Here’s Why The BMW i3 May Not Be Worth $50,000


Doug DeMuro tells us why he believes the BMW i3 is overpriced.

Doug really likes the BMW i3. He thinks it’s a cool car with a futuristic look, it’s weird and quirky in a good way, and it’s pleasant to drive. It handles well, it’s quick enough, and it boasts a spacious, high-tech cabin. However, he just can’t live with the car’s short range, the fact that you will still likely have to put gas in it (REx), and yet it still has an exorbitant price tag.

Related: Does The World Really Need The Sporty BMW i3s?

Read Also: BMW Says i3, i8 Might Be Just One Generation & Done

Doug says perhaps four years ago the BMW i3 was a decent value compared to rivals, but now it’s just completely outclassed. You shouldn’t be buying a new one unless you can secure a substantial discount.

He knows it’s a hard sell at BMW dealerships and there are many incredible discounts out there due to this. We’ve posted a few with up to $10,000 off, but they’ve since expired. However, with $10,000 off, plus the $7,500 U.S. federal EV tax rebate, and a state rebate on top, then maybe it’s worth it … or maybe not.

It’s pretty easy to find a used i3 for under $20,000, so paying upwards of $50k just doesn’t make any sense to Doug. He says it might qualify as the “worst value new car that’s also one of the coolest cheap used cars.”

Doug ends his review with the usual ‘DougScore.’ Check out the video to see how the BMW i3 fares.

For Comparison: Comprehensive Test Drive Review: 800 Miles In A 2018 BMW i3S REx

Video Description via Doug DeMuro on YouTube:

The BMW i3 is a cool little electric hatchback — but it’s not worth $50,000. Today I’m reviewing the i3 to show you why it isn’t worth what BMW is charging — and I’m going to show you all the quirks and features of this i3 with the range extender.

BMW i3

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74 Comments on "Here’s Why The BMW i3 May Not Be Worth $50,000"

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Tax credit, not tax rebate.

Does anyone expect to buy a BMW for the price of a Ford?

Exactly, it is not built the same way. Besides the obvious factor that it is very inexpensive for a CFRP vehicle, Just look at the sophisticated design of the rear suspension compared to the other EV hatchbacks in its class: ?1 There is no comparison. So you ask what does this construction get you? Well how about the fact that the BMW i3 is in a different class of acceleration from all the other 22-35kWH capacity EVs out there. So yes, while the eGolf, Ioniq, 2017 LEAF, Soul, imiev, all run 0-60 times over 9 seconds, that 2014 i3 was tested at 6.5 seconds by Car And Driver. This is a whole different league of acceleration. As a matter of fact, it takes a Bolt with 2x the battery capacity of the i3 to finally have about the same acceleration. Well if you read the brochure, Chevy will lead you to believe the 6.4 second rating of the Bolt is faster than BMWs conservative rating of around 7 seconds. But Car and Driver tested the i3 at 6.5 seconds, which is essentially the same. BMW is always conservative with their range and acceleration ratings. You can see my point with… Read more »

Good post. Nice picture of the rear suspension, with four aluminum control arms. And we wonder why the ride is so good.

If you don’t see the suspension picture click on: Read More >>

Warren, nice review of the i3, however, you forgot to compare it to the real competition… the Model 3.
The Tesla Model 3 has better stats in every category including performance and value. Try again… 🙂

You seem to defend the i3 whenever a bad word is spoken about it. Buyers remorse at its finest. It’s an overpriced car with that only seats 4. You also forgot to mention the front and rear tires are different sizes which means you cannot rotate them. 60k for an i3s? LOL

Warren, I am glad you’re not my accountant or financial advisory. At $60K, the BMW i3 is still an overpriced EV as compared to the competition. It has horrible depreciation and fast becoming obsolete.

Thanks to BMW it doesn’t lease like a $50K car either!

Many people can afford to walk into a BMW dealership, pay list price, and drive away. BMW loves those customers.
However, if you use a buying service, you can get a discount and the federal tax credit off the lease payment, if you have to lease.

( It just takes longer. )

And certain Electric utilities are (were?) offering a $10k rebate (funded by BMW presumably). It was, and still is very advanced structurally and, therefore, relatively light. According to this website it isn’t going to be the model for future, more mainstream, BMWs.

If it topped out fully loaded at 44K instead of the base price being 44K it would make a bit more sense. However, as a going on 4 years owner of an i3 BEV, I’d buy another one, and not argue about the price. It’s an excellent car, with an excellent amount of range for daily use.

It might be a great car but it’s for the super rich just like all EVs.

Well, you’re on a site called InsideEVs. If your gripe is that EVs are for the wealthy given their cost, you’re making a true statement but not a very useful one. What are you going to do? It’s an expensive tech. Should people who can afford it choose not to? If your point is that the incentives are unfair and an example of middle class subsidizing the rich, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with you. First pick your battle.

A used i3 will pay for itself in fuel savings, along with being an incredible experience to drive.
B) You can lease, and then buy the car at the end of the lease.
But, buying a used i3 in the CPO program is probably the best value.

In addition, a used I3, like the leaf and all EVs, except for Tesla, will have depreciated a great deal. Tesla is the ONLY EV that holds its value. The others are at the bottom 1/3 to 1/8 of depreciation rates.

Hows reliability on use i3 rex

I posted many times on here that my eGolf lease end buyout plus lease payments after all credits add up to just under $16k. So much for your conspiracy theory that these cars are for the rich. They are definitely not for the blind and math illiterate.

There are also other countries besides the US.

Lead with that next…this is a US site.

Only BMW is for the Ignorant Rich .

It’s the furthest thing , form a great Car !

I’ll wager that you’ve never driven an i3. For years, you’ve done nothing but denigrate them and their drivers, so your opinion carries very little weight.

Little? No facts, absolutely no weight.

Drive a Hi end Golf Cart & it feels just like an i3..lmao i3 is a BMW Brain Wash ….


“…it’s for the super rich just like all EVs.”

Good grief. Every new generation of EVs is cheaper than the last, while gasmobiles keep going up in price. If EVs are on average more expensive now, that won’t last long!

Besides, a used Leaf is so cheap they practically give them away.

If we lived in a CA where they have to sell them, an EV wouldn’t be that expensive. With the Fed Credit, CA Credit and heavily subsidized lease terms, they make good financial question.

For those of us who don’t happen to have multiple available credits and those heavily subsidized leases, you have to save more for your downpayment and perhaps (like I did), buy a last year model. Then there are used EV’s. Lease returns are often priced below the lease residual value. It depends on what type car you typically buy, but there’s an EV out there for anyone who can afford a new car, even if the EV is not necessarily new.

When the automobile was a new contraption, people said the same thing. Enjoy your horse and carriage while I play the worlds smallest violin 🎻…..

Agreed, they should price it to start where the 3-series sedans (or maybe X1) starts, which is under $34k. At that price, they don’t have to put $10k on the hood through utilities to move them either.

With the incentives, it starts exactly at the same level as an X1 or a 3 series.

BMW i3 Makes No Sense at all, Especially with the on board Generator …

You mean it makes sense, especially with the irex and the,15yr/150k CARB state warranty.

Ok, I’ve driven BEV i3s for four years/35,000 miles; hands down the car is awesome for my needs! I picked up my first 2014 BEV i3 new at $38.5K then two years later got a 2014 CPO BEV i3 at $23K..and I’d do it all over again..and I am …I’m waiting for my custom ordered 2018 i3S REX to arrive from Germany. Oh, BTW I also own a 2014 CPO TESLA S85 (traded in the CPO BEV i3). i3 and Tesla are two very different cars and I can not compare them. I love them both for very different reasons. I passed the Model 3 (would have paid $55K) for the i3REX that will cost $35K (MSRP $60K) after credits, haggling, rebates, and the $10K corporate discount. The i3S REX has all the range and performance I’ll need for now living in the NY metro area and will be very suited for urban /suburban motoring in size and handling. I’m holding my Mod 3 reservation and seeing if TSLA will improve the Mod 3 design with the Mod Y, if the company is still around. ;-)o I appreciate authors who post reviews…but like movie critics or stock analysts I don’t… Read more »

To BMW’s credit for the i3 they made a big $ investment and did some very innovative things manufacturing wise such as carbon fiber body panels. But like is often done with traditional car makers, BMW added an element of “electric-dork” into the i3 design… hopefully next update the electric-dork design que will be removed same as Nissan removed it with the Leaf update.

Design aesthetics aside, electric cars to be “value competitive” will increasingly need to deliver 200+ miles AER and have access to a convenient and reliable fast charge network for those occasional long distance trips. Tesla figured that out years ago but the traditional car makers are still working their way to that realization… it’s a process… likely another 3-5 years before they arrive there.

Agreed, the general public who don’t typically know what their daily driving range is, and don’t know what their actual MPG is, is terrified of “just” 120 miles of range. However, if you know your daily commute and times 2, and it’s under 60 miles. You will not be unhappy with the current BMW i3, and then there’s the REX.

IF you drive less then 30 miles a day, than a 120 range car is 4 days of electricity. And charging every 3rd night would be typically what 80% of American drivers would do. And then there’s the range extender for emergency long trips, or power failures.

The BMW i3 REX is Genius Design.
The carbon fiber body is like having an extra 50 hp, and the body will never rust.
It has the strength of steel but not the weight, and since the electric motor has a lighter body it has less MASS to move, especially at initial acceleration, it’s a great city/suburban/country driving car.

It’s also quiet keep it at slower speeds on backroads, under 55, and your music experience will be exceptional.

The problem is that the i3 is very good value at things people don’t really care about. It’s by far the cheapest carbon fibre car out there, it’s carbon neutral and has cool renewable materials on the inside.

But people will rather buy a steel and aluminum car with a big battery and a plastic interior for the same money. And in a world where AER is still king, the i3 has no chance.

(End of 2019 electrify America will have a pretty good charging network and there will be a handful of 200 mile EVs to use them, besides Teslas)

The i3 is still selling relatively well worldwide. Its battery capacity increase at the end of this year to double that of the original i3 should keep its range competitive for those who don’t typically drive long distances. So an i3 will have a good chance for a few more years.

Carbon neutral?! CFRP takes approximately twice as much energy to make as aluminium and almost ten times as much as steel. It is almost impossible to get this energy back in the use phase of an ICE – the much higher efficiency of a BEV means you never get that extra energy back. CFRP is expensive, hard to repair, and a terrible waste of energy. It looks like BMW has realized this.

And please don’t start with that business of the CFRP being made with carbon-free hydro power. Every joule of energy used to make the CFRP means someone else on the grid has to go elsewhere for their energy. Because elsewhere means coal or natural gas, the impact of the CFRP production is not only not the low impact of the hydro power alone, it is higher than the average impact of the grid.

This is senile for a number of reasons.
1) He’s reviewing an 2014 as if it was the current offering.
2) Let’s talk value. On the east coast i3’s now coming off lease are around $22-26 thousand. And the VALUE of the car should be a 10.
This is a Premium Ride that Literally pays for itself in fuel savings.

But, you don’t review a 2014 in 2018 pretend it’s the current car.
There are a number of features in the US that are now standard on the car.
Backup camera and Comfort access being two.
( Comfort access: your keys stay in your pocket at all times, the handle senses the keys and allows you to lock and unlock the car without keys. )
Along with wider rear tires, possibly a suspension tune too.

Doug really needs to REVIEW the Current Car and talk about the Current Price.
Or, Review the 2014 Used car and talk about the Used Car Price.

But, Doug seems to be totally confused about both.

Doug is spot on with his review, from someone who owns an i3. The newer car has done nothing to fix his main complaint on value.

Which is what?
He said a number of time he liked the car.
Then in his ratings sections, the things he liked were never mentioned or scored. Like the ultra smooth acceleration, the instant responsiveness.
The Fuel Savings and the Clean Air ( lol. actually never mentioned. )

And he acts like those cup holders are a negative? They are very solid and secure. You just use two hands to remove them. I have 2 extra ones in my car. So now I can hold three cups in front and one in the center console if I wanted to.
Secondly he talks about the big door panel pocket storage area and said there was a glove box. He failed to mention the glove box is very roomy and usable as is the fairly big area under the center armrest. It’s kind of like there were negative aspects quickly described, but equally positive ones that were dismissed in the same area of discussion.

Of course, value is a subjective thing. Those of us who value a compact, light, nimble, spacious, rear wheel drive hatchback EV with non-corrosive aluminum/CFRP/thermoplastic construction and a sophisticated rear suspension might consider an i3 to be a reasonable value. Those who don’t care about such things might consider an i3 to be a poor value.

Come on man, backup cam and keyless access are standar even on the base eGolf.

The eGolf is on sale nowhere.

CA and most of EU is nowhere to you? Ok then.

How about LED headlights and DCQC? At least the i3 doesn’t come standard with 9 second 0-60 times or torque steer.

I will cancel my drag track revervation then…seriously, 0-30 is much more important in day to day driving. The only valid point is the led lights but for x2 the car cost….NO! Not worth it.

Arguably every BMW is ‘overpriced’. The brand has an image based on a combination of fact, history and marketing that will always command a premium. It’s an older design competing in a very dynamic segment so it’s behind the competition at the moment in some ways but it’s still a BMW and that will be enough for some.

Yes, that’s BMW’s model. They offer more comfort and performance, and a better suspension, better brakes, than a standard car. A better driving experience. Either you value those additions or you don’t. It’s a free market.
The German Philosophy: Small House, Nice Car.

Small House , Smaller Car

Small Mindset, Small Comments… LOL

“Arguably every BMW is ‘overpriced’.”

Ah, finally someone gets to the really important point. Some people prefer BMWs, either for their luxury, or their German engineering, or their image, or some combination of the three. You’re not going to convince such people that the i3 is “overpriced” any more than any other BMW is.

Doug DeMuro is of course entitled to his opinion, just as everyone is (except trolls). But there must be a lot of people who think the higher price of BMWs is worth paying for. If there were not, then BMW wouldn’t still be in business.

We’ve got two of them. Got both of ours used. And yes, they are selling at really great prices on the used market. I’ve seen BEV versions for as little as $14,000 and you can find plenty of Rex models for under $20,000. The crazy thing is, most of these are still under warranty, at least for a little bit still.

AND in California and several other CARB states the irex has a,15/150k warranty on most of the drivetrain.

The automotive industry is now seeing the pitfalls of the tech sector. The first gen iPod was cool until the second gen came out with twice the features and storage at a lower cost. Things will settle down when the rapid pace of EV and battery developments slows down. Of course, that may not be until 2025 when every major and minor manufacturer has a couple on the market.

I expect EV tech to continue to advance at a fairly rapid pace for at least 20 years, and quite possibly longer. Battery tech, in particular, is advancing at a much faster rate than just about any tech except computers and consumer electronics.

I tried to buy an i3 for years, primarily because it had Adaptive Cruise Control and fast charging, but I was never willing to pay the price. Now that I have a 2018 Leaf SL with ProPilot, I have very little interest in the i3. The i3 was a novelty when it first came out but now there is too much more capable competition out there now for the i3 to be relavent anymore.

In my years advocating for EV’s, I could not make a compelling case for the i3.
Want the i3 with REX? Get the Volt – cheaper, better.
Want the i3 BEV? Get the Leaf – cheaper, better.

Suicide doors, little cargo room, motorcycle tires, definitely not a family car. It is REALLY good for city yuppies (i.e. young couples with no kids) wanting to look cool and just motor around town. Wanna go on long trips with the REX? It’ll be worse than a Honda Fit. Those that argue used values are good, well used values of the better competition are just as good too.

So no case. Period.

Pssssst! They are called Dinks. (dual income, no kids).

The Volt is an excellent choice, for singles, couples, and couples with small kids. But, for 4 adults it’s not.
The Volt has nice power and exceptional looks.
And it’s got Excellent Economic’s behind it, it’s another car that if owned long enough get’s close to paying for itself.

But the i3, has room for 4 adults and runs as an EV longer, and is great fun to drive. And depending on the dealers involved, you can get the i3 for around the price of a Volt, with BMW great lease offer.

LEAF = 3X the car the i3 is, @ Half Price !

… until the Leaf’s battery pack degrades due to no active battery temperature control, and that hasn’t changed with the 2018 Leaf. No such problem with the i3’s refrigerant-cooled battery pack.

To the point of the article.
I don’t think Doug has explained is determination of value, except that a used car is not worth $50,000. Everyone already knew that.

The fact that even ONE i3 was sold is proof that not everybody knows the car is not worth $50,000.

Doug rented the Ekectronaut which predates the 2014 models and the various ‘World’ trims and options. This is 2018 and the review misleads by omitting the BMW improvements over 4 years (4.5 years since the Ekectronaut was an early, limited edition.)

Handling is personal and return to neutral is consistent in the BMW i3-REx for turn signals, wipers, and cruise control. Compared to our Prius Prime, dynamic cruise control and audio controls are reversed making the Prius Prime, ‘right handed’, while our BMW i3-REx is ‘left handed’. As for imprecise steering, consider this is in one car that is used, 4.5 model year old, unknown odometer, unknown accident history, and unknown quality of potholes.

The irony is I bought our used, 2014 BMW i3-REx with 6k miles for the same price as our new 2017 Prius Prime. Both plug-in hybrids have driven 700 to 1,200 miles on single trips without a problem getting 40 to 56 MPG. Around town, +80% of our usage, both cars run $2.90 to $2.50 per hundred miles.

BMW i3 is a failed Golf Cart , At an Extremely Best Case Scenario.

Your repeated i3 negativity doesn’t make your criticisms any more valid, just more tiresome and worthless.

I love the i3, and the firm sporty ride, for active city driving – and on twisty country roads. I also love the technology behind it. Watching it being made on YouTube is pure technology porn. A company I work for paid for it, so I can drive it for free, and only have to pay some extra tax for it. Before I got the car, I tested the Zoe, the LEAF, the Ionic, the egg triplets from Mitsubishi/Peugeot/Citroen, the E-Golf and the i3. I liked the E-Golf for the way it drove, materials used and so on. The Ionic for the very efficient feelings, the i3 for the ride and materials – and the way it was made. I thought the i3, E-golf, and maybe the Ionic was too expensive (For what I expected to use the car for). But after driving these the egg was out of the question, and so was the Zoe and the LEAF. After I got the i3, I use it for most of the driving. I actually use my electric bike more then the large diesel van I own. That may change quick though. A long car trip takes weeks with the bike.… Read more »

When he gives his ‘Doug Score’ at the end, I noticed he gave the Bolt and the Model 3 the same score for ‘Styling’. Enough said for the Doug Score.

Yes it’s overpriced but unlike the other bmws this one has a turn signal. It’s the price of progress you pay for.
Seriously now, no one in US pay $50k. Right now there is that $10k “utility” discount on top of the fed credit and state and/or utility rebates. You can get one in CA for under $30k easily…not convinced why anyone would thought.

I absolutely cannot stand Doug’s reviews, so I will give the i3 a WIN WIN !!

Nobody pays $50k for an i3.

2014 bmwi3 Bev The best car ever to drive bough as CPO 2yr old 5000 miles price $18000 in 2 yr I add 10000 miles no ussues tires the same size front / rear the best option own blizzaks for winter with rims same size no problem to rotate them old fashion way own solar panels $0 free charging no oil no belts no maintenance own garage heated nessesery im retired don’t need more to drive than 5000 miles a year how you beat arrangements like this on top of this my utility company in NY have a program for EV cars Carma rewards program and pay me about $300 a yr as I’m driving that car people who review this car my never drive or own i3 as 6’1” tall is the biggest front seat of all monsters SUV on road as a hatchback i3 I deliver 30 pcs of 2×4 8’ long to my house For long trips I take a gas guzzler for information to all in summer time I’m making on highway/city up to 100 miles on that 60 ah battery if you like speed I beat every car from green to green street signal lights… Read more »