Away2Maine
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 10:14 am

2014 Yes or No...

Mon Mar 16, 2020 12:13 pm

So I plan to jump into the EV world via an i3 (preferred) or Leaf (if necessary) in the near future. Researching these two options has been a little challenging when it comes to battery degradation. I've searched and perused this forum, but the common and short words of my inquiry have ended with very few results. Here are a coupe questions for those in the know...

1) On a Leaf, I know that I can "see" battery degradation in the bars on the far right of the instrument panel. Does such an easy visual that represents degradation exist for the i3?

2) I have ready several pieces that indicate one should NOT purchase a 2014 i3, but then again, I've seen several responses that indicate these aren't the problem-children they have been made out to be. Understanding that anything can be hit or miss, what is the opinion of 2014s on this forum generally?

3) Other than the obvious extension of range and maintenance, what would you all say are the pros and cons of the REx?

Thanks in advance!

Peace...Away...

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4990
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:23 pm

On any EV, your actual range will vary by how you drive it, the terrain, and the temperature. My 2014's indicated range can vary over 30-miles summer to winter, not counting terrain or driving conditions.

When deciding what car to buy, you need a realistic idea of what your real need for range is. In my case, 95% of my needs are less than 20-miles/day, so even with being inefficient in the really cold, middle of a cold spell, I've still got more than enough.

The i3 will display the expected range to empty left. Just like on an ICE, that may or may not be accurate. It bases that calculation on what happened the last 18-miles that the car was driven. So, checking one out on a dealer's lot may be quite inaccurate based on real time, as it will likely have lots of cold starts (HVAC load), and people experimenting with it using full acceleration.

THere are some ways to get an approximation of the battery health, but that isn't perfect, either. The dealerships have a special procedure they run to determine the health of the battery. Supposedly takes about a day to perform. Right now, mine's indicating 46-miles, but, my brother-in-law had been driving it short hops with long delays between...worst case situation as it was quite cold when he was doing it. This time of year, I generally see a low of about 60, and in the summer, I've seen over 80-miles. It just depends. Since June 2014 when I bought it, it's dropped about 5-miles of range. Still, way more than my normal needs.

Your needs would depend a lot on when and where you can recharge, and how far you need it to go.

Some feel they must have the REx. My thought was why carry around that extra weight for something that may only get used once or twice a year and requires all of the maintenance hassles of an ICE: buying gasoline, engine oil, filter, muffler, etc. Yes, some people take theirs on long trips, but the hassle isn't worth it to me. If it was going to be your only car, you might want to consider borrowing an ICE for a longer trip or renting one. Everyone has their hassle limits, and to me, it isn't worth it. Not everyone is in the same situation...only you can decide.

FWIW, mine has been pretty reliable. I had an issue with the charge plug release, but that's the only real thing. They did have a service campaign on a few things to resolve some issues, but those never actually caused me an issue.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV
Soon (hopefully!) A 2021 X5 45e will replace the above

Away2Maine
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 10:14 am

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:59 pm

Hey there!

Thanks much for the detailed response. I did leave a few important things out of the intro to the question, my apologies.

My typical daily commute is around 25-30 miles with an additional 10 or so on occasion. So, the range needs aren't really that significant, but they could be in the winter months as I understand it. Generally, my sense has been that the i3 has less battery degradation than the Leaf and is also less impacted by the colder day driving.

As a homeowner, I can do L1 charging anytime in the garage. I would also consider running a dedicated 220 for L2 since the cost is somewhat reasonable.

I don't disagree with the limited value of the REx based on my range needs as indicated above. However, it is really, really, hard to find those without that can be accessed in Indy. The midwest is not necessarily the hotbed of EV sales as you likely know.

The intent of this vehicle would be the daily commute and other around town (or suburbs) driving. We have a couple other options available for longer trip needs.

So the 2014 would seem to fit my needs just fine, but are the "concerns" and "issues" folks mentioned on this model year really as prevalent as it seems?

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4990
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:38 pm

I'm a sample of one. Keep in mind, many people go onto forums when they have a problem. I joined because I was interested in understanding the car. So, problems tend to get exaggerated. Mine was one of the first built for the USA, so, if anyone was going to have infant mortality or other issues, it's a likely candidate. They didn't really exhibit themselves on mine. Doesn't mean it still couldn't!

The i3 is a better engineered car than the Leaf. Liquid cooling for the batteries makes a huge difference in the longevity. And, it's more fun to drive.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV
Soon (hopefully!) A 2021 X5 45e will replace the above

i3Alan
Posts: 294
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:08 pm

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:08 am

jadnashuanh wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:38 pm
I'm a sample of one. Keep in mind, many people go onto forums when they have a problem. I joined because I was interested in understanding the car. So, problems tend to get exaggerated. Mine was one of the first built for the USA, so, if anyone was going to have infant mortality or other issues, it's a likely candidate.
The above is 100% applicable to me as well. Mine got a catastrophic AC failure at 5 years old with a $23 THOUSAND repair quote. As it says above, this is an exaggerated problem. The real quote was a few hundred less than 23 THOUSAND dollars. BMW offer to help with $2K on a car whose book value was $16K.
The i3 is a better engineered car than the Leaf. Liquid cooling for the batteries makes a huge difference in the longevity. And, it's more fun to drive.
This part is also true.

That is, I agree 100% with jadnashuanh, but he left out the part about the Sword of Damocles with BMW (and MB) excel in abundantly providing.

frictioncircle
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: USA West Coast

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Wed Mar 18, 2020 10:55 pm

Away2Maine –

I have an early-production (04/2014) BEV which I've owned since new and am still thrilled with 52K miles later.

Yes, I've had plenty of visits to the dealer over the years but never for something trip-ending (knocking on wood here). However, a friend purchased their 2014 REx at the same time and has dealt with more than one drivetrain error that ended in a tow. He didn't escape the flatbeds when he upgraded to a 2019 REx and again was stranded with a drivetrain error.

If you don't need the extra range, why carry that 300 lb. motor around all the time with its needs for oil, filter, and spark plug service, not to mention the associated hardware that are just extra points of failure? Keep it simple with the BEV.

Five months after the new-car warranty expired I had problems with the charge-door popper, the charge cable lock solenoid (prevented DCFC start) and motor mount / control arm cracking. BMW covered 95% of the multi-thousand repair cost.

I mention this because 2014s have to be near the end of extended warranties and limits of BMW goodwill repair.

Get a thorough inspection before purchase, best if you can find someone that knows the i3... which is likely to be someone at a dealer as I don't think many independent shops get to see these cars.

abeln2672
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:52 pm

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:06 am

I'm also in Indy and drove home my 2014 Rex from Minneapolis about a month ago. I LOVE IT! You can't beat the value on a 2014, IMO. I was mainly shopping Chevy Bolts and Teslas, but I got a really well-appointed 2014 i3 with most options I wanted and a set of winter tires/wheels for $12k. Man, the savings alone over those other two cars is just crazy.

Yes, buying used is a risk. I'm no expert, but it seems there were some common issues with 2014's, but if they've either been fixed or the car has 40k+ miles on it without trouble with the below, you're probably out of the woods:
  • Plastic motor mounts and smaller/weaker bolts
  • High voltage battery cables
  • Fuel door release
  • Rex generic "drivetrain" error (sometimes cheap fuel pump, sometimes expensive total replacement)
  • Strut dust covers/boots
There is a way to check what that car says is the maximum battery capacity left (Google "Batt.Kapp.Max"), but there's a lot of disagreement about how accurate that is. I'd still check if I were you, and if that value was under 15 I'd be leery of buying.

Personally, the Rex was a must for me. My commute is typically under 40 miles RT, so even on cold winter mornings when my max battery range is 50 miles, I'd be totally fine. That said, I've already twice had to use the Rex: once when a work meeting was scheduled out in Crawfordsville, about a 70 mile RT for me, and a second time when I had to make the commute to work, then almost immediately drive my daughter to an activity about 15 miles away with no charging available. If you're 99% sure your winter driving will either be limited to 50 miles OR you'll have access to charging at destination every time OR you'll be able to use an ICE vehicle on long driving days, then the BEV is most definitely cheaper and more reliable. That said, I couldn't make those guarantees and the Rex has already been a necessity for me.

Oh, winter tires are a must in the Midwest. If you can find a used car that includes them, it'll save you a ton of money. You can buy a set for around $600, but unless you want to pay a shop to mount them for you every season, you'll also want an extra set of wheels which will cost another $800 minimum. I was really fortunate to find a car that included a set.

i3Alan
Posts: 294
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:08 pm

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Fri Mar 20, 2020 10:09 am

abeln2672 wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:06 am
I'm also in Indy and drove home my 2014 Rex from Minneapolis about a month ago. I LOVE IT! You can't beat the value on a 2014, IMO. I was mainly shopping Chevy Bolts and Teslas, but I got a really well-appointed 2014 i3 with most options I wanted and a set of winter tires/wheels for $12k. Man, the savings alone over those other two cars is just crazy.

Yes, buying used is a risk. I'm no expert, but it seems there were some common issues with 2014's, but if they've either been fixed or the car has 40k+ miles on it without trouble with the below, you're probably out of the woods:
  • Plastic motor mounts and smaller/weaker bolts
  • High voltage battery cables
  • Fuel door release
  • Rex generic "drivetrain" error (sometimes cheap fuel pump, sometimes expensive total replacement)
  • Strut dust covers/boots
Your list seems to omit infrequent failures of the AC compressor self destruction, but which deliver $20K repair quotes.

In financial circles, there is a factor called alpha that relates expected risk to expected return. The concept is that higher risks are justified, positive alpha, only when correspondingly higher returns are expected. Your list are things with poor, or negative, "alpha" on the i3. The higher the risk of a failure item may be justified by an easy inexpensive repair, or, conversely the lower risk of a failure may be irrelevant in the case of horrendously outrageous repair cost. The catastrophic failure possible with the AC would have to make its alpha completely terrible, perhaps more negative than any other item on your list.

eNate
Posts: 438
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:33 pm

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:12 am

Alan, you're a one-man wrecking crew, and can be counted on to show up and spin this morbid tale whenever the slightest crack presents itself.

And don't get me wrong, what happened to you is awful, I'm not denying that. Your ire is justified.

But where are all of the other cases of the failed AC? My recollection is you've mentioned one other that you're aware of from around the same time as yours, and two subsequent who were partially reimbursed by BMW.

All I'm getting at is that the volume of your warning doesn't seem to match the incidence of occurrence. Of course I'm knocking on wood as I write this!!
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i3Alan
Posts: 294
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:08 pm

Re: 2014 Yes or No...

Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:30 am

eNate wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:12 am
But where are all of the other cases of the failed AC?
1) The day I took my i3 into the dealer with the clicking noise from the AC, a service writer (not mine) met me in the drive bay and asked me if it was my AC. I said yes, the AC is not blowing cold. He said he just heard that clicking from another i3 the previous week and hoped mine was not the same problem, as it was an expensive repair. I asked how high? He said not worth repairing. He was hopeful mine was not the same issue.

2) When I got the $22K+ repair quote, I called the other BMW dealer in town and asked to speak with the service manager. I told him I just got an absurdly high repair quote from Chapman and asked him if he wanted provide me with a competing quote (even though the Scottsdale dealer is known to generally be higher as they do have a slightly higher hourly shop rate). He asked if it was an AC problem. I said yes. He asked if the quote I got was well over $10K? I said it was more than double that. He said he has also seen that problem, and he would not be able to help, as BWM would not help, and there was no way he could get the service done for less than the book value of the car.

3 & 4) There have been two other direct reports of this failure in this site, one for a 2014 and one for a 2015.

?) The i3 Facebook page has a few more references to this, but some are a bit ambiguous to location, so I have no solid count, nor do I know if any of these are duplicates.

I would say at a bare minimum, there have been at least three cases in the Phoenix AZ area in the same year. I doubt there have been 1000 i3s sold in the Phoenix area. That is a terrible percentage (0.3%) for something this atrocious. Maybe the problem is greatly exacerbated by extreme desert heat and Phoenix (Las Vegas, Palm Springs, etc.) has most of the cases.

BMW could have honored my request to pay my actual cash damages (loss of fair market value of the car, about $8K), and then I would have little reason to complain. I might still be upset that I had to replace my beloved car, but I probably would be driving a new i3. I might still be mentioning the issue here or there, but I certainly would only do so also making it clear that BMW acted honorably and made me whole. A check for $2000 marked as goodwill was not adequate.

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