7 Reasons to Avoid a BMW i3 at All Costs


7 Reasons to Avoid a BMW i3 at All Costs

Key Points

  • The BMW i3 has a limited electric range of 153 miles, falling short compared to other electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus with 263 miles of range.
  • Weak motor mounts in the i3 can cause vibrations and rattling, affecting the overall driving experience.
  • The i3’s eco-friendly interior materials may not exhibit the same durability and longevity as more traditional materials found in other luxury vehicles.
  • A damaged carbon fiber roof can raise concerns about the overall integrity of the vehicle’s construction and be costly to repair.
  • The i3’s compact design results in constrained cabin space, particularly in the rear seating area.

When BMW gave the i3 to the world, it captured the imagination of car enthusiasts and eco-conscious drivers alike. It showcased the German automaker’s commitment to sustainable mobility, boasting a groundbreaking design and impressive technological innovations.

The i3 seemed poised to revolutionize the electric car market, and for the better part of its early years, it did. Many hailed it as a symbol of the future, an emission-free car that never compromised on luxury.

However, beneath the sleek facade and positive reception, there are valid reasons why some individuals might want to steer clear of the BMW i3 — considerations that call into question its status as the quintessential electric vehicle. Although BMW ceased the production of the i3 in 2022, pre-owned models are still available on the market.

This article delves into the flipside of the BMW i3, shedding light on its drawbacks as an eclectic vehicle. From its limited range and weak motor mounts to its poor-quality interior and expensive repair costs, we present compelling reasons to avoid the BMW i3 at all costs. 

BMW i3 Specs: 2022

Below are the technical specifications of the BMW i3.

BMW i3BMW i3s
Torque/at250 Nm/rpm270 Nm/rpm 
Top speed 93 mph (150km/h)99mph (160km/h)
Electric range (EPA Est.)153 miles153 miles 
Battery capacity42.2 kWh42.2kWh
0-62 mph acceleration 7.3 seconds6.9 seconds
Drive configurationRear wheel drive Rear wheel drive
Curb weight (Unladen to DIN/EU) kg/kg1710/4401290/1365
Length (mm)40064011
Width (mm)17911775
Height (mm) with roof fin15901577

6 Must-Know Facts About the BMW i3

  1. BMW emphasizes sustainability throughout the production of the i3s. The vehicle incorporates eco-friendly materials like recycled plastics and renewable materials for the interior.
  2. The BMW i3 features a range extender (REX) (two-cylinder petrol engine) to maintain the charge levels of the 42.2kWh battery to keep driving electric. The REX kicks in automatically when the battery level drops to 7%.
  3. The i3 incorporates BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. This system offers a touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system, and smartphone integration. It also features the “i” Remote App that lets you check the battery level and monitor it when connected to a charging station.
  4. The i3 offers a peppy driving experience with 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. For those seeking a sportier ride, the i3s model provides a bump in power with 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque.
  5. The i3 and i3s have a 42.2 kWh battery pack (2021 model). You can charge the battery using standard Level 1 and Level 2 and DC fast chargers for quicker charging.
  6. The i3 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 7.3 seconds, while the i3s achieves the same feat in around 6.9 seconds. These acceleration figures may vary depending on the model year and specific configuration.

A Brief History of the BMW i3

The BMW i3, introduced in 2013, represents BMW’s foray into the world of electric vehicles. This car was part of BMW’s broader initiative to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility solution under the “i” sub-brand. 

Conceptualization and development began in 2007 and was unveiled in 2011 under the project name “Mega City Vehicle” (MCV). The company aimed for the car to become an urban EV that addressed the growing urbanization and environmental sustainability concerns.

BMW showcased the vehicle’s prototype in 2012 at the Summer Olympics in London. Later, in 2013, the company unveiled the car’s production version and made it available to customers.

As an all-electric vehicle, it features a synchronous electric motor that initially had a range of about 80 to 110 miles. However, this depended on the driving conditions. 

reasons to avoid bmw i3
The BMW i3 debuted as a concept at the 2011 International Motor Show Germany.


Later that year, BMW introduced an optional Range Extender (REx) variant, incorporating a small gasoline engine to generate electricity. This update effectively extended the range and alleviated any concerns about range anxiety. Over the years, the company introduced several updates to the car, including improvements in battery capacity. 

The i3s hit the market in 2017. This sportier version featured a more powerful motor that increased its horsepower and torque, thus, much more outstanding performance. In 2022, BMW stopped the production of the i3 model. That’s nine years and about 250,000 units sold since its debut. 

Reasons to Avoid a BMW i3

Despite its unique design, eco-friendly performance, and BMW’s commitment to sustainability, the i3 is not without its drawbacks. This section explores the critical reasons potential buyers should exercise caution when considering the BMW i3 as their EV of choice. Here’s a list of some common reasons: 

  1. Limited range
  2. Weak motor mounts 
  3. Failing 12-volt battery 
  4. Failed KLE and MLE modules
  5. Poor quality interior
  6. Delaminating roof
  7. Cramped interior

Limited Range

One of the most notable drawbacks of the BMW i3 is its limited electric range. Although the car has made improvements over the years, with its latest models offering a range of 153 miles, it still falls short compared to other EV options available today.

For instance, within its price range, like the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (263 miles of range), the i3 appears noticeably limited. This substantial difference in range can significantly impact the i3’s appeal for individuals who frequently undertake extended trips or live in areas with limited charging infrastructure.

Also, as electric vehicles evolve, many newer models have exceeded the i3’s range capabilities, placing it at a disadvantage regarding competitiveness and perceived value for buyers. 

Although BMW introduced an optional range extender in the i3 to boost the car’s range, owners have complained about its performance. Many who opted for this modification expressed frustration with several issues. Most notable are the struggles of the combustion engine alone when faced with hills and inclines. 

Some reported that although there was an increased range, the vehicle could not reach speeds of over 40 mph. While the range extender may suit those with short commutes or limited travel needs, it fails to deliver a satisfactory solution for extended journeys. This further emphasizes the limitations of the BMW i3.

Weak Motor Mounts

Another issue often reported by BMW i3 users is that of weak motor mounts. Motor mounts are crucial in securing the electric motor to the car’s chassis. When they fit securely, they dampen vibrations and reduce noise.

However, in the case of i3s, some owners have experienced challenges with motor mounts that are prone to failure and excessive wear. The leading cause of motor mount failure in BMW i3s is when the rear wheels spin and abruptly gain traction again. Such scenarios happen when let’s say, you hit a bump and have a flight moment.

Because the material used to design the motor mount is plastic, it can easily damage upon impact. Unfortunately, the impact damages the car’s motor mount and other electronic equipment. 

reasons to avoid bmw i3
The i3 lets the owner charge the battery from a conventional wall socket.

©Gabriel Nica/Shutterstock.com

Fixing a motor mount failure issue demands replacing it with a new one. Plastic mounts meant for replacement are available but likely to face the same fate. For this reason, BMW recommends using aluminum mounts fitted with large bolts. 

Fixing this issue isn’t cheap and can cost upwards of $5,000. Efforts to put an end to this problem saw the company run a software update to reduce motor torque when the wheel is airborne. Still, owners keep reporting this issue. 

Failing 12 Volt Battery

Although the BMW i3 is an electric vehicle, it still relies on a traditional 12-volt battery to power auxiliary systems such as lights, infotainment, and other electrical components. Cases where the 12-volt battery unexpectedly fails are synonymous with this car.

In such instances, the vehicle can fail to start or experience other intermittent electrical issues that can leave owners stranded. We can attribute the premature failure of the BMW i3 12-volt battery to several factors.

One potential cause is the increased electrical demands on the battery because of the vehicle’s complex electrical systems. Also, this battery may not receive sufficient charging and maintenance from the high-voltage battery system, thus leading to accelerated degradation. 

Unfortunately, the implications of a failing 12-volt battery go beyond inconvenience. It can result in unplanned repair costs, loss of trust in the vehicle’s reliability, and incidental towing expenses. To mitigate this issue, owners should perform regular battery checks and ensure proper charging. 

Failed KLE and EME Modules

While rare, failures of the KLE (convenience charging electronics) and EME (electrical machine electronics) modules have been reported, particularly in the BMW i3 from 2018 onwards. The KLE module is responsible for managing the car’s charging process, whereas the EME module serves as the electric motor controller. 

In the unfortunate event that the EME fails, it can result in the high voltage supply to the motor shutting down, effectively bringing the car to an instant halt. The leading cause of this failure is often bad solder joints resulting in data transmission errors.

These errors lead to incorrect processing of OBD-relevant diagnoses for the KLE module. When such errors occur, it becomes necessary to re-establish communication between the charging electronics and EME using a diagnosis tester.

While it is important to note that failed KLE and EME modules are not widespread, the reported cases highlight potential issues that can disrupt the charging process and render the vehicle immobile. These failures can lead to unexpected repairs and towing requirements.

Poor Quality Interior

One aspect that has drawn praise and criticism is BMW’s interior. While using sustainable materials aligns with the i3’s overall sustainability ethos, some owners are disappointed with their durability. The i3’s interior features eco-friendly materials like recycled plastic, sustainably sourced wood, and natural fibers.

reasons to avoid the bmw i3
The BMW i3 uses the Type 2 connector for AC and CCS connector for DC power.


The main reason for these choices was to reduce the vehicle’s carbon footprint and enhance its eco-conscious appeal. Unfortunately, some owners have voiced concern about the wear resistance and longevity of the interior components. Issues such as peeling surfaces, fading colors, and other signs of premature aging are pretty common.

While it’s important to mention that the interior quality can vary based on individual usage and maintenance, the reported cases raise valid concerns. Those who expect a premium experience from luxury vehicles like the i3 may find these durability issues disappointing.

Delaminating Roof 

Over time, the carbon fiber material used in the roof construction can start to pop and peel, creating an unsightly appearance. This issue is not unique to the BMW i3, as delamination can be a common concern with carbon fiber roofs in general. 

The delamination of the carbon fiber roof can occur after approximately 4 to 5 years of ownership, although the timeframe may vary depending on usage and environmental factors. Regions with high heat can exacerbate the problem, making the situation worse.

The main causes of delamination include prolonged exposure to heat and UV radiation. These factors cause the carbon fiber layers to disintegrate, resulting in the popping and peeling effect.

Besides the aesthetics, a damaged roof also raises concerns about the integrity of the car’s construction. Also, repairs can be costly because carbon fiber doesn’t come cheap.

Cramped Interior

The design philosophy of the i3 focused on urban mobility and efficiency. As a result, the vehicle features a compact footprint that allows it to navigate congested city streets. While the designers prioritized functionality and sustainability, they constrained cabin space, particularly in the rear seating area. 

Long journeys can be uncomfortable, especially for taller passengers, mainly because of the limited legroom and headroom. Also, the i3’s compact dimensions and narrow body can contribute to a sense of confinement within the vehicles.

Prospective buyers should consider their needs when evaluating the i3’s interior. If ample passenger space is a high priority, alternatives with more generous dimensions within the electric vehicle segment might be more suitable.

Summary: Reasons to Avoid a BMW i3 

Remember that none of these should discourage you from buying a BMW i3. While it’s unlikely you’ll find a new unit, you can buy a preowned one and refer to this post for possible challenges you are likely to face. Here’s a summary of the reasons to avoid a BMW i3. 

Reasons to avoid a BMW i3
With a range of up to 153 miles, the i3 falls short compared to other electric vehicles in its class.
There are reported issues of weak motor mounts that cause vibrations and rattling, affecting the overall driving experience. 
A failing 12-volt battery can result in the vehicle not starting or experiencing intermittent electrical issues. 
In case an EME fails while driving, it can result in the high-voltage supply to the motor being shut down, effectively bringing the vehicle to a halt.
Despite their eco-friendly attributes, the i3’s interior materials may not exhibit the same durability and longevity as more traditional materials found in other luxury vehicles.
Apart from aesthetic concerns, a damaged roof can also raise questions about the overall integrity of the vehicle’s construction. 
The i3’s compact design and focus on efficiency have resulted in constrained cabin space, particularly in the rear seating area. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is BMW discontinuing the i3?

At the beginning of 2022, BMW issued a press announcement that it was stopping the production of the i3 model. The company would focus its production efforts on other EV options, such as the iX and i4. One of the reasons for ceasing production was that customers preferred bigger cars.

Is BMW i3 expensive to maintain?

As an all-electric vehicle, the maintenance costs of the i3 are low. It costs an average user about $1,173 annually to maintain an i3. However, repair costs and replacement parts are expensive compared to other cars.

Do BMW i3 batteries degrade?

Like any other battery, BMW i3 batteries can experience degradation over time. Battery degradation refers to the gradual loss of a battery’s capacity to store and deliver energy.

In the case of the BMW i3, which utilizes lithium-ion battery technology, the battery is expected to undergo some level of degradation over its lifespan.

How many years does a BMW i3 battery last?

On average, the battery in a BMW i3 is expected to last around 3 to 5 years before it starts showing signs of degradation. This estimate is based on typical usage and average battery degradation rates. Individual experiences may vary, and factors like extreme temperatures or consistent fast charging can affect battery lifespan.

Should I charge my BMW i3 every day?

Charging your BMW i3 every day is not necessary, but it can be beneficial for ensuring optimal driving range and convenience. The charging frequency will depend on your driving habits, but it’s a good idea to maintain 20% to 80% of the charge.

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