BMW i3: Finance and Lease Details

JAN 13 2014 BY JAY COLE 57

Live Shot Of The BMW i3 From The Detroit Auto Show (2014 NAIAS)

Live Shot Of The BMW i3 From The Detroit Auto Show (2014 NAIAS)

After a new plug-in vehicle offering is initially priced, the next questions generally are “How much will it cost to finance?”  “How much is the lease?”  “What are the residuals?”

BMW i3 Live in Detroit

BMW i3 Live in Detroit

And quite often these numbers are not known until the very last second, like when that vehicle actually goes on sale to the public.

With BMW now opening up US order books this month to its early adopters…or Electronauts if you will (Active E drivers) – that day has come.

In a document obtained by InsideEVs from BMW Financial Services to its US dealers (turns out there’s a good reason to have dealer contacts), it reads:

“…BMW of North America has offered our Electronauts (the existing Active E lessees) an exclusive opportunity to order the first BMW i3 vehicles produced for the U.S. market. Earlier this week, this group of customers was informed via email that they will need to contact their authorized BMW i Sales Center and order their BMW i3 by January 17, 2014 to take advantage of this offer.”

“…As a result, over the next week we expect that many Electronauts will ask questions regarding the available finance offers. We have prepared the attached information as a preliminary program guide so that you can help the Electronauts in making their purchasing and financing decisions.”

The first deliveries of “Electronaut” i3s are expected to arrive in late February by those who have already signed up (although that still seems unlikely to us – we estimate late March/April), with the general public’s first plug-in deliveries of BMW now not expected until May.

BMW i3 Production And Deliveries Already Underway In Europe

BMW i3 Production And Deliveries Already Underway In Europe

Now onto the numbers – most of which are fairly standard,  however it should be noted that BMW is not passing along the $7,500 federal credit entirely inside their lease offer, instead only $4,875 is being applied – a questionable move we have seen employed once or twice before in the plug-in industry in America.

According to the document:

The slate of available financing products has been adjusted to align with the needs of electric vehicle customers, and the requirements of government incentives.

Retail Finance:

  • The Retail Finance product remains available in all states, including Puerto Rico
  • With the Retail Finance product, the customer may be eligible to claim a Federal EV Income Tax Credit

Lease and PrePay Lease:

  • Lease products remain available in all states, with the exception of Puerto Rico.
  • A $4,875 BMW i3 Lease Credit is available on all lease contracts. (Please note that lease customers are not eligible to claim a Federal EV Income Tax Credit.)


  • OwnersChoice (for BMW i vehicles only) will be introduced in all states except: New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.
  • The OwnersChoice product provides advantages similar to a lease (i.e. lower monthly payments, the option to return the vehicle at the end of the term) PLUS ownership of the vehicle.
  • The ownership of the vehicle provided by OwnersChoice provides customers the potential to claim a Federal EV Income Tax Credit.
  • OwnersChoice is a balloon finance contract that provides the option for the customer to sell the vehicle back to BMW Financial Services at the end of the term at a pre-determined price. Alternatively, customers can make the final balloon payment in full at the end of the contract term to complete the purchase and keep the vehicle.
Rear Seating Area Of The BMW i3 (2014 NAIAS)

Rear Seating Area Of The BMW i3 (2014 NAIAS)

BMW is offering financing to well qualified individuals for ‘up to’ 60 months from 2.99%, 61-66 months from 3.49%, 67-72 months from 4.99%, 73-84 months from 5.99%.

As for residual values on leases, they seem to be a touch lower than industry norms, but not too far off.  Both the fully electric version and the REx (i3 with optional range extender) are given the same residual values. (based on 15,000 miles/year)

  • 24 month residual – 49%
  • 30 month residual – 44%
  • 36 month residual – 39%
  • 42 month residual – 34%
  • 48 month residual – 28%
  • 54 month residual – 25%
  • 60 month residual – 21%

Note: add 2% for 12,000 mile/year leases, 3% for 10,000 mile/year leases.  Extra mileage is charged at 20 cents per mile.

Chevrolet Currently Puts A Residual Value Of 39% On The Volt On A 39 Month Term

Chevrolet Currently Puts A Residual Value Of 39% On The Volt On A 39 Month Term

Just to give some context to those figures the Nissan LEAF “S” trim has a 36 month residual of 39% – higher LEAF trim levels (SV and SL) have a 41% residual.  The current national deal advertised by Chevrolet on the Volt has a residual of 39% but on a 39 month term.

BMW quotes some examples of financing cost on the i3.

  • Based on a MSRP/finance amount of $45,800 (which looks to be about REx territory) with $1,000 down and 4.99% financing over 60 months, the cost would be $811.27/month
  • Based on a MSRP/finance amount of $45,800 (which looks to be about REx territory) with  $5,500 down and 4.99% financing over 60 months, the cost would be $721.97/month

BMW does not breakout any lease examples, but assuming the same $45,800 vehicle on a 36 month lease (39% residual) with $5,000 down, it looks like a lease will run the consumer about $550/month on a 3 year term.  The base, all electric BMW i3 starts at $41,350, which would make those leases come in at just under $500/month (with the $5,000 down).  Of note: the BMW i3 REx edition starts at $45,200.

So, how do those numbers grab you?

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57 Comments on "BMW i3: Finance and Lease Details"

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That lease is double the Volts. In CA the dealer is offering $245 month nothing down 10k a year

Actually it’s almost triple…remember the 5000 down effectively adds about $150 to the $550 lease estimate.

Nope, is actually $330 to $400 lease with $1000 down depend on annual miles, not cheap but still a lot cheaper than Benz B. The quality isn’t the same.

I’m so damn poor. Whenever someone talks about solar or EVs being all about rich people in an argument, you safely stamp “[FUD]” in giant red letters all over his conscripted (if this is online), lying face.

You know, not because this is a cheap car, but because I as a normal person can seriously look at buying PV and a LEAF or something else.

Well, that settles that. I guess I can take the i3 off of my list of possible replacements for my Leaf in a few months. I guess the list is narrowed to another Leaf, Volt, or Cmax Energi.

What about the Ford Focus Electric its a great car truely, and its lease rates are cheap as well.

Ouch…so it looks like the i3 will not be a competitor with the volt or any other current EV’s priced below the Model S.

My LEAF lease (early adopter) is $427/mo. A $550-$600 lease estimate is in the same range as my X3, so I’m not shocked. Wish it was lower, but I don’t think it is out of the ballpark for me.

$427 a month for that ugly thing? what a waste of money, sorry.

Your comment adds nothing to the discussion.

But he is right.

Agreed, I had an early LEAF, which I ended up buying. I can fully relate to the rationale you offered. That said, the lease deals I was quoted were $750 for a BEV and $850 for a BEVx. Needless to say that this is significantly higher than expected and difficult to justify.

I guess for 80+ mile range and gas backup the price is +$700.00/month.

Probably will come down in price like everything else in time..especially when the Model E is shown and eventually released…


The $45,800 would actually be for the i3 without range extender, after a few options are added to the base $42,275 price. The range extender is $3,850 and would start over the $45,800 price before adding destination charges and a few thousand for options.

“A $4,875 BMW i3 Lease Credit is available on all lease contracts. (Please note that lease customers are not eligible to claim a Federal EV Income Tax Credit.)”

So BMW keeps the additional $2,625 of the $7500 tax credit the consumer is not eligible to claim, along with charging at minimum 2.99% interest on the loan. Or an estimated lease for $550+/mo with $5k down.

And we are still talking about an 80 mile EV range. I will just say good luck to those ElectroNuts on this one.

A better option would be get two for less than the price of one.

With the same dollars one could lease a 2014 40 EV mile Volt plug-in hybrid, and a 80 EV mile Focus Electric, along with $15,000 in federal tax incentives, and another $5,000 in CA, compared with zero federal and $2,500 in CA with the i3.

$46k for one BMW i3 or two 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs (MSRP $23k)

I just received a quote from my dealer: it’s for a $46K BEV (incl. without the REx. The monthly is just shy of $750.

Are you committed to buy one?

I have an EE (electronaut order) in the system, but was not required to sign anything. With this type of pricing, I will have hard time committing. I will consider my options but to say that I’m disappointed is an understatement.

You guys are lucky, the BEV starts at $44,950 in Canada, with a fully loaded Rex easily coming in over $60,000. Looks like another Volt for me!

Yes, and you could probably buy a Ford Focus, $16,900, and a Chevy Cruise, $17,200 for a similar price as a BMW 3 series, $32,750 ….what’s new?

This car is slotted nicely between the Model S (About double) and the Leaf/Volt (about half)

For those that having an 80-100 mile range will fit into their lives (urban and suburban mostly) this will be a nice premium car with great technology and CFRP.

I’m looking forward to getting my BMW i3….and will refrain from calling any one nuts.


What money factor did you use ? BMW can always tweak that to reduce monthly payment (but only so far – given msrp & residual).

I had a feeling you might be around asking these kinds of questions, (= I thought perhaps a little top “nerdy” for the article itself.

Just a little FYI on the BMW ranges for the i3:

BMW’s MF on a 36month/top tier is .000125, .00169 on 49-60 months, all the way to .00399 (/wave to 600s) on a 36, .00499 on a 49+

The money factor I was quoted today was 0.00165 on a 36 months 12K lease. It looks like the dealer marked it up. The quote is much higher than I expected; I may have to buy.

That helps. May be I can modify our usual spreadsheet for i3.

Terrific scoop Jay. This is going to be my first EV, and I’m learning something new everyday.

I had no idea the residuals on these vehicles are so low – makes leasing look very unattractive. And when you add into that the fact that BMW is going to rapaciously keep a good chunk of the federal tax credit if one does lease, I don’t know why anyone would lease this car.

And BMW’s finance rates look bad as well. You can get way lower rates through PenFed. Probably from other places as well.

I guess I will have to wait to see what the details of BMW’s “owner’s choice” plan are going to be. If that’s equally lame, then I will just have to buy the car outright.

I would be embarrassed to be seen in an i3 as it’s just a reinforcement of the “EVs all look like golf carts” stereotype. Now BMW ensures that it’s also embarrassing to show you’ve acquired one.

I think the BMW i3 looks fantastic. But, I guess my opinion doesn’t matter much since I also think the Leaf is attractive and I also think the Prius is attractive. It seems the mainstream believe all of these cars to be ugly.

so the i3 lease is close to 3 times the lease price of a LEAF.
not passing on the full rebate, really hurts the lease economics

I know for one thing I’m not going to be driving it any time soon in that you would think for $42,000 cookies it would at least offer a 140 mile range.

Time to cross that off the list. I would have considered an I3 lease for $450-$500 per month including taxes but I refuse to lease the I3 or buy the car either if they are going to take advantage of the $7,500 tax credit and take $2,500 of it for themselves. Its one thing to see this car based on demand at MSRP. Its entirely another thing to take your tax credit and use it to mark up the car $2,500 over MSRP. Based on pre-orders this car will sell well in the states and that a shame because what they are doing is just wrong.

I will take another look when this car comes out and confirm the lease program. If its true I wont but another product from BMW ever again.


I highly suspect they are just going to milk the early adopters like everyone does. After a year or so, the deals will get much better.

It will be a bit late for that…I’ll be into a three year lease on a Volt by them

700 BMW drivers are being forced to look for a replacement for their Active E’s. We must buy today or return our cars in March, meaning we must find a comparable mode of transportation Now!
All of the quiet news on the subject of BMW’s plans for sales are now public. Pricing with tax and registration in CA can top $60,000, with a new, weird finance program that not even Tom M., the lover and promoter of BMW electric vehicles will be able to put “lip stick” on. Although he may surprise us. I suggest that he too may say, “What are they smoking in Germany?”
Today, we BMW drivers that BMW likes to call, “Electronauts”, learned that the “Special Electronaut thank you package has been determined/selected, we will receive free seat heaters, if we order a new i3, before the 17th of January. Here in California, I have never used a seat heater, but Wow, thank you BMW. Any chance I could just keep my Active E for another year or two while you drop the price of the i3 and resolve the issues with the range extender?

My mistake, I have just learned that the offer of a “free seat heater”, is an incentive/gift from a local dealer and is not the “Special Electronaut Thank You Package.”
That package is still not yet identified, yet is supposedly an incentive to promote the purchase of the i3, before January 17, 2014.

This is not going to be a good launch for BMW. I have owned 4 BMWs in my life and have been driving a LEAF for the last 12 months. They will not sell many cars at this price. Also what is going with the 7500 not being available for the lease. Are they stealing my money???? THAT IS JUST WRONG. The car sucks too. I have driven it twice and it is not a family car, with crappy handling.


I’m with you. I’ve owned a 7 and two 3’s. Presently the 328 is my “spare never driven” car since I leasedt a Ford Focus EV. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the genuine availability of the I3 as my 328 replacement, but the reported price is beyond all reason. Ford, GM, Nissan all give the entire $7500 plus the California $2500 to the customer.

You can get a Volt fully loaded, 15000 miles and $1000 driveaway for $300 plus tax. California rebate more than pays off the driveaway, I think my 125K mile 2007 328 should be worth about $7K which is equivalent to about $200 a month over three years. So the Volt would cost me $100 a month all in….

C’mon BMW….get real!

I just dont see how BMW will be able to justify holding back $2600 of the 7500 federal incentive $
makes no sense , what is the justification?
all the other mfr recover the $7500 for you and reduce the lease.
plenty of informed ev buyers will discover this and reject BMW
I dont think BMW has any clue how much we all read and pay attention to details as a group.

but , they are about to find out

The justification for an I3 is becoming increasingly difficult. I would hate to be an Electronaut and 18 months later find out that BMW is giving purchasers a $3000 ECO credit to move these cars.

Despite being a loyal BMW customer, I will now begin to consider other options. A base Tesla model S 60 (despite it’s greater cost) may have to be considered. It’s range is more than adequate (without a REx) and the Supercharging network almost makes up for the additional cost. Also Tesla’s approach for over the air updates is an example of future-proofing a purchase that I appreciate.

Please BMW, PAUSE and rethink your strategy for the I3!!!!

I think where BMW went ‘off the rails’ was by not using the CFRP weight saving to provide additional range. I think there would be less resistance to this vehicle if the bottom of the range was 130 miles comfort and 150 in ECP Pro Plus.

Despite being characterized as a Mega City car, a ‘city car’ should give you all day anxiety free range. What i do not understand is how this happened when we had two Electronaut trials with the MINI E and the Active E.

How many Electronauts are fully comfortable with the final i3 product, it’s price and value-for-money?

Hey Mercedes! Now’s the time to swoop in for the kill. Price the lease on your B-Class at $500/month and you’re going to BURY the i3. That’s assuming Mercedes is motivated to sell the B-Class…

Maybe the Chinese BYD will come to the rescue with their hybrid/plugin Qin.

BMW is getting it all wrong. While smoke and mirrors works great when you first introduce a car in concept form, all that goes away when the production model comes out. BMW NA has known that they are releasing this car Apr/May for some time and the fact that they won’t communicate a sales strategy is borderline crazy. At least Tesla is upfront in telling you, No Discounts, No Leases (I don’t count their buy back as a lease), 2-3 month wait. Here BMW is keeping too much too close to the vest. This is not some huge volume car that they need to worry so much about how the market will react and adapt. They need to adopt a strategy and run with it. The fact that there is not one out there yet is very concerning. One, because I am one of the 700 ActiveE drivers who needs to decide what to do, two, because I placed my “order” on the EE i3 and would like to know if its going to cost as much a fully loaded X5 in lease payments. I may be willing to sacrifice rear seat space and some trunk space for the privilege… Read more »

I have just returned from having my BMW dealer compute the lease, are you sitting down?
Yes, there is a lease, not like anything we or the dealers have ever seen.
If you elect the i3, without the “Rex” but otherwise fully equiped, and you would like it for 36 months at 10,000 miles/year and you would like it at $0, out of pocket,,,$890/Mo.
If you would like all of the above plus the “Rex”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,$1,040/Mo.

I inquired about the “Special Incentive Electronaut Package, it is still unknown.
What is known is that I must give back my Active E in March unless I buy the i3, in the next 3 days. If I buy, I can extend my current lease until the i3 shows up in May or June.

Of course, the lease payment stated above would put me in any BMW “on the floor”, including the 700 series,,,,,,,,,,,,does this make any sense to anyone?

Who would accept the known expense and the unknown technology for the final iteration of this vehicle,,,,,one thing seems to be sure,,,if you see one in the future it will be,,, most likely,, RARE!

As I left my dealer we gave each other knowing smiles as I chose to,,,,,,,,, PASS

If this holds up, I will move to something else, maybe even another BMW but definitely not an i3 at $1k a month. The Model S is close to $1400/mo taking into account the buyback etc. (an 85 with some options) I’m sorry BMW but if you think anyone other than a few desperate early adopters are going to lease this car you are out of your minds. I truly hope this is not the case as I love the i3 drives great, and I’m starting to get used to the look. But there is just no way to justify this payment.

Well there is confirmation bias for you. I thought this looks like a bad deal, then i read what everyone said. Yep, seems I was correct. One thing I thought is can’t you lease a Tesla for 500/month?

I think they have let all the attention and focus the car has received go to their heads!

We are a sensible and sometimes frugal group. $1,000 lease payments won’t happen unless I get a model S in return.

36 at $890 is $32,040
36 at 1040 is $37,440

The leasing finances just make no sense. To lease the i3 REx the way I want it (MRSP of $54,725, zero down, 36 months, 15K miles/yr) comes to $955.72/month. The other car I’ve been considering is the 2014 X5d. To lease that the way I want it (MSRP $74,500, zero down, 36 months, 15K miles per year) is $1,102.69/month if I pay full price – but the initial heat is starting to come off that car now and I should be able to get the price down to $70,000 (a little more than $1,000 over invoice), in which case the monthly lease payment is $960.96. So the X5d leases for a mere $5.24/month more than the i3. Yes, this does not include the one-time $2,500 rebate from California on the i3. And it does not include the saving in fuel on the i3 vs the X5d — which, offset by the added electricity costs and the cost of the home charger — I’m guessing would total about $4,000 over the three years of the lease. Total those two items up ($6,500) and divide by 36 months and add that to the lease gives you an operating cost for the for… Read more »

Harold, I’m facing a similar dilemma. As one of the “lucky 700” electronauts, I have to make up my mind fairly quickly. The main hangup for me is that the i3 lease rate approaches Model S territory, which is unexpected and borderline insane. The value proposition of a Tesla Model S, even if it’s just the 60 kWh trim, is much higher than the i3 with REx, courtesy of the supercharger network. And the name recognition as THE EV is not to be underestimated. I think BMW’s lease rate moonshot might have missed its target. That said, I’m going to wait to see the terms for Owners Choice with Flex before deciding anything. An EV offers a much nicer driving experience, which you might come to appreciate.

The bare bones model s looks like the winner on price, that’s because of the nationwide charging infrastructure Tesla has created. Now, the question is how strong is brand loyalty/brag factor that important.

Wow! I’ve been sitting on the fence debating between the Leaf the the i3 but the BMW lease terms are atrocious. ‘My’ i3’s MSRP is $47,375 and ‘my’ Leaf’s MSRP is $37,020 – about a 20% difference…but the BMW is peppier (if a bit smaller).

But after the all the differences in lease terms (+ the ~$1000 my Leaf dealer is giving me) the 24 month lease price is $20,080 for the i3 and $9,464 for the Leaf! Over twice as much! This is just today’s reaction…but I think I’m driving a Leaf for the next two years…

BMW I3 is powerful machine but lease terms could be better. If you are interested in models of BMW – pre-owned, check on 😉

My guess is that the residual value on this car is such an unknown (as PEV technology & competition is changing fairly rapidly) that BMW is trying to encourage sales rather than leases so it doesn’t get stuck with a fleet of competitively obsolete cars three years from now. Why is everyone here so insistent on leasing rather than taking advantage of the full tax credit and low financing rates? (3.49% for 5.5 years is a really good deal.)

Because WE don’t want to get stuck with completely obsolete cars either :).

But my thoughts exactly. Chevy was/is bending over backward with it’s Volt lease, but BMW seems not to think that is quite necessary. I got my 2012 Volt, 46K on a 2 year lease, for 299/mo, so my jaw hit the floor this afternoon when I got my numbers from the BMW guy for a 45K I3 at 699/mo. The first thing I thought was that somebody made the decision that I should prefer to buy it. And they’re right, except that a new Volt is both prettier and a cheaper date.

Hey , BMW cant have it both ways, if I3 residual is crap after 3 years , i’ll wait and buy an off Lease I3 at auction or at a dealer. for some small % of the original msrp.

off lease cars are usually low miles and well kept .

I test drove this vehicle today. I have had 4 BMWs in the past, and have to say this one is BMW, through and through. It is hard to compare this one to the Leaf or the Volt. This is a whole other ball game. I did not lease this vehicle today solely because the residual is low compared to other BMWs I have leased in the past. I am considering a straight purchase, however because I do not believe there is anything else on the market quite like it at the moment. Incomparable, IMHO.