2014 BEV to 2017 BEV

BMW i3 Forum

Help Support BMW i3 Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-known member
Jan 18, 2014
San Francisco
I was in the first wave of US i3 buyers, taking delivery of a BEV on May 15, 2014. I recently swapped it for a 2017 BEV and thought my experiences might be helpful to others facing a similar transition. I know this is going to be a long post but I’m trying to be thorough.

My 2014 deal employed BMW's Owner's Choice with Flex offer, a three-year hybrid purchase/lease contract that credited the $7500 federal tax incentive upfront. The owner then had to get the tax credit and repay the $7500 at the contact end. A convoluted scheme that I'm told is no longer offered. Probably a good development since BMW Financial Services handled the end of contract process poorly. The final billing statements were confusing. Phone agents dispensed conflicting and ultimately false information. All in all, a mess.

BMWFS requires a third-party inspection prior to contract end. They sent mail, email, and phone calls starting about 60 days out. I called their vendor AutoVin to arrange an appointment about five weeks prior to my contract end. The agent couldn't schedule an appointment while I was on the phone because no time slots were open in my region. She stated that a supervisor would call me back in a day or two. Silence ensued. I made a couple of additional calls only to be told the same thing. The area supervisor would call me back. After two weeks, I complained to BMW. Suddenly AutoVin called back and scheduled an appointment exactly one week prior to my contract end. The inspection took about 45 minutes and proved painless. The inspector did need to take a photo of the owner's manual and keys together. I only had one fob with me since we were at my office during the day. He noted on the report that I'd return both keys or have to pay $250 for the missing one. Other than that, I had no wear and tear beyond normal.

While I liked the 2014 and it more than met my needs (my daily round trip is just 10 miles plus we have a 2009 E90 for road trips), I knew the $23K ballon payment required if I wanted to buy the car outright was 10 to 15 percent over market value. Local dealers were advertising several 2014 CPO models with identical equipment for an average of $20K.

Oddly the selling dealer made no attempt to contact me leading up to my contract end. The salesperson I had used in 2014 had left the dealership. With just a week to go, I emailed the sales manager saying that I wanted to discuss buying my car outright or getting into a 2017. Once I had a person to deal with, I made an offer to buy my 2014 if they would make it CPO for $20K. Exactly the same price they were asking for the other CPO 2014s. However they rejected the offer, didn't even counter so I turned in the car. Shockingly they made no attempt to put me into a 2017. Let me just walk away.

Other Bay Area dealers had a good supply of cars. The mix seemed to be heavily weighted to REx and lightly-optioned Deka trims. I'm guessing that they've skewed the inventory to models that go at or near the advertised low lease rate. Still I found a handful of well-optioned GIga and Tera BEVs so I felt as if I had choices.

I sent email inquiries to most of the regional dealers but was surprised that only two seemed interested in discussing a deal by email. All the others responded to my inquiries with auto-generated messages encouraging me to call and schedule a test drive. That struck me as slimy so they lost my business.

My choice came down to a white Giga with Tech, Parking, HK, and 20" wheels or a mineral grey Tera with the same plus sunroof and dark oak trim. One at each of the aforementioned dealers. I went with the Tera because that dealer responded faster than the other and beat the Edmunds TMV price by several hundred dollars.

I negotiated the total selling price not a monthly lease payment. Got a pleasant surprise because the BMWFS $7500 rebate applied after the price was set. That took my final cost even lower; my new monthly payment is a couple of hundred below the 2014.

The 2017 model is essentially unchanged from 2014 with the addition of the higher-capacity battery. If anything, I found the 2014's quoted 81 mile range a bit optimistic. In perennially chilly SF, I consistently saw estimates of 67 to 72 miles with a full charge. It's still early (and it's been unusually warm) but I'm seeing estimates of 115 to 120 miles with the 2017.

The 2017 does have a few minor changes from the 2014 original. Most have probably been discussed here but they're worth putting all in one place.

  • Key fob has a trunk release button rather than a hood release. I find this particularly inconvenient because I rely on a Level 1 outlet at home. My condo has a multi-story, communal garage so installing a dedicated Level 2 EVSE is cost prohibitive (lowest estimate was $8,000). I'm not comfortable leaving the charge cord at my space so I've been forced to relocate the cable storage from the hood to the trunk.
  • The stretchy rubber tie down strips on the trunk floor have been deleted.
  • The cargo nets that were on the front seat backs and below the center stack are gone. The one below the center stack has been replaced by an elastic belt identical to those on either side of the trunk.
  • The glovebox lock tumbler is now black to match the surrounding button. On the 2014 it was a chrome circle sitting in a black plastic square.
  • The padded wrist rest behind the iDrive controller is gone.
  • The buttons surrounding the iDrive controller have been reshaped and restyled. The thin chrome strips separating columns strike me as pointless embellishment.
  • The front door storage compartments and rear door grab areas have LED light strips. I don't recall them in the 2014 but maybe they're more noticeable in the dark Tera interior?
  • Exterior mirrors are all black rather than the top body color and bottom black.
  • Front seat belts now come with the retaining clip found on mainline BMWs.
  • Owner's literature pack now comes in a grey felt with blue trim BMW i. cover. My early 2104 had the literature stacked loose in the glove box.

After the better-than-predicted range, the biggest surprise with the 2017 is the sunroof. I test drove the pre-pro European models that BMW sent on tour in early 2014. Several of them had the sunroof which I found off putting because of the twin interior openings and limited range of motion. I wasn't particularly upset when BMWNA initially declined to offer the option. But after living with it for a couple of weeks, I'm glad my new car has it. It lightens the interior and popping the rear vent open makes driving with the front windows cracked and climate control off noticeably nicer. I've even gotten used to the twin interior openings.

My 2014 had 19" wheels with EP600 all season tires while the 2107 has the 20" and EP500 summer tires. Maybe it's my imagination but the new car feels as if it handles slightly crisper. I have not noticed a harsher ride and that's on SF streets that are in particularly bad condition due to the construction projects currently blanketing the entire city.

Before pulling the trigger on the 2017, I did look around enough to satisfy myself that the competition held no appeal. I like the i3 because I live and work in a major city. More then 90% of my driving is on city streets. Quickness, agility, and small size matter most. The electric power train make sense because of instant torque and minimal maintenance. For me, the environmental benefits are gravy. I considered the Fiat 500e but rejected it because Fiat reliability isn't great and there's no dealer in SF. I test drove a Chevy Bolt but felt it was too conventional. I hate its method of invoking regen with the steering wheel paddle instead of the peddle. Its interior is also borderline tacky. While the e-Golf comes closest to the i3 in terms of aesthetics, it's also too conventional. None of these cars even offer power folding mirrors, which I must have because my parking spot is so narrow.

One reason I thought about buying my 2014 outright is the mid-cycle facelift that's rumored to be announced at Frankfurt this fall. I'd keep driving the 2014 for a year or so then trade. Ultimately though, I decided I'd be happy driving the current model for three years. Nothing so far has made me regret the decision.
Thanks for the write up. I also have an early i3, it's a REX Tera. I hardly ever use the REX feature. My car stickered for $54k before haggling and the two tax benefits. It's now pretty worthless even with only 12k miles. I'll wait for the facelift and buy a bed this time. I do love the car!
Good write-up!

I had a 2014 Tera until this month and can comment on these:
The front door storage compartments and rear door grab areas have LED light strips. I don't recall them in the 2014 but maybe they're more noticeable in the dark Tera interior?
These LED strips were there on my Tera. I believe the Mega did not have them, and not sure on the Giga.

Owner's literature pack now comes in a grey felt with blue trim BMW i. cover. My early 2104 had the literature stacked loose in the glove box.
This has always been the case for the i3. I'd guess your dealer forgot them on your 2014.