Tesla Model 3 Compared To The BMW i3


2017 BMW i3

2017 BMW i3

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

U.S. News and World Report published a direct review comparing the upcoming Tesla Model 3 with the BMW i3 (who needs an actual production car to get the job done right?).

The Model 3 won’t start initial deliveries until about ~15 months from now (even the production-intent prototype has yet to be shown), while the i3 has been available since 2014, as both an electric-only and as REx.

BMW i3 Interior

BMW i3 Interior

In the end, the Model 3 outmatched the i3 on most fronts, however, the car is of course not yet available and many specific details are yet to be revealed. It’s difficult to choose a true winner at this point for sure. The report broke the contest down into several categories.

Price: Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is supposed to have a base price around $35,000. If achieved, this puts it at $7,400 less than the BMW i3. However, the current federal tax credit is $7,500 and many Model 3 buyers may not be able to get it.

Availability: i3

This is a no brainer as the Model 3 is not available now, or for quite some time.

Exterior: Model 3

The Model 3 has been called “sexy” and “sleek” by many. It is a very sporty looking, four-door sedan with a full panoramic roof.

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Tesla Model 3 Interior

The i3 is not the most aerodynamic, sporty car in BMW’s arsenal. It is nothing quite like the i8.

Range: Model 3

The Model 3 is reported to have a range of over 215 miles. BMW’s i3 can go 81 miles on electric-only and 150 miles adding the ICE. The 2017 BMW increases to 114 miles on electric-only. Unless Tesla falls drastically short on projections, the i3 can’t compete.

Charging: Model 3


At this point, no company can compete with Tesla’s Supercharger network. A user can get about 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. This service is free for Tesla owners and may remain so for the Model 3 (certain trims anyway). The Model 3 can also be charged at Tesla’s destination charging stations, as well as anywhere else any EV can be charged. Outside of the home, BMW must rely on minimal access of slower, public chargers. In certain areas i3 buyers can get 2 years of free public fast charging.

Performance: Model 3

BMW i3 – 0-60 in about 7 seconds

Tesla Model 3 – 0-60 in less than 6 seconds (faster models expected)

Interior: i3

The BMW interior was the winner at this point. Its interior is very attractive and high quality. Cargo space is flexible and holds 15.1 cubic feet (rear seats up), and 36.9 cubic feet (rears seats down).

Add to this that no one really knows what the Model 3 interior will look like in the finished product. At phase one of the unveiling, the interior was incomplete.

The report mentions reliability, however it is all projected at this point. We won’t and can’t know much about the Model 3 in this regard for awhile.

The Tesla Model 3 takes hold of most of the categories. But, you can get a BMW i3 now, and there are less “projections”, “assumptions”, and “unknowns”. Only the individual can decide what is best.

Source: USN

Categories: BMW, Tesla

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67 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Compared To The BMW i3"

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Sure, sure, sure.
One was designed to be you could say the ultimate Sport EV, that can carry 5 passengers.

The other was designed to be the ultimate Efficient, sustainable EV, built for city, suburb and country road driving. But, not Watkens Glen driving. But, remember, the i3 has an aluminum tray, carbon-fiber-plastic frame, plastic panels, and is very light weight with a full independent suspension, tuned by BMW. Most people who drive it want to buy it.

But, that’s probably true of the Tesla M3 as well.

The i3 has the possibility of you buying 2 for your household, and a roof of solar, and being completely independent of outside infrastructure. That’s a lot of design points hit right there.

???! The Model 3 wasn’t designed to be the “ultimate Sports EV”. It was designed to be the most affordable Tesla with sports sedan performance. The i3 falls more into the Bolt EV class, as far as vehicle form factor, but really is not a good EV nor a good PHEV. The EV version seats 4 and is far from a sports performer in speed and handling specs. It has a range of just over 100 miles in expensive updated form. As a PHEV or as GM classifies the Volt, an EREV – i3 falls short again as it’s range extender lacks power for uphill grades and must be refueled every 1/2 hour on the freeway. So i3 was an experiment, and looks pretty much like an experiment with it’s odd design. No matter how much plastic sandwich around single layer of carbon fibre ( CFRP ) or aluminum is used in it’s construction, it’s novelty is overshadowed by it’s Nissan LEAF electric range. At BMW prices and BMW service and parts cost…i3 is more oddity than the “Efficient, sustainable EV, built for city, suburb and country road driving” as you call it. Don’t know how many times I have… Read more »

James said:

“Don’t know how many times I have to remind IEV readers that ‘efficient’ also includes value or cost efficiency. As expensive as i3 is, it blasts itself right out of the ‘efficient’ moniker many put it under.”

Hmmm, no, the term you need there is “economy”, not “efficiency”. But “value” is good too.

I think “efficiency” is the most over-used and confusing term in common use in technically oriented discussions, and this is a good example of why. People try to use the word to mean too many different things, so the meaning of what they’re tying to say is often muddled. That’s why I try to remember to write “energy efficiency” instead of just “efficiency” in discussions of EV energy use.

The word “efficiency” can be properly used to mean many different things. But “economy” ain’t one of ’em.

And, James: As compared to other plug-in EVs sold in North America, the i3 is indeed highly energy efficient. Even better than a Tesla car, and that’s saying a lot.

Considering how much energy it takes to make all of that more or less useless CFRP, I would be astonished if the i3 is more energy efficient than the steel and aluminium Model 3 on a life cycle basis.

And BTW, measurements of efficiency can certainly include considerations of cost.

Consider this then, at least 75% of the energy needed to to build the i3 comes from renewable energy.

Yes, the i3 is very efficient to drive and it’s was part of the thinking process to build it efficiently.

We really need to put this argument about the renewable energy to bed.

The dam from which the CF manufacturer in Moses Lake buys its energy existed before the CF plant was built. Since you can’t just turn up the knob on the dam when you need more power, this means that every MJ that the CF plant uses (and has used since its inception) from the dam is a MJ for which the rest of the grid now has to go elsewhere.

The net effect, therefore, of the CF production is the impact of the additional generation that had to be added (or the energy that had to be imported). This was most likely coal and natural gas.

It is true that the i3 assembly plant is powered (I think entirely) by renewables that BMW installed. This is laudable, but is a very small percentage of the total energy embodied in the vehicle.

I drove my i-MiEV to a BMW i3 drive event. After I drove the i3 (along with the surly BMW co-pilot I had!), I did not want to purchase it. Yeah, it was *significantly* faster than my i-MiEV, it wasn’t better in cargo space, people space, or visibility. So no, not everyone who drives one wants one.

Although this seems a silly article, you can hope the car makers will read it. The test makes clear in what fields and how much they have to up their game before the end of 2018 to be able to compete.

Tesla is showing its main reason for existence here: make clean transportation happen. With their own product (smaller effect) and by inspiring/forcing others to go in the same direction (larger effect).

In fact the car companies have no choice. If they don’t start seriously moving, Tesla will become very large and some of them will become irrelevant. If they start competing, they will survive, maybe even flourish and Tesla will stay a small of at most normal sized company. But in both scenarios Tesla succeeds.

What is the revolutionary point from the Model 3? I don’t see. Range: Bolt get the same, Leaf maybe more than Model 3.
Price? also normal compared to the Bolt or Leaf 2.
From my point the Bolt, Model 3 are normal cars, around same price, same range.
The i3 with narrow tires, carbon fibre, plastic bumbers, renewable raw materials in the interior is revolutionary (Model 3 will sure use cheap plastic made of oil, lol).
No, I don’t drive an i3 and also like Tesla more than BMW but if you look in detail on the product, the i3 is from the future and the Model 3 is just a normal sedan.

You have absolutely no way to verify anything you just said about Model 3. Which makes it utter nonsense. The Model 3 will in FACT be able to utilize the supercharger network though, something the others won’t be able to do. THAT is what is going to make it a real car and where the rubber really hits the road!

If you live in countries with good infrastructure like UK, Sitzerland or France it makes no differences with Supercharging or not. They have also very good highway infrastructure. And the SC also don’t charge faster. Look what the Model S60 is charging in half an hour and the Model 3 will have less battery, charge even slower.
So except the SC network in some regions, there is nothing revolutionery on the car itself.
If you will look the i3 and the Model 3 in 2025, you will know what I mean.
For quality there where enough to read on different pages about Model S, just poor:
TrueDelta: Tesla Is Least Reliable Automotive Brand
Poor Reliability Means Tesla Model S Is No Longer Consumer Reports’ Best Overall Car

Pete said:

“And the SC also don’t charge faster.”

Seriously? Just what kind of pretzel logic do you have to do, what kind of cherry-picking of facts, to be able to claim that SuperChargers don’t charge faster?

Even the oldest, non-upgraded SuperChargers can charge the Tesla MOdel S at an optimal rate of about 150 miles in 30 minutes. This is widely reported actual charging capability, not just theoretical.

If you want to convince us that whatever they’re using for public charging in France or Switzerland, presumably either CSS or ChaDEmo chargers, then tell us how many miles per minute those chargers can add to what kind of PEV.

Hint: It’s going to be considerably less, so long as you’re comparing charging of compact-or-larger*, highway capable PEV passenger cars.

*That is, not a limited-speed quadricycle or a microcar.

The most revolutionary aspect of Model 3 is that it will be the first fully electric car that is so compelling demand will be in the 100s of thousands not 10s of thousands.

I’ve owned lots of GM cars. I own two now, a fully loaded C7 and a Spark EV. GM quality is garbage. Comparing the Bolt to the Tesla M3 is hilarious. My sister has a Tesla S and the quality and design is better by far than every GM I’ve owned. I expect the M3 to be at least as good as my C7s in quality. The Bolt is just an electric Sonic with 200 miles range. Just another poor quality GM cookie cutter car.

Pete said:

“From my point the Bolt, Model 3 are normal cars, around same price, same range.”

You’re calling cars which aren’t even on sale yet, and which advance the range of mid-priced BEVS by more than 100%, “normal”?!?!

Ummmm… No. Just no. This isn’t an evolutionary change; it’s a revolutionary one. The Model ≡ got 400,000 people to put down $1000 “earnest money” apiece, sight unseen, precisely because it’s not just a “normal” car!

I think Pete has a valid point there. And he wrote it down. And he still doesn’t see it.

“No, I don’t drive an i3 and also like Tesla more than BMW but if you look in detail on the product, the i3 is from the future and the Model 3 is just a normal sedan.”

In contrast, what is revolutionary about Toyota’s very plain small sedans? They get millions of people to buy them! It’s really the same revolutionary thing that they have in common with the Model 3 – Lots of takers! That lone fact (volume) is an industry changer.

Consumer interest does not make a product “revolutionary”, it just makes it in-demand.

The i3 is a very revolutionary car, probably the most revolutionary since the Model-T. The production process and materials used are far beyond the Model 3. However that does not make it a successful product or “better” than the Model 3.

People seem to confuse what they desire in a car as the definition or “revolutionary” but that’s not it at all. Even the worst-selling, least in-demand product can still be revolutionary.

The i3 is a city car, the Model 3 is a small touring sedan. Sure the i3 doesn’t have the battery the model 3 will have but with all the carbon fiber and few steel parts…

We are enjoying our i3, the only limitations are with battery capacity. Being in Phoenix, our charge times on 110 are very slow in a hot garage. The fan runs constantly and it is loud. The fan will cut on while driving sometimes too. Other than summer months it is fine though. We understand we are in an extreme environment.

I’m assuming you have a BEV version.
The small battery isn’t ideal but I think the Rex is the next best solution to Tesla’s supercharger network. Being able to refuel with gasoline is actually more convenient in some cases.

Oh, on a side note, its no secret BMW is nervous about Tesla. After leasing the i3 I have been asked to do several surveys. They have all mentioned Tesla specifically, what I like about the i3 and why I considered a Tesla etc…

OP said: “…At this point, no company can compete with Tesla’s Supercharger network…”

That’s the biggie…

Out in middle America, sure.

On the west coast and in the northeast, there is far more ChaDeMo and CCS density than superchargers.

ChaDeMo and CCS chargers are more often than not inconvenient and/or unreliable (including west coast & northeast)…I know from firsthand experience…it’s a roll of the dice.

The others have typically 1 or 2 charging stations at each location that don’t work a significant portion of the time. Not reliable enough for consistent long distance travel.
Tesla superchargers, on the other hand, work.

That may be true about the concentration of chargers an more dense areas however model 3 will likely be able to use all of those charging standards as well as the superchargers.

Definitely not on speed yet, but hopefully these guys will eventually get serious.

It’s silly article about vaporware. 2019 i3 will have double battery capacity while keeping the same size and weight. Other competitors are not going to sleep for years too.

Yeah, sure. ?

They had better not because we know Tesla sill keep improving/innovating faster then they will!

zzzzzzzzzz said:

“Other competitors are not going to sleep for years too.”

Right, it’s not like Nissan and GM would “sleep” from 2010-2016, and not significantly improve the Leaf or the Volt.

Oh, wait…

But hey, zzzzzzzzzz, do keep those TES* posts coming. Thanks for providing the (unintended) comedy relief!

*Tesla Envy Syndrome

The question is, which one comes closer to the Ultimate Driving Machine ethos?

So far, that’s been Tesla. By a mile.

I think the 2017 i3 Rex is very competitive with the Model-3. With over 100 miles of EV range and similar total range to the Tesla Model 3. The BEV version, no so much. Seriously the i3 Rex could likely win out over the Tesla on a long-distance trip.

The Chevy Bolt will also be an interesting competitor. But honestly, I think I like my 2017 Volt better than either car. Too bad they don’t produce an AWD Volt with a performance package that would allow it to compete with performance cars like the Mustang and Camaro at the drag strip. That’d be the best advertising ever for the Volt.

How would one implement all wheel drive in a Volt? If you add in a traditional mechanical linkage, you’re going to sap power via the added friction and weight. If you want more power, you’re going to use a bigger electric motor or engine or both. Guess what, more weight. Bigger battery? Yep, more weight.

It would seem the efficiency aspect of the hybrid, burning as few hydrocarbons as possible, would be negated by a ‘track car’ that in fact required burning more hydrocarbons.?

I would think an electric motor on the rear wheels would make way more sense than a traditional linkage… Pretty much any AWD hybrid uses electric motors on the rear wheels. If the battery is already operating at max C then they could use the ICE for a sport mode for more power.

What do you think of the quality and reliability of the Volt.
What’s the fit and finish.
Will you keep it long term?

I think you’ve been drinking your bath water.

“Seriously the i3 Rex could likely win out over the Tesla on a long-distance trip.”

Well, if you don’t mind having to stop frequently to fill up the i3 REx’s tiny (effectively 1.9 gallon) gas tank (or 2.4 gallons if you hack the car’s software).

And if you aren’t planning on driving in a hilly or mountainous area, where the scooter motor the i3 REx uses for a range extender won’t be able to keep the car going at highway speed uphill for long.

2017 i3 will have a bigger gas tank as standard. As the battery grows, the BEVx standard allows the gas tank to carry enough gas to equal the electric range.

Current i3 won’t compete very well with the future M3, but the future i3 might do a decent job.

The choice for long range will be Supercharger vs. gas stations, and at some point the price will likely be price with $7,500 tax incentive vs. price without tax incentive.

I don’t think all hope is lost for the i3, I think they bay be able to make a competitive vehicle that some buyers will still find fits their own personal needs and desires.

Indeed, I’m looking forward to seeing what BMW does with the i3. Will they improve it to keep it competitive with the Bolt and the Model ≡? Or will it be consigned to the dustbin of history, like so many other car models that failed to compete?

Here’s hoping that BMW upgrades the PHEV version of the i3 to break out of the straightjacket of the ridiculous BEVx category created by CARB. A car as good as the i3 shouldn’t be hobbled by being forced into the role of California compliance car; made to earn BMW carbon credits rather than to give the customer what he wants.

i3 Sucks in many a Big Way!..# 1 being it’s price , outrageous!


Relax! I’m just testing it out for you! Just making sure there’s no issues. I’ll have back to you next ye…er… week, yeah week! ?

The article quite rightly points out:

“…the Model 3 outmatched the i3 on most fronts, however, the car is of course not yet available and many specific details are yet to be revealed. It’s difficult to choose a true winner at this point for sure.”

Yes, any comparison is premature. So there doesn’t seem to be any point to this article.

Very premature but we all read it!!!

The i3 could very well have a second battery upgrade around the time the m3 is comming out…
BMW will be using Samsungs 94ah cells but could switch to their 120ah cells…
The i3 could also be a couple thousand more or less when the 2018s roll around…
While the supercharger network is way better now I dont think that will be the case come 2020…

Yoda said:

“While the supercharger network is way better now I dont think that will be the case come 2020…”

Between now and 2020, I don’t see a rollout in any significant numbers of any EV charger capable of charging as fast, or faster, than even the oldest, most basic Supercharger. That’s only 4 years away, and no organization is talking about building anything even remotely close to the planned-in-advance, nationwide (or continent-wide) network that Tesla has built in North America, and is building in Western Europe and a select number of other places.

Most EV chargers other than Tesla SuperChargers are placed in urban areas, and are meant to support local travel, rather than long-range travel.

Supercharging access with be an extra cost option for the Model 3 according to Elon, so why does IEV say it might be free?

It’s not yet clear what pricing structure Tesla will use for Supercharger access for Model ≡’s. There may be different pricing tiers. The top tier may be what the Model S gets; unlimited use after paying a lifetime access fee*. Companies often describe this pricing as “free” even though you had to pay a pretty stiff fee to get in the door.

*This fee is now included in the price of the Model S for all trim levels except the new S60, for which it’s an option, if I understand it correctly. My guess is that it will always be an option for the Model ≡, not “standard equipment”, and possibly a rather expensive one.

SC network is baked into the S60, as well…just looked at Tesla’s design studio.

i’m going from an i3 to Tesla Model 3. why? i3 range sucks, and superchargers are way faster.

This comparison is simply silly. If we compare every “future” car to existing cars, we’d be here all day and accomplish very little.

I own an i3 and bought it as a toy. An experiment to basically see if my wife could get over range anxiety. After 8 months and over 5,000 miles – we fight over it, while the other two cars sit. Another reader mentioned the lightness of the i3 and I share the sentiments of all who realize THAT is the true future of EV’s. Lighter everything. Carbon fiber monocoque, lighter battery tech with twice the energy density. If you really want to watch the movie “Who Killed the Gasoline Car” – it will star the first sub-3,500lb 4-5 passenger EV with 400+ Mike range that charges from dead to full in 30 minutes or less.

SparkEV-Fiat500-Owner - M3 Reserved

SMH; yet another article pitting two separate classes of vehicles just because they are EV.

i3 is not a sedan. When the Bolt comes out, compare the i3 to that and do a in-class competition along with the Soul EV.

For either car, if the driver has their own home, so they have somewhere they can easily plug it in each night when they get home, then ….

The BMW i3 is going to be leased as a 2nd or 3rd car for the family, for someone to do the daily commute to the city, which probably becomes a fun car to drive, and then becomes the 1st car, and the petrol car becomes the spare, saved for the occasional long journey. Or when they need to carry more people and/or luggage.

The Telsa could be the one and only car that a family own. When they travel further, they can use the superchargers or other public charging.

That’s my goal – going to sell the hybrid when my Model 3 arrives. Only car I need.

A really stupid comparison to do. I love the upcoming Model 3 but the reality is that it does not exist yet and thus should not be compared to a car that does exist and can be bought today.

Tesla might not deliver on all their promised features so this is unfair to the i3.

I suspect that they will “over-deliver”. They’ve already hinted that there are/will be a lot of innovations, even in the base model.

Aside from initial quality, Tesla has continually over-delivered. Their ranges and 0-60 times, etc., have consistently been better than advertised when reservations open. New features pop up after production begins.

Hi I own a i3 (non Rex) it is an astonishing car because as it has been said many times here it is from the future. I love what tesla is doing and applaud them however the aluminium body will be prone to car park damage and if it hails like it can do here in Western Australia it would be disappointing! Our i3 has been faultless, turns on a dime, out accelerates most cars and has never left us wanting range wise ( 160 km / 100 miles is no problem if you drive well and live on the regenerative braking) I know that over time the battery upgrades will come but despite the lack of government incentives in Australia (0) it is the best car we have ever owned and the other cars are looking pretty lonely and need their batteries trickle charged to stay live!

It is hard to drive Vaporware now and even harder to purchase wait for promised speculation.
The ramp of production and promised specs are a steep.
This will make or break Tesla.
Most people want real solutions today and leave gambles to Las Vegas odds makers.
God Speed to Tesla.

It is hard to drive Vaporware now and even harder to purchase wait for promised speculation.
The ramp of production and promised specs are a steep curve.
This will make or break Tesla.
2 years away and maybe 2 years more on what is said to be a wait list of over 300000 already sold.
You got to love Tesla for that marketing.
Most people want real solutions today and leave gambles to Las Vegas odds makers.
God Speed to Tesla.

I hope that in the future Tesla switches to CFRP or something other than steel/aluminum. Those of us that live in the rust belt will greatly appreciate a car that NEVER rusts.

Also the plastic body panels are simply amazing when it comes to dent-resistance. Door dings from parking lots are basically non-existent! Who wouldn’t want a car that doesn’t accumulate dings in the body panels over time?

Large-scale use of CFRP is a terrible idea for cars, especially BEVs.

It takes more than twice as much energy to make a kg of CFRP as it does to make a kg of aluminium, and almost 20 times the energy it takes to make a kg of steel.

The use phase (driving) energy you save in a BEV by reducing mass is small relative to the extra amount of energy you have to put into the CFRP, so the overall energy required by the car over its full life cycle will be higher with significant CFRP use.

And of course you can show us the data? You take into account the energy required to create alluminium, right?


Of course I can – slide 15.


This chart is of the GHG impact, but energy and GHG are analogous in this case.

Aluminum doesn’t rust. It does oxidize immediately in the presence of air, but it forms a very strong, resilient and adherent film of alumina.

it’s too early to even start this game. Great for clicks but too early. The TM3 isn’t out and won’t be for at least 2 years. To those who says I’m wrong, when did Tesla respect their delivery timeline?

By the time TM3 is out, the i3 will be ready for it’s first major refresh. It is known it will at least have double the range of the 2016 version, if BMW i3 comes out with a longuer version, it could have even more version (since we are speculating here).

TM3 will have plenty of competition (Nissan will most probably be its biggest competitor) by the time it will reach the market. Attempting to raise the profile of the TM3 with cars of this generation is just wrong. Let’s redo this in 2018-2019.

Especially with Tesla, it is dangerous and misguided to “reason by historical analogy”, as Mr. Musk might put it.

And as all financial fine print says, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”