BMW i3 BEV – One Year Review (w/video)


BMWBLOG’s Chuck Vossler, owner of a BMW i3 BEV, posted his one-year review of the i3.

Below you’ll find a few excerpts from the review, as well as a comprehensive video review.

“Born Electric” is BMW’s catch phrase for the i3. Now having lived with a BMW i3 for a year, it makes me realize just how true that catch phrase is. Owning and driving an electric car is indeed a whole new world – 12 months and 12,000 miles without a drop of gas, an oil change or a visit to gas station.


We average 4.9 miles per kWh in combined usage of highway and city when the weather is between 40F – 90F. The BMW i3, in fact, is the most efficient car on the market, being rated at 124 MPGe.

The i3’s range has stayed at about 80 miles. Just last week we did 73 miles and had 7 miles left on the “guess o-meter.”


The i3 is blast to drive. Mainly, I think, because of its crazy instantaneous acceleration. Almost nothing can touch it 0-30 mph. 

On the freeway, though, I occasionally feel the i3 get buffeted around from wind and the car moves around some. 


Ownership Issues

Problems? None – save one flat caused from us running over a 4 inch bolt on our second day of ownership. According to resident BMW i3 expert, Tom Moloughney, we have the record for the fastest flat. Day 2 – 120 miles.

Things that irritate me with the car? Just three things really.

One, when trying to be uber efficient with the i3, the climate control’s default is to turn it on. I wish it would default to the last setting it was on when started. Restart the i3 and the HVAC comes on.

Second, the buffeting you get sometimes on the freeway. It keeps you on your toes as you never know when it’ll happen.

Third is when it gets cold out, the interior fogs up big time. I invariably have to turn on the defroster even when trying to save battery.



MSRP: $49,375
Base MSRP 2014 i3 BEV $41,350
Solar Orange Paint $550
Tera Word Package $2700
Parking Asst Package $1000
Tech + Driver Asst Package $2500
Heated Front Seats $350
Destination Charge $925
Bosch Level 2 Charger: $889 including installation

At 120 miles, one Bridgestone Ecopia EP600 175/60/19 mounted $164 and Balance $25 + Tax = $211.78

At 2111 miles, winter wheels/tires – $1792 shipped

(4) Bridgestone Blizzak LM-500 Snow Tires 155/70/19’s $119.20//each
(4) Rial X10-I Black $239/each
(4) 433 Mhz Sensors $80/each

Weather Tech FloorLiner Front/Rear $210

At 8600 miles, minor bumper repair when our i3 is backed into. Repaint bumper and refinish wheel. Zero cost as the other driver’s insurance covered it. It did give us an up close look at the BMW i3 repair process we were not wanting.

At 8696 miles, KLE Module Replaced under Service Bulletin, new software installed. = $0

Be sure to read the review in its entirety over at BMWBLOG by clicking here.

Category: BMW, Test Drives

Tags: ,

17 responses to "BMW i3 BEV – One Year Review (w/video)"
  1. Seth says:

    Holy smokes that are some expensive tires!

    1. kubel says:

      They are around $140 if you get them anywhere other than the dealership.

      1. SparkEV says:

        It shows tires at $119, so dealer is cheaper?

        “(4) Bridgestone Blizzak LM-500 Snow Tires 155/70/19’s $119.20//each”

        1. Elroy says:

          That is very cheap for a 19″ tire for a BMW.Most BMW tires are runflats at $300-$500 each

        2. kubel says:

          He mentioned two tires- one was a replacement all season (expensive), the other was snow (cheap). I was referencing the replacement all season tire price.

  2. SparkEV says:

    “We average 4.9 miles per kWh … rated at 124 MPGe.”

    This is my gripe with MPGe (among many). With 33.7 kWh/gal of gas, 4.9 miles/kWh would result in 165 MPGe. Even if one assumes 20% loss in charging (which I doubt), that’s 132 MPGe. How the heck did EPA get 124 MPGe? Did they only drive up hill? Who’s John Galt?

    1. Three Electrics says:

      4.9 is high, even for an i3.

    2. Elroy says:

      The car can easily do 132mpge. The EPA rating is 124mpge including highway driving. CR did a real world test…it was easily at the top of the heap…with over 132mpge

      1. SparkEV says:

        I don’t doubt i3 is a great car, but EPA figure is mystery meat. Using 85% L2, i3 should be closer to 140 MPGe combined.

        Even for my own testing with SparkEV, I get 4 mi/kWh (135 MPGe) with 80% efficient L1 charging after uphill, downhill, freeways, local (good mix of stuff). I don’t think I can give another link, but my blog has one titled “Spark EV efficiency” if you want to see the data.

    3. JoeS. says:

      Anything other than actual measured wall-to-wheels is a bogus number . Where did that 4.9 miles/kWh (204Wh/mi) come from?

  3. Elroy says:

    Here is a link to the list:

    Think its no small feat to be the quickest car in its class and the most fuel efficient at 139mpge?

    1. SparkEV says:

      Highway MPGe is better than city MPGe? How are they doing that?

      But it does confirm my suspicion that i3 is 140 MPGe car, not 124 MPGe. “Normal” people would get better city MPGe than highway MPGe.

  4. James says:

    Consumer buying habits. A primer.

    Boutique products. OK, we like nice things. We all splurge at times. Sometimes we buy fancy things with fancy brands, and whilst they may be kind of a gadget, we do try often to justify that purchase for all of it’s “practical attributes”. C’mon, we’ve all done it – I admit, I just bought a smartphone that literally has a heart monitor inside and a camera you can talk to – did I need this stuff? Not really. And if anyone wanted a stand-alone heart monitor, they could do better to buy a proprietary unit of which there are legions of on the market in many forms. But, dammit – I needed that camera you can talk to, and the screen big enough to fit the Titanic in!…etc. Etc. Who doesn’t have those conversations with the better half? “We really NEED that electric dog polisher, honey!”

    I love electric cars. Several times now, I’ve seen these videos, or personally talked to an i3 owner, and he/she nearly always has 3 or 4 other cars in their garage ( Peder is an exception – hat tip to Peder 🙂 ). I’ve even had them tell me: “We had 4 cars when we purchased our i3, but now we’re down to 3!”…lol. Point is: i3 is a city car, and depending upon length of commute – a short commute vehicle. Load it up with it’s very expensive 2 cylinder Taiwanese Kymco scooter engine, and i3 will handle mid-length
    commutes rather well. 80 mile BEV with a 40% loss of range due to temperatures drives home my point. Problem is, the blokes that buy the i3 seem bent on justifying the cost of their purchase, denying the boutique factor, knowing that a Nissan LEAF will do the same jobs carrying one more passenger. I find myself telling others like franky_b in here things like: “It’s OK man, you purchased a boutique EV, don’t worry about it. But they fret and fuss, and mainly call me names. It’s like if you pointed out my wife didn’t absolutely need those designer jeans, but she feels they make her ass look smaller so they’re worth every penny! Hey – if it makes you happy and you can afford it – KNOCK YOURSELF OUT, MAN! It’s just I have a closet full of Levis and Wranglers.

    Please stop telling me you justify the high BMW cost of service, parts, body repair and maintenance ($214 for a tire?!) because the i3 is just better. If I were wealthy enough, I’d buy an i8 in a New York minute. The video link I offer here says it’s the best-performing electrified car – It’s not. But that’s OK….i8 is sexy and quick, impractical, yet not as much so as some other sports cars you could buy. A 7 seat Model X or 2WD P-90 Model S is just as quick and fast. Just don’t get defensive. I would buy the i8 as a 5th or 6th car if I had 5 or 6 cars – I would love it – and never, EVER try to justify my purchase.

    The guy in this video is a BMW guy and works for a BMW aficionado website. It’s OK – he’s a fan – he doesn’t have to tell us how practical of a purchase it was. It wasn’t. It’s a boutique purchase he now says his family uses more than they had anticipated. This reinforces a point I make often. It’s OK to have more than one car – and your HEV/PHEV/BEV is your short trip tool — If you can afford that – it’s a good thing. The 80 mile BEV as your only car is a stretch and requires sacrifice – again, admit it, and move on…stop trying to justify/typify it for what it’s not – and that would be everyone’s transportation all-’rounder.

    The nice features of the i3 are truly nice. I can’t get over the interior design – the wood in the higher-end models is batchelor apartment cool – and I like the controversial stalk drive control – very innovative. Rear wheel drive cannot be talked about enough. If the Chevrolet Volt were RWD, like a Tesla, with a reduction gear, a small box with power electronics and that’s about it, in-between the rear wheels?…Well, then NOBODY would get ruffled when comparing an i3 boutique purchase to a Chevy Volt purchase, which comes down to average car-buying, mainstream numbers in MSRP. Then, nobody could talk about the intrinsic shortcomings of front wheel drive, of which, we car guys know, there are some. Nobody makes a FWD performance car for those reasons. Yet there are handfuls of good handling FWD cars and I believe the Volt, and perhaps ( we shall see ) the new Prius with it’s first-in class four wheel independent suspension.

    When we buy a boutique product, we often overlook the things it posesses that we’ll never use, or the
    corners it’s manufacturer cut in the name of style. To me – BMW needs to address the front trunk area with some weather sealing – that is plain embarassing. I know it’s a small cubby space – but i3 owners love to store their EVSE cord up there and wrapping it in a plastic bag so it doesn’t get muddy and slimey is kind of nonsense when we spend boutique money on a BEV. Look to the attached video at 4:20 in to see the nonsense of the suicide/opposing door scheme on the i3. I get that they had little space for the back doors, being they had their minds set on i3’s dimensions. Inside the city living, or European living denotes a need for tiny cars. There just isn’t space to park them. Even in these United States I get the need for a compact car. Our local library saved big money by digging a big hole and using the same footprint for the building with an underground parking garage. Problem is, the parking spaces were made for midgets! Americans are fond of land yacht SUVs, big-sized minivans and large trucks. Try shoehorning those into these tiny spaces and then getting your kids out of the back seat. And in that – as this video shows – is where BMW did NOT do their homework. Those opposing doors are frustrating and impractical. Just for a moment, leave out your kids who don’t get the open/close sequence, or that the guy sits in the back seat but still needs to lurch over in some big unnatural move, or have the driver shut the right side front door! It’s just a silly solution. Even the French over at Citroen or Renault have solved the exact same design problem BMW faced with i3 – with a sliding back door as we Americans are familiar with in our minivans. This suicide door approach is clunky at best, and totally frustrating at it’s worst. It is gadgety – and this supports the boutique nature of the car. I3 owners no doubt show their colleagues and neighbors how much obvious recycled material was used in the interior, describe “carbon fiber” ( often mistaken for CFRP ) and display those funky doors as a wiz-bang feature! It is wiz-bang…Just not so intelligent. But that’s OK….

    Again, I’ll say buying boutique products is OK. This is my opinion. But I think it’s the right opinion. Who’se to say if your logic for buying that big LED TV with all those fancy features you end up never using except to impress your brother-in-law every holiday…is dumb? It’s just fact how we consumers buy stuff sometimes. I even like how BMW made it’s boutique EV look weird ( unique/individualist ). I wouldn’t buy one – but I am getting used to them in gray and black colors. The bright-colored ones and especially that white one…Wow! There’s a white i3 in my neighborhood and it looks smack-dab like a Star Wars Storm Trooper helmet – I don’t care WHAT you say! – But beauty is in the beholder as often is value. Value the “gee-whiz” stuff and like to brag a lot about it? Hey – I may not be exactly like you…But I do show off that heart rate monitor on my phone when I’m around my extended family. Yes, they might think I’m a big jerk….But I am a gadget nut through-and-through. And I did tell my wife I needed the phablet phone because the bigger print is easier for me to read without my cheater glasses! Wink, wink! – So go ahead and buy a BMW i3 and I’ll not think badly of you at all. After all, you bought an electric car and I think that makes you smart. Just don’t go about calling me names and saying I’m off-putting just because I tell it exactly like it is.


    1. Jay Cole says:

      What’s this “Thanksgiving” you speak of? 24/7, 365 baby!

      …just kidding Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone else. Now go eat some turkey and watch a football game or something, (=

    2. 3laine says:

      With the deals on the i3 right now and the gas savings, it costs me about the same to own as my previous GTI, despite the huge MSRP difference. So, it’s not like I paid full price for a Fisker Karma or something. When I subtract out the gas savings, it’s a $300/mo lease. It’s not as extravagant of a purchase as the MSRP indicates. That being said, I always make it clear that it’s not the most frugal way to go electric, and we aren’t “saving money” by owning this instead of a Volt/Leaf/Econobox. But, the RWD, driving dynamics, interior quality/design, and uniqueness were worth the extra cost over the other options to us. Like you said, though, it’s a boutique product, not necessarily the best car for everyone. Oh, for what it’s worth, I love the doors. They’re a compromise, for sure. They can be hard to get open in tight spaces, but once you’re between the open doors, the huge opening is much easier to get in and out of than our 4-door GTI was, IMO. If you’re always parking in tight spots though, they would be a pain.

  5. James says:

    *124 mile i3 is on the way. This is a good thing – added value. I hope BMW doesn’t jump the price too much. With a 105 mile LEAF and the 200 mile Bolt on the fast track for late 2016 – 2017 model year, BMW will certainly have to up it’s game even further.

    For the time being, though – it will be interesting to see who waits and who takes the plunge for the 124 mile i3.

    I’ll list this video again – just because I like the observations this Brit makes – and it’s another viewpoint to take into consideration.

    Slip to 4:20 in to see a very good test of the backwards-opening i3 suicide doors. Many don’t think about how they’ll work in the real world. In a world of tight spaces – the answer is: Well, have a look-see at the video.

  6. Mart says:

    A year of driving and it’s still the “gas” pedal…