SlashGear's "Here's Why The BMW i3 Was Discontinued"

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alohart

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On 22 June 2024, SlashGear published the article "Here's Why The BMW i3 Was Discontinued". It contains several inaccurate or misleading statements. I sent a message to SlashGear correcting or clarifying these statements.

• "That said, some loved its unique styling, while others had the kind of lifestyle where a range of just 114 miles (130 miles with a full tank and charge in a 'range extender' model) wouldn't be an issue."

This statement implies that the REx adds only 16 miles of range. 114 miles is the E.P.A. range rating of a 94 Ah BEV while 130 miles is the E.P.A. range rating of a 60 Ah REx. There's no mention of the E.P.A. range ratings of the 120 Ah BEV and REx thus portraying the i3's range in quite misleading and negative terms.

• "The vehicle's range was such an issue that a version with a 'range extender' was released."

This statement implies that the REx was introduced in 2017 because of the i3's poor range. However, the REx model was available from the beginning being discontinued everywhere but North America in 2019 because the 120 Ah BEV range was considered sufficient for a "Megacity Vehicle."

"This would solve one of the main issues that the i3 had, which was its appalling range, and hopefully convince more of the brand's core customer base to go electric."

The i3 was designed to be a "Megacity Vehicle", so a large, heavy battery pack would be unnecessary. Its range was not appalling when considering its design goals. BMW's current EV's are very heavy and quite large compared with the i3. It's too bad that BMW didn't decide to keep a compact, nimble hatchback in its lineup. BMW would counter that the Mini EV fills that niche, but I'm not interested in a relatively heavy compact FWD steel vehicle.
 
Often skipped over, I think it's important for these articles to acknowledge the 2011 BMW ActiveE, and the Mini-E that preceded it. These were foundational in BMW developing an understanding of the electric powertrain.

This particular piece also neglects to mention the i3's novel materials choices and construction technique, which did not lend itself to scalable manufacturing. While I'm sure BMW desired higher sales volume, I don't know that it was ever practical to get much higher than the 40,000 units manufactured in 2019 without opening a new production line. I don't have a source for this.

2021 brought about the current wave of 250 mile range EVs with competitive prices. From a practical standpoint, what Joe-average consumer would choose a $50k i3 when a $50k conventionally-proportioned car with 30% more range was sitting right next to it? Never mind the oddball looks. Never mind the poor highway manners. Never mind the dated tech.

I love my i3, but BMW had no choice but to kill it as it existed in the form we know.
 
With that sort of credentials, you could write for SlashGear! ;)
Yeah, "I read it somewhere on the internet." That's the reason for the disclaimer.

BMW reportedly targeted "at least" 30,000 units annually at launch, with I find at odds with Leipzig's stated capacity of 30,000. The article or quote I recall reading but cannot source stated (to my recollection) that the plant started a second shift to push past the 30k barrier, which I figure would cap production at 60k. Who knows if a 3rd shift was possible.

In any case, I'm sure you've seen the production line video. A lot of these CFRP components can't just be stamped out by the dozen, they require a good amount of time and space to cut / glue / shape / assemble.
 
Often skipped over, I think it's important for these articles to acknowledge the 2011 BMW ActiveE, and the Mini-E that preceded it. These were foundational in BMW developing an understanding of the electric powertrain.

This particular piece also neglects to mention the i3's novel materials choices and construction technique, which did not lend itself to scalable manufacturing. While I'm sure BMW desired higher sales volume, I don't know that it was ever practical to get much higher than the 40,000 units manufactured in 2019 without opening a new production line. I don't have a source for this.

2021 brought about the current wave of 250 mile range EVs with competitive prices. From a practical standpoint, what Joe-average consumer would choose a $50k i3 when a $50k conventionally-proportioned car with 30% more range was sitting right next to it? Never mind the oddball looks. Never mind the poor highway manners. Never mind the dated tech.

I love my i3, but BMW had no choice but to kill it as it existed in the form we know.
I think that BMW looked on the i3 as an experiment, and - in their eyes - the experiment failed. But, and I think that they looked at the data they obtained from the experiment wrongly. The i3 was never going to sell to 'Joe-average consumer'; it was a very tightly targeted vehicle. It was a comparatively upscale, very small car aimed at people living in large, but geographically compact major cities. In places like London, Paris or Tokyo there its literally no competition for the i3, I live on a quite small street in North London, with perhaps 100 houses, there are FIVE i3s on my street.
I believe that BMW should have studied how to produce the vehicle more efficiently by bringing many of the major manufacturing processes in house, thereby reducing both the production and transport costs.
There currently isn't a potential alternative to the i3, and BMW and others are leaving a lot of money on the table, it's worth remembering that big cities are where most of the people with money live.
Let's see how relevant the 'range anxiety' really is, I recently sold my Mercedes convertible and now just have the i3 and shortly will be undertaking an 1,100 mile 8 day round trip.
 
Well, the Renault Zoe is a well received alternative for those who want a compact EV, and the Dacia Spring is also a compact EV for a very good price. Those are not available in the US to my knowledge. No, they are not BMW's but not every one wants or needs a premium EV.
 
Well, the Renault Zoe is a well received alternative for those who want a compact EV, and the Dacia Spring is also a compact EV for a very good price. Those are not available in the US to my knowledge. No, they are not BMW's but not every one wants or needs a premium EV.
but enough people DO want a premium small EV, my neighbourhood is pretty upmarket, as sit is over 150 years old, nobody has a garage or driveway, apart from a very fortunate few - so everyone parks on the street. Almost everyone has a new car, lots of G Wagons and 911s and the only 4 to 6 year old cars on the street are the i3s, meaning people who could afford to replace them haven't. I can't imagine any of my neighbours - or me - choosing a Renault Zoe or a Dacia.

There is a market for a small premium EV from an upscale brand, but it appears that it isn't big enough for BMW/MB etc. Perhaps someone like Genesis might have a go, or whatever Nissan's upscale brand is called.....
 
There is a market for a small premium EV from an upscale brand, but it appears that it isn't big enough for BMW/MB etc. Perhaps someone like Genesis might have a go, or whatever Nissan's upscale brand is called.....
Well the happy few in wealthy neighborhoods are not being served that well with compact EV's at the moment I understand, so I would suggest hang on to your i3, as it is a remarkable car and has the correct badge on it. For the majority of not so fortunate city dwellers though, there are some reasonable priced compact EV's available.
 
'the only 4 to 6 year old cars on the street are the i3s'

or they are still on the road as they still do the job and have not rusted away ?
 
Well the happy few in wealthy neighborhoods are not being served that well with compact EV's at the moment I understand, so I would suggest hang on to your i3, as it is a remarkable car and has the correct badge on it. For the majority of not so fortunate city dwellers though, there are some reasonable priced compact EV's available.
I think that was the point James was making. They are hanging on, but at some point there is no alternative currently. I live in US suburbia of a larger city (Denver), and I appreciate the i3 not for the parking at home, but for its maneuverability, comfort, and parking prowess. I drove a Smart Fortwo for 12 years before upgrading to the “large” i3. Both these vehicles are small for US “standards”, and they were the only cars with a premium feel, fit, and finish. Of course the i3 isn’t our “only” car, as we need something that travels well on longer trips, and hence we now also drive a Tesla Model Y. The biggest consideration in the US is still the charging infrastructure for distance driving, and only Tesla has that solved reliably (and others are too slow in getting onto their supercharger network - Ford and Rivian are the only ones so far).
 
When I picked up my first i3 in 2019, I couldn't help but take notice of all of the i3s that resided in our area. I began dropping pins on Google maps, and the count rose above 20 inside of roughly a 3/4 mile radius.

BMW's two year lease must have been popular, because they're now mostly gone, a few hangers-on and I spot a new (used) one every now and then.

But all along the Chevy Bolt had been the much more popular car to see parked in front of somebody's home, and I've yet to notice the Mini (which is technically BMW's i3 replacement).

But the i3's are being replaced with full sized EVs covering the spread.

My sense is i3 owners choose it for a number of reasons (size, brand, availability), but probably none choose it for being a "good value," and I'd bet few appreciated it for its technical attributes (namely the CFRP).
 
Well the happy few in wealthy neighborhoods are not being served that well with compact EV's at the moment I understand, so I would suggest hang on to your i3, as it is a remarkable car and has the correct badge on it. For the majority of not so fortunate city dwellers though, there are some reasonable priced compact EV's available.
Ironically it doesn't have the "right badge"; I have never been without at least one Mercedes for over 40 years and it took some mental readjustment to put myself behind a wheel with a stylised propellor rather than the three pointed star.
But I soon got over it, it's the most fun car I have driven since my SL600.
 
Yeah, "I read it somewhere on the internet." That's the reason for the disclaimer.

BMW reportedly targeted "at least" 30,000 units annually at launch, with I find at odds with Leipzig's stated capacity of 30,000. The article or quote I recall reading but cannot source stated (to my recollection) that the plant started a second shift to push past the 30k barrier, which I figure would cap production at 60k. Who knows if a 3rd shift was possible.

In any case, I'm sure you've seen the production line video. A lot of these CFRP components can't just be stamped out by the dozen, they require a good amount of time and space to cut / glue / shape / assemble.
Our UK forum visited the Leipzig plant in April 2018. We saw how the 2 heat curing machines worked to create the main side CFRP frame structure from individual pieces. They heating was for 30 minutes if I recall. So whilst one was heating the other was loaded with the pre-cut pieces. So yes a time restrictive practise and I believe these moulds or formers were the ones that had a limited life cycle of what we thought was 250,000 but I think they went on. Too expensive to have 4 or 8 machines. The production line then ran 2 shifts and at one point I think it did go to 3 shifts. Certainly for the first 8 years sales increased every quarter - which was unique for any previous BMW model. The i8 production line - all 100m of it - was also in the same building. All hand built with I think about 10 or 12 stages. Once the i3 side frames were cured I think the other gluing actions were more instantaneous not needing heat curing. Was a great trip. Be nice to know what the final serial number was ? 300,000?
 
When I picked up my first i3 in 2019, I couldn't help but take notice of all of the i3s that resided in our area. I began dropping pins on Google maps, and the count rose above 20 inside of roughly a 3/4 mile radius.

BMW's two year lease must have been popular, because they're now mostly gone, a few hangers-on and I spot a new (used) one every now and then.

But all along the Chevy Bolt had been the much more popular car to see parked in front of somebody's home, and I've yet to notice the Mini (which is technically BMW's i3 replacement).

But the i3's are being replaced with full sized EVs covering the spread.

My sense is i3 owners choose it for a number of reasons (size, brand, availability), but probably none choose it for being a "good value," and I'd bet few appreciated it for its technical attributes (namely the CFRP).
Well, eNate, I'm often an exception to whatever social rules might happen to be popular. I chose my 2017 94Ah REx for its technology primarily (the drivetrain, not the body panels), and for the good value! It was 3 years old, with fewer than 15k miles on it, and I bought it online, sight unseen, from a VW dealer 200 miles away who offered free delivery! They advertised it priced at $20k, and I said yes, bring it to me! In the four years I've had it, I've doubled the miles on the odometer. Eight months after my purchase, the same dealer sent me an email offering $1700 more than I had paid for it, but I declined. My previous car had been a '91 Toyota MR2 -- my favorite car ever (and I drove it for 26 years). So far the i3 is on its way to becoming my new favorite. But in contrast to some of the other posts in this thread, I'm not an urban dweller. I live 300 miles (in almost any direction) from any city with a recognizable name ....
 
Well, eNate, I'm often an exception to whatever social rules might happen to be popular. I chose my 2017 94Ah REx for its technology primarily (the drivetrain, not the body panels), and for the good value! It was 3 years old, with fewer than 15k miles on it, and I bought it online, sight unseen, from a VW dealer 200 miles away who offered free delivery! They advertised it priced at $20k, and I said yes, bring it to me! In the four years I've had it, I've doubled the miles on the odometer. Eight months after my purchase, the same dealer sent me an email offering $1700 more than I had paid for it, but I declined. My previous car had been a '91 Toyota MR2 -- my favorite car ever (and I drove it for 26 years). So far the i3 is on its way to becoming my new favorite. But in contrast to some of the other posts in this thread, I'm not an urban dweller. I live 300 miles (in almost any direction) from any city with a recognizable name ....
I'm with you. I gravitate towards the oddballs. There's an old joke about "I'll buy it if you make it a station wagon, with a 5-speed, and I can get it in brown." I chose a 2-year off-lease i3 because it was a good value and a low-risk entrant to EVs, but the technology is what really won me over. And don't get me wrong, I know there are more than a few of us who feel that way -- I suspect a good majority of the regulars here on this forum. But I don't think we have/had the numbers to keep this car afloat. But that's also why nobody here talks about the Mini Electric -- a blood relative to the i3, but not a spiritual descendant.
 
I'm with you. I gravitate towards the oddballs. There's an old joke about "I'll buy it if you make it a station wagon, with a 5-speed, and I can get it in brown." I choose a 2-year off-lease i3 because it was a good value and a low-risk entrant to EVs, but the technology is what really won me over. And don't get me wrong, I know there are more than a few of us who feel that way -- I suspect a good majority of the regulars here on this forum. But I don't think we have/had the numbers to keep this car afloat. But that's also why nobody here talks about the Mini Electric -- a blood relative to the i3, but not a spiritual descendant.
Well put!

I have gravitated to some real oddballs. I bought a 1970 Porsche 914-6 new. Only 2,000 were sold in the U.S. over 2 model years because it cost almost as much as a low-end Porsche 911T but looked like the cheaper, lower-performance VW-derived 914-4. However, it was a lightweight bare-bones mid-engine Targa-top sports car with a 5-speed transmission, 4-wheel disc brakes, no air conditioner, and no power assist of any kind. It was a hoot to drive which I did for 16 years. Its 2-liter, 6-cylinder, single overhead cam horizontally opposed air-cooled engine with two 3-barrel Weber carburetors, transaxle, suspension, brakes, and wheels were those of a 1969 911T.

In 2002, I bought a used 2000 Honda Insight hybrid. Only ~15k Insights were sold in the U.S. over 6 model years. The Insight's design was in many ways similar in philosophy to the i3. Honda told its engineers to build a car that would be the most energy-efficient mass-produced car available. It weighed less than 2,000 lb. because its engine block and cylinder head, unibody chassis and exterior panels, suspension, and brake calipers and drums were aluminum. Its Cd was only 0.25 because of its aerodynamic design including rear wheel spats. It had a 1-liter, 3-cylinder, 12-valve, overhead cam engine with variable valve timing to increase its fuel efficiency, a lean-burn operating mode that allowed it to operate with a air-fuel ratio up to 25.8:1 compared with the typical 14.7:1, a 5-speed transmission, a 10 kW electric motor that augmented the power of its engine at low engine speeds where little torque is produced, and a 1 kWh Ni-MH battery pack. I drove it in Honolulu and throughout Europe for 15 years averaging 62 mpg over 50k miles which was wonderful with Europe's expensive gasoline.

After shipping our Insight to Sweden, we had no car in Honolulu for 3 years. Renting cars became inconvenient, so we wanted to buy an EV. Our choices in 2012 were a Nissan Leaf or a Mitsubishi i-MiEV. As usual, I chose the odd-ball i-MiEV, a Japanese kei car widened 4 inches so that side crash bars could be incorporated into its doors. Its RWD ICE drive train behind the rear axle had been replaced by an electric motor and its electronic controllers with its 16 kWh air-cooled battery pack hung under the floor. It was a clean EV conversion with no lost interior space. Unfortunately, its 62-mile E.P.A. range rating became insufficient when we relocated from a central location to the extreme east end of Oʻahu. I traded it in on a new 2014 i3 which is similar in interior volume but a foot longer than our i-MiEV. The i3 was an upgrade in almost every way.

The Mini Electric is not on my radar at all.
 
Apart from my Renault Kangoo Electricité that was built in 2002, when I bought the i3 february 2014 there were only four other options in the Netherlands: The Tesla Roadster and Model S, the Nissan Leaf and the iMiev, and some hybrid models like the Prius. The Teslas were out of reach financially and the Leaf an iMiev too restricted from a performance point. So the i3 ticked the most boxes at that time for me. One of the best attributes in my eyes was it's low weight, so the CFRP and plastic panels did it for me, as well as the no-rust construction and impact resistant body panels and the very tight turning radius. I did not care for the badge in fact, but I did recognize the premium design and finish. If it would have been a mainstream brand I also would have bought it. I could afford an i3 because of subsidies, it came at the right time that I could actually afford it. Now I would not anymore.
 
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