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BMW i3 / i8 / ActiveE
Are you excited about the upcoming BMW i3 or i8? Interested in learning more about the BMW ActiveE? This is the place for you!

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  #1  
Old 06-19-2014, 10:20 AM
shoes shoes is offline
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Location: Green Valley, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 2011 BMW 535
My i3 Experience

I attended the i3 ride and drive at Concord BMW one month ago. I had previously owned a Leaf and have spent a lot of wheel time with my friend's Tesla Model S. My feeling is that the Leaf is rather a dull drive. The Tesla is a rocket ship but not fully fleshed out as the luxury vehicle it is priced like. So I approached my test drive with the i3 with the expectation that I would not like it. To my surprise, I enjoyed it immensely- it was fun to drive, practical and the unique and modern styling really grabbed me viscerally.

The dealer had one vehicle in stock which was the exact equipment and color combination that I found most appealing and after a few hours of groveling, they agreed to sell it to me. My overall impression one month into ownership is that the i3 is the best commuter car on the market. The one pedal set-up makes stop and go traffic a breeze. The one speed transmission makes for a very smooth ride and the instant on torque and super fast steering makes it a hoot to drive. The ride height is similar to a Mini Countryman so the visibility and access is very good. I keep the seats folded down so it swallows a surprising amount of stuff.
I am getting about 80 miles worth of range and since my other vehicle is a diesel, I only use the i3 for runs less than 40-50 miles round trip. The build quality is very tight and there are no rattles or squeaks of any kind, which I love.

Even though I am completely enjoying my i3 and would recommend it, all is not perfect. First off, BMW's choice of using Bosch to handle installation of home chargers is a bad one. Despite numerous attempts to contact Bosch, they do not return my emails or phone calls. Fortunately, there is a college near my home with a solar farm and there are free high speed chargers accessible to me. Otherwise, I use household 110. I would also call out a number of vehicle design points that I have issue with. The location of the starter button is poorly chosen- I frequently have to poke my fingers through the steering wheel to start or stop the vehicle. The recycled materials on the dash just below the windshield make odd reflections in the sun light making it seem as though the windshield is very dirty. The ride quality could be a little more compliant- the combination of the short wheelbase and 19 inch wheels make for a choppy ride. Forget driving on the highway on windy days- the i3 is too light and too high profile and requires constant attention to remain on track. Why is my air HVAC system required to kick on whenever I start the vehicle? The sun visor is not very useful.

Sorry if all is not perfect in the i3 world, but it is very fine start and I am loving it.
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  #2  
Old 06-19-2014, 10:27 AM
tim330i's Avatar
tim330i tim330i is online now
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Location: Boston
 
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Mein Auto: Ti Silver 03 M3
Great write up! I split your post out into its own thread so people can keep the two reviews separate for commenting. Please post up some pictures of your i3! Also please review your dealership in our new dealer rating system. I'd love to have an i3 purchase in the system - http://www.bimmerfest.com/bmw-dealers/

Thanks,
Tim

Last edited by tim330i; 06-19-2014 at 10:43 AM.
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  #3  
Old 07-03-2014, 07:38 PM
wco81 wco81 is offline
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Location: SF Bay Area
 
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Mein Auto: Acura
So you're about 40-45 miles away from San Francisco?

Do you have the range extender?

Would you be able to drive to San Francisco, park it somewhere (which may not have a charger) for several hours, spend some time in the City and make it back home?

That's kind of my test, I'm about 45-50 miles away from San Francisco, near San Jose. My commute is short so it'll be fine for everyday driving. But I can't see spending $50k on a vehicle and being unable to make a trip which isn't that long.

I know I can't drive to Tahoe with it but should be able to do more than toil around town.

How is the truck/hatch space? I see those Fiat 500e cars charging in some parking lots down here. I know those cars have not much in the way of usable trunk space and I'd hate to ride in the back of those things.
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  #4  
Old 07-09-2014, 01:36 PM
shoes shoes is offline
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Location: Green Valley, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 2011 BMW 535
Commuting to San Francisco

I would be reluctant to try and commute to San Francisco from my home and return without charging in the city. It might be possible, but it would not leave much room for the inevitable traffic jam. The truth is that the i3 is so light, I would be reluctant to take it on highway 80 due to the trucks and crosswinds. I do not want to see what an i3 looks like after a high speed collision either. BMW has always positioned the i3 as a city car anyway.

I received an odd phone call yesterday from BMW headquarters informing me that my early production model i3 needs to return to the dealer for a software update. First it is odd to be notified via the telephone. Second, my dealer knows nothing about this. Third, one of the main reasons I got the i3 is because of the two year maintenance interval. I like my dealer fine, but I don't want to have to drive there every so often for these kind of manufacturing issues. I thought Tesla automatically downloads updates to the vehicles without the need to return to the dealer? What if every time Apple updated its software, we all had to bring our I-Phones into the local Apple retailer?
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  #5  
Old 07-09-2014, 04:09 PM
wco81 wco81 is offline
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Location: SF Bay Area
 
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Ah, good point on the lightness of the car. Though presumably it will go through the NTSA or insurance crash tests?

That's a lot of money then to have limited capabilities. I can accept that you can't drive to Tahoe or to LA but not being able to reach and visit areas in the metropolitan area?
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  #6  
Old 07-09-2014, 05:16 PM
drlonline drlonline is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoes View Post
I would be reluctant to try and commute to San Francisco from my home and return without charging in the city. It might be possible, but it would not leave much room for the inevitable traffic jam. The truth is that the i3 is so light, I would be reluctant to take it on highway 80 due to the trucks and crosswinds. I do not want to see what an i3 looks like after a high speed collision either. BMW has always positioned the i3 as a city car anyway.

I received an odd phone call yesterday from BMW headquarters informing me that my early production model i3 needs to return to the dealer for a software update. First it is odd to be notified via the telephone. Second, my dealer knows nothing about this. Third, one of the main reasons I got the i3 is because of the two year maintenance interval. I like my dealer fine, but I don't want to have to drive there every so often for these kind of manufacturing issues. I thought Tesla automatically downloads updates to the vehicles without the need to return to the dealer? What if every time Apple updated its software, we all had to bring our I-Phones into the local Apple retailer?
Regarding the software update, a friend of mine recently bought an i3 and he also had to take it in for the software update. It's related to the check engine light coming on repeatedly. One reason I've heard that some car companies are hesitant to follow the lead of Tesla with wireless updates is a concern that the car's software might be hacked, which could obviously be a pretty serious matter for a car. Not sure if that explains BMW's decision, but I can appreciate the concern.
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  #7  
Old 07-09-2014, 06:39 PM
wco81 wco81 is offline
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Location: SF Bay Area
 
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Do they charge for the software update?

Or maybe a chance for the dealer to cross-sell you on other services.
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  #8  
Old 07-10-2014, 12:03 PM
drlonline drlonline is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wco81 View Post
Do they charge for the software update?

Or maybe a chance for the dealer to cross-sell you on other services.
The update was free and according to my friend, there was no attempt to sell other services. He also had one minor thing to be fixed, which they took care of at the same time.
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  #9  
Old 08-06-2014, 10:01 PM
tiburonh tiburonh is offline
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Location: CA
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Mein Auto: X3, Q5
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoes View Post
I attended the i3 ride and drive at Concord BMW one month ago. I had previously owned a Leaf and have spent a lot of wheel time with my friend's Tesla Model S. My feeling is that the Leaf is rather a dull drive. The Tesla is a rocket ship but not fully fleshed out as the luxury vehicle it is priced like. So I approached my test drive with the i3 with the expectation that I would not like it. To my surprise, I enjoyed it immensely- it was fun to drive, practical and the unique and modern styling really grabbed me viscerally.

The dealer had one vehicle in stock which was the exact equipment and color combination that I found most appealing and after a few hours of groveling, they agreed to sell it to me. My overall impression one month into ownership is that the i3 is the best commuter car on the market. The one pedal set-up makes stop and go traffic a breeze. The one speed transmission makes for a very smooth ride and the instant on torque and super fast steering makes it a hoot to drive. The ride height is similar to a Mini Countryman so the visibility and access is very good. I keep the seats folded down so it swallows a surprising amount of stuff.
I am getting about 80 miles worth of range and since my other vehicle is a diesel, I only use the i3 for runs less than 40-50 miles round trip. The build quality is very tight and there are no rattles or squeaks of any kind, which I love.

Even though I am completely enjoying my i3 and would recommend it, all is not perfect. First off, BMW's choice of using Bosch to handle installation of home chargers is a bad one. Despite numerous attempts to contact Bosch, they do not return my emails or phone calls. Fortunately, there is a college near my home with a solar farm and there are free high speed chargers accessible to me. Otherwise, I use household 110. I would also call out a number of vehicle design points that I have issue with. The location of the starter button is poorly chosen- I frequently have to poke my fingers through the steering wheel to start or stop the vehicle. The recycled materials on the dash just below the windshield make odd reflections in the sun light making it seem as though the windshield is very dirty. The ride quality could be a little more compliant- the combination of the short wheelbase and 19 inch wheels make for a choppy ride. Forget driving on the highway on windy days- the i3 is too light and too high profile and requires constant attention to remain on track. Why is my air HVAC system required to kick on whenever I start the vehicle? The sun visor is not very useful.

Sorry if all is not perfect in the i3 world, but it is very fine start and I am loving it.
Hi Shoes-

It's been a few weeks since you wrote this. Are you still feeling the same about driving on windy freeways? I'm about to pull the trigger on buying an i3, but live in the Bay area also and would hate to feel like I couldn't safely drive on 80, 280, 580, 101, GG Bridge, Bay Bridge, etc. Any update you could offer would be much appreciated.
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  #10  
Old 08-06-2014, 11:21 PM
wco81 wco81 is offline
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Location: SF Bay Area
 
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Mein Auto: Acura
I have to say, if Tesla delivers their $40k car with 200 mile range in a couple of years, BMW will have to step up their game.
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  #11  
Old 08-06-2014, 11:25 PM
Drbeqg Drbeqg is offline
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Location: Huntington Beach, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 29
Mein Auto: Lexus LS460L
I too was worried about the effects of wind and cross drafts. Have now had my i3 for a week and been driving it hard in a variety of conditions, including Southern California freeways. I live on Pacific Coast Highway where the winds pick up daily about 2pm coming in from the sea. Here is what I've experienced and learned. The steering is responsive, very responsive so you've got to keep your hands on the steering wheel and stay focused. Otherwise, I've had no issue whatsoever with cross winds from big trucks or strong winds coming in from the ocean. I've intentionally inserted myself a couple of times now between big trucks driving along the freeway and whether its coming up on the trucks, pulling along side them or driving between them, so long as I keep a grip on the steering wheel and pay attention, the car performs as it should. I suppose the only anxiety I've felt is that I am now in a small vehicle compared to my big Lexus that I previously drove. When I pull up between these big trucks I feel very small and a little exposed. The solution for this I've learned is to accelerate: the i3 whizzes out from between the trucks with just a little nudge of the accelerator. Its so fast and responsive that I can easily extricate myself from any situation I find uncomfortable. What a fun car to drive. I've not regretted for a moment buying it.
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  #12  
Old 08-07-2014, 11:36 AM
tiburonh tiburonh is offline
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Location: CA
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drbeqg View Post
I too was worried about the effects of wind and cross drafts. Have now had my i3 for a week and been driving it hard in a variety of conditions, including Southern California freeways. I live on Pacific Coast Highway where the winds pick up daily about 2pm coming in from the sea. Here is what I've experienced and learned. The steering is responsive, very responsive so you've got to keep your hands on the steering wheel and stay focused. Otherwise, I've had no issue whatsoever with cross winds from big trucks or strong winds coming in from the ocean. I've intentionally inserted myself a couple of times now between big trucks driving along the freeway and whether its coming up on the trucks, pulling along side them or driving between them, so long as I keep a grip on the steering wheel and pay attention, the car performs as it should. I suppose the only anxiety I've felt is that I am now in a small vehicle compared to my big Lexus that I previously drove. When I pull up between these big trucks I feel very small and a little exposed. The solution for this I've learned is to accelerate: the i3 whizzes out from between the trucks with just a little nudge of the accelerator. Its so fast and responsive that I can easily extricate myself from any situation I find uncomfortable. What a fun car to drive. I've not regretted for a moment buying it.
Excellent! Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your new i3.
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