See Why One Might Choose A Used BMW i3 Over The Tesla Model 3


Hmm … choosing a used BMW i3 ahead of a Tesla Model 3? What gives?

Well, to start, it’s number two on our list of electric cars that spend the least amount of time on dealer lots. Additionally, if you’re planning to buy new, hopefully, you’re well aware that Tesla doesn’t offer any discounts. Don’t plan on bargaining with a salesperson regarding your new Tesla purchase (and this is often the case with the automaker’s used vehicles). The price listed by Tesla is most often what you get and you can’t throw a fit!

Some people that are waiting for their Model 3  – or even just awaiting the particular configuration they’d ultimately hoped for – are buying up another EV (new or used) in the interim. You can always sell or trade in once your prize Model 3 comes along. So what will it be? Chevy Bolt, Nissan LEAF, BWW i3? New? Used?

In regards to the BMW i3, deals have been incredible, not only for new cars but also on the used market. While we’ve read many accounts of the BMW i3 not being the best in the newly emerging sea of EVs (mostly due to its high price and lower range), it’s really a good car for a plethora of reasons. If you can snag one on the cheap, you’ll likely happy with your purchase. Check out the video above to find out why.

Video description via Cars & Technology on YouTube:

In search for my First Electric Car, I ultimately purchased a used 2015 BMW i3 Fully Load without the Rex Over the Tesla Model 3 for a variety of reasons. However, I am so glad that I did because this car really is one of the best EVs currently on the market and its used market is ridiculously low.

BMW i3

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41 Comments on "See Why One Might Choose A Used BMW i3 Over The Tesla Model 3"

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Used EVs are a great deal. I am advising a friend right now about all the options, including the used market.

I would pick a new i3 over a new model 3 any day. It’s a spectacular (and very misunderstood) car.

Except for Chrysler levels of problems.

It was a great vehicle, however it’s priced considerably higher than the competition and hasn’t received major updates, with the low range per price ratio and driving/braking stability compromises coming from the thin tires you can understand why the sales are staggeringly low 434 (USA), 1892(Europe), for comparison the leaf sold 1576 (USA), 3359(Europe) and Tesla’s model 3 6250(USA).
All sales figures are from May.
In 2014 it was the best BEV in it’s segment (arguably the only one) however competition has brought new and better options which make the preference of the i3 vs TM3 today come from brand loyalty instead of the product value.

Clarity – Yes, i3 – big NO

While the i3 i had for an extended three day test drive felt like a real BMW, there are some serious flaws. It is too brittle riding, too high strung compared to something like a 3-series. But the rear wheel drive and the comfortable, well made interior are world class. Nothing wrong with this car a 40 kW battery would not fix.

I’ll agree with you, but add that a longer i3 with conventional rear doors, a bigger trunk and a trailer hitch would be REALLY nice to have 🙂

As it is though, the i3 has some serious USPs! All these years later the REx is still the only PHEV with good range AND proper DCFC! Yes, the Outlander is close, but it can only take 22kW DC and has a pretty small battery.

At the right price., and I Mean No Where Near their RETAIL Price ……it’s a Cute Little Golf Cart to run errands around town with,and although it’s Expensive to Repair, The Positive is, The Kevlar Body Will Not rush …..

Carbon fiber, not kevlar.

If you can settle for an i3 you never needed a Model 3.

Drove the i3 and ride quality, range and the seats were nogos for me.

I owned a BMW i3 the worse car ever. Main problem is it will not go far full charge 69 miles when it’s Cold that mean you can only go 35 miles and back off a charge and you bet not used the heat less mileage. I will take a 1999 Dodge Neon over a 2018 BMW i3 anyday Worse Car In Life. Plus I was paying 790 a month and I didn’t get the 7500 tax credit. Irs said I didn’t owe any money so I wasn’t eligible for it

You must of had one of the older ones. I have gone 148 miles on a highway trip on 97% SOC in my 2017 BEV. Seats are very comfortable, and the ride is fine, unless you are looking for a Buick soft ride. I can do 100 miles easily at 75mph constant speeds.

Of course it’s the old one, only the old one has the good deals on the used market., that’s what we are talking about here.

The used i3 i a very hard sell for me. After driving a short range for years i would not touch the old i3. Repairs can’t be cheap on them either. If i had to go for used it would probably be the Volt.

Wow, I agree with you… first time…. Volt is a great value on the used market… too bad Used Bolts are so rare….

” I agree with you”
That can’t be good….i take it back.
I guess even you can be right 2 times a day…

Laughable range and performance compared to the Model 3. BMW technicians cringe when asked about the reliability of the i3.
This recommendation must be a meme.

I disagree with 99% of the BRAIN DEAD Things This Guys Says…He’s Comparing a 4yr Old Car to a NEW M 3 …No Comparison Here ! This Guy is “F0S” …..ALL WRONG”

Yes, especially since a new i3 is the same price as a Model 3, but doesn’t even have the advanced features like autopilot, range or performance. In 4 years, a used Model 3 will also have greatly depreciated.

BMW should be boycotted. Their Jack’s are made out of plastic inside and can’t handle the payload. Several people have died because due to the plastic car jack. To the makers of BMW, if you’d like to know what happened email me and leave a phone number.

To Boot , BMW Couldn’t Care Less If They Even Tried To !….

How can you die because of a car jack? They are for lifting the car not for holding it up. You put stands or blocks under it.

Used SparkEV with fast charging, because on a 50kW charger, it charges from 0 to 80%(75 miles of range) in 20 minutes, and on a 22kW if still takes only 50 minutes to an hour to gain a full charge. And SparkEV only costs $11,000 used. BMW i3 because it also charges fast, even on a 22kW charger, and it’s got more interior space than the SparkEV, also, IMO it looks nicer. If you get the 33kWh version, it also has 114 miles of range. Only real downside is, they have lots of reliability problems, and will be expensive to fix. Won’t buy the new Nissan Leaf, because it still uses the CHAdeMO standard, and it has no thermal management system. Better to get a used, one where you can have the battery replaced and still be money ahead compared to a new one(unless you need the extra 40 to 65 miles of range compared to the old ones). Bolt EV is nice, would buy, except it tapers from 47kW to only 37kW at 55%. Why? SparkEV has a battery that is 3 times smaller, yet it can maintain 45kW charge rate all the way up to 80%, I see… Read more »

I have a ’15 eGolf. It has no active battery cooling, but also maintains @47kW on DC fast charger up to 85%, and will take back to Beck fast chargers without showing– although VW doesn’t recommend it. Having driven the Bolt and Leaf and i3, it the best”car” out of the group. After not than a year of ownership, and 2 road trips, mostly on L2 charging, it’s not an issue, unless you are in the most of the time and fast checking if an obsession. Most of us plan for the down time and go do something else. 2.5hrs as opposed to 2.75hrs is a non-issue, and anyone with a big battery car that beloved the 30 min to 80% line, well….

Are they ever planning on enlarging the battery?

In just a couple of months, a new battery is expected to come out with about 150 miles range on the BEV with 43kwh.

Can’t really compare them. i3 is a premium car of high quality while the TM3 is a low-end simple car.

What exactly is premium about it?…other than the price of course. You need to check the new car market in the $50k price range, alot of the features that you think are premium come standard on much cheaper cars. Maybe it’s the logo…

DSC off…how would you do that on model3? I3 over anything atm.

A used i3? Nah, the Mercedes B250e is a far better vehicle. More interior room, space for 5, and longer range. Unlike most other EVs, the engineers at Mercedes over spec’d the battery and under-reported the mileage. Sure, 84 miles @28KWh is the quoted number for the US mileage, but that neglects the available extra range from the extender that will get you 104 @31KWh you can get standard in 2015+ model years. And that 104 is the mileage you’ll get with the AC turned on and cruising on the highway, while still leaving about 10% battery overhead (total battery is 36KWh) to compensate for battery wear. Check the forums — people regularly get well over the spec’d mileage, regardless of driving mode.
And it’s not some cheap material, plastic-y, narrow-tired, eco-mobile — it’s a Mercedes Benz, through and through. Well, except for the Tesla drivetrain and battery. If I were in the market for one right now, that’s the EV I’d be shooting for.

Sure, the B250e feels nice to drive, but it also feels really heavy. And it’s basically unusable for trips beyond its battery capacity because it doesn’t even have the option for DC charging! If it’s a second car or you never plan to drive more than 150 km it might be alright, but fundamentally it’s a flawed orphan that Mercedes developed halfway and then disowned.

That said, while the i3 is better for long distances, I do wish they had come out with some other, more practical and conventional body styles. Light weight is fine and all, but if you’re going to build a small car it needs to be able to take a roof rack, trailer hitch and/or hatch-rack. As far as I know the expandability of the i3 is basically nil if you’re not willing to do things without the manufacturer’s blessing.

Also, if you don’t like narrow tires than you’re not allowed to complain about highway range or high drag coefficients!

Where can I buy one ??

Everything he mentioned in his list, the model 3 has as well. Furthermore, its either equal In the model 3 or better. It has over twice the range, way larger screen, more space, larger windshield, more horsepower and is actually a 3-5 second car (not just “feels like one”). It has the same warranty, similar app, regenerative braking, road speed limit.

The ONLY VALID POINT he makes in justifying this purchase is the availability and price (due to the fact that they can be heavily discounted). The design, sound system and wind noise are debatable subjects.

Can anyone give me actual facts why the i3 is superior???

While I believe every driver has individual needs that anyone car might not address…clearly the 2018 i3S Rex has everything I want and more, and I also own 2014 CPO TSLA S85.

So just for starts we’re not allowed to test drive (my 2014 purchase i3 after 3 day test drive) free charging …can average 5+ miles/kWh in Ecopro + for local driving thanks to its overall design, more manuverable..turns on dime, easier parking, more sustainable in manufacturing, ease in entering and exiting car, Rex gives unlimited range (ok 5 min REX fueling up), clamshell doors give total access to interior, I love the new moonroof, I love the “sport” S mode, I love the ease in shifting between modes which is comparable to gear down and up shifting, the hatchback design is great for accessing truck, basically the i3S is lightening on wheels…I passed on my active Mod 3 build and got this baby for $36k before tax…this car,i3S Rex, I feel works better for me and my driving needs period!

I was waiting for T3, but needed car now, so I got a new 2018 i3 and loving it. Might still get T3 for wife. Maybe when the $35k ones are out

I picked up my I3 in April for 24,000 with 8k on it. Great deal compared to buying new.

Used i3???…I passed on my Mod3 design option now open to purchase a NEW i3S Rex…yes top model all black, sport wheels, moonroof, etc…final cost before tax $36k…thanks to utility discount, dealer discount, NYS and fed rebates. 2 years free EVgo DC fast….so satisfied.

Right when finally got to sit in Mod3 ….totally disappointed. Ok I did also buy a CPO 2014 ModS 85..but I would have passed also if rebate was available at the time

Just completed a 275 mile road trip in i3S…this car is fantastic on the road, range no concern, plenty of charging options on East Coast corridor, sports mod excellent, info center and navigation now excellent (never used mapping in my 2014 BEV i3). This car is lightening on wheels.

We leased two 2014 i3s new. At the time the only similar upscale option was the Model S and autopilot wasn’t even released yet (hardware in oct 2014, software not until late 2015). Adaptive cruise was a must for us. The leases were extremely cheap after tax incentives, equivalent to $65/month. The cars had several problems early on that took BMW ages to fix. Almost two months for a replacement transmission, several months to get higher than 3 kWh charge rate. The out of state dealer also took 5 months to get our registration and license plates. We also had to replace a windshield due to rock crack and the tire life was a problem, only 10k miles from the rears and it was worn to the steal belt. The tires are only made by Bridgestone and there was a shortage with several weeks wait. Also no spare to get you by if you have a blowout After our leases were over, I bought a 2016 refresh Model S 60, then in January 2018 we got a Model 3. The S is a totally different, higher level of car, but my new inventory S was only $10k more than for… Read more »

looks nice, but personally I don’t like cars with skinny wheels.

With kids the i3 sucks because you have to open both doors to get kids in and out. Also there is room for only 4 people. The i3 quality & materials is top notch.
REX option is smart, but limited in range electronically (70 mile) due to CARB as the ones in Europe have the 150 mile REX.

I test drove a use i3 Rex last year and it had too many negatives to even consider. I think it’s silly comparing used cars to new cars.