BMW i3 Versus Nissan LEAF

AUG 20 2014 BY STAFF 23

AutoExpress UK compares the new BMW i3 against the current EV industry leader, Nissan Leaf.

Worldwide, Nissan Leaf is already the best-selling electric car in history, with more than 110,000 sold globally since December 2011. The BMW i3 went on sale earlier this year and BMW is currently working at full capacity to fulfill the requests.

In Europe, the Leaf is officially rated at 123 miles but recent tests showed real life range to be around 90 miles. Same tests report on the i3 having a driving range of 105 miles from a 22 kWh battery pack.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on BMWBLOG. Check it out here.

But how do the two electric vehicles fare against each other? Here is an excerpt from their review:


Both cars feature illuminated charging sockets, helping to take the strain out of plugging in at night, plus they can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in between seven and eight hours when using a standard household socket.

However, if you’ve got an off-road parking space, then a powerful wall-mounted charger will be a better bet. Nissan uses the free British Gas unit, but you’ll pay £315 for BMW’s i Wallbox.

Space race

The BMW has the upper hand when it comes to interior room. Its neat pillarless door opening makes for easy access to the back seat – although the wide, carbon fibre door sill will be a hurdle for some. Light materials and large windows also help make the i3’s cabin feel brighter and more airy than its rival’s more traditional interior.


Mainstream manufacturers are embracing electric cars, but the used trade is less convinced about their long-term appeal. Our experts predict the BMW will hold on to just 30.8 per cent of its value after three years, while the Nissan will retain a woeful 26 per cent.

Check out the link below for the verdict.  As expected, the BMW i3 comes out on top, but you’d be surprised to learn that the black mark on the i3 is its handling, while the LEAF gets praise for having refinement on par with the i3.

Source: AutoExpress

Categories: BMW, Nissan

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23 Comments on "BMW i3 Versus Nissan LEAF"

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Hmm. I thought at first that those depreciation figures would be not allowing for the £5,000 Government subsidy, which in the UK comes straight off the purchase price with no messing around about tax rebates.

However, the depreciation figure is the correct one, ie is a percentage of what you actually pay after the £5k.

That is a dismal trade in price, and explains right there why BEVs have not caught on in the UK.

Fuel costs are way lower than depreciation in any new car, and these dismal figures make it a losing proposition to drive electric in the UK.

They might be viable if you drive in inner London where the congestion charge is operative, but there are other options for vehicles where that is not payable.

Tesla is likely to crash land in the UK if depreciation rates are similar, as AFAIK trade in prices are not guaranteed, and if they are and that is the sort of trade in which the market puts on the car, then the guarantee would cost Tesla a fortune.

Is it common in the UK to trade in for a new car after 3 years? I have to wonder what the longer-term depreciation curve will look like. Obviously if you have already lost 70-75% of the car’s value after 3 years, you don’t have much more to lose if you keep the car another 3 years. An EV should easily last 6 years in the UK on the original battery. In fact, it should last 10-12 years with your moderate climate.

At least half of all new cars in the UK and more in this price range are bought by companies on lease schemes.

Normally they are traded in after 3 years, partly because guarantees normally expire then and partly because after that age they are subject to an annual MOT test for roadworthiness.

Private individuals who buy new usually opt for rather smaller Honda Jazz sized cars, but even they often although not always trade in after 3 years.

Its just less hassle as long as you can afford it.

Honda Jazz = Honda Fit in the US

Interesting. That certainly makes it a harder sell. I don’t know the exact stats here, but empirically most people I know keep their cars for 5-8 years. Few individuals that I know lease. Leasing every 3 years is actually more of a hassle than buying/trading in every 8 years.

The average age of cars here is about 11 years old. Given that’s the AVERAGE, and the number of cars on the road INCREASES over time, that implies that most cars are on the road for over 20 years. This certainly seems to bear out, as older cars are just resold to those less privileged and/or more frugal. It is not uncommon for me to see a 20-25 year old Honda on the road. The good news is that EVs should hold up better than ICEVs, with maybe 2 battery replacements. The bad news is that nobody looks that far into the future when buying their new car.

We just did a lease exchange after 23 months, and it was hardly any hassle at all. The bargaining and ordering were completed via email and phone, and there was no questions asked nor charges levied on the returned car.

As long as you lease again from the same automaker, they’re all too happy to make it convenient for you. As the American BEV market looks right now, it’s extremely likely that come summer 2016, the Leaf will still be by far the most viable option for our 3rd lease.

With ICE cars, lease might be a terrible option, I don’t know. With EVs in America, for now, it’s the best way to go IMHO.

Well, first, I hate negotiating. I have only once felt like I actually got a fair deal. Second, you have to return the car in pretty good condition. If you read Nissan’s fine print, it’s pretty much impossible to return the car without a laundry list of things they could charge you for. Of course, they could choose not to if it wins return business, but that’s up to the dealer, not you.

I just don’t feel like initiating my lease was any less hassle than trading in a car to buy a new one. The difference is that now I have a date which I am forced to make a decision. Buying a car, you can make that decision at any time – after 6 months or after 10 years.

The market works quite differently in Uk. New car MSRP includes almost 20% VAT and fees. The residual doesn’t. In US we calc on pre-tax prices only. Also as Dave says most new cars are “company” cars bought at large discount, which again depresses the residual. For this reason most middle class private buyers tend to purchase cars at least 3 years old. The means that new vehicle sales trends tend to be dictated by fleet managers. For EVs to take off in UK they are the people that need to be convinced of the benefits of EV ownership.

I don’t know why anyone would expect a Tesla to have similar depreciation to a LEAF or i3. Depreciation in the USA is far higher for LEAF than Model S.

Even after three years of battery degradation the battery range of the vast majority of Model S will still be more than useful in Britain.

I expect Tesla resale values to be closer to that of the USA and Norway.

Even in the unlikely scenario were there is virtually no market for used Model S in Britain the Model S can be re-exported to Norway for a tidy profit.

Finally a fair comparison.

Fair? They’re talking about interior space and fail to mention that one car has 4 seats and the other 5? Or perhaps that doesn’t count compared to those Emperor’s-New-Clothes auto-journalist superlatives?

I’m not saying the comparison is biased, but it’s surely very sloppy.

And they didn’t mentioned trunk space…
Have phun to squeeze this all into an i3.

The comparison is biased in the sense that the evaluators are car fanatics not regular consumers. To a childless car fanatic the back seat is only for show or occasionally to carry a package or two. Thus, they judged the BMW superior on space because the space that is there is devoted to the front two seats.

If I had the extra cash and wanted a two seater EV I would definitely consider the BMW. But as we frequently travel with 4 passengers and/or lots of cargo the BMW isn’t on our list.

BMW has better interior space? that is a joke. Try to fit a 6’2 person in the driver’s seat and have a child sit behind him in the i3? Tried it? Yeah that is what I thought. The design is horrible inside. In the LEAF, no issue at all. I was hoping to buy the BMW but took my kids for a “fitting” and walked out very disappointed.

I came away from my viewing of the i3 with the same comments as I had with the Volt: Too expensive and back seat space too small.

Agreed. The i3 is not a serious competitor to the LEAF. Too small a car. Laughable that they’d give the nod to the i3 vs the LEAF when the LEAF has so much more interior room and trunk space.

Yeah, who said it was finally a fair comparison? Haha, it’s so not.

BMW i3 doors are better? Did they realize the rear doors are tiny suicide doors, ala Honda Element? Did they try fitting a child seat and putting their toddlers in there?

BMW interior room better? Did they actually tried to fit stuff in? The Leaf’s hatchback style trunk swallows up so many things.

Nope, sorry, BMW i3 is a cool high tech car but still less practical as a family mover than the Leaf. Since both vehicles are only good for short trips (without range extender), then all the fancy high tech matters less.

Suicide doors are the biggest let down with the BMW.

this article is a copy paste from BMWBLOG, which appears to have cherry picked the AutoExpress article to highlight the good points of the i3. Hardly unbiased journalism.

How can they be charged in 8 hours on a standard household socket? (or are they talking about standard in Europe?)

Yeah, nevermind.. I just realized it was a UK publication.

“PCP is a flexible form of hire purchase, a bit like part-buy, part-rent home-buying schemes. Customers pay a deposit for a new car and then a monthly sum over a fixed term, usually three years, which covers interest and the depreciation of the car. Unlike hire purchase, customers are not committed to buy the car at the end of the contract; unlike leasing, which is a rental agreement, they have equity in the car and can buy it outright by paying the “guaranteed future value” of the vehicle agreed at the start of the term. What usually happens is the customer uses the equity in their car for another deposit and starts another three-year deal with the same dealer. Dealers love it because it encourages repeat business and consumers appear unconcerned about fully owning a car.”

Its tax efficient in the UK, and any company or person buying through a company routinely uses it.

I think what the market hasn’t understood yet is that EVs are basically immortal, just replace the battery and the car is like new. All the components that normally fail in an ICE and lead to it being scrapped are not there, engine, transmission, and the components that replace them aren’t wear parts. The OEMs would rather you didn’t figure this out but I think a used EV will be a bargain for some time, especially if you buy one just before they ax the tax credit!