BMW i3 Bumper Modification: Out With The Two Tone


Factory White Bumper Panel

Factory White Bumper Panel

I have always found the looks of the i3 to be a somewhat mixed bag of love and hate for me.

I love the looks from the side with the 20″ wheels. I like the front end.

Thumbs Up For Fluid Black Image On The BMW i3 "Shadow Sport" (only 50 made)

Thumbs Up For Fluid Black Image On The BMW i3 “Shadow Sport” (only 50 made)

But I hate the multi-colored rear bumper, and toaster side rear quarter panels. I was so embarrassed by the rear end of the i3 (highlighted by those motorcycle size tires), that I usually backed it in when parking on my driveway.

In my opinion, the new fluid black color choice makes the rear of the i3 look much more uniform and aggressive.

Well, since I have the Capparis White i3, I started to Photo Shop the rear bumper all black, and liked it better than the factory two tone bumper treatment. I was surprised you could purchase the rear bumper cover insert panel for only about $80. So I ordered it, had it painted, and installed it last night. It was relatively easy to install. I just removed the lower middle valance panel, and was able to release all the panel tabs with my fingers.

Removing the factory white panel. New black panel ready for installation. (background)

Removing the factory white panel. New black panel ready for installation. (background)

This is what the bumper looks like with the white panel removed.

BMW i3 Without Bumper

BMW i3 Without Bumper

The Finished Result

BMW i3 With New Bumper Panel

BMW i3 With New Bumper Panel

Medium tint and small rocker decal to highlight the blue strip.

Medium tint and small rocker decal to highlight the blue strip.

BMW i3 Bumper Mod Complete

BMW i3 Bumper Mod Complete

Overall, I am very pleased with the results. I am also experimenting with a few decals here and there, just to let others know the car is electric, as I “educate” them on how not all electric cars are slow golf carts!  I like to do subtle mods, which a casual bystander might not even realize is a departure from factory stock.


Category: BMW


31 responses to "BMW i3 Bumper Modification: Out With The Two Tone"
  1. Speculawyer says:

    Looks better without the two tone to me.

    1. WARREN says:

      I was almost going to change the whole bumper to white. But that would involve much more labor and cost. Especially considering the PDC sensors require special paint. On the other hand I was surprised how cheap and easy this bumper panel was to replace. So a great value if you want to perform this mod.

    2. Sting777 says:

      It’s supposed to be ugly.
      This is Gen 1, They don’t want it to sell.

  2. Anon says:

    It looks better.

  3. offib says:

    DAAMN1! That’s how it should be done!

    1. WARREN says:

      Did you buy an entire new panel, or just wrap the original? I would venture to say it would probably be as expensive to wrap that one panel than just buy and paint an extra one.

      1. Tom Moloughney says:

        I wrapped the whole car red and that one back panel black.

    2. WARREN says:

      Ah, saw your picture. Looks much better in black. I believe red, or Solar Orange are the two worst colors to have in that insert area instead of black.

      1. James says:

        When I see a white one on the road, I can’t help but think about Star Wars Storm Troopers! It looks like their mask to me… The mod of the article doesn’t fix that much for me – as you now have a roof, hood and back end that is black with white slab sides. I guess it looks a smidge better than the two-tone factory spec, but gee – is it worth THAT much money to do it? The i3 is a spendy “piece of kit” as our friends the Brits say. An article yesterday showed what it takes to lower the suspension of an i3. What expense to gain a stiff, painful ride – and that new problem of not “Tesla-ing” road debris right through the bottom of the car! I know we are all susceptible to throwing our money away frivolously sometimes. I put tons of paychecks into customizing a 1969 Beetle once. I lowered it – put Porsche spindles on it + Porsche wheels and a jazzed-up air-cooled gerbil engine too! I thought it was the “bees knees”. I was 20 years old. I learned you can’t really make a Beetle into a poor man’s Porsche… It was kind of fun while it lasted – but afterwards, when my brains caught up with my passion – I realized I was dumping money down a pathetic hole. After that car, I bought a 1985 FWD Honda CRX to commute with. It as an inexpensive car with FWD that ran circles around my old VW, needing zero modifications! Funny how, once we fanboy something – we become kind of blinded by passion. I think that’s what happens with BMW fans over the i3.

        Before someone spouts off and calls me a BMW/i3 “hater”…..again…. I do have to remind others I like the i3’s controls and interior design, especially the thin seats and metrosexual Euro city curved wood shelf and minimalist design.

        Still detest the cost/performance ratio, the hokey suicide doors, chinzy, half-baked Taiwanese 2cyl “range extender”, exterior design, “poor man’s carbon fiber”, spindley tall wheels/tires, non-weather-sealed front trunk, warranty-killing need to modify it’s programming, uber-expensive body repair costs…etc..

        But most of all, why buy an i3 when it’s fans misquote all sorts of information to justify it’s great cost in relation to other 80 mile BEVs? The major ones folks try to ply are “it’s the most efficient BEV there is”, “It’s made of carbon fiber ( even BMW lies about this in it’s TV spots ), and – the #1 gripe I have from i3 fans: “It handles oh so much better than every other EV!”… ( !!! )

        The final point I make deserves a track test. Sure, it’s already been compared side-by-side on track with a $20,000 FWD Suzuki Swift by AutoExpress U.K. I think we should see other 80-100 mile BEVs available in North America go against the i3 to better understand if those statements of i3’s handling prowess are true or false compared to it’s EV brethren.

        The ICE Suzuki Swift is powered by a a 1.6L, caste-iron blocked, CVT-transmissioned powertrain. It’s cost in the U.K.: $20,647 U.S.. The i3, RWD and more h.p. equivalent should handle that punky tin can of a Japanese econo subcompact “hot hatch” with aplomb. But it didn’t. In fact, the i3 was EIGHT SECONDS slower around the race track. If you watch the video objectively, you can see how much the little BMW is struggling around the turns, even with its immense battery weight down low against the ground. The skinny, tall tires and tall body lean and squat, sometimes twice, through each turn. The tester in the video states the i3’s traction control is not defeatable and is on all the time. You can see the traction control trying to save the tipsy mini CUV again and again…He wonders out loud how the i3 may handle without it’s handling nannies, but I proffer that it would be sitting in the infield or on the tarmac on it’s roof or on it’s side! This is not what a car expert calls “great handling car”. At approximately $22,000, or over twice the price of the Swift – this looks pretty bad. The i3 is quicker 0-60, and that’s it. The Swift would catch it and pass it given enough straight road.

        Electric cars have weight issues, we all know this. A track contest with a LEAF, an iMiev, a FocusEV, SoulEV and perhaps a RAV4EV would surely be interesting. In the end, whatever the result – the squishy, tippy i3 could be the king of the 80-mile squishy, tippy BEVs. So in that – that is what the i3 braggers are hanging their hats on.

        1. John MB says:

          Not true James..what I’m hanging my hat on is very simple BMW made the car available..given the choice of Tesla, Leaf, or i3..the i3 won hands down! Those were my BEV choices here in Phoenix..period.

          I don’t drive around race tracks, and I just wanted a BEV with that felt comfortable to drive and didn’t cost me a fortune..very simple..the i3 won hands down and the three day test drive proved sold me on other BEV maker was willing to offer a real test drive.

          My only disappointment is that BMW seems to have dropped the ball..I know they have to deal with all those dealerships that hate BEVs. So they are now jerking around with fool cells and hybrids, and still pushing dirty ICE performance cars.

          My second BEV will be an affordable vehicle that comes from a dedicated BEV maker..and only Tesla fits that bill right now.

        2. Stimpy says:

          I think you’re the first person I’ve seen that cares about 100% CF vs CFRP.

          My opinion is who cares? If it makes the car 1,000 lbs lighter while retaining the same strength or more, I don’t care what the material is.

    3. Nix says:

      BMW definitely should do an all-red Tom Moloughney Special Edition. Sort of like the way they did the “Shadow Sport” special edition. Looks nice.

      1. Tom Moloughney says:

        Thanks. Believe it or not, I did ask them to add “Moloughney Red” as an option, but only got a smile and a “No Tom, that’s not happening”. I think it would sell well 🙂

        1. James says:

          Tom, I like yours because it stands out. It’s nice to have a color nobody else has. The only colors I can take on an i3 are charcoal grey and black. The stock color scheme makes me yak! It’s quirky, funky and a bit overdone as it is – then they go for the two-tone treatment, and it’s robo-car, all the way.

          No matter how we slice it – BMW is going to have to come up with some serious range increases even as a stop-gap until perhaps a gen2 i3 is introduced. I just don’t see how they will sell if Bolts and M3s are cruising around with twice or even 60% more range for thousands of dollars less.

          Peder’s door article yesterday was fantastic. What a cool read! The butterfly doors on i8 make sense on a sports car – especially since the doors are CFRP. The video kdawg shared of the robust gentleman trying to extricate himself from the BMW had me ON THE FLOOR! 🙂

          I could see myself purchasing a used i8 as an investment and a sheer wow-factor car. Not that it’s practical in any way – but it’s a technological tour-de-force in many ways that make sense. It’s not a daily driver you can stuff passengers and cargo in. It’s a toy. In that, I understand and admire it. The i3 just yanks my chain. Especially all the folks who claim it’s worth the MSRP.

          I think, for BMW’s part, they did prove CFRP can be done at a decent price – and that transfers into lighter ICE products – which is good for them. I think many EV early adopters kind of got sucked into buying or leasing their Beta i3 futurismo CUV through a very long relationship trail starting with the Mini E and Active e programs.

          When I write facts about the i3 I get some hate torched back – routinely with lots of name-calling and insults. One thing I’ve learned over the years is when people retaliate with insults, it’s usually because they have no facts to counter your assertions – so you must be a “hating *&^%!”. Same goes with politics. Lots of name-calling goin’ on there also.

          I just want somebody to make some sense when they talk up the i3 to me. What I hear is someone who has bought a lot of PR from BMW and doesn’t want that thrown in their face. I look forward to BMW moving forward from i3 and building a more consumer-worthy EV. They are now doing a lot with their new Mini FWD platform – and although that’s anathema to a die-hard BMW fan… World mandates are forcing that into reality. Some of those cars are quite interesting, if not overpriced. If that platform can accommodate a flatter-better battery pack, they might have something to bring to the fight. AWD and 300 miles range would make folks stand up and pay attention. A body style that’s a bit more contemporary and a lot less “HEY – I LIKE SCI-FI!” would be a great place to begin again also.

  4. techguy says:

    How easy is to prise away the panel from the body by hand? Any chance of a vid??

    1. WARREN says:

      You can see the retainer tabs in the picture with the white panel being separated from the bumper. The panel has them all along the perimeter. I just pushed them up away from the barb, and worked my way around, pushing the panel out as I worked my way around. It is pretty simple, because the panel is fairly flexible. Only the bottom corners are tough to reach and push with your fingers, but I eventually got them to release. The bottom ones seem to be unreachable, but the bumper is flexible, so you can just squeeze your hand in there.

      Now I only wish BMW would have put some slightly more well defined wheel arches on the rear quarter panels, so it wouldn’t look so skinny, pinched off,and flat sided.

      1. WARREN says:

        I forgot, the first thing you do is remove the lower center valence panel bolts, and the one behind the license plate. With the lower center panel removed, you can easily stick your hand in there to release the tabs. Start with the closest ones so you can practice releasing them. Installing the new one is easy as the tabs just snap into place.

  5. Brian says:

    So James, tell us how you really feel about the i3

    1. Warren M says:

      Unfortunately he feels others don’t know what he tries to preach. The fact is, he is the one that needs to be educated about the actual facts. Perhaps I can help out. For some reason, this poorly designed i3 keeps winning so many automotive awards when judged by “professional automotive journalists.” So just as a refresher here are just some of the awards:

      1. Consumer reports just did a real word test result of efficient cars. The i3 was leaps and bounds above everything else on the list. For those interested in conservation, scoring 2x the efficiency as the Tesla in the city rating is no small feat.

      2. From Inside EVs:

      In its first year-plus one the international market, the BMW i3 packed its trophy case full. Here are just some of the more notable awards that the i3 grabbed:
      •BMW i3 – Green Car of the Year Award 2015
      •BMW i3 – Green Steering Wheel 2013 award from Auto Bild
      •BMW i3 – best car in its class in auto motor und sport’s Best Cars 2014 awards
      •BMW i3 – Two readers’ awards from Auto Zeitung magazine, plus the Auto Trophy 2013 and the Green Mobility Trophy 2014.
      •BMW i3- UK Car of the Year Award
      •BMW i3 – Next Green Car Award
      •Green Car of the Year Award
      •Fleet Hero Award
      •Winner in its class – Sunday Times Top 100 Cars
      •Special Jury Award in the Swiss Car of the Year Award
      •Win in the French Trophées de l’Argus awards
      •BMW i3 World Green Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year.
      •German Design Award
      •iF gold product design award
      •Automotive Interiors Expo Award
      •Auto Bild voted the BMW i3 Design Innovation of the Year
      •Raders of Auto Bild Klassik named it Classic of the Future

      3. BMW i3 wins the New Zealand car of the year award. 12/2015

      4. Car And Driver picked the i3 over the Tesla Powered B Class in a head to head comparison. Yes, the B class had huge cargo room, lots of luxury, and a huge battery (but only netted a little over 80MPGe.

      5. In the head to head test between the Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Honda Fit, LEAF, Focus, Smart ED…the Spark was the winner, primarily because of its fun to drive hot rod nature, featuring a motor that made 400ft lbs of torque. Since then, the eGolf, Soul, etc, have come out. Unfortunately, their acceleration is closer to that of the LEAF, and the Spark would hsve remained the kind of its class. That is until the i3 came along.. with a top of its class 0-60 time being almost a second and a half quicker than the Spark EV, as tested by Car & Driver according to their test results of the 2014 Spark EV and 2014 i3 in two separate road tests. So the BMW is bigger, roomier, faster, and more efficient than the Spark EV, and you don’t consider that an impressive engineering feat?

      Just to give you an idea of the speed difference, here is an acceleration run comparing the 2014 Spark EV vs BEV i3. Identical starts, then look in the rear view mirror to see the Spark fading away. Half a dozen runs, same results.

      The Spark EV driver swore his car felt quicker than the i3, but Vbox numbers, and the video confirm it definitely is not. Probably because without having to fight tire spin, and torque steer, the i3 is a walk in the park to launch with nary a tire chirp.

      5. The i3 was dissected by professional design analysts, and was quoted as being one of the most intriguing, and innovative cars in the world for the way it has been constructed.

      So James…unless you are a renown automotive professional journalist, I really don’t think your personal vendetta against the i3 or BMW would hold much weight for those that are knowledgeable readers in here.

      Also, its obvious road course testing is always a weak point with EVs. Many Teslas can barely make it around a lap before the cars start cutting power. Top end power is a weak point in almost all current EVs. A Formula E car can’t hold a candle for a Formula 1 car in speed. Even though a Tesla might leave an M5 in the quarter mile, if you start the race at 100mph, the M5 will pull away. So what. 100 MPH road courses are far from real world driving. If you paid attention to the details, you would note the i3 has a much higher ride height than the Swift, and much less rubber on the ground. If you were aware of the power band of an i3, you would note that the i3 motor torque and HP peaks out at about 5500 RPM, (half its redline) so it pulls fairly strongly to 50mph, and not much after that. The Swift is hitting parts of the circuit at close to 100mph. If you realized these two cars have two totally opposite power bands, you should understand the results. Again at 90 mph, the Swift is at full power, the i3 has almost none. The result is no surprise. The only surprise is that the i3 was only 8 seconds behind given those circumstances. I can guarantee you, 0-50mph in everyday city driving is much more effortless in the i3 than the Swift, and much more efficient. Different designs highlight different strengths. And you somehow imply the i3 is inferior because it can’t beat the Swift on a road course with almost 100 mph sections? Tell me you aren’t serious. Do I have to remind you that at approximately 18.5kWh usable, this is a car that has to operate on barely over 1/2 gallon of gas in energy equivalent. It is obvious road racing is furthest from the design parameters.

      It’s also kind of funny how you are using a video to bash the i3 where the guy opens the video with: “BMW’s amazing i3 electric car is one of the most desirable cars on our roads at the moment.” Sounds like an endorsement to me…

      Yes, this is the same Auto Express that picked the i3 to win the Green Car Of The Year Award, for the second year running.

      Again these are all the words of the professionals, wholeheartedly endorsed by me.

  6. Brian says:

    James, after much careful review of your EV spewing hate, you have won an award of your very own. It the “your a jerk and loser” award. In order for most of us to value your opinion, we would have to respect you.

    1. Forever green says:

      Brian, James is just giving his opinion. There is no reason to get so offended. I happen to agree with most of what he said, however the BMW i3 was designed with efficiency in mind. To race against the Suzuki Swift you would have to recode the computer. For instance, if the BMW i3 senses a tire spin it will cut back power. A race car it is not. In spite of all the things that James mentioned, I still like the BMW i3 Rex. The only reason why I have not bought one as of yet is because I will not sacrifice my warranty to make the car functional in range extended mode. I am waiting for the 2017 BMW i3 Rex with “hold mode” and more all electric range.

    2. sven says:

      That’s not EV spewing hate; it’s valid criticism of the i3’s design, performance, value, and marketing. There’s things I love about the i3 like its high efficiency, rear wheel drive, innovative crash safety features, and rust resistance; and there’s things I absolutely hate about the i3 like its suicide doors, non-sealed frunk, two-toned color schemes, and too small gas tank. Even if all new cars sold were EVs, there would still be criticism (hate) for the design and engineering choices made by automakers on certain model of EVs.

      For what it’s worth, I really like my 1st gen Volt, but I really hate lack of headroom in the backseat. It’s turned out to be a bigger hassle then I thought it would be. The lack of headroom in the 2nd gen Volt would preclude me from considering purchasing it, even though I believe it is a significant improvement over the 1st gen Volt.

  7. Albert says:

    These are the preocupations and problems of first world people , how the colour of my rear bumper lacks “style”.

  8. Warren M says:

    Its really not a big deal. James says he can’t believe how I spent “THAT” much money? People spend $80 on getting their car detailed! Or filling a gas tank used to cost that much. Boy, if this is so much time and investment to do this, I guess anything people do to enhance theirs cars, such as getting a detail is a waste of time and money?

    1. Ali S says:

      I agree Warren.

  9. Doug B says:


    1. WARREN says:

      Look at this glowing review did last month. They absolutely love the storm trooper looks of the i3. They actually compare it to a Type 15 Shuttle Pod.

  10. Phr3d says:

    sounds like a couple more readers might be interested in that ignore button..

    scroll, scroll, the site
    gently past the.. (fill in the blank)

  11. Nix says:

    Warren, thanks for the updates to the article. I appreciate it.

  12. Ed says:


    Do you have a part number for that piece? Also…if you could provide a bit more detail how to remove the old one I would appreciate it!