BMW's First, and Possibly Best, EV

BMW’s first EV was launched in 2013 and despite being out of production for two years, the i3 still stacks up as one of the best in its class today. It’s a small car by today’s standards but is roomy and has thoroughly interesting modern styling. Older examples are still consistently hitting their range targets and they have a pretty good reliability reputation. The BMW i3 might just be a canny used EV buy. Turners Westgate has this one coming up for auction. Read on...

The i3 was designed and built from the ground up and was not based on an existing platform. The internal structure is made of carbon fibre with the batteries under the floor. It went through a few changes during its production, mostly to do with battery size. It also could be optioned with REx, which stands for range extender, which was a small, two cylinder petrol engine that worked as an onboard generator when the battery was getting low. The base model with the smallest battery had a range of 130kms, or with a REx engine it had 116kms of full EV or 240kms using the Rex and 9 litres of 95 petrol.

It’s fair to say the BMW i3 is a city car. It has fairly short range by modern standards but more than enough for most city drivers. And it seems that in rare case of manufacturer understatement the range, in normal conditions with normal driving, often beats BMW’s predictions. Even today, older models with reduced battery life are still outperforming the original expectations.

If you are the sort of person who thinks an XA Falcon is the peak of automotive styling then I think you’ll find the i3 ugly, and you’ll likely voice this opinion to anyone who’ll listen. But the i3 really is a striking design. It’s the sort of futuristic design we might’ve expected from a new era of automotive technology but have sadly not seen enough of. The car is roomy, has rear hinged rear doors, a range of interior trims that all look cool and, importantly, has street appeal, meaning the i3 still looks more modern than most of its competition.

Understandably, many people are scared of older EVs but from my research the i3 seems to be holding up well and still performing close to what it did when new. And prices for this high tech head-turner are coming down. This 2015 pure EV example with 118,000kms has an auction estimate of $11,000-$13,000.

This car is being auctioned by Turners Auckland on 7th March. More details here.

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