BMW i3 - any experiences?

Discussion in 'EVs and Hybrids' started by Spuffington, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Spuffington
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    Spuffington Moderator WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Yes, I have no money, but looking to do a bit of doing some research on the i3 for when the time ultimately comes. Given they've been out for a while now and I'm seeing a fair few on the AUC site (some of which look like good value), I wonder who may have tried them?

    Reason being - although I realised when we bought our new house that we'd be reliant upon our cars, I didn't appreciate quite how much until I did a bit of a back of the fag packet calculation yesterday. This leads me to believe we'll likely be doing something in the region of 17k+ p.a. This is just on the 1er, with the Polo doing another 3k. On top of this, the house is run on oil central heating & water heating, so we've an incredibly high exposure to oil prices in the future. Plan with the house is to pop solar water heating on in future so as to at least ensure we're not burning much oil during the summer, but going forwards we'll need a car which is capable of doing at least 45mpg in order not to bankrupt me on the school run and whatever Mrs Spuff does during the day.

    So I'm thinking the i3 Range Extender is the way forwards. Ok so on a pure value proposition, it takes a long time to amortise the cost of purchase by the fuel savings (around 6yrs according to my calcs), but in a situation where I have the cash to buy it outright (which is the only way I would do it), then the fuel savings are potentially enormous.

    From the Information available on the BMW website, it costs 13.5kWH to "refuel" for 100miles of driving. At 9p per kWH, that's just over 120p. A typical tank for the 1er does about 500miles and costs around 50quid at the moment. That means that a 46quid saving per tank over the 1er. If I'm looking at spending 150quid a month (at todays prices) on derv, then I'm saving in the region of 138quid a month on fuel costs. In terms of freeing up cashflow, that's quite a significant saving.

    The way I'm thinking at the moment is that the 1er is warrantied and has a Service Pack until May 2017. That's the earliest I'm likely to change it. Barring a huge oil price shock (which looks unlikely currently, but never say never) we'll be ok until then. In the meantime, I'm thinking about keeping really tight tabs on what kind of "average" mileage we're doing and consider taking a testdrive in an i3 to see if it would work for us.

    I've driven my Uncle's i8 and have to confess it was a unique experience. Was it as great as the 991 TurboS he traded in for it? No (in my opinion) but was a lovely car and certainly had some charm to it. But I did like the way it delivered electric only power (and above all, torque). Whilst I'm certain the i8 can't be compared with an i3 (family car vs. supercar), the electric concept I do find interesting.

    Just keen to know if anyone has driven one or had one on loan from a dealership and has any real-world experience?
     
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  2. Carl W
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    Carl W Site Supporter

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    Nothing useful to say, but I am interested in any response as the i3 seems like the logical replacement for the A2.

    Kindest Regards
    Carl.
     
  3. bryan1990
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    bryan1990

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  4. Spuffington
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    Spuffington Moderator WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Thanks for that, Bryan.

    Looks like EV makes quite a convincing case for itself these days. I've just read handfuls of fab reviews of both the i3 and Nissan Leaf (bizarrely), the latter actually outplaying the BMW on everyday utility (bigger boot, bigger range on EV only) and significantly cheaper - offset by residuals and even worse ability to forecast future values. But for 10k you can pick up an approved used Leaf with <10k on the clock in top spec, a year old, for just 10k vs. the BMW which is double that.

    With most users claiming a spend of 2.6p per mile on electricity - that's a significant saving on the 10.5p a mile I'm currently spending on the 1er - nearly 1.4k p.a.

    I don't really want a Leaf (given the i3 would be my ideal), but having looked into them, they would make a very good option right now given a zero cost to change.
     
  5. Spuffington
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    Spuffington Moderator WARLORD Site Supporter

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  6. Carl W
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    Back in the summer I stopped at Heston Services on the M4 which as I'm sure you will know is on the outskirts of London.
    Connected to a charging point was a Nissan Leaf.
    Having not really paid much attention to the whole electric thing I decided to have a closer look while munching my Double Choc' Magnum! (other frozen ice creams are available)
    I noticed a Chinese family sat on the grass nearby, the male of the group came over and enquired 'How far to Bicester village?' (a retail outlet popular with overseas visitors)
    I told him it was just over an hour away and somewhere in the region of 60 miles, at which point his face dropped, he went on to tell me he was in the UK on holiday with his family, the Leaf was a rental and although fully charged when he left central London required charging by the time he reached the services.
    Clearly the car was not going to get him and his family to their desired destination.
    I wished him well in breaking the news to his wife and daughters and jumped into a new 4.2 V8 Audi A8 (Not mine) and engaged warp drive as I left the 'slip on'

    Kindest Regards
    Carl.

    'So what I'm trying to say in my long winded and rambling way is, I wouldn't touch a Leaf!'
     
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  7. Spuffington
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    Spuffington Moderator WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Ha ha! Thanks for that, Carl! :)

    I've read quite divergent reviews (not too busy at work today!) and found some who say that 120miles is easily possible and others who suggest that motorway travel ensures a range no longer than 60miles (which wouldn't work for us).

    If it were just a second car then it would probably make sense, but to replace our main car, I would have to be certain that 120mile range was do-able, although cognisant of the fact that 85miles is about longest we're likely to do in 90% of all of our driving. Any more and we tend to use the motorhome because we're going away somewhere.

    If 85miles range were not do-able then it's probably all eyes back on the i3 Range Extender - but at a 10k premium over the 1er, it probably doesn't make any sense in the short term.

    I think I'm going to see about getting a Leaf on loan for three days or so and see how we get on with it. But only once we're moved in and when it'll be a good representation of the kind of "work" it would be doing.
     
  8. Carl W
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    It's only a guess but the pattern of use may have some bearing on the range, i.e. a vehicle used in Central London for short journeys with lots of top ups due to easy access to charging points may after time develop a reduced range, whereas a vehicle used for longer journeys that is only recharged when approaching empty may develop longer endurance!

    Kindest Regards
    Carl.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  9. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Although I haven't researched it, I did consider whether it was worth going all electric before buying my 330d earlier this year.

    Electric EV sounds good but IMO there is quite a way to go before it becomes mainstream transport. The big drawback are the limits of the Battery technology. A range of up to approx 120 miles is quoted but realistically you will be lucky to achieve 80 - 90 miles in today's stop/start traffic. And that's with the battery at 100% capacity. Once the battery is 3 years old it will have degraded and lost a fair bit of capacity and range. Anyone that owns a laptop knows that;)

    But I can see the cost advantages for someone that has a regular daily commute into the city - no road tax or congestion charge, and use of bus lanes etc. Plus cheap electricity on an overnight charge.

    The downside to owning an EV would be the cost of several thousand for replacement battery after say 5 years. The lack of charging points in the UK for longer journeys. The trade-in value - EV are expensive when new and are likely to plummet in value as they age.

    What very quickly made up my mind was the list price of an i3 EV was exactly the same price which I paid for my 330d loaded with every conceivable extra. The i3 Range Extender was just over £3k more. I didn't need more than a nanosecond to think about it. :)

    But if you are convinced that electric is for you, then the BMW i3 is the one to go for. In the reviews it is rated 'best in class' (y)

    Let me know how it goes. I may think of buying one in 10 years time. :D
     
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  10. Johnny Grabble
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    If you're going to go electric IMO, you'd need the range extender option as "insurance". I do know i3's Europe-wide are woefully underselling BMW's expectations and i8's are exceeding them. Read into that what you will. Could be that a used i3 is a bargain???
    I looked at a Tesla before going for my 535d. Great looking car, nice drive but real world range is further from the official figures than diesel or petrol numbers are. The other thing I looked at on my travels was how few motorway services' recharging points are (a) actually working and (b) actually compatible with whatever you drive up in. Infrastructure is a big issue.
    The average family car when filled up with conventional fuel adds 20-30 MW of energy to the fuel tank - in 2-3 minutes. To do that with electricity takes minimum 12-16 hours even with a fast charger. Go figure!
     
  11. Singvogel
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    I note you are considering solar water heating - what's your calculations on the viability of them?

    Last December we bought a house with existing solar panels (for electricity generation only) - a bit of a waste of time I am inclined to think - they earned around £500 a year - which is fine as I didn't pay for them initially.

    They cost the previous owner around £10K three years or so ago, and put nothing onto the value of the house - in fact the opposite is true as they scared away several prospective buyers.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to have them as it's money for nothing for us - but with the feed in tariffs these days they no longer make economic sense for anyone to install them now, and as far as I can work out solar water heating is much the same - a huge investment for little return.

    I researched the solar energy thing in order to better understand what we have and was not impressed.

    According to most energy-saving advice sources solar water heating will save you approx £75 a year on your existing fuel bil.

    So at an installation cost of around £4000 it will break even in approx 50 years - why bother?
     
  12. kleynie
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    kleynie WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Nothing useful to add other than try and keep the mileage down on that Polo;)

    Could you live with the looks of the i3?
     
  13. neemz
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    neemz

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    Solar water heating needn't be £4000, I guess once you've included fitting and linking it to your current boiler I can see how it could go that way. It sounds nice in theory but I don't know how effective it is in the UK climate to make it worthwhile?
    You can get a nice kit including x2 1.8m tall collectors and a 150l tank for well under £1000, German products. It's simple enough in theory. The problem you have is how this would plumb into your existing system.
    I see you're on oil not gas. As you're gutting the new place did you consider fitting a gas tank and switching to LPG?
    I like electric solar but I don't like the fact you have to cough up coin in advance for decent collectors or buy cheap ones that need replacing before 10 years and you've made your money back. Potential waste of time.

    I'd like to help more as I have experience in putting a gas tank and solar into a house, but not in the UK so my facts and figures won't be relevant.
     
  14. markyboyt
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    markyboyt

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    I haven't driven one myself but know people who have but not anybody who has owned one. From a town driving point of view I believe its impressive, a little unsteady at motorway speeds. If you do get one then target one with the DC charging option for sure, many were specced without due to people not realising its potential but a DC charger at a services etc is capable of charging the car in around 30 mins opposed to approx. 3 hours.
     
  15. Spuffington
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    Spuffington Moderator WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Wow - lots of things to think about there. I'll go through each one in turn....

    EV Overall

    I do agree with Mieke on the battery and range concerns and am also coming around to the idea that an i3 RE would be the one to go for if I were to go down this route. The "insurance" aspect being the most important consideration - particularly if this were to be our "main" car.

    Having said that, Mrs Spuff quite likes the look of the Leaf and is very impressed by the concept and also the amount of money which we could potentially save in fuel costs so we've agreed to at least go and look at a couple and drive them - together also with the i3 at some point too.

    As I said at the outset though, buying an i3 at this point in the 1er ownership would make no financial sense unless there is a lot of wiggle-room on cost to change, but even then we're probably best off running the 1er for another 15months or so.

    Solar Water Heating

    My research thus far has concluded a price of c. 4k for a solar hot water install (panels, pumps and new hot water tank and controller). Up to 7k if I were to go with a new boiler to boot but I think our boiler is ok at the moment. Not peanuts, but not enormously expensive either and not to be confused with solar PV which is where the Feed in Tariff comes in (I'm also yet to be fully convinced of their benefits given such a long payback time) - solar hot water benefits just the householder from reduced energy bills by heating up to 90% of hot water requirements during the summer months. And yes, they are optimised for even the UK and we have a large southerly facing roof.

    How long would it take to recoup my initial outlay? I'm actually not bothered.

    That may sound pretty stupid but for the next few years I've got to focus on cashflow rather the macro picture. I'm going to be relatively highly indebted on a secured basis (mortgage) and have an eye to the fact rates will rise (eventually) during the course of my 2-yr fix. So for me, it's about ensuring my cashflow is not under pressure so as to absorb the interest rate increases as well as insulating myself from likely rises in oil prices in the future.

    To the comment about LPG - we're running a propane cooker in the house and part of the thinking of the original owners was that by having propane for cooking, electric and oil, they had a diverse range of energy sources which mitigated the reliance upon one. That said, the correlation between oil & gas prices is well known so the variance between the costs of all of those fossil fuels is minimal anyway. When prices go up, they'll all go up in unison.

    Whilst it might not make financial sense installing solar water panels now when heating oil is currently <30p per litre - when it's 100p per litre, I want to be minimising my reliance upon oil by having brought in several measures to mitigate the rises.

    The same principle applies for the EV motoring - idea being that even if the maths doesn't work on an overall basis - the monthly savings are either helpful to deleverage and/or to provide a buffer to rate rises although I do recognise that throwing 4k at the mortgage would have some (albeit limited effect) too.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not staring into the bankruptcy abys but I prefer to be on the lower side of the leverage delta from where I'll be for the next two years and therefore all of these measures make a huge difference to the feeling of "comfort". An extra 200quid or so a month in buffer is not insignificant.
     
  16. Cotswold BMW
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    We have one here to shuttle customers into town. I really enjoy driving them. It really is unique and enjoyable to drive, as a BMW should be.
     
  17. markyboyt
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    The i3 battery comes with an 8 year warranty and if replacement is required the individual cells are replaced separately as required rather then the battery as a whole so a little more cost effective although its not a job for Halfords or probably even an independent really as a lot of training is required for safety reasons.
     

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