There’s a lot of debate as to whether the BMW i3 was a success or not for the Bavarian brand. It was an incredibly interesting experiment, but its range left a lot to be desired, even with the gasoline engine option. But it must have done well enough to stick around a bit longer, and the good news for you is that some really nice examples can be had for less than $15,000.
Here are the downsides: it’s small, like many compact EVs, but utilizing it for more than two people is a challenge. The i3 in the earlier models also lacked the range of some of the other offerings with the standard car only offering about 80 miles of range. A range extender, or REX version, was also available that would increase your distance to 150 miles. Even still, this was a car designed for people who do mostly local driving.
However, what the i3 lacked in range and practicality, it made up for in fun and weirdness. It looked unlike any BMW on the market and came in a variety of fun colors and interior packages. The i3 also had a carbon fiber body with a rear-mounted motor that sent power to the back wheels. You could say the i3 was sort of an “exotic car.” It was also a blast to drive.
While new a i3 has a starting price of around $45,000 before options, if you were looking for a small EV for quick trips around town, there are a number of used models with reasonable miles for about $15,000:
BMW still has a bit of work to do in order to catch up to Tesla when it comes to selling a mass-market EV. But at a time when most BMWs lacked the character of the models that came before, the i3 represents something truly unique and unusual in the market.
If you’re looking for a city runabout that isn’t totally abysmal to drive, consider how cheap these have become. You may score the best EV (or hybrid) deal nobody knows about.