Review: Why I’m returning my BMW i3 after three months

BMWi-Samsung-watchjpgThis is a new feature at AUTO Connected Car News where actual car owners or lessees write about their experiences with technology connected cars.

The following is written by woman who leased a BMW i3 in January and plans to return it, who we call Madame X. We did not use her name because she wanted to have the best negotiating power with her sales associate.

The BMW i3 is sold as being integrated with connect car technology.

Update 2/2017: BMW is recalling more than 19,000 i3 REx plug-in hybrids in the U.S. because they could develop a fuel vapor leak that would increase the risk of a fire. Cars from the 2014 to 2017 affected by the recall.


I’ve been leasing BMWs for years, when I was in a car accident, a tow truck arrived almost immediately from the BMW roadside assistance system, BMW Assist. In January, I rode in my friend’s Prius and realized I wanted something more eco-friendly, when I leased my next BMW. The sales woman suggested the BMW i3 with the range extender and DC fast charge option.

After I drove off the lot, I contacted my electric company to have a charger installed at my home in North East Los Angeles. In order to get the lower rate, I would have to install a new meter. The garage was far from the main power source and a charger with a new meter would be very expensive to install.

I decided to opt with charging my BMW i3 at work where there is a ChargePoint station. I also charged the car at local garages and super chargers.

After two weeks, I tried to return it as my love/hate relationship with the car continued to develop. When I bought the car they told me that the range would be 71 miles on electric power. When I returned they said that they did over-estimate the number miles on the electric charge. They also told me that they would help me with my charging situation.

The problem is that whenever I go anywhere, I’m always worried that I will run out of charge.

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Driving in the HOV lane is a great perk, however, it used more battery power, causing more anxiety. If I drive faster or use the air conditioner, I’m afraid, I’m going to run out of charge.

I’m very busy, I’m in management, I don’t have the time to stop and charge the BMW i3. Charging is very inconvenient especially when it takes several hours for a full charge. Even the half hour super charge seems too long to wait. I have the app and it really doesn’t help that much, because there are only so many chargers in the area.

I can’t visit my friends who live outside Los Angeles County because I’m not sure, I can get a charge. I can’t pull up to their house and take out my charging cord and connect it to the BMW i3.

Also, when I’m driving the BMW i3, it feels like a car that I would drive 30 years ago when I was young. It’s very light and not as comfortable or luxurious as my previous BMW models. It doesn’t have the power or smoothness, I’m used to. I need another car for longer trips.

I’m paying $600 a month on the lease and $125 a month for charging at various stations around town, plus the charging situation is always producing range anxiety.

The last straw came when I was driving back from the Inland Empire, I was in a fast lane on the freeway. I ran out of battery power and the gasoline extension engine started.

I couldn’t keep up with traffic I had to pull over and drive in the slow lane which produced even more anxiety.

There was burning smell that really bothered me. I think it may have damaged the batteries or something.

The whole way home, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to make it. Since the freeway episode, it doesn’t seem to be driving as well.

Thankfully, I have a lease that I can get of any time. I’m going back to the dealer to see get something better.  I’m also going to look at the Tesla S.


This buyer illustrates the problem we’ve seen with the Range Extender on the BMW i3, some reviewers have noticed when the range extender motor is engaged the BMW i3 has trouble getting up hills and it also can slow down to 40 mph.

Even BMW states “The range extender is not intended for daily use. It’s for situations when the driver needs to extend the range of the vehicle to reach the next charging station.” The BMW i3 is designed as a city car, but people in the city don’t necessarily have a charger or the correct power in their garages if they park in a garage at all.

The range extender has been called “inelegant, and it doesn’t seem to supply the car with adequate power for non-city driving.” When the battery is below 6 percent and the motor is supplying power in “get to charger” mode it has been reported that the BMW i3 can only handle about 40 mph which is not safe on the freeway.

It has been reported that in designing the BMW i3, BMW chose to use the engine only for extending range in order to enable California drivers to receive a full $2500 rebate. For whatever reason, the extended range option on the BMW i3 appears to not relieve range anxiety but add to it.

We have also seen reviews from actual buyers who confirm you need to have a charger at home and at work to feel comfortable in with an electric car that has a 71-80 mile range. Many owners note that the BMW i3 is not good for weekend road trips because the gas tank only holds 1.9 gallons with about 78 miles of driving range and finding charging stations is difficult.

The ride of BMW i3  has been referred to as bumpy.

The BMW i3 tries to do something similar to the Chevy Volt, however the Volt can go 380 with the gas engine and has a special mountain mode for going up hills.

EDITORS NOTE: Have you experienced extended range problems with a BMW i3? Would like to offer a real buyer review on a popular technology-oriented car?  Please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Please read our guidelines. We also have a strict policy of not degrading any race, sex, author or product. We do not publish profanity. We also don’t publish disparaging remarks, if you call the author a bad name it will be edited.

What many commenters are not realizing is that car manufacturers rely heavily on their brand reputation. Instead of calling the author bad names, look at what the whole process illustrates. We should be grateful, for her honesty so that others may learn from her.

98 thoughts on “Review: Why I’m returning my BMW i3 after three months”

  1. Coming up on my 1st year of the my 2 year lease on a Rex. So, far it’s been an awesome daily driver. Most of my driving is in the Chicago burbs with mixed traffic and wide open roads and highways. Super snappy acceleration lets me dart in and out of traffic like a bionic cheetah. Turning radius ultra tight to flick this vehicle into a mid block u turn in one feld swoop to descend upon and park into a narrow spot. No issues of having this car de-power when switching to gas, but i rarely use it since i have a level II charge station and home and rarely drive more than 50 miles a day.

  2. We have owned our I3 for two years It gets used round town Toronto and for trips to our cottage about two hundred kms. I cant say enough about the car It is quick, really well designed , maneuverable and gets more looks then my Porsche GT4. We have had zero maintenance requirements , never had the issue of the REX cutting back the power and Iove the fact that most of the car is made of reusable, lightweight and or deform-able materials. I cant understand why BMW is not marketing it harder Teslas are all over the place in Toronto but for many the half price of the I3 would make it a more suitable car
    Another 25 miles of range would be nice. Is anyone using a high speed charger we just use the 110v system but want to move to a faster charge

    • I have the 220 volt charger in my garage for my BMW i3 and love it, My only complaint is with BMW Canada. Although I have have not had any problems with my i3, BMW refuse to answer my written letters and e-mails. My question to then is quite simple. Where can I get any waranty work completed as I live in Winnipeg, Canada. The i3 is not sold here yet. They refuse to communicate. For this reason, I would not recommend BMW.

  3. I am anI3 Rex lover!….until. I think this car is wonderful, it is speedy, efficient and and take corners / u turns with the best of the bmw family. I was in love with my car until….I had taken a further journey than usual and knew I was going to be using the fuel backup. That is ok, that is why I bought it! Going 75 down the freeway in heavy traffic…guess what the fuel did not kick in, my car went from 75 to 30 in seconds!! Of course, I was in the fast lane. My saving grace is there was not a semi following me, if there was this car would not have saved me.

    I am dreadfully concerned BMW is not letting the consumer know about this. For those who are going to tell me I am driving wrong…1. I was in comfort mode. 2. I read the manual , no where does it say be fearful of your life when you car looses power..

    I have contacted 2 BMW services providers and am now being told….oh yea, that is how the Rex works.

    My car is a 2015, I have had it for 6 weeks. At this time, my little death bomb of a car will need to be flipped in. I cannot knowingly drive a car like this knowing the power might not be there when needed. Other blogs I read indicated there was a fix, the service people said there is not, and my car has it already.

    To BMW, you need to get this together. When people start to die, will you recognize the flaw?

    • The BMW i3 REX is not like the Chevy Volt that has the full power when the battery is drained. My understanding is that the Rex feature is only supposed to get you to the nearest charging station. I’m glad you survived. I ran out of gas once on the freeway and was almost immediately rear-ended.

      There were also issues with BMW i3 Rex models in gas mode going up hill, they couldn’t make it.

    • Hi. Sorry for you troubles but you exemplify the need for an “EV consultant” prior to leasing or buying an EV. Details such as home charging expenses, type of driving, range, terrain and even time available to charge all need to be considered. I would have not recommended any EV to you. If you liked the Prius, would that car fit your needs? Then, a Prius should have been your choice but nithing with a plug. Even a Tesla requires time and patience to recharge. The home charger issue remains the same. By the way, too many consumers buy tge wrong car each day from too small to too larger to wrong style, etc. I hope you can get the appropriate BMW car soon. Good luck.

    • Same thing happened to me yesterday on the 5 freeway in Los Angeles. I was 10 miles from home and knew I was going to need to use the REX. Unfortunately, when the battery emptied, the range extender never started. I had it towed to BMW using AAA because BMW roadside assistance could only get me a tow two hours later. The dealer charged it and emptied it and then assured me that it wouldn’t happen again. They also assured me that this never happens. Obviously not true.

  4. I’m in the market for an EV with extended range capability. I test drove out the i3, and loved it. We currently have an i-MiEV, which costs about 1/3 the i-3 after rebates, but has no extended range capability. I also test drove the Volt, and didn’t care for it. I found that having a level 2 charger at home is really a requirement, because with the 120V charger, the battery didn’t get enough charge at night, and then we didn’t have much range the next day. This can be problematic if your service panel does not have room for a separate 30A breaker. Be sure to check that!. I’m slowly convincing my wife to give up here dreams for a Tesla, because dragging around excess battery is usually a waste, not to mention the price tag. Even with a Tesla, a charge would be required on the occasional long trip. My son mentioned the problems with the REX, but it appears they have been solved. Thanks for all the advice.

  5. The main duty of the car driver must be to take the proper maintenance of the car. Maybe your car insurance would have covered it?

  6. I have had my i3 for four months now, and since I have a very short commute, I have never had charging problems. Instead I have discovered something unpleasant about the car and the BMW corporation. I drive everywhere with my aged dachshund – he loves the heated seat, and always sits on his seat cover. But old dogs have health problems and one day after leaving him in the car for 15 minutes, I came back to find he had thrown up on the center console. Messay, but not hard to clean up. But after it was cleaned up the Idrive stopped working. I could not select anything by pushing the central knob down, though I could move through menus. Given the integrated electronics, this made the car essentially undrivable. What steamed me was the dealership which demanded $730 for a replacement. The idrive is right behind the coffee cup holder – so dont spill your coffee or it will cost you $700. I have driven a prius for the last 12 years, and that car was not rendered inoperable by a cup of dog vomit. So it will look messy, but I am sealing all the gaps around the idrive with silicon seal.

    • My Yorkie-Poo knocked over water in the cup holder of my Nissan Leaf, I was glad it didn’t get into the USB port right next to it. I put an absorbent towel around the shift knob because she likes to put her head there. When I drive long distances I have a harness that fits into the seat belt holder that keeps her on the seat. I also put her foam dog house and blankets on the seat. It might be a good idea to put a towel around the iDrive shifter, just in case.

  7. Some people are unhappy with everything/can’t get anything to work. I have heard there are lemons like with most cars. I used NO gas in my Rex the first year commuting around San Diego. So I sold my ICE Acura Integra. Drove the i3 to northern California, even deep into a Sierra trailhead. I do have the European spec allowing me to turn on the Rex below 75% charge plus can put 2.3 gallons into the tank. The Rex can move the car along at freeway speed and maintain charge as well. The ability to charge early helps when climbing mountains and planning for upcoming charging stations. Fast-charging can be quite unreliable, but the Rex can take you anywhere, just stopping every 2.3 gallons. Like with Volkswagen buses years ago, long distance driving with the i3 is a little adventurous if I try to use as little gas as possible…like a seat of your pants, eco, high tech future/present. I love driving the most efficient car made. By the way Sidney, the wheelbase of the i3 is not short, same as my old Integra which was a rock at speed, including the steering. Must be the suspension settings making the ride jouncy. Does feel like rear weight bias with rear wheel drive could play a part. Most of my driving is city, and the i3 is an agile rocket in it’s domain.

  8. Our i3 was delivered a month ago by BMW Park Lane.

    It ran well for 500 miles but on Sunday evening the REX motor didn’t provide charge to the battery. No icon showing. BMW Service towed us off a busy motorway (M3) and delivered the car to a dealer on the outskirts of London on Monday. The advisory was that the exhaust had an issue!! The dealer didnt contact me, so I called on Monday evening to be told that the exhaust was fine. No mention of the failed REX connection. They did nothing on the Tuesday whilst frustration increased when their dedicated “i” technician insisted that the REX did not charge the battery!!

    Wednesday evening they agreed to run the battery down and see if the REX could be engaged manually at 70% and automatically at 20% of charge. They reported that the REX was running correctly. Hmm. I wonder if they think that the i3 has a software problem and hope that we will take the problem to someone else?

    We will, with trepidation, embark tonight upon a 100 mile journey to our family home in Christchurch, fully expecting to be towed in after the battery dies at 70 miles.
    BMW Service is not at all responsive. The dealer in NW London is both unresponsive and appears to regard its customers as tiresome for questioning their judgement.
    I was going to buy a new BMW 200 cabriolet until I experienced, at first hand the poor attitude of BMW to its customers. I’ll stick with Audi.

    • When they towed your vehicle, was it towed back to the NW London dealer? Are they paying for the tow?
      If so, just keep driving it and keep letting them tow it at their expense. Sooner or later, they will see that it is cheaper to find and fix the problem for you, or give you another i3.
      I would also suggest calling corporate headquarters and letting them apply some pressure to the dealer to find a remedy for you.
      If that doesn’t work, you can go public with it by making it a story on local TV.

  9. Blimey, I have an i3 and love it. The REX is useful at times but i try to never use it. If you’re an anxious person like this reviewer don’t buy one!
    Do your research first. Make sure you have chargers available and that you can get a fast charger fitted at your house for less than buying a nuclear reactor.
    It’s nippy and great for town driving. You’ll not be able to tour the world in it but that’s not what it’s for. I commute in it 30 miles a day and for that it’s perfect, It’s fab!

  10. I have had an i3, in the UK, for 6 months and never experienced any problems such as those she describes. The car has very good performance, especially from a standing start, and easily cruises up to 80 mph. The original electric range, about 70-80 miles, shown can be misleading, especially if you have a heavy right foot, but usually it drops a bit at first, but actually does get back to close to the original mileage estimate.

    It is ridiculous to have range anxiety when you have a total range of about 150 miles, with the REX, and you can travel any distance by filling up the tank, or stopping to charge about every 70 miles. The REX starts up automatically around 3 miles remaining on electricity so you don’t even have to think about it. There is a bit of a “hot” smell the first time it fires, but that goes away subsequently. I have never experienced the reduction in power mentioned when on petrol although I understand it can happen if you drive the car hard and end up going very fast uphill. To make sure it doesn’t happen I usually put the “maintain battery level” feature on at about 15 miles electricity remaining and go back to electricity about 8 miles from home/next charge point.

    Not to charge at home overnight is not a good idea. You don’t need to get the special charge point, just use a normal socket. But if you want lower overnight tariffs maybe you have to have the power company do something.

    I also don’t like waiting long for charging, and have found in the UK that the charge points are not as reliable as they could be. But that is why i got the REX. So i charge mostly at home or destination, en-route if I’m stopping for coffee or lunch or something and use the very fast CCS chargers only.

    Finally, he car is very light, due to the construction from very light materials, so it can feels a little unsteady when there is a lot of wind, but that is the only thing that I find not like a “real BMW”

    • Excellent points.

      I wish the BMW i3s sold here in the states had the option to maintain battery level at some arbitrary point. This way, if you know that you are going to be traversing some terrain that will temporarily require a larger buffer, you can plan for it. Our i3s here do not have this feature. Perhaps that will change in future models.

      We also don’t get the moonroof here in the states. Hope that becomes an option later as well.

      My commute is about 40 miles round trip per day. I also only charge at home and use just the normal socket. I said before I bought it, that if I am away from home, and I need more range, just use gas. That’s why I bought the REX.

  11. 6 months ago, as a new i3 REx leasee, i also had range anxiety, severe anxiety. 60 mile daily commute, no L2 charger at home or anywhere close to work. 6 month later, no more anxiety although scenario is still the same. That’s right, still no L2 charger at home!

    EV’s are different amongst themselves just as they are different from ICE cars. The driver must know his/her requirements before picking out a car. Would you buy desiel car if you lived in a fictional city that has no desiel stations? Or how could you justify complaining about range when you could even bother to plug in the “L1” charger at home?

    I do agree that, unfortunately, without any mods, the i3 needs the REx just to be competitive with a Fiat 500e as far as range goes. Without mods, the REx is just there to help you limp to a charger and to get you that clean air rebate (but according to your lease numbers, you didn’t get that either).

    However, with simple mods, the REx has allowed for single day road trips of just under 200 miles effortless and at practical freeway speeds (70-75MPH). This particular trip did not involve any L2 chargers at all. But this is besides the point.

    The bottomline is that the original author really can’t blame anyone when
    1) proper research wasn’t done on own requirements thus proper research wasn’t done on best fitting EV.
    – a loyal BMW owner doesn’t mean that BMW has the best EV for you.
    – I was a long time MB driver but their B-class does not have REx so it’s not for me, and I knew better than to “just go with it”.
    – i3 is an EV with a gas engine that helps charge the battery. A Volt uses the gas engine to drive the wheels as well, more like a traditional hybrid with a plug.

    in the end, the author is right, the author needs to be return the i3 and get into a different car. The i3 (and almost all sub-$90K EV) are not meant for owners who are too busy to charge when they can, especially overnight at home.

    • I agree with just about everything you said here, with some exceptions.

      The i3 REX model actually has a shorter spec’d battery range because by design, even when the range extending engine is operating, the electric motor is still using the battery. The job of the gas engine is only to maintain the charge of the battery at 5-6%. It will not charge the battery completely. The reason for the reduced battery range is that a small buffer of battery capacity must be reserved for the range extended mode of operation, because there may be some intermittent demands for power that are beyond the capabilities of the small gas motor. When this demand goes away, the gas engine will “catch up” and keep the buffer in place. It makes sense if you think about it.

      The standard i3 has a spec’d range of 81 miles. The Fiat 500e is 87. Not a lot of difference there IMHO. I agree that the REX option, which is what I have too, is more practical and gives you another very important option, the option to continue driving after a quick stop at a gas station. I think though if you compare other details between the i3 and 500e, you’ll see that the i3 is a much better design.

  12. I feel her pain.
    Her mistake was to keep going to the same dealer, brand, BMW.
    She should have looked at other options, Volt, Tesla, etc.

    For a hundred dollars more, she could have had a Model S. And everything she complained about would not exist in her driving life.

    The i3 is ugly for a reason, to keep smart people away…

    • I disagree. There is nothing wrong with the i3. It just doesn’t suit her needs. Afterall, if someone doesn’t want to be bothered with charging their car, then they shouldn’t buy an electric vehicle.
      Even if she bought a Tesla for twice the price, that car needs to be charged too.

      The problem is simple,… this person likes the idea of being eco-friendly, but does not want to be inconvenienced in the process. Perhaps she should have hired a driver for her i3! I think she would have been very happy then!

  13. She states she spent $125 for charging, yet i3 comes with free fast charging through NRG eVgo, the most popular fast charging network for SAE combo cars like i3 (and SparkEV). Something isn’t right.

    Even if she had to pay for fast charging (again, NRG eVgo is pretty much it for EV with CCS fast charging), subtracting $15 membership fee leaves $110/mo in electricity used. Given that i3 gets about 4 to 5 miles/kWh, and $0.16/kWh from eVgo, that means she drove 688 kWh, or 2750 (or 3438) miles per month (33,000 or 41256 mi/yr). On a lease with limited miles? Utter fail in financial forethought.

    Even if she did drive that much and paid for it even if it’s free, that means she’s driving 100 miles per day on average, which would require 1 or 2 fast charging sessions per day. She knew going into the lease that she’d have to spend time charging after 71 miles, I presume she knew the miles she drive, so she would know how “inconvenient” it would be.

    • Please note we do not post disparaging remarks about people.

      The objective of this article was to show that the sales rep sold her the wrong car. If the sales rep had asked her about her needs for some one who drives 100 miles a day, it would have been obvious that the BMW i3 was not for her.

      Fast chargers are not every where, some plans charge $5.00 per use no matter what. We don’t know what kind of charger she uses at work.

      There are also some areas of cities where people can’t be approved for 240 chargers. We know of a case where someone bought an EV, hired an electrician who installed a 240 charger and the municipality would not approve the permit.This something a buyer would never expect.

      EVs are not for everyone especially luxury BMW owners who are used to premium services.

      • She didn’t need a fast charger, all she needed was a Level 2 charger at home. It would have charged the car in 4 hours or less while she slept, but it wouldn’t have mattered because like she said, she had neither the time or inclination to charge at home. This doesn’t make sense to me because it is far easier to charge at home than anywhere else. Just plug it in when you pull in the garage, and unplug it before you leave. What could be simpler? (Most people get at least 4 hrs of sleep every night. Perfect time to charger your car.)

        The charge time wasn’t the problem, the problem was that she just didn’t want to be bothered with charging an electric vehicle. I think the objective of the article should be,… “If you don’t want to be bothered with charging your car like you do your smartphone, then don’t buy an electric car.”

        I think its clear to everyone here that if you take the time to understand the design limits of the car, then verify that your planned usage of the car will not be overly restricted by it’s design limits, then you should be happy with the car. This person didn’t do any of that.

      • You say that the objective of the article was to show that the sales rep sold her the wrong car.

        If that is the case, then I would say that she has failed her objective. The sales rep didn’t sell her the wrong car, she bought the wrong car because she didn’t bother to take the time to determine whether or not the car she leased was suitable for her needs. This is not the responsibility of the sales rep.

        She leased an i3 REX. It has a range of 150-160 miles. Why is that not enough for 100 miles per day?

        She didn’t need a fast charger, all she needed was a Level 2 charger at home.

        The charge time wasn’t the problem, the problem was that she just didn’t want to be bothered with charging an electric vehicle.

        “EVs are not for everyone especially luxury BMW owners who are used to premium services.” Really? So you think that’s the issue here? I could not disagree more.

        I think its clear to everyone here that if you take the time to understand the design limits of the car, then verify that your planned usage of the car will not be overly restricted by the design limits of the car, then you should be happy with the car. This person didn’t do any of that.

    • I agree. I thought $125 per month for charging was either a bit much, or she’s driving a lot!
      But something else I don’t get,… she leased the REX model. The REX model like I have should easily be able to handle 100 miles per day.

  14. I live in Wisconsin where electric vehicles are few and charging stations are even less. There are no charging stations within 35 miles of where I live (except a Chevy dealer which does not make it available to the public). I’ve driven a 2014 i3 BEV for 8 months now and it meets 95% of my needs. Long trips, in excess of 50 miles one way, still require use of our ICE car.

    As this is my fourth EV I was fully aware of the strengths and limitations of the i3. The i3 replaced a 2012 Volt with a 34 mile range. I opted for the BEV i3 as the Volt demonstrated I could drive 95% of my miles on electric.

    I agree with other commentators that to get the most out of an EV you need to develop a driving style to match the car. About 1/2 of my driving is urban with speed limits of 40 or less. The other 1/2 is rural with most speed limits in the 45-55 range. Whenever possible I try to avoid the roads with heavy use and impatient drivers.

    In 5,000 miles of use I am averaging 5.7 miles per kwh. I switched 4 years ago to time of day rates which results in charging the i3 at night for $0.055 per kwh. This works out to about a penny a mile. I also participate in a renewable energy program so that all the power used to charge the car come from renewable sources.

    I routinely use the i3 for trips in excess of 75 miles round trip. I just returned from a 94 mile round trip with 21 miles still left. My longest trip is 142 miles with a 1 hour charge at a Nissan dealer during the trip. For me the i3 works great, is inexpensive to operate and has not been to the dealer for any service since delivery.

  15. Just finished the 3 day extended test drive of the i3 REX. The first day was filled with range anxiety since I’m not able to charge at home. However, I’ve discovered ChargePoint stations at work and was able to leave the car charging to full before driving 25 miles home. What I don’t hear from owners of i3 here is how this car drives like a minivan on steroids. The high driving position, the long dashboard and the minimal side bolster supports on the seats reminds me that maybe if BMW somehow gets around to making a minivan, this is how it should feel.

    • Often electric cars because they have highly efficient low rolling resistance tires have a more of a bouncy feel. To counteract the the batteries below they build it higher.

      • Benjamin, the answer is this,… the bouncy feel you sense is due to the short wheelbase, and the rebound and damping settings in the suspension. This car is designed to offer optimal agility in urban environments.

        The short wheelbase makes turning and parking quicker and easier in cramped quarters. Since the wheels are so close together, any perturbation to them (i.e. up or down) will also move the driver up or down more. If that’s not clear, try and picture the wheelbase being a block long, and you sat in the drivers seat in the middle between them. If either wheel where to be displace up or down 6 inches, you wouldn’t even notice. At the other extreme, is a unicycle. You will feel any displacement on that.

        With the i3, the suspension settings are designed to give the drive a sporty, quick response feel. The steering ratio on the i3 is only 2.6 turns lock to lock. This is a fairly quick (sensitive) ratio. Great for parking lots but makes for a twitchy overly sensitive feel on the highway. Every design is a compromise. The i3 design leans more towards city streets as opposed to highway cruising.

        The Tesla Model S on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Let’s face it, the Model S is a yacht! Obviously not optimized for tight parking areas or quick maneuvering in cramped quarters, or congested city streets.

        I’ve looked at the suspension on the i3. If you really wanted, you could replaced the struts with ones that have adjustable damping and rebound. Most sport motorbikes like my Suzuki GSXR come standard with fully adjustable suspension, so with little effort, I can go from the street to the track and back and have my suspension tuned properly for both. If you did this, you could have your suspension in your i3 tuned more to your liking.

        One more point,… the i3 is not built higher to compensate for the batteries mounted under the floor. The Tesla arrangement is the same as the i3. The reason the car is built higher is because they wanted a short car, to optimize its performance for the urban environment. If you look at the seating positions of the occupants in both the Model S and the i3, you will see that in the Model S, the occupants are positioned in a more laid back fashion. The seating positions in the i3 are more vertical or upright, like you were sitting on a stool as opposed to a recliner. Suffice it to say that to accommodate the same human dimensions, you have a vehicle that is either short in length and tall in stature, or just the opposite. Like I said, every design is a compromise.

        • A little clarification,…

          A more upright seating position allows for a shorter wheelbase, but requires more vertical headroom. A more laid back seating position requires less headroom but greater longitudinal dimensions.

  16. I had 2 Chevy Volts and I traded them for two i3. I loved the i3 technology, 2x the electric range, and sporty handling on the test drive.

    In the six months since, I have come to regret that decision. The i3 handling is the worst I have had on a modern car. Bouncy, twitchy, and prone to horrible tramlining on the highway. Each of the 2 i3s wil fail to charge at least once a week, and both have been into the dealership multiple times. One had to be dragged out of my garage on skids having completely died and the electeic transmission cannot be shifted to neutral without power.

    I think BMW is onto something with the advanced construction but wait for the 2.0 version.

  17. I just leased an i3 for $216 a month and could not be happier. Sure it is different from my Mercedes glk but that part of the adventure of being a pioneer. I calculated my NYC- suburb commute so I was comfortable with 70 so odd miles as my commute is 40 miles- no problem just charging at home.The lady above didn’t think through her daily usage of miles- it’s her own fault. I’m looking forward to My new lease in 2 years when I’m certain the car will have an extended battery life. I think they also need to rethink the slow-down feature when you re not accelerating to charge the battery- I think coasting would give equal more range and not feel jerky. Otherwise I think I’m driving the future and I like that.

  18. Wow, People commenting here seem to jump at the opportunity to put people down for ‘Lack of knowledge’. Does that help? I leased an i3 this June after owning a Nissan Leaf. The leaf just fell short of range, and their regenerative braking was not all that is was cracked up to be. I am a former BMW Master technician, and spent ten plus years with them. I heavily researched the electric car options as my Leaf lease came to an end. I looked at every option, every car, including models that are due out soon. I drove the several cars, and spent countless hours online researching. What I found were older, and vague reviews. Not one review on line, nor on BMW’s web site does anyone mention the dc quick charge port on the BMW is different than what in generally in use in the public. one commented on an earlier post, that the dealership should have assessed the needs of the buyer before completing the deal. Well, I was under the impression that everyone knew that there is no integrity in car sales. Sell the car, or else lose your job, has been the car sales underlying motto since car dealers were invented. ( For anyone balking at that Comment, I have worked as a Tech for Toyota, Saturn, and BMW, At dealerships that owned several makes. I Worked at two different dealers for BMW, and in my life have witnessed, heard and known name sales people who will tell you that comment is true.) In my case, I was told the quick charge DC stations on the I-5 corridor between Portland and Seattle will work on my BMW. Having never needed one in my Leaf, (because we never took the car long distances, and alteration of our lifestyle that was acceptable in owning an all electric car.) I bought their information. I was also told that I could acquire BMW valet, push the button in the car, and a BMW valet would assist you in directions, charging stations, etc. So, Last week I needed to take a business trip to Seattle. 136 miles from my home in Washington. With the 80 mile-ish range and quick charging stations, I figured No problem. I attempted to depart at nine am, only to find my level 2 30 amp charger at home only charged my car to 40 miles over night, which was interesting, because we usually have the car set up to do minimum charge and we get 60 plus miles on the range. I had set the charge option on the i3 menu the night before to maximum charge. I had to charge for a few more hours, and left my home at 11:00 am. I had a whopping 54 miles when I left. I had three hours to get 136 miles for my meeting (which was mandatory), and thought that was enough time to stop for a quick charge. I was fifty miles up the road approaching my route planned quick charge, only to find the plug on the i3 is different. I called my BMW Valet, who pointed me to the station I was at for a quick charge. He had no Idea what plugs were what. I had no choice but to find a quick station elsewhere. (Mind you, my all knowledgeable, and integrity filled sales expert at BMW actually told me, while using REX, technically, you could just keep filling up the tank, and keep driving it across country, that is the beauty of the range extender!) Ok, I am now on REX, looking for the next station, while my wife is looking for things on her phone. The next station is 23 miles up the freeway, or 15 miles inland, away from Seattle. We hit the I-5 and on a small hill, started dropping speed, had to ride the shoulder until we crested the hill. Once over the hill, the car drove ok, but seemed to go full throttle at times and governed at others. (For REX owners, As a former BMW tech, this is how it works, your blue battery meter drops below the arrow, that is when REX starts, if you have any small amount of blue line, you have battery, REX performance is based on percentage of battery, REX needs battery to run the car. REX alone can barely move the car, but it can. It meets the ‘limp home mode’ specs utilized by car companies. If you have blue line, the car will run full out. no line, 40-60 at best. If you find yourself using REX and losing power, get to where you can do several dynamic brake slowdowns, and you will get battery back. I figured this out on the road and verified it with an old Coworker.) Well, short story long, the next station that the valet sent to my nav, did not have the correct plug either. Level one and two chargers on the BMW and many other models use the SAE standard J1772 plug. Many Electric car’s, most all Japanese ones, use the CHadeMO style plug for quick DC charge. BMW uses the SAE Combo plug for quick DC charge, For which, there are none on the I-5 corridor in Washington. At this point, I wonder, do I use REX the whole way to Seattle, or not. I am leasing the car, and know that it would be just like the dealership to void the warranty if something bad happened, even though my sales man said I could do it. I opted for not.
    So, for me, the real point I would like to make is; To everyone who quick to Bash Madam -x, I am an automotive and now an electrical degree carrying expert. when it comes right down to it, information is hard to find, conflicting to the point of who do you believe, and Sales People lie. I was fooled.
    WE ARE ALL IGNORANT ABOUT SOMETHING, AND NONE OF US LIKES TO BE PUT DOWN FOR IT! HELP EACH OTHER! Let’s use forums and the net to uplift, and inform as best we can. Not to bash.

  19. I have to agree with this owner,i3 Extender Not Safe to be driven on freeway speed
    I have i3 ,BMW needs to disclose in their window sticker or car guide, is unsafe to drive this car on freeway conditions.The extender cost about 4k more and don’t work on safe road condition.
    I was driving in the carpool lane when the battery power when under 6 % the extender don’t supply the car with enough power to drive the car over 44 miles per hour, i almost were struck by 2 cars, the dealership i visit told me they had 2 car accidents due to the extender.
    PLease BMW should not be advertising the extender as if you were able to drive the car with same safe conditions.
    BE AWARE BMW IS WELL AWARE OF ISSUE <the car in Germany hold the battery power to 25% all the times .Real disappointed over this car.

    • It appears that you have not read your manual. I have an i3Rex and yes you can drive over 44 miles per hour on the highway, and it is obvious that you are not driving in Comfort mode: a mode that allows you to drive faster. You are probably driving in Eco Pro+ mode. I do highway driving a few times a week.

    • I drive the highway all the time using the extender. No issues. Nicest car I’ve ever had. Stay out of ECO_PRO+ on the highway. It limits your speed to 56mph. And try reading your owner’s manual sometime.

      • Actually reading the owners manual before you buy any car is good idea, that way you get an idea of what you’re getting into. Excellent idea, thank you.

        • That’s not at all what I meant. I’m trying to be realistic here. No one is going to do that, not even me, and I’m an electrical engineer (computer chip designer) and former auto mechanic. Yes, most owner’s manuals are available online if one cares to look, but most people are not going to do that,… and when you visit the dealership, the owner’s manuals are not in the cars, (i3 being an exception) so you would have to ask for one, and then sit there and read it. To date, I have never read the entire manual for any car.

          The best way to learn about a car you are thinking about purchasing, is to watch YouTube reviews of the vehicle and read editorial reviews online. Many of these reviews are very well done and very informative and give a potential buyer a really good overview of the vehicle. Then, there is also the manufacturer’s website with all of the specifications, etc.

          Anyone considering the purchase of an i3 should also take advantage of an extended test drive. Not all dealers do this I found. The BMW dealer closest to my house did not, so I went across town. I had an i3 for 3 days, was so impressed that when I returned to the dealer, I bought one and drove it home. I made it a point to go back to the original BMW dealer and let them know that it was the extended test drive that sold the car. Their mistake.

          Like I said, after doing all this, you will know more about the car than most salespersons who will sell it to you.

  20. She does highlight a lot of flaws in the process. She vastly overpaid for her lease, her dealer did not educate her properly, she bought something that does not fit her needs. Your posting this article does service to that. It does not do service to the i3 and how happy the educated i3 owners are, I would think, and that is unfortunate.

    • In the case of Madame X, it was the first time, I met an unhappy electric car owner. I would love more people to drive electric cars. Unfortunately, the car dealers are doing electric car owners a disservice by not educating buyers. So far over 85% of the comments here have been positive, which is great. There were a few problems noted.

      If someone is an early adopter, they need a second car and need to be forgiving if not get a car that is more convential until the quircks are worked out.

      Research shows that if you have a bad experience with a car make, you don’t buy a car from that maker again.

      Car dealers sometimes take advantage of women who are buying/leasing cars. I personally had to walk away from dealer who though that because I was a woman I was stupid. I was going to write a check right then and there.

      Many people spend hours to research their cars. Here we have a case where someone trusted her BMW dealer who had given her good service in the past. She loved her former BMW cars.

      • Its not the responsibility of the car dealer to provide you an education. That’s the buyer’s responsibility. Madame X liked the idea of being eco friendly, but did not want to be inconvenienced in any way in doing so. The dealer can’t help us with that. In the end, the decision is ours.

      • Oh, and before you play the “gender” card, car dealers are known to take advantage of anyone, not just women. If you walk into a dealer completely uninformed, they will pickup on that. The solution is to know what you want before you walk in.
        With all the information available to us today via the internet, there is simply no excuse for walking into any car dealer and not already have a very good idea of what you want.
        These days, when I go into a dealership, I am there to tell them what color I want, nothing more. The sales people usually end up learning more about the car from me.

  21. Prospective electric vehicle purchasers need to do their research as it is a lifestyle change. Availability of charging both at home and work as well as a review of overall average daily miles will confirm if an electric vehicle is appropriate. Likewise, when diving an electric vehicle, battery status and implications requires changes in driving patterns. The range extender in the BMW i3 works and my personal experiences have been positive… Being in the HOV lane at high speed with low battery is certainly not what I would do. Our i3 is the second vehicle in our family and we trade between our other vehicle based on what our daily plans are, but it is our favorite vehicle and both of us want to drive it.

  22. This is kinda like ordering a rare steak and complaining that there’s too much blood.
    Electric vehicles obviously have limitations to it as with any electronic device. I don’t expect my phone to last x amount of time when i’m using it non-stop.

    The i3 was made for city-driving. You can obtain over an average of 90 if you drive it in stop and go traffic.

    BMW knows there are limitations to EVs and that’s why they have the 360 electric program which includes DriveNow; a car share app where you can drop off your i3 to charge and take a vehicle to use for x amount. There’s also flexible mobility for long trips. There’s nothing wrong with the car, it just doesn’t fit your needs.

    • DriveNow is only available in San Francisco. We were not able to find the pricing for BMW Add-on Mobility. It looks like it’s only available in Europe and Canada. Other electric car dealers in the US give free car rentals. The dealer did not give Madame X all of her options.

      • BMW does offer i3 and i8 owners limited access to a conventional car, but in MadameX’s case, this would not serve much purpose. The loaner cars are only available for a few times per year (like once a month). BMW’s Mobility Program was meant for occasional use when the i3/i8 owner wants to take a longer trip not easily done in their own vehicle.
        This also is not something that the dealers “give” you. Just because it wasn’t discussed at the time of purchase/lease does not mean that you cannot take advantage of it. The issue never came up with my purchase, but I have since asked about the program and found that I can make use of it at any time.

        Again, the dealer did nothing wrong.

  23. I currently drive an i3 REX. Before that I was driving a Nissan Leaf. Driving an electric car is different than traditional cars. Anyone considering these cars needs to understand this. Whoever wrote this and is returning the car did not.

    Cars are an important part of everyday life for most people; not something you just want to walk into blindly – EV or not.

  24. My experience with the BMW i3 has been fantastic.

    I commute 33 miles each way, with a monster 7% grade sandwiched in the middle. Average cruising speed is 70 MPH with some stop-and-go in between. The few times when the nav warned me that I’ve got insufficient electrical range to make it to work I simply drop down to ECO PRO and 60-65 MPH.

    I generally charge once daily, at work, for about 3 hours. I haven’t bothered to install 240V at home because the 120V is adequate for the few times that I use it.

    I think I’ve spent about $3.50 in gasoline since January 10 this year. That was when I made a 75 mile trip into the city and didn’t find a charging station at my destination. Again, no anxiety. Worst thing that could possibly happen is that I’d have to fill the gas tank on the way home in order to get another 50-60 miles out of the range extender.

    The best thing by far – since I’m no longer spending $400 a month on gasoline – and my lease is well under $400, I can afford to drive a luxury car and still have money left over for a wax-and-shine every couple of weeks.

    Honestly I think I’d have MORE range anxiety with a Chevy Volt.

    Here’s what I don’t like about the i3:

    The ride is pretty “bouncy” – it’s like driving a beachball.

    The adaptive cruise control is like a gymkhana pony – it spooks at everything. Drive into the sun, it freaks out. Drive under a bridge, it freaks out. That’s probably a factor of ACC in general and not particular to the i3.

    The weird “grumpy porpoise” styling seems to attract bugs. Every week I get covered in bug guts far worse than I ever did with my Jeep.

    The satellite nav is so-so. Far better at alternate routes than Waze, but I don’t think the re-routing saves much time – or energy.

    But for peaceful, productive, safe and reliable commuting I don’t think you can find a better vehicle than the i3.

  25. There’s a point here that everyone is missing. A new car with only three months of miles, should not be giving off a burning smell after it goes into extended mode.

    There is possibility that Madame X got a lemon. There were some other owners who had “problems.” If it were my dealership, I would have taken it back at week 2.

    No matter how much you put this this woman down. She’s paying for a car that does not meet her needs. The salesperson made a lot of money off the deal. This all makes BMW look bad.

    It’s a new model. It’s like my friend who only buys “S” models of iPhones. When something is new there are bugs to be worked out. Early adopters pay a higher price for being the first.

    I would suggest she look up the Lemon Law in her state and bring it back. A burning smell could mean a fire of some kind in the future.

    The reason why most people are leasing EVs is because they are afraid the batteries will have to be replaced. That BMW may spend more time in the shop than it’s worth.

    The customer is always right. She has love/hate relationship with car. Give her something that she loves. If you were paying a landlord $600 a month for rent you would expect the place not to smell like it was burning.

    • I have an i3 with range extender. The burning smell goes away. The car is made of Carbon Fiber & Plastic resin. When the car is new and range extender is used the carbon fiber heats up and you get the smell. It took a few extended trips for it to go away in my i3. After the engine housing heats up and cools down a few times it hardens up and the smell is gone.

    • I disagree. She’s not making BMW look bad. She’s making herself look bad.

      If you just painted your kitchen, you can expect it to smell like fresh paint for awhile. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with the paint.

      If it were my dealership, I wouldn’t sell her anything. Customer’s like that are just not worth having.

  26. I agree with the story, my i3 rex has been in the shop for a combined total of at least 3 weeks. I usually get it back from the shop and BMW can only fix half of the problems. The most recent visit took 8 days and included a software update that I was hoping to get me up a hill only to find out that they did not include that update in the new software. Too bad I was really looking for a fix, too bad BMW does not find it important enough to fix.

    Guess I will stay in the slow lane at 43 mph until I buy my Tesla.

  27. We don’t own a i3. We own a Volt, Leaf and Think City. Yes…..3 EV’s. I can’t go back to gas and I have a hard time putting gas into the Volt, when we do. We’ve been driving EV’s for three years now. I pass gas.

  28. I have an i3 REX in Chicago, installed an EVSE in the garage which the state of Illinois split with me, have used 3 gallons of gas since purchase and have never driven a car as smooth. quiet, and fast from 0-40. Its a delight to own and drive, my round trip commute is 40 miles a day and I have never needed to manage my driving to safely arrive at my destination. I look forward to a BEV with 200 mile capacity and an electric grid that uses renewables or nuclear power but for now its hard to have done better at this price point.

    • Yeah, it is really hard to blame the car here. You don’t buy a Hummer and then complain about gas mileage. You don’t buy a Porsche 911 and then complain that you have trouble fitting adults in the back seat. You don’t buy a Smart car and then complain about not being able to bring home construction materials from Home Depot.

  29. You know, some of what she said is spot on. If your daily commute is more than 70ish miles round trip, you don’t have a charger at work, or you don’t want to be bothered to plug in at either or both sides of your commute, you should NOT buy this car.

    If you want a car that’s peppy, fun to drive, and has a very specific use case; well this car is awesome. I haven’t enjoyed a car like this since I bought my first car. I skipped the REX as I don’t really care about the additional range. I don’t drive it that far. 55 miles round trip is great for this car.

    Range anxiety? Only if I don’t plug it in, or I think I can make it 120 miles when it says 72.

    Oh also, I used to own a boat, and I didn’t expect it to go 4×4 up a dirt mountain road.

    • I bought a motorcycle once. I rode it when it was raining and much to my surprise, I got wet! I thought,… this is unacceptable! The motorcycle dealer didn’t tell me that I would get wet if I rode the motorcycle when it was raining! I would have never purchased it had I known that! I’m sorry but I don’t have the time or the inclination to get proper rain gear for riding in the rain.

      On top of that, I can’t eat a hamburger while I’m riding because I need one hand on the clutch and the other hand on the brake!

      Needless to say, I returned the motorcycle after just 3 months of owning it. I’ll never buy another motorcycle again.

  30. I have owned an i3 Rex for 6 months and have never loved any car as much as this one. It resets all my driving experience.

  31. Maybe she should have done her research before buying a car the is not a match for her lifestyle. I have had my i3 REx for 7 months now and LOVE it. It would be like buying a 2 seat sports car to take your kids to soccer practice and then complain that the car sucks because doesn’t have enough room for the kids and their soccer gear.

  32. I have an i3 REx and have two charging options: a 110V regular outlet in my garage, and a Level 2 charging station near where I work. I use both and have never had a problem with range. My “range anxiety” lasted a couple of weeks when I first got the car and wasn’t familiar with what I could expect.

    It cost me under $500 per month to purchase the car. (I didn’t lease it.)

    I do mostly city driving but have had to get on the freeway a few times, and have never had trouble keeping up with commuting traffic accelerating close to 80 MPH.

    The ride is different from my previous BMW 330, but then that Bimmer also rides differently from my Honda Accord or my Porsche Cayenne GTS. Each car is different, and one cannot expect an electric to ride like a much larger car like the 5-series.

    The lady who posted her initial comment should have done her homework. I don’t see how she could blame the car.

  33. I have a Volt and if I were friends with this person I would have steered her towards that. Never ever had range anxiety that was caused from actual range limitations (we Voltarians do however get Self Induced Range Anxiety, a syndrome caused by trying to maximize the estimated 40 miles of all electric range without using gasoline). The i3 seems like a nice enough car but perhaps designed for urban landscapes in flat cities. BMW piloted a 1 or 3 series all electric here in SoCal and you would think their learnings from that would have shown that we in LA have hills and we drive them and minimal range extension power is not ideal, especially for someone accustomed to 3 series or even 5 series performance levels.

    • The i3 has no trouble making it up a steep hill with the AC on. (I live on one.) While it is not as quick as a 3-series, it is quick enough. And I get over 70 miles on a full charge without having to keep my eyes on the meter to maximize mileage.

  34. I just wanted to pass on a couple of comments. I welcome any responses, especially from Madame X.

    Was any research done ahead of time as to fuel/charging on the part of the purchaser? I appears that the vehicle was purchase, driven home, and then the charging situation was examined. Why not before? Surely they could have indicated at that point what the cost of installing a charging station would be.

    It also appears to me that the BMW dealer did Madame X a disservice by not fully discussing her needs , requirements and capabilities of the vehicle ahead of time. It was kind of worded like it was almost an impulse acquisition.

    As for the DC fast charge, if I understand it correctly, the dealership suggested that the owner get a DC fast charger installed in their home? If that’s the case, I personally believe that’s a completely irresponsible thing to suggest on the part of the dealer, especially when the standard level 2 option is entirely sufficient for the vast majority of users.

    I’m guessing that her garage has at least 1 power outlet. Whats wrong with plugging in the car over night for 8 or 10 hrs? It also appears that Madame X was afraid to use the range extender. Isn’t the ability to go father the whole point of the range extender? If she wanted to visit her friends a little farther away from her home, use the range extender. The burning smell could be a issue which should definitely be checked out, but it should be impossible to damage the battery. There are numerous safe guards to prevent that.

    Also. She says she wants to buy a Tesla? Is she also only going to charge that while on the road and not at home? She complains that she was spending $125 a month on charging while at work. To me, this appears to rest entirely on her own head. She refused to charge it at home. She’s got a garage, she’s got to have a plug.

    She says she couldn’t keep up with traffic, but she doesn’t indicate what speed that she’s going. Are we talking 65? 80? 90? Details please. I’ve read a blog post recently about a road trip involving the use of a i3 Rex, on the highway, with a family in the car with no problems.

    In summary, it really does appear that this use is completely unsuited for an electric vehicle of any sort. They’re completely unwilling to charge at home, as they are “to busy.” They didn’t do their research ahead of time.

    They are constantly worried that they are going to “run out of range” but THATS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE i3 rex. You don’t have to worry about range, but you do have to adapt.

    I have 1 last request, try charging it at home with a standard plug. Its possible you might have to do a top up charge occasionally but if you can take the time to get a bag out of the trunk, you can take the time to plug it in.

    • I disagree.

      There’s no excuse for this. With all of the information, videos and in depth reviews available to anyone on the internet, the average person could, in a short time, learn more about this car than the typical salesperson selling it.

      BMW and many others have done an excellent job in providing information to the buying public. This person just didn’t “have the time or inclination” to figure out what they were buying before they bought it. I have no sympathy whatsoever for this buyer.

  35. “I really don’t have the time or inclination to charge the car while at my home.”

    That sentence alone sums up this driver’s experience. It’s like a the driver of a conventional car saying, “I don’t have the time or inclination to fill my gas tank.”

    You can go down the list of Madame X’s complaints and rationally dismiss nearly every one of them. I’ve spent a substantial amount of time driving an i3, and I’ve never experienced any of her complaints (range issues, inability to charge, reduced power, burning smell, etc).

    Adapting to new technology requires some behavior modification, and you do feel a bit odd the first time you ask a friend or business for permission to charge.

    She also fails to mention many of the benefits: the negligible cost of installing an L2 charger is greatly offset by gasoline savings, not to mention federal and state tax incentives, to name one.

    I will agree that BMW shorted itself when it limited the gas tank to 1.9 gallons; it really needs a full size gas tank to allow for those occasional road trips, or when weather limits the car’s range. That is ultimately why I ended up purchasing a Chevy Volt. However, the BMW gives Chevy a run for its money.

    However, the car is clearly not for everyone.

    • The difference between a quick stop at gas station for five minutes and parking a car for four hours at a charger is a big difference.

      • That’s why you charge while you are at work or at home (when the car is not moving for hours at a time)

      • A gas car is supposed to be fueled one way, taking ~5 minutes; An electric car to full every night at home while you sleep, ~3 seconds to plug/unplug. The i3 driver simply wasn’t using the car correctly, and then complained about getting “poor results”. Driver error, not the car.

      • Modify behavior slightly and it is a great experience. I commute 37 miles each way, drive in eco pro, eco pro + if in slow traffic and have never had a problem.

        I changed grocery stores to whole foods (most have high speed chargers, also free until 6/16.) In 15 minutes, my car is 80% charged. I can charge at home while I sleep at 120V or buy a simple 240v charger to plug into my dryer outlet and charge in 1/3 of the time. Most malls and public garages have chargers as well. I am lucky enough to have an employer that provides chargers in multiple lots as well. The only drawback is being courteous and moving your car after 4 hours.

        The batteries on my 650i and 530i were enormous for gas cars and trunk mounted. Of course the I3 is not as luxurious because all those things run off of battery power. My alternator was only giving a minimal charge back to the 650 when multiple systems were running. Even the Tesla is rated as “not as luxurious as cars in its class.” You can’t have the bells and whistles with range simultaneously…

        • You are the second person, who says they shop at Whole Foods for the chargers. I went there about four times. One time all the chargers were in use. If you buy an electric car, yes you have to change the way you think, drive and charge up.

          • I don’t shop daily. When I shop, I reserve one of the chargers with my smartphone. I drive 74 miles roundtrip on my commute, lunch adds another 5 on average. I have never been in a situation where I am close to the car stopping because it is out of power and gasoline. I can solely charge at home and be fine.
            My dad grew up in a time when gas tank gauges could stick. He gets nervous around a quarter tank left and panics if he hasn’t found a gas station by the time he hits 1/8 of a tank. It doesn’t mean he was ever in danger of his mercedes stopping on the side of the road.
            When Madame X’s extended range kicked in she had on average 60 miles of range left with no loss in top speed, just slightly less acceleration. Her concern might have come from the car trying to push her to the nearest charging station. I freaked out a little the first time it happened to me. I dismissed it and continued on since I had less then 60 miles to go…

    • “I really don’t have the time or inclination to charge the car while at my home.”

      That sentence alone sums is redacted.

          • That fact that Madame X doesn’t want to charge her car while at home is not an indicator of her intelligence. It is an indicator that the current state of electric cars mandates that a car be charged every evening at home when there is a range of around 100 miles in most cases.

            We will not accept any disparaging remark about our authors.

            All posters should read our guidelines first.

          • “I really don’t have the time or inclination to charge the car while at my home.”

            That statement alone sums up the intelligence of this buyer.

  36. At this point in time, EVs aren’t practical for everyone’s vehicle needs – you need to spend a few minutes to figure out if it’ll work for you.

    The shortcomings of the i3 REx were well documented by Consumer Reports.

    Again – I get that the i3 isn’t for everyone.

    This is relatively new technology, and you can’t blame someone else when your expectations from 30 years ago no longer hold true.

  37. I have a i3 BEV purchase this past Oct. Her story illustrates that the technology is new and your dealer should carefully review your needs before completing the deal.

    We took advantage of the three-day test drive and found the range was more than adequate. We can drive local streets, we learned how to max range with appropriate driving habits, seldom breaking, and anticipating the need to slow down or stop, we also max coasting by keeping the power indicator at the middle of the e-power indicator. So we typically see 90 miles range with a 4.5 miles/kWh usage history, and 80 miles with highway driving here in AZ. We also get by just fine with level 1 charging in our garage, because we never really get much below a half battery, and 10-12 hours returns the car to full charge. We find the car is fun to drive, very peppy, and with all the conveniences of our technology age.Wwe connect the audio to our smartphone and play instant mixes from our Google music account via our 4G LTE connection and T-Mobile’s unlimited music streaming.

    PLUS WITH SOLAR PANELS powering our home and the car ..our cost savings on both fuel and electricity is rates dropped, registration fees for BEVs here in AZ are negligible, and repair cost should be minor..although I did blow out a tire on a road hazard and it set me back $217 at my BMW dealer..BMW road-side assist was on the spot in 20 minutes! We paid $38k for an out right purchase (including all fed EV tax credits, BMW rebates and dealer haggling). The car is a fully loaded Tera World, and if we own it for 15 years, I figure we will get back every penny spent with these cost savings. You’d never see that with an ICEV.

    Very happy with the car and for a retired couple in AZ it is “simply marvelous”.

    I might add that the execs who characterized the car as a “urban vehicle” are clueless because they didn’t even provide the 100 ft. plus extension cord to reach even a 2nd floor city apartment. You have to know what your need and find the appropriate car . It sounds like the Tesla should have been her choice. Tesla would have been overkill for us.

    • You are the ideal case for the BMW i3. The solar panels are a great incentive, too.

      You did your research and are enjoying your car.Car buying should not be a rush decision especially since you will be driving it for many years to come.

  38. It seems as though the author couldn’t be bothered to figure out how her battery electric vehicle needed to be used slightly differently from a gasoline powered vehicle. Several of my friends happily drive an i3 and have only positive things to say about it. One main difference is that they have installed Level 2 charging stations at their homes. However, even if this author plugged into a 110V outlet at her house, that would help with her charging situation.
    The highway reduction in power seems exaggerated. I know a lot of people who drive the i3 on the highway, and they say the range extender works well on the highway. The power is slightly less, but they certainly maintain highway speeds.

    Regarding the visit to a friend’s house, why can’t you charge up at your friend’s house? I have been driving electric vehicles for years and have charged at all sorts of locations including friends houses, restaurants, parking garages, even a stranger’s house I found on We are no longer strangers! Just ask and most people will let you charge.

    • The reason why we published this article, is that before you buy an electric car of any kind, you have to realize what you need to make it work. The infrasctructure is not there where you can get charged quickly on every corner.

      It also seemed to us that the dealer did not explain to her what was involved in owning such a car. If I were paying $600 a month for a car, I wouldn’t want to have to worry that I’d run out of a charge.

      Also before buying an electric car, we would suggest that buyers check with their electricians to see if they can install a 240 charger. I meet someone with a 240 charger and she loved her EV.

      The city of Los Angeles offers major incentives for chargers but also requires the installation of a separate meter in some places.

      • The device that is put on the wall is not the charger, it is known as EVSE or Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. All it does is communicate with the car, telling it how much current it can draw, detect faults, etc. It does not charge the car. EVSE on the wall, charger in the vehicle.

  39. An electric vehicle is not for everybody, and if it doesn’t fit the use case will cause the situation above to arise. It’s unfortunate that she didn’t research it enough to realize that she her needs indicated a true hybrid, due to lack of home charging, extended distances in a recurring basis, and lack of time to charge outside of her home. It is a poor fit, and I wonder how much better a Tesla would work out even given the extended range. And yes, it’s not a luxurious car, but making it the equivalent of a 5 series would reduce her range even further.

  40. 1) doesn’t $600 sound really high for a lease? I’ve seen them offered at close to half that amount. 2) She refers to the 71 mile range but never to the additional range for the REX just only how anxious she was. 3) I’m not sure how well the dealer prepared her for this kind of car or how well she listened if he/she did tell her.

    • I agree taht $600 seemed high, too. However I checked with a couple of websites and they were showing $599 a month leases for the the BMW i3 with extended range.

      Electric cars are not for everyone, especially single people without a second car. In Los Angles, 80 miles is not enough for some people, especially if you do not have a charger at home and at work.

      We have to remember that BMW advertises itself as “the ultimate driving machine.” In this case BMW did not meet the lessee expectations. Reviewers unless they buy the car have access to it for one week. We’ve seen reviews from people who live in apartments who spend most of the time looking for a charge.

      The ultimate situation for electric cars is to have solar panels and then you aren’t paying anything for the electricity.

      • Yes, 80 miles is not enough for some, including her, that’s why she got the extended range model.

        I think it is clear from the article that she does not live in an apartment.

        Solar panels would be nice, but the cost of charging your car is already significantly less (20-25%) than you would spend on gas, so, no big deal.

      • I borrowed an i3 Rex and drove a 270 round trip to London over a weekend, filled the little tank twice (about £8.00) and charged the car overnight at my sisters house. With more experience I could used even less petrol with more experience of the car and charging stations. I parked the car for free in London (saving £12.00) and didn’t have to pay the congestion charge (£12.00). A 270 mile round trip with £ 16.00 of fuel, I’ve now borrowed the car on three occasions to make sure it will fit in with my lifestyle. It arrives just before Christmas!!!

  41. I have 5000 miles on my i3rex. I’ve used $3.00 in gas. I have a charger in my garage. I had a 545i as my prior car. I do use it as a city car. My wife as an Infiniti G 37. I would never buy a gas car again. If I needed an electric car with extended range and modest price I would buy the new 2015 volt. If I wanted S Class Mercedes size and luxury I would go for Tesla. I find the i3 a great everyday car and am happy with my purchase. Even though I have the top end Tera it is a bit Spartan. The ride is comparable to by sport package 545 although the handling is less robust.

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