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BMW i3 I01 (2014 - Current)
The BMW i3 and BMW i8 are the first two cars launch under BMW's new sub brand BMW i. The i3 is an all carbon fiber, all electric vehicle meant for urban mobility.

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Old 06-06-2014, 07:56 PM
lencap lencap is offline
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Location: raleigh, nc
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 17
Mein Auto: 325i
Having Trouble Justifying i3 Cost - Help Me

Greetings - I've owned 2 Prius cars (2007/2011), a 2013 Nissan Leaf, and a VW TDI manual transmission diesel (current car).

While there is clearly some apples/oranges differences among these cars I've grown to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each and find all of them reasonable cars.

The 2011 Prius clearly showed a vast improvement over the 2007 Touring model. Better battery management, more usable power, smoother overall.

The Leaf was a very fine electric drivetrain, but it was in a converted Nissan Versa donor body, and the low end build quality was hard to ignore. I would still have it ($199/month lease with $1,500 down), but unfortunately it "drowned" in a flood following a 5" rainfall in under one hour. When I got out of the store I was in the car was flooded above the height of the tires.

So to replace the car I decided to get a Passat TDI. I'm a big diesel fan, and my wife's car is a 2011 335D - to my mind the finest car BMW offered that year. I will keep it until it dies - 425 pounds of torque is intoxicating, as is the "old fashioned" rack and pinion steering and no "stop-start" engine, and the inherent balance of a 6 cylinder engine.

The TDI is amazingly efficient. With the manual transmission the car easily gets 33 MPG in town - driven "spiritedly" - and on the highway with cruise control set for 70 MPH I get 50 MPG - actual measured, not based on the computer calculation.

The TDI is also FUN - torquey and engaging, even with numb steering and front wheel drive. It's far more fun than a Prius - and an overall better car than the Leaf.

I've considered the Tesla, having had several test and "long range" test rides lasting many miles on both city and highway roads. The Tesla doesn't "fit" me. The seats feel too low to the ground, the doors too high and the rear seat proportions are awkward. The front A pillar is almost in my face when I adjust the seat where I want it to be. And, to me, the interior while "clean" is too sterile. The interior leather feels and looks second rate and the rear seat back looks like a piece of plastic. Add to that the high entry price and all in all I wasn't overwhelmed that I had to have it. The 265 mile range is just enough to be acceptable, but not enough to make a round trip to visit family without needing a full recharge.

Which leads me to the i3, which will be a "commuter/local use" car. I've driven several, and have 50+ miles in driving under my belt, again on local roads and highways. I find it a very competitive car - and the looks don't bother me (much). What I can't seem to get over is the cost. The entry price for a Giga i3 (non-Rex) with some options I'd like is a bit under $45K - about $10K more than the Nissan Leaf. BUT the Leaf was available at a $200/month lease with $1,500 down. The i3 is $550/month with almost $3K down. Worse, the resale residuals on the lease suggest that the car will drop 70% of it's initial value in 5 years. Yes, part of that is the $7500 rebate at play, but I find if VERY hard to say that the i3 is 3 times better than the Leaf.

And that's my problem. While I'd like to have the i3, the economics make no sense - either in an absolute or relative comparison. And in 3 years there will be a new lower cost Tesla, and three more years of battery advancements and technology advances.

Help me justify why I should consider the 3 times more expensive i3 versus the Leaf - or why the i3 makes any financial sense at all. Yes, there are only two truly premium EVs - Tesla and BMW, but with technology being what it is I feel as an "early adaptor" buying an i3 today is a VERY expensive experiment.

By the way, I do enjoy DRIVING. The EV car is a toy, but also a "Zen" experiment. I like the quiet Leaf interior (except for the sound of plastic parts rubbing and incredible tire noise), but it's hard to justify an i3 that costs more per month than my wife's $50K+ 335d, which on a fun to drive comparison leaves the i3 in the dust. And my wife's 335d over 20K miles of driving has averaged over 32 MPG - all with 425 pounds of torque distorting my face with an ear to ear grin.

Sorry to be so long winded - but the i3 pricing and lease costs seem VERY hard to justify.

Last edited by lencap; 06-06-2014 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 06-07-2014, 01:55 PM
Drbeqg Drbeqg is offline
Location: Huntington Beach, California
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 38
Mein Auto: Lexus LS460L
You get what you pay for

Hello Lencap in North Carolina. Like you, I own a Prius. In addition, I just sold my Lexus LS460L, my Lexus SC 430 and our big family Infiniti SUV. We also recently purchased a four door Mini and are enjoying the enthusiastic ride. I appreciate your passion for diesels. I have a boat with two large Detroit Diesel motors—a bit of hypocrisy with which I will live happily and guilt free. As with you, I’ve learned to appreciate the strengths and weakness of the various cars I’ve owned and am looking forward to the same lesson with my i3 which will soon ship to California. I am getting an electric vehicle because I want to begin the process of freeing myself from the tyranny of the gas pump. Even with the REx, I will have reduced my dependence on the local gas station mightily.

I did not purchase the REx version of the i3 for long hauls even though I am now convinced that it will make them. Rather, it is a car to be driven locally on highways and public streets—for trips of 120 miles or less without range anxiety. With smart driving, I should get a good 80-90 miles out of my battery alone before the REx kicks in. I got the REx as backup strictly, not as the principle means of propelling the i3. My advice to anyone: if you are contemplating the REx for long distance drives on a regular basis, look for another vehicle.

As for cost, it is true that in three years there will likely be electric vehicles that cost less than the i3 (maybe even versions of the i3 or other BMWs) and improved technology including advances in battery technology. But if you wait for an additional three years, there will be even more advances, and in the three years beyond that—well, its hard to contemplate. BMW has gone beyond the call of duty (that is, in creating just a “compliance” car) to produce, a marvel of technological innovation, a car of choice. It took me a while to reach this conclusion including a lot of research and conversations, but with regard to the i3, the future is now. The i3 is not a “toy.” When it comes to automobile transportation, it’s not an experiment. Every bit of data we have suggests that i3 delivers on the promises it makes.

Now down to the nub of your remarks. You write, “why should I consider the 3 times more expensive i3 versus the Leaf”. The Leaf is selling well which is something we should all celebrate as it adds to the growing experience and comfort level of Americans with electric vehicles. It makes a strong and compelling case as an EV at its price range. But the BMW is not a Nissan Leaf. I bought a Lexus over a Toyota (both good vehicles) for the same reason that I bought the BMW over the Leaf—quality, comfort, technology, innovation and, in addition, freedom from range anxiety as the Leaf doesn’t have a REx.

Will there be issues—“niggles” as one British commentator wrote--along the way? Of course there will be, as there is in any new advance in technology. Software glitches to begin with and there will be improvements in future models, but the fundamentals of this new EV are there and they are strong, reliable and as exciting as any car I’ve ever wanted to own.
If its too much money, don't get it. But if you can afford it, grab it and enjoy the ride.
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:44 PM
ultraturtle ultraturtle is offline
Location: Peachtree City, GA
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 19
Mein Auto: 2002 325iT, 2007 325i
Originally Posted by lencap View Post
...it's hard to justify an i3 that costs more per month than my wife's $50K+ 335d
If you were to purchase, rather than lease, the i3 would cost considerably less per month than a purchased $50K+ 335d, taking into account the federal $7,500 tax credit, whatever state incentives are available to you, $100 per month or so in fuel savings (assuming ~ 1,000 miles per month), and insurance savings.

The $45k you quoted for the i3 would then essentially cost you a net $37,500 after federal tax credit, or $653.20 per month for a 5 year, 1.75% loan minus the $100 fuel savings for a net $553.20 per month (assuming no State incentives or insurance discount). On the other hand, a $50k 335d would cost you $870.93 per month on the same terms, which is $317.23, or 57% more.

Last edited by ultraturtle; 06-09-2014 at 12:29 AM.
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