Upgraded BMW i3 (with 33 kWh Battery) Featured By Fully Charged – Video

4 months ago by Mark Kane 40

The longer-range BMW i3, with a 33 kWh (94 Ah) battery on board, has been available on the market for quite some time now, albeit in a somewhat production-constrained fashion.

According to Fully Charged, the i3 is still one of the best electric cars out there today – the best for its size, and one of the nicest to drive.

BMW i3

The latest i3 can travel up to 114 miles (183 km) on single charge (EPA), which is more than a 40% improvement from previous 22 kWh battery version.

As the weight remains nearly unchanged, the 125 kW electric motor combined with BMW’s engineering flair provides a great driving experience, especially in the city or for commuting.

“The all new (well, an important bit is new) BMW i3 fitted with a larger capacity 94 amp hour, (or 33 kilowatt hour) battery is a major step in the right direction. I love this car.” – Fully Charged

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40 responses to "Upgraded BMW i3 (with 33 kWh Battery) Featured By Fully Charged – Video"

  1. WARREN says:

    i3 is definitEly fun to drive, and very refined under acceleration with its RWD. Had the Bolt and i3 at our car show this weekened. Much more poeple looking at the i3. The Terra i3 is heads and shoulder above the Bolt in interior quality and design without all those acres of hard plastic. Those narrows seats on the Bolt are definitely interesting. Everyone remarked how the seat cushion is sharp and actually digs into your when exiting the car, somewhat painful even.

    1. Joshua Burstyn says:

      Biggest issue for the i3 is the price. In many cases it is in Tesla territory.

      1. Snowdall says:

        Have to agree there. I really love the look of the i3, and am very impressed with the materials technology used in the vehicle. But for what you get, the price is just a bit too much.

      2. 3laine says:

        No way. Even a base Tesla Model S costs way, way more to lease than a loaded i3 REx. When I was shopping, the lease price was significantly more than double for a base Model S vs my well-optioned REx. Buying would make it slightly closer because then you don’t get the advantage of BMWs inflated residuals, but buying the i3 makes no sense when the leases are so cheap.

      3. JohnMB says:

        Just look at CPO TSLA today, in most cases two to the times the cost of a CPO i3. I got a fully loaded i3 back in 2015 for $37,500 (with tax credit, and negotiation) but I couldn’t even smell a TSLA for less than $65, and a CPO i3 Terra World (15K miles) and good as new for $24,000.

      4. Brian Peeters says:

        I disagree about the price. When all monies are considered, I got my i3 (lease) for $20 more per month than my previous car, a Camry Hybrid ($310 a month). I put $0 down and also put down the max number of security deposits (max is 7) which was about $3500 total. My month payment is $412 but remember I live in the state of CA so CA gave me a $2500 rebate, so amortize that rebate over 30 months and my monthly drops to $329 per month.
        Camry Hybrid lease: $310 a month
        2015 i3 lease: $329 a month
        PLUS I don’t have to pay $60 a month for gas anymore and only pay around $15 for electricity. So here the TOTAL monthly is almost exactly the same between the 2 cars.

        I think that if more people did the math, they would see the value in the i3. Yes, the sticker price was high on my 2015 i3, $51,000, but since it was an older model and they needed to make way for the 2016’s, they dropped the price to $44,000. Then, you’ve got the fed tax credit of $7500, so now the price is $36,500. I also have USAA insurance, which gave me another $1000 off. And since I was coming from an Audi, they had another $1000 off special going for converting to BMW. So then the price is $34,500. That is the price the lease was based on in my calculations above, and then you still need to deduct the CA state rebate, etc, etc, per my calc example above.

        I hope this info helps others. We actually own 2 i3’s now since my wife would always drive “MY” i3, so I got us another one. (2017 i3 with more range). We couldn’t be happier with these two revolutionary cars!

    2. Another (Euro) industrial point of view says:

      “The Terra i3 is heads and shoulder above the Bolt in interior quality and design without all those acres of hard plastic”.

      Agree, many of us spend a lot of time in our cars every day and I just can’t spend that much time years after years in a car that as poor interior quality, to me it is just to depressing no matter that it has 500 miles of range on a 2kwh battery and it cost $3,500. I hope Opel with the AmperaE will understand this and upgrade the Bolt interior a little bit for the European market otherwise they may loose sales for no good reasons.

      1. ffbj says:

        That won’t happen.

    3. Warren says:

      Robert admitted he wasn’t doing an official range test. Read the Autocar head to head test between the ioniq, eGolf, LEAF, and i3. The i3 had the best range by far in that test.

      http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/hyundai-ioniq-volkswagen-e-golf-bmw-i3-vs-nissan-leaf-electric-vehicle-group-test

      This is a pic from our car show last weekend with my i3, the Bolt, Volt, LEAF, 90D Model X, and eTron.

      Here is the picture inside the i3 Terra

      And here is a picture inside the new Bolt at our event:

  2. mx says:

    I just wish Robert would give greater detail on driving characteristics. He says he loves it, but that’s not very descriptive.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      He’s not a car guy. I doubt he would give a good description.

  3. SparkEV says:

    He says bigger battery weighs the same as old 22 kWh battery, yet new i3 weighs about 150 lb heavier. Why is this? Even with all that carbon fiber, it’s now heavier and lower EPA MPGe rating than SparkEV. It seems they’ve regressed, not progressed.

    1. DJ says:

      It’s because the battery doesn’t weigh the same. It is the reason the car weight more.

      Homey lied.

  4. Nix says:

    I saw one of these blue i3 driving around in the real world. That color is quite amazing in person. The photo’s don’t do it justice.

  5. Get Real says:

    Yes the quality of the interior and its light-weighting carbon fiber on the I3 is excellent and I love the way they design it so it is battery upgradeable and I also really like their range extender option now that it has semi-ok range.

    However, it is a very small car with relatively poor freeway driving characteristics and is quite expensive compared to Volts/Bolts for what you get in range making the plebian Chevy’s a much better value.

    For the money/performance/cachet, the much larger Tesla is arguably a better value at the top-end.

    I do think however that if BMW gets away from its current non-I series compliance PHEVs and goes more for an I3 type ranges it will be well placed to compete in the electrification of light duty vehicles.

  6. unlucky says:

    What do people think the i3 interior is made of?

    It is also acres of hard plastic, they just sprinkled a little glue and pet hair on top. And I can’t really understand how people are managing to not see how startlingly cheap the instrument cluster looks on the i3. You’re somehow looking right past it to gaze lovingly at the kenaf-on-plastic? And he even has the one with the even more ridiculous center console display. BMW upcharges you to get a center console display that only has a 2.5″ plastic edge around a small display instead of the 3-4.5″ edge around the tiny display on this car.

    Given the interior faults on this car plus the hideous outside I’d take a Bolt over it any day. Although I really think that both cars could do without the “floating C pillar” design. That’s tired.

    Can anyone tell if the European one has the “flap and cap” charger socket of the US one? It appears the under-door cap isn’t there on this car which would be nice since there’s really not a lot of fun of having to open two covers to charge when you can just open one.

    If I had an unlimited pot of money and just these two cars to choose from (as he posited), I think I’d take the IONIQ too. This car does a lot of things well, but the doors are just too stupid to put up with. The driver having to unbuckle his seat belt and open his door to let a rear passenger in or out is just too annoying, as well as the way you get trapped between the doors when parking next to an adjacent car. The IONIQ avoids all that and presumably has properly-sized rear seats.

    1. DJ says:

      Ya, I have to agree. I’m not a fan of the door siding or the dash. I get that they’re trying to make it look environmentally cool and all but I think it’s just flat out annoying.

      Not sure about the wood trim either. On one hand I like it, on the other hand if you bang your head against it in an accident it’s gonna hurt more than padded plastic and I also question the long term durability of it if you have to park outside.

      What am I supposed to restain it every few years??

      1. unlucky says:

        Wood trim in cars nowadays (for about two decades) is impregnated with plastic in pressure cookers. It’s zero-maintenance.

        This used to make the wood so glossy and smooth that it might as well be fake, it just felt like plastic anyway. Now they can do it without quite so much over-coating so it retains some grain and has a somewhat matte appearance.

        Either way, it’ll be zero maintenance just like the plastic next to it since it is plastic on top.

        1. 3laine says:

          Actually, I believe the i3 bamboo does dry out and isn’t zero-maintenance plastiwood, believe it or not.

    2. WARREN says:

      Well the ioniq is about as sporty as a LEAF, and it is FWD. So not near the same driving dynamics as an i3. Remember, Robert didn’t fully do an official range test. But research the Autocar head to head test comparing the Ioniq, eGolf, and i3. The i3 was the most efficient AND had the most real world range.

      As far is interior quality between the i3 Terra and a Bolt, there is no comparison. The i3 materials are unique, purposefully selected sustainable materials. The Bolt felt cramped and cheap in our side by side comparison. I will link the pictures I took for you to decide for yourself.

      1. MTN Ranger says:

        I’d take the Bolt over the i3 any day. The i3’s fiddly highway ride, ridiculously small driver display, awful rear doors, nasty kenaf fiber, goofy gear selector, low EV range, small trunk space, ugly exterior and price sink it for me.

        1. WARREN says:

          Absolutely love the i3 rear doors.Wouldn’t have it any other way. Much more open I interior than the Bolt. And the door panels are soft, earthen materials with fine leather stitching. The Bolt is about the same as an old Chevy Cobalt on quality. The i3 cruises 90 mph on the fwy just fine once you are used to its quick responses.Perhaps you need to read the Autocar review from beginning to end??

          1. MTN Ranger says:

            I have indeed driven one a few times. Don’t get me started on the REx either.

            I’m glad you like yours.

        2. 3laine says:

          The doors are either terrible or great and it’s completely dependent on where you usually park. If you have plenty of room, they’re far better than normal doors for ingress/egress. If you don’t have plenty of room, then they can be a pain. For me, I typically have plenty of room and find them far better than our previous 5-door GTI for getting in and out of the back.

          1. Warren says:

            I do absolutely love the car. I have a 3 and 5yr old and I am so happy they can’t open the rear door or any windows. As far as loading versatility it is excellent. I have slid big screen TVs in the back with ease. Went to Home Depot, rolled up to my car with a big toilet box on the sled. Didn’t think it would fit in the i3. It loaded right into the back seat area without even folding it down. Try that in most normal cars of this size..

            1. unlucky says:

              If you don’t want them to be able to open the rear doors or windows there are lockout switches on cars for that. And unlike on an i3 you can then turn those lockouts back off when you aren’t carrying small kids.

              That toilet would fit fine in a Bolt, LEAF and I bet I could even get it into a Sonic. Probably not a Spark (or SparkEV) or 500e though. If you think any of those are great, you should check out the Fit with its magic seats. You fold up those seats and there is tons of space to put stuff in the rear seat area. Although don’t look at the Fit EV, it doesn’t have the special seats.

              Honestly you come off as a person who hasn’t looked at other cars in the same segment and so don’t realize what they actually can and can’t do.

              1. Warren says:

                Ummmm.. Okay. whatever you think. I have had a LEAF, Focus EV, on my 3rd I3, and on my 10th brand new car lease since 2004. You seriously think I don’t know about the PIA child lock out and window by pass switches?? I have done many side by side tests. (Will probably be testing a P100D this weekend). Hopefully my friend will get his new Bolt soon, so I can teach you a few things from our side by side comparison test.

                1. unlucky says:

                  PIA? Flipping a switch once to lock out the rear doors is not a bigger PIA than the issues presented constantly by the i3 doors.

                  Oh, you go and teach me some things. I can’t wait for you to put them side by side. Be sure to note that the Bolt has 4″ more legroom in back despite the same roofline. Note that the floor is 1.5″ lower in the Bolt, creating more interior legroom in back by not requiring the front seat people to stretch out as far. Also note that the stepover created by the CFRP spaceframe on the i3 is missing on the Bolt so the step in and out is easier.

                  Be sure to note that with the rear floor in the Bolt rear space is only about 0.5″ shorter than the i3 despite the much larger rear seat room. And with the rear floor out or up the space is far, far larger because the Bolt didn’t have to waste space for the REx as the i3 does even on non-REx models.

      2. unlucky says:

        I’ve driven both. I already decided for myself. “Unique and sustainable” are marketing. That doesn’t mean higher or lower quality.

        The Bolt is IN NO WAY cramped inside next to the i3. You’re off your skull. I own a Bolt and a friend owns an i3 and we parked them side by side, there’s no comparison at all. The Bolt is far larger inside and has better visibility out too, making it seem even more spacious.

        As to which feels cheap is up to you. I find the absurdly low-rent instruments in the i3 to make it seem incredibly cheap and gluing some fibers to the plastic doesn’t blow me away either.

        You should check out the doors on the i3 in practical use some time. If you park next to another car (like in perpendicular parking) the steps required to get the front and rear passengers out are ridiculous. Because when the rear passenger opens their door it traps him (and the driver if he got out already, his door is by definition already opened and he is unbelted) between the two doors and the car opposite, so you have to close the rear door before either of you can move out.

        There’s a reason Llewllyn alludes to the ridiculous doors in his video. If you had experienced them for long you’d see the issues too.

        I do admit they may be better for loading cargo from the side as referenced above. Although there isn’t really much reason to load cargo from the side. Just fold the rear seat down and load from the back. I could fit that above pictured toilet into just about any car on the market, including a Bolt or LEAF.

        1. Warren says:

          That’s funny. We all sat in the Bolt after the i3 and found it ridiculously low in quality and definitely less spacious feeling. It is already documented how they tried to quietly narrow the Bolt seats to be unusually thin compared to all the competition. When you get out of the bolt, seat cushion quality literally feels like a 1960’s Beetle. People noticed how uncomfortable they were immediately upon exiting the car.
          The kenef fibers are plant fibers. I really doubt there is much plastic in there. The i3 manufacturing plant is powered by windmills. The SGI Moses lake carbon fiber plant is powered by hydroelectric. The i3 is probably one of the most sustainable cars on the market. You want to look past the cheap low rent plastic on the Bolt, just take a look at the multilink sophisticated rear suspension on the i3 and compare it to the simple/cheaply designed rear suspension on the Bolt. Just look at the Munro and associates video claiming the i3 to be the most advanced car they have ever disassembled.

          Even the rear doors on the i3 close with much more solid quality than the Bolt. Granted, the Bolt has a big battery, but that’s about all it has going for it. It can never get rid of the ill mannered torque steer and traction loss of its FWD chassis, compared to the sure footed i3 which does full throttle acceleration without so much as a tire chirp. They really are 2 different calibers of cars. If the Bolt was better, I might consider it to replace my Focus EV in June. But at this point, it looks like I will be picking up another i3 most likely.

          1. unlucky says:

            On the seats, you’re talking about thin and narrow as if they are the same thing. The seats are the same width as the Buick Encore which has been out for years. They didn’t need to “quietly” do anything to them there. The bottom cushions appears to be identical. The seat back is indeed thinner (about an inch) than other seats like the Encore, but this is a design thing, not just removing padding. Tesla did the same with their Model S seats.

            Okay, so most sustainable. That’s exciting, not at all what we are talking about and rather questionable given the car isn’t made out of recyclable metal but plastic resin and fibers which cannot be recycled at their same length. You have to chop the fibers and then they cannot do the same strengthening job in their next use. Whereas metal can be forged all over again to do the same thing as before.

            And yes, Munro and associates said it was amazingly advanced. They were referring to the way it is produced with the CFRP spaceframe. And as advanced as that is, it also has negative effects on the experience. It is rather apparently the reason the car has a stepover at the door opening and the space under the floor is a full 2.5″ taller on the i3, stealing 1.5″ from interior space and 1″ from ground clearance, this all despite having a much smaller battery down there.

            Oh, the CF plant is hydroelectric? The i3 plant has windmills? That’s nice. GM had already installed solar panels at the Orion plant where the Bolt is built before either the i3 or Bolt existed (2012).

            You’re right about the suspension at the rear of the i3 and the FWD versus RWD. All I can say is neither of those have presented any issue to me. You’re not not going to be racing an i3 no matter how great the rear suspension is. So why is it such a huge deal?

            I can’t believe you’re pulling out lies about the i3 doors. The rear doors on the i3 sound awful (far worse than the Bolt) but indeed are the better ones on the car in closing solidity. The front ones rattle hugely when they close because the B-pillar isn’t solid. I can tell an i3 door slam from the other side of a wall by the crummy rattle sound they make. I’m sure it wasn’t for lack of trying by BMW, but the B-pillar being not fixed just makes it impossible to make the entire thing slam solidly.

            I really do applaud BMW for making only the 2nd ground-up EV of the generation (after the Model S). But the choices they made are a huge mistake. The interior does not feel like a BMW. The exterior is hideous. The doors are a terrible compromise and impractical. The interior is claustrophobic in the rear. And the compromises of the REx-reserved space and the space taken up by the interface between the chassis and the space frame makes it far less space efficient than a LEAF or Bolt. They couldn’t put in an AM radio! Hope you don’t like listening to sports on your drive. And as great as you might find the design of the suspension, it bobs and bounces like a nightmare. Riding is back is just far too jarring.

            They just have to go back and try again. If they want BMW money for that car they have to make it feel like a BMW. It has to have a nice interior, not a cheapo one with the excuse of “it’s sustainable”. It’s nice to want the car to be light, but if you’re going to do it like that just call it a MINI and lower the price or something.

            1. WARREN says:

              Sorry. Driving spirited almost all the time, the RWD BMW is much more rewarding. Also, AM radio?? I don’t need it with my Sirius radio. And for $85, I could code the i3 to have AM radio if so desired.Its already built in. The sound system quality is very important to me, and I can personally tell you compared to the excellent HK system in my i3, the Bolt system sounds like a cheap clock radio. Say what you will 10/10 people at our event felt the Bolt seats were cheap and uncomfortable. As much as I would like to try something new (like a new Gen LEAF), I probably will end up getting another i3 to replace my Focus. Certainly not a Bolt. I tried to like it, but everytime I see one in real life and experience it in person, I find it more and more unacceptable. Do you know what the number one fault of my Focus EV is? Its the unrefined feeling of the FWD platform under acceleration. Cant wait for the new i3 update. And no, I don’t care about 200 mile range, I put on 600 miles in one week without any effort whatsoever.If I needed more than a 250 mile trip range, the i3 Rex would be vastly more useful than the Bolt with a 3 minute top off while you are stuck for an hour at a DCQC station that may or may not be on your trip route. And yes the i3 can also pick up 22kWh (80 miles) in 30 minutes without carrying all that extra battery weight. And no, the Munro video was not only pertaining to CFRP, far from it.Please get your facts straight.

              1. unluck says:

                Yeah, who needs AM radio when you can just pay monthly to replace it with other content? Great idea!

                I’ve heard the premium sound system in both cars. There’s no significant difference.

                Anyone who thinks the REx would be vastly useful probably hasn’t driven one. It’s a dog. Mr. “Spirited Driving all the time” is now trying to sell me on how great it would be to have a car which has trouble keeping highway speeds on the REx in a headwind. You’ll say literally anything regardless of merit.

                The Munro video was pertaining to the method of construction, i.e. how the body and chassis are made, fit together etc. i.e. the CFRP space frame system. Sure, there are other videos, like the one saying that the BMW i3 range is unparalleled, they have a “10 mile lead over everyone else, nobody can catch up”. So there’s a useful nugget of analysis there.

                You’ve clearly sold yourself on how amazing the i3 is. I’m glad you like it. But it means nothing to anyone else. Others making buying decisions don’t necessarily have the same narrow mindset you are using because they aren’t looking to justify an existing purchase but instead make an informed one.

                1. Warren says:

                  Sorry, no comparison between the HK and Bolt sound system. FYI, the owner of the $140k model X said the HK system blows away his Tesla audio system. He was actually impressed by the i3, disappointed by the Bolt. That’s the honest truth. For that same $80 or less you can code in the rex hold along with the AM radio. The 2017 can cruise 70-75mph and use the AER when you get off the highway. A 300 mile trip would be easy with a few minutes of fuel top off. The Bolt on a 300 mile trip? Well hope you have a charger on your route. But for the realistic needs of most people who do less than 100 miles daily? The i3 is fine right now. My range often shows 140 miles+

  7. agzand says:

    The i3 Rex is what a lot of people could use as their only car. Unfortunately in US it is compromised by inability to modulate the engine use for longer trips.

  8. Jason says:

    Just like the Leaf, i3 is a polarising car. People seem to love it or hate it.

    In Australia the i3 is too expensive for me. If I’m going to pay that much it has to be really special. I personally didn’t like the door setup, it sounds good in theory but having to open the front door to allow the back door to open is just stupid IMO. I’m not hauling kids, I’m hauling teenagers and adults.

    The big, barren dash with the screen stuck there really puts me off. And the other dash controls felt spread out and uncomfortable to reach. Current Mazda design also has this stuck on screen and it really looks tacky and not well integrated.

    If I don’t get the REx, then I still lose the boot space. That just seems daft. What’s in that space, a void? Maybe they could put more batteries in there to give more range. So 33kwh+Rex or 33kwh+more battery in non-REx.

    The RWD sounds good, and given the EV can have the motor between the wheels it is interesting there are not more RWD, but I think the issue is major manufacturers just do what they have always been doing and not really innovate. Replace fuel tank with batteries, replace engine with motor, job done.

  9. unlucky says:

    The fact that a BMW has to defend itself in any way to a Chevrolet is just downright embarrassing. Seriously funny how BMW didn’t plan on lesser makes to perform this well. I drove an i3 once and the thing was so twitchy all over the road I felt unsafe driving it. Those bicycle tires are ridiculous. I find it amazing that BMW spent all that time with their carbon fiber reinforced plastic only to be beat out in efficiency from the likes of the former Chevrolet spark EV and now the all steel and full size tire bolt EV.

  10. Harvey says:

    I was considering getting a certified pre-owned 2014 i3 BEV that was a lease return. The mileage is pretty low so it seems like a good deal, but I’ve read that i3’s aren’t “reliable”, but no one every gives any specifics. My theory is it’s just general fear of long term EV ownership and potential battery degradation. But I don’t drive much, or far…so think I’m going to take the plunge. Any reason I should be concerned?

  11. Sherwood says:

    I’ve seen more i3s as recently as well , thinking of doing the same thing … as for others on here , well , drive what you like .

  12. Sherwood says:

    Only read one discussion of problems related to a motor mount bolt that failed . Bmw took care of this . As well as remap of torque curve under acceleration . ( software adjustment ) Traction over interrupted road surface .

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