the Aircross to do us well into this decade hopefully before they stop selling new ICE over here (if that ever happens by 2030). If and when we are forced into having to have an electric vehicle, I am hoping in 10 years time, they will have improved the technology and infrastructure to an acceptable level and that the ridiculous pricing reaches sensible levels.

I've been watching a few Tesla videos and seen the issues they have with alarms not working and other issues and the cost in thousands for extras like Autonomous driving upgrades etc. Many of these features and capabilities are already available in the vehicle, but just need activating from the phone app - but these come as monthly subscriptions! $299 a month for basic Full Self Driving and an additional $99 on top of that per month for the enhanced FSD.... and it goes on. I've never liked subscriptions for software nor anything other than streaming TV and certainly not for vehicles. No wonder Musk is rolling in it.

No, not for me, by the time we have no other choice, I'd hope there will be a lot more competition and that the markets will make everything more transparent and affordable with decent ranges and infrastructure. In your position Mike, I'd certainly not be in a hurry and would wait a few more years to see what else is being offered that has what you want.
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by xantia_v6 »

mickthemaverick wrote:
16 Jan 2022, 10:11
I would be more concerned with the repairing of minor scuffs and abrasions from car park carelessness etc. My son-in-law is a materials engineer who has worked in F1 and the aircraft industry all his career and he has told me in the past of the grief he has repairing minor scratches etc in carbon fibre panels. You can make a very healthy repair but almost impossible to match it in so invariably a complete refinishing job is needed! :(
The exterior panels are all made of ABS plastic, the most visible (and vulnerable) carbon fibre seems to be the door sills. The under-chassis and impact crumple zones are mostly aluminium (but do look expensive to repair).
GiveMeABreak wrote:
16 Jan 2022, 10:12
I've been watching a few Tesla videos and seen the issues they have with alarms not working and other issues and the cost in thousands for extras like Autonomous driving upgrades etc. Many of these features and capabilities are already available in the vehicle, but just need activating from the phone app - but these come as monthly subscriptions! $299 a month for basic Full Self Driving and an additional $99 on top of that per month for the enhanced FSD.... and it goes on. I've never liked subscriptions for software nor anything other than streaming TV and certainly not for vehicles. No wonder Musk is rolling in it.
The BMW does have some subscription services, but none that I would consider vital (maybe the live traffic updates on the satnav, but I can always use my old Tomtom for that).

The general complexity of the electronics is daunting, but probably not much worse than a modern PSA vehicle, and long-term parts supply should be more dependable.

I have a feeling that the I3 may in the future be seen as the first EV with "classic" status, as it was so far ahead of the competition in 2013, and so quirky.
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

BMW I3 - Do I need one?
xantia_v6 wrote:
16 Jan 2022, 08:33
I have been thinking about getting an electric car for a while, .......
If you fancy going for one, and the back of a tab packet calcs work for you, just do it. No regrets from me going detached hybrid ie one electric/ one ICE. Give it a go :-D . What's the worst that could happen :?: . You do 10,000 miles in it and you sell it for not much less than you paid for it, and enjoy charging at home, with most of your journeys perfectly coverable by electric alone from home charging with the occasional on-road charge up.

Why wait if all of the above apply? Seriously, its fun and it will be a new enjoyable motoring experience. I don't miss the regular wallet emptying and fume-filled self service at the petrol station at all.

I was more excited at plumping for my first electric car than at any other bog standard motoring purchase, including the 2 Xantias, that I have made in the last 40 years. Yes it is a low range Classic Leaf, and yes it works fine in the country a good few miles from proper civilisation. Town/ suburbs I wouldn't have to charge it half as much and could easily manage on home charge alone.

Good luck with your search.

REgards Neil
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by dave »

xantia_v6 wrote:
16 Jan 2022, 08:33
have been reading up on the I3 and watching the local prices, and I have almost convinced myself that I want one.
may I express my deepest condolences to you and your family...
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by Gibbo2286 »

I think if I was in the market for a new EV I would be going for the latest Hyundai as in this video which you may have seen before.
]
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Last edited by myglaren on 17 Jan 2022, 12:44, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Video link
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by Hell Razor5543 »

Not so long ago somebody on the Forum highlighted an issue with the I3, in that there had been a catastrophic failure in the air conditioning system (which, for the want of an inexpensive omitted part, was avoidable) that effectively wrote off the car. The 'missing' part (which can catch any 'shrapnel' should a part 'explosively' fail internally) would have cost around £1,000, while the cost of repairing the A/C system (which keeps both the occupants and the batteries chilled) was in excess of £20,000!
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Within the many many pages of the "Electric Cars Whats Available thread" the BMW I3 has had a bit of coverage both good and bad.

James' reference was a post by Steve here
myglaren wrote:
04 Sep 2021, 21:34
Just been reading this:-
I had a 2014 BMW i3 that came with a 4 year bumper to bumper warranty. In the 5th year, my AC went out. The BMW dealer said the compressor self destructed and spewed shrapnel throughout the AC system, requiring every line and valve and condenser, etc. to be replaced. This is an all-electric car with two heat pumps driven by the AC compressor, one for the cabin and one for the battery/motor. BMW did not include a trap in the drier as is usually done to prevent exactly this problem, even though the problem is horribly worse in such an otherwise over-designed and horribly complex system. Even the battery had to be torn down to replace the cooling lines that ran through it. I called other dealers who agreed that this was a problem with this car and that was the only proper repair. At this point, the book value on the car with a working AC was about $16K.

The repair quote was over $22K. BMW felt bad, and therefore offered me a goodwill gesture of $2K towards a new BMW (plus whatever the dealer would give). I traded the car in as salvage and got $8K in trade for it. Did I mention that BMW forever lost me as a customer?
Encouraging!
Just for good measure another tale of woe
NewcastleFalcon wrote:
04 Sep 2021, 22:34
Compulsory wallet emptying is a risk which many car owners have to accept every time they walk through the door at the main dealers! Just so happens this is also a BMWi3 tale...
NewcastleFalcon wrote:
30 May 2021, 13:54
Of course scratch the surface of the internet, and the odd cautionary tale pops out. Petrol flap day on the FCF!
https://www.frenchcarforum.co.uk/forum/ ... 49#p687149

Beware if your Petrol flap on the REX doesn't open when you push the button....although from the comments may have been fixed in newer models, and non-use over extended periods never helps. One of the comments may have had a simpler solution

"You did not hold the button on the (fuel) door long enough I hold mine for 10 to 20 seconds and the tank depresses. You just pressed the button but the system needs time to depressurise."



The other slight negative by no means exclusive to BMW, is that the normal general public driver of a BMWI3 might have to step into a BMW service centre from time to time for compulsory wallet emptying to maintain the service history or correct trivial niggles.

Regards Neil
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

BMW i3's are still not in the bargain basement of used electric, so I'll shove this video here if the last couple of tales havent put potential used BMWi3 customers off.

I learned something from it which I wasn't aware of so the vid starts at that revelation. Maybe one of the reasons apart from the badge that they havent entered BB territory and cost a few arms and legs when new.

Later on in the film one of the disadvantages of the innovation was cited that repairing should damage occur to that particular feature were described as "virtually impossible". To be fair the panels as pointed out in the comments are "plastic" and the tapping on the roof panel....plastic, and if damage gets through to the structural cell of any car you are not looking at economical repairing anyway.

One of the better reviews I have come across


REgards Neil

PS looks like you can power your cheese slicer from it as well!
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by GiveMeABreak »

Some other issues here - not just regarding the car - but the charging stations - and then his range extender failed!

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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by xantia_v6 »

I tested a very nice 2019 i3 with the largest 120AH (42kWh) battery and range extender (a combination that was not available in Europe or Australasia). It also has just about every option: leather, adaptive cruise, self parking etc.
IMG_20220105_122200.jpg
It even looked OK in the driveway. With 9000km on the clock, it felt like a new car.

I nearly bought it, but have come to the conclusion that for now I will keep the money in the bank and look again when they have deprecated a bit more.
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Re: BMW I3 - Do I need one?

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Not that I have much choice, but buying new anything and funding that first 3 years depreciation always seems like madness to me. The next step down the 3-6 year old car is a more economic purchase and that car you were considering falls into that bracket. If the back of a cigarette packet calculations take into account your resale value after say 3 years as well as your reasonable expectations of maintenance and fuel savings, it could make sound financial sense as well.

With a 6-9 year old car you start running into possible battery degradation category territory, and you have to accept that risk as part of the lower price. Regardless of this older BMW i3's in the UK still are well over the £10,000 category.

With UK average annual car mileage being not much over 6,000 miles per year, and most new cars "bought" on PCP with stipulated annual mileages which tend to be pitched low to preserve value of the optional final payment, there are a lot of low mileage underused 3 year old EV's with plenty of useful life remaining. The NZ market may be different of course.

I wish you well with your search, and I'm sure even at the end of a possible 3 years in your ownership, that 2019 BMW i3 would hold its value pretty well. Really odd situation in the UK at the current moment on used cars which I find quite unbelievable is that second-hand anything, ICE and EV, has risen in price over the last year, with a greater demand from people who would normally buy new, and many also retaining their cars, and putting off buying new, and throttling back the supply of second hand. Plenty about "chip shortages" too cutting back the supply of new cars in any case. If that begins to mimic itself in NZ, now is probably the best time to buy.

As you say yourself, you appear to be very happy with the car in the picture, but not quite ready to take the plunge with some reservations about possibly a couple of years hence, a bit of further depreciation, bringing similar vehicles into a more affordable category. I would still say that if you can make the calcs work for yourself, that car and the lower 3-6 year depreciation period in your ownership,makes it probably a very good buy, and you enjoy the benefit of a least risk period of ownership. You will still have access to battery and major component warranties which will negate much of the odd "horror story" risk (as off-puttingly covered for a bit of balance in a few of the vids on the thread :-D ).

I wish you well in your transition to EV ownership, I think you have very nearly taken the first step... :-D

Regards Neil