i3 thoughts and comments

Discussion in 'EVs and Hybrids' started by Craig Chamberlain, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. Craig Chamberlain
    Offline

    Craig Chamberlain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0 / -0
    Thanks for the welcome. I was actually on the bmwland.co.uk website for a while starting just before I bought my 535d in 2013. When I bought the car it had 72k miles on the clock and I'm not far off double that now so I expect I'll have to start repeating some of the jobs I did when I first got it along with some jobs like the spring replacements which are necessary on a vehicle approaching 10 years of age. My plan currently is to keep the car for a good few years to come until I can realistically replace it with an electric equivalent. My wife has an i3 now and we both absolutely love it so I think petrol and diesel cars are now pretty much dead to me with the exception of hobby or racing vehicles. The 535d is still a great car but I probably need to spend some money on it soon to try to ensure trouble free motoring for a few more years. I'd rather fix things that are likely to fail before they actually do fail. Might make an interesting thread topic actually.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Mieke
    Offline

    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    843
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Ratings:
    +1,791 / 2 / -1
    Firstly, welcome back to BMWLand! (y)

    Is that the i3 with the range extender petrol engine? What kind of range would you expect to get on purely electric?

    I had a quick look at an i3 when I bought my 330d (2 months old) about 3 years ago. I thought it very expensive and would have cost similar money, but there was no comparison in finish and interior trim etc. - my F30 came with lots of options as well. So there was really no contest - I went with the 330d.
    Granted, diesel resale values have dropped, but as I do not intend to change, it's irrelevant. :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Craig Chamberlain
    Offline

    Craig Chamberlain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0 / -0
    No we didn't need the range extender and since it just costs more and increases weight which in turn reduces performance, it was a no-brainer to skip that option.

    First thing I would say is that the i3 isn't for everyone. You need to have usage which is compatible so in my wife's case she commutes about 40 miles round trip every day plus maybe another 10 miles around town. This is well within the range of the i3 regardless of weather as we can easily get 110 miles and in milder weather where heaters are not required, you can get 140+ miles and probably even further if you use the highest economy driving modes. There are also plenty of fast and super-fast chargers around now and most of them are free to use and can charge from say 10% to 80% in less than 30 mins. So, driving 140 miles (2 hours plus) and then charging for 20-30 mins is not that much of a hardship really. In colder weather the range is certainly lower but we opted for the "heat pump" option on the car which allows it to heat the cabin using the outside air, even when it's freezing outside. It's basically the same technology as a refrigerator but working to heat the inside and cool the outside air. It's very efficient and probably gains us 10-15 miles of range in the colder months. You are also encouraged to use seat heating more than cabin heating if you want ultimate range as it's more efficient to heat the seat than the whole cabin. This works really well actually and again is not a hardship. We tend to run 18C cabin with seat heaters on low whereas in my 535d I run 21C cabin temp to get a similar effect.

    Secondly, you get £4500 subsidy from the UK government plus you can get a charge point installed at home for free through separate grants. You can even get an interest free loan from the Scottish govt to buy the car as long as you live in Scotland. Not sure if such a scheme exists in England or not. We actually took our car on BMW finance since they were offering a £3100 contribution to the purchase price which was more of a saving than the 1.9% APR interest rate being charged over the 4 year lease.

    When comparing equipment in the i3 to a conventional car you need to sort of get on board with the minimalist approach used during the i3 design. I know this sounds like a cop-out but I honestly don't believe it is. It's hard to describe the feeling when driving the i3 compared to the 535d but the i3 feels very relaxing to drive due to the simplified user experience. It has most of the main driver conveniences like automatic lights and wipers and has no gears or clutch obviously. It has cruise control and a perfectly adequate ICE system too. While it has two pedals, in practice you only need to use the accelerator pedal to both accelerate and brake via regeneration. I can easily drive dozens of miles in mixed conditions and almost never use the brake. Again, this isn't some sort of "chore" but just comes naturally. Some people describe the cabin as spartan or even toy-like but that impression comes from decades of being used to wrap-around plastic and leather black dashes with loads of knobs and switches and gauges in them. My wife and I love the airy feel of the cabin and again the simple nature of it. Everything is there for a purpose and nothing is there just to satisfy convention. The materials are mostly natural too which gives it an organic quality and makes recycling and sustainable manufacture possible. Driving experience is fantastic with 170BHP and INSTANT torque response. I'm not kidding when I say that nothing with a dinosaur powered engine is as responsive off the line up to around 40MPH. Even though it has a top speed of under 100MPH, it'll cruise happily at 70-80MPH as the top end is only limited by the electric motor maximum RPM not by the lack of power.

    Lastly, when comparing costs, you need to realise that a large chunk of the i3 cost is recovered by not having to buy petrol or diesel. We've got our i3 on a 4 year PCP type deal with a 12k miles per year limit. That allows us to do 48000 miles over the course of the lease although the excess mileage charge is only 6p/mile or something so we're not bothered if we go over a bit. So, in a diesel car at say 40MPG, that 48000 miles would require 1200 gallons which is about 5500 litres. I think diesel is around £1.20/litre here just now so that's £6600 of diesel. The i3 costs about 3p/mile to run in terms of electricity cost which equates to £1440 so you save around £5160 in fuel. Add to that the £4500 subsidy and the £3100 from BMW finance and the cost really starts to come down. If you make regular use of 3rd party charge points then you can save even more money. Servicing is cheap as well as it only requires cabin filters and brake fluid change every 2 years. We got a 5 year service plan for £325 with BMW when we bought the car which is far less than you'd pay for a 5 year plan for a 330d I expect. Other things to consider are the 8 year warranty on battery and drivetrain plus the fact the car is made of carbon fibre and aluminium so shouldn't rust. Even the body colour panels are some sort of plastic so should be ding-resistant and are replaceable if damaged.

    So, as I said at the start, the i3 isn't for everyone. I wouldn't want one if I was a travelling salesman doing 600 miles a day on the motorway and I probably wouldn't want one if it was my only car. But as a second car, it's an absolute delight to own and drive. We use ours for pretty much any short to medium journey as it doesn't need to warm up before it can provide cabin heat and you can also program it to switch on the cabin heaters remotely using an iPhone app so the car is deiced and warmed/cooled as required before you get in. Ideally you do this while connected to the charger so it doesn't affect range and it even warms up the battery pack at the same time to maximise capacity. It's probably my wife's favourite part of the day as she walks out to her car without even a jacket on and just jumps in and drives away as all our neighbours are in coats and hats scraping ice off their cars. :D

    This all started for us when we were looking to change my wife's car and I had heard a glowing review on the i3 from a guy called Horace Dediu who is an economist and tech-analyst who also happens to be a petrol head. I listen to some of his podcasts and heard him talk about getting a loaner i3 and being so impressed that he bought one shortly afterwards. This prompted me to get a 48 hour test drive from BMW with the intention of my wife buying something like a SEAT Ateca and then me selling the 535d and buying an i3 for my own use. However, during the test drive my wife fell in love with the i3 and we changed the plans so I kept the 535d and she got the i3. This actually made more sense since I work from home and don't commute any more. Best decision we ever made!

    So, before deciding if an i3 is for you, take a multi-day test drive otherwise you'll never really have a chance to understand the BEV experience properly. We certainly have zero regrets.
     
    • Like Like x 5
    • Informative Informative x 3
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  4. Mieke
    Offline

    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    843
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Ratings:
    +1,791 / 2 / -1
    Craig, reading your in depth review does drive home what a sensible choice the i3 is as a second car, and with all the financial incentives such as grant, low cost PCP and cheap electricity etc. I can see why it's a no brainer. The range sounds good, and based on the fact that I'm now retired, would cover 95% of my journeys. I also understand the minimalist, weight saving ethos of the design. It just doesn't seem that plush when you sit in one in the showroom.

    As you've still got your 535d - you have the best of both worlds. My wife doesn't drive, so the 330d is our only transport (disregarding bus passes etc. :)).
    I shall have to organise a test drive one day, just to experience 'the future'. Maybe when I'm banned from driving through any towns, and the price of diesel has 'sky rocketed', I'll think about a change. Hopefully that's still a long way off. :whistle:
     
  5. Craig Chamberlain
    Offline

    Craig Chamberlain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0 / -0
    Yeah the 330d is still a great car and shares a lot of qualities with the 535d that I own so I totally understand why you chose it. I'm sure it will serve you well for many years.

    Definitely worth test driving an i3 just, as you say, to experience a taste of the future. It's also worth watching the following youtube video to see how they are made. This is part 1 of a 4 part video but you can find the other parts linked from this one:

    Incredible engineering behind it and a very unique manufacturing process due to the absence of metal stamping machines. Every aspect of manufacture is designed to strengthen the eco-credentials of the car including making the carbon fibre next to a hydro-electric power station so they can use renewable energy in the manufacture.

    Also, this video is worth a watch just to hear how impressive the engineering is to an industry expert:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Mieke
    Offline

    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    843
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Ratings:
    +1,791 / 2 / -1
    I just went onto the BMW UK 'build your car' app for the i3 and added most (but not all) the options that I have on the 330d
    The final OTR price is £42,785 :eek::eek::eek:

    I think I'll wait until they throw in some extra discount. :D

    @Craig Chamberlain I love that video of the i3 production. It's hypnotic - just like watching a mechanical ballet. (y)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  7. Craig Chamberlain
    Offline

    Craig Chamberlain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0 / -0
    Haha, yeah I did the same for what we bought and it came to £37980 which I think is about £1000 more than we paid in October 2016 before all the discounts. For example, we felt that the leather interior went against the airy cabin so we actually preferred the "loft" interior option with eucalyptus trim.
    We did also get the sport package which includes better wheels, LED headlights, HK stereo and privacy glass but we didn't bother with the park assist or active cruise. I buy BMWs to drive them not to have the car drive for me. :)

    My 535d was £46k when it was new although I got it for £16k at 4 years old and 72k miles. You can get an i3 second hand as well although they hold their value quite well it seems. Also beware that i3s before the 2017 model year have smaller capacity batteries (22kwh vs 33kwh)
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. Mieke
    Offline

    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    843
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Ratings:
    +1,791 / 2 / -1
    I know this went a little off topic, but @Craig Chamberlain posts on the i3 are very informative. If a moderator could transfer the discussion on the i3 to the "EV's and Hybrid" forum, it would be a useful reference.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Craig Chamberlain
    Offline

    Craig Chamberlain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0 / -0
    No objection from me - sorry we drifted OT a bit... :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Peter
    Offline

    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2015
    Messages:
    1,663
    Likes Received:
    880
    Location:
    Highland Region
    Ratings:
    +1,331 / 0 / -1
    Enjoyed the read on the i3. Reasoned opinions and real use, tell a much better story than most of the motor mag' reviews. (y)

    Peter
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. Craig Chamberlain
    Offline

    Craig Chamberlain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0 / -0
    Thanks Peter, I certainly don’t feel as if I have any sort of agenda to support as I’m just as much of a fan of traditional cars as I now am of the i3. In many ways it’s the contrast which makes me appreciate both sides. My wife and I went into this purchase with a healthy degree of trepidation but it really has worked out very well.

    When people think about electric cars, the names that tend to come to mind are Tesla at one end and maybe the Nissan Leaf at the other end but I have never felt drawn to either of those vehicles. Even the i3 didn’t capture my attention until I spent some time getting to know more about it and then crucially taking one for a drive. Before that I just saw it as an odd looking, expensive curiosity! Funny how your opinions can change when you keep an open mind. ;)

    Just wanted to say thanks to the moderator who moved this discussion over from the original thread.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  12. Mieke
    Offline

    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    843
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Ratings:
    +1,791 / 2 / -1
    Very useful information here posted by @Craig Chamberlain. (y)

    I particularly enjoyed watching the YouTube videos of the BMW i3 production. The robots seemed quite graceful for such large machines.
     

Share This Page