ElectraGirl: My BMW i3 Electric Car Turns Two

Saturday 7th May 2016

3rd May 2016 – This date means that I have had my BMW i3 for two years. Time flies and it doesn’t feel like two years already, the car still looks like new and it still smells like new.

How has it held up? Consumer Reports recently downgraded the 2014 Model Year BMW i3 due to a high number of reports of problems. Here’s my punch list of events, statistics and even upgrades.

Reliability – Going straight to the question of reliability, the one that’s seen the i3 downgraded by Consumer Reports. We have had no Electric Car problems with the i3 at all, the only problems we have had are BMW ‘car’ related issues. Those would be the gerbils running around their wheel which creates a squeaky steering wheel in the cold weather, the Adaptive Cruise Control that only works when it feels like it and the self parking that may just scrape your wheels!

So, I guess it’s fair to say that it’s not been the most reliable car we’ve had – less so even than the experimental ActiveE and MINI E that came before it but, to be fair, those didn’t have two of the three features that have caused problems.

Would I downgrade the car for these issues? Maybe, but I wouldn’t tell you not to buy one.

Apple has been in talks with BMW over its carbon-fibre reinforced plastics.

Even in stock trim, I think it looks good

So what about everything else…

Changes to the i3 – We wanted to make the car ours so, the first thing we did was to add the stickers from the ActiveE – the ‘Circuit’ graphics. More recently, we put on lowering springs and wheel spacers to give the car a more aggressive stance. These have all made such a huge difference to the car and definitely make the car look so much better.

Tyres – We are still on the original tyres. We have the tyre version that comes with the wub wub noise – it hasn’t gone away. It’s just always there – a constant reminder. It does kind of spoil what would otherwise be a really quiet Electric Car.

Wheels – Loving the 20” wheels and tyres. They give the best ride and handling. I wouldn’t trade them for anything else, except maybe some fatter tyres – maybe!

Miles Driven – We are at 13,400 miles in 24 months. We are way under on our 12,000 mile a year lease. But, when we leased the car we didn’t know our daily driving was going to reduce quite so much. But we have plenty of spare miles should we need them. We also anticipated road-tripping on the promised DC Fast charge network – that never arrived see below…

DC Fast Charge – That would be the grand total of, wait for it… “One” and it worked! Now we can say that we have tried it and it was successful in charging the car. We are still waiting for more DC Fast Chargers to show up on the East Coast so we can take some road trips that take us beyond NJ! In fact it would be nice just to get to the other end of NJ!

On charge at the DCFC at Quakerbridge Mall

On charge at the DCFC at Quakerbridge Mall

Efficiency – miles/kWh – My i3 seems to have settled at 5.1 miles/kWh over the last year of driving. I’m rather impressed with that number. The highest I have had is 5.8 miles/kWh which held all through the summer last year and slowly started to drop once into the colder winter months. But it has never dropped below 5.1 miles/kWh – that’s about 200Wh/mile. That number makes this the most efficient car we’ve owned, we put that down to the skinny wheels, the heat-pump system and of course, the way I drive!

Clean – The i3 has had more washes than I can continue to count. I really do not like driving a dirty car. There are, however, too many nooks and crannies to dry after washing the car. It seems to store water in all sorts of places, only for the water to come flying out when I next drive – most frustrating. The interior is holding up well. I have the Mega interior and it still looks like new.

Photos – It is a very well photographed car – well, it does look rather good if I say so myself. I have no idea how many people have taken a photo of the car over the last two years.

Service – My i3 is due for its first service or so it keeps telling me, well it is showing in red now so I think it is cross with me for not booking it in yet! I am going to book it in but I am slightly reluctant to do so as the car is working just fine and dealer trips don’t rank highly on my fun things to-do list.

Living – Living with the i3 is easy, access to the rear is sufficient to allow for some ‘oversized’ loads and access to the rear seats is certainly better than a two-door car though, it’s not quite as easy as a true four-door. That said, the doors are an interesting talking point and fun to have.

Fully Loaded - Literally

Fully Loaded – Literally

On the road – On the road manners remain impeccable. The ride is firm (firmer now) and for day to day maneuvers, visibility is good, the rear-view camera is effective at guiding you into tight spots and the perimeter sensors do their job well in full quadraphonic sound. I find the seatbelt could use a re-think – the buckle is always just out of reach and, after two years I’m still just starting to get the hang of the forward/backwards switch on the steering column.

Happy – I’m still enjoying driving the i3 and we have another year left on the lease and that feels about right for me. I’ll be ready for something else by then, what will the i3 look like in 2017? Having initially not wanted the i3, I’d be a fool to make predictions today!

What Next?

I’m interested in seeing if BMW will come out with a 200 mile range EV, not just the 114 mile one they currently have as their next offering. After all I have had 118 miles on my i3! Lets’s watch and see what happens. Tesla have their 200 mile range lower cost EV announced with an awful lot of reservations placed, so it will be interesting to see what the other manufacturers do now.


We’ve learnt that the first year of manufacture can expose some problems – would you still buy a ‘first edition’? Are you in line for a Tesla Model 3 and are you hoping for the first year model or would you prefer to wait a little?


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInDigg thisShare on RedditEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Related News

  • MEroller

    I would definitely prefer to wait a little – which should be quite automatic given I pre-ordered the Model 3 by the time close to 300 000 pre-orders had already been logged 🙂 Our current VW Touran (minivan) we bought specifically about half a year before it’s first face lift, and it has proven to be exceptionally dependable. The main glitch – or rather total failure – was a snapped RH drive shaft at 105 000 km that left the car stranded about 500 meters from our house.

    • vdiv

      Shaft, not the CV joint? Hardcore! 😉

      • MEroller

        Indeed the shaft. My wife wanted to turn left out of our road onto the main road, but there was a snapping sound and the engine revved up without propelling the car any further, so she coasted down to the next crossing and parked the car on the side of that next road. With the steering completely turned to the left one could see the snapped shaft stub rotating with the vehicle in gear. Truly hardcore and surely some material fault. But VW’s 1.9l TDI with 77kW (a cheat-free Euro 4 engine) shoves up to 250Nm (184lb-ft) of torque towards the gearbox, which together with the differential step-down puts out heaps more than that through those poor shafts 🙂
        Sooo, I would rather wait a bit with my Model 3 so the major glitches are ironed out before I get mine!

  • Nice to see two years and no major issues with your EV. In 2.5 years, my Smart ED has required $0 in maintenance, and has never seen the dealer since the day I drove off the lot! I plan on keeping it long term, and take it to work in preference to the Tesla that’s also in the garage, so that’s saying something! These small EV’s are fun to drive, and so practical in the city. Well worth test driving one out, you might be surprised.

  • Martin Lacey

    Nice to hear you’re satisfied with the i3, even if you’re looking forward to your next car!

    I’m waiting for the model 3. By my reckoning I’m in the first 100k, but expect any manufacturing issues will be resolved before they start shipping to the UK.

  • Kootenay EV Family

    Our Leaf’s two year anniversary was only 2 days after your i3 🙂

    I put together a cost update on my 2 years with the Leaf. We’ve had no issues with the car so far – it has been very reliable. I would happily buy another one (with more range). Cheers!


  • info

    Try the 19″ rims for a better ride and greater efficiency. Smaller wheels and taller rubber. Wider rubber just ruins CdA by increasing frontal area. Average speed to get 5 mi/kWh? Was that measured from grid or just from info-tainment system?