BMW i3 – Guide

BMW i3 is an electric car that has made a huge impact on the EV industry. It can be said with certainity that along with Tesla this car has  helped Electric Vehicles make huge inroads in the automotive market.  Compared to its competitors, the BMW i3 has a higher price range but it’s worth every cent.

The i3 along with the i8 are part of the BMW i project that was initiated in 2011. Despite coming late to the party (September 2013), it has knocked several EVs off the perch. Since its launch, the BMW i3 has won car of the year title from multiple awarding bodies.

BMW i3 stylish body

BMW i3: Embodiment of style

To address the issue of range anxiety, the BMW i3 comes with the option of range extender, which is an on-board petrol generator.


The i3 has the both characteristics styling features that are the hallmark of a BMW along with its own unique interpretation of design. Like all BMWs, it has the kidney grill with a centrally positioned emblem. While not as striking as the i8, for an urban family car the i3 is still a head turner. Unlike most BMW’s, it has a  higher ground clearance  and a high roof. Some futuristic features  include rear hinged back doors and absence of B-pillar. This gives easy access to the rear seats.

The interior of BMW i3 is also beautifully packaged.  Four different theme options are available for the interior. All of them feature stylish seats, seat covers and carpet trims. Option for a dark oak wood dashboard panel is also available, which despite its uniqueness blends extremely well with the interior and gives the car a fresh feel.

BMW i3 electric car

BMW i3 : Class apart


Although sales for the  i3 are strong but in future it will be seeing competition from much awaited Tesla Model 3.  If Tesla are able to materialize their Model 3 dream, it will be cheaper (USD 35,000), will have more cabin room and will have a longer range (215 miles). However, there remains a big “if” on the Model 3 which is promised to be rolled out by the end of 2017. The BMW i3 on the other hand is here today and its manufacturer has a few tricks up their sleeve to beat the competition. Their new model will have additional range owing to a more energy dense battery pack. The new battery pack will be 33 kWh compared to the current 22 Kwh giving it an electric range of 114 miles (183 km).

Body and Chasis

BMW i3 has a carbon fibre body and aluminium chassis that helps it save weight. It has a kerb weight of  1195 kg and with range extender (REx)  1315 kg. This makes it almost 200 kg lighter than the Nissan Leaf (1493 kg). It was noted by veteran auto journalist Arthur St. Antoine that the carbon fibre body despite its light weight feels rock solid.

Insurance Group

The BMW i3 insurance group is 21 in the UK, classifying  it in line with cars of 1.9 litre engine category. This has been done based on vehicle power. Although electrical torque is different to IC engine torque as it is continuous, but equivalent mechanical power for BMW i3 has been deemed to be 170 bhp.  Note that the range extender does not add any power to the drivetrain.

BMW i3 price table for various countries

Country Starting Price Range Extender Green Car Incentives
UK £30,680 GB£33,830 Yes
Norway kr 237,100 Yes
France € 34,990 € 39,700 Yes
Germany € 34,950 Yes
Canada CA$44,950 CA$48,950 Yes
United States US$42,275 US$52800 Yes
China CN¥449,000 Yes
Australia A$63,990 A$69,900 No


0-60 mph 7.2 sec
Top speed 93 mph
Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
Drag Coefficient 0.29
Charging Time 10 hours
Generator (REx) 2 cylinder, 1.5 litre, Petrol

Although the acceleration from 0-60 mph is not impressive, but in the range of  0-30 mph, the BMW i3  would beat most sports cars. The  coefficient of drag  is  only 0.29, which is an impressive number for high sitting car.

BMW i3 Price Chart

BMW i3 Price Chart

The BMW  i3  comes  with built in feature  like Bluetooth hands-free system, DAB,  Park distance control, Rear view camera. Satellite navigation and Electric folding mirrors are also standard.

A video review can be seen below ( courtesy: car buyer)

Running Costs

The 22 kwh battery could be charged overnight for merely £ 3.52 (~4 USD) based on an average electricity price of 0.16 £/kWh. Note electricity prices are generally lower during non-peak hours.  Even if the i3 is run from REx petrol generator alone, the mileage listed is 50 mpg. The cost per mile of travel is only 4 pence.  Compared to a petrol car which generally costs around 0.12 pence, BMW i3 is three times cheaper to run.

Also worth reading

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