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

NOV 26 2015 BY STAFF 17

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.

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17 Comments on "BMW i3 BEV – One Year Review (w/video)"

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Holy smokes that are some expensive tires!

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

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

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

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

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.

“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?

4.9 is high, even for an i3.

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

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.

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

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?

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.

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:… Read more »

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, (=

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.

*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.

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