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Thoughts on EVs and our i3 after 9 months


May 7, 2014
South Africa
Last year I posted a topic "Help -would an i3 suit us?" as we were desperate to get an EV (after years of waiting) and as we are in South Africa, the only car available (excl the Leaf) was the i3. Hardly suitable when living on a farm and far from shops etc! The new 94ah version had just enough range to make it useful and on inspection we realised that it was suitable for much of our use (which includes humping around horse food, dogs and masses of weekly shopping- indeed it is nearly as big inside as our Jeep). The 3 yr plus wait for a Tesla Model Y (or other EV SUV) was not an option. And most of our driving is on tar roads......

We got a yr old BMW demo model with less than 3k miles on it and now also charge it from our PV system. The total saving on diesel and elec utility bills gives us a ROI of nearly 10% on both the car and the PV system....! Once my Ann got used to it she loved it and now it is virtually our only car and we fight over it so the Jeeps virtually never get used (except to 'give them a run' and charge the battery!) Ann insisted on a Rex as there were no chargers then but they are going in now and we will be able to drive to Cape Town (550kms) very soon. Otherwise the range has been perfectly suitable for our 'local' journeys (ranging from 50kms to around 175) so I'd guess we use the i3 95% of the time.

Of course, as expected, we love EVs and driving the i3 is a hoot (especially in town). Surprisingly I read about all the hostility and mis-information about EVs in the USA (and the determined effort to sink Tesla - mind boggling...) whereas here in South Africa (despite the lack of cars; articles and information), we find that almost everyone is really interested and asks excellent and logical questions. All end up saying that this is obviously the future and many friends now are holding off buying their next car until a suitable EV comes along (mainly pick-up trucks as that is almost the norm here like the USA)

I have a "Electric Cars - Simply just better" sticker on the rear and give out leaflets to interested people just clarifying the simplicity and the benefits.

There are however three vast irritations with the i3 (which astonish me as it is after all a BMW...) and which would stop us getting a second i3 - or recommending one to a friend. Firstly the road noise (on rougher tar surfaces - common here) which drives us bonkers and gives me a sore head after a while (and really spoils 'showing off a EV'!) We have added extra rubber mats throughout; more carpeting and tried every tire pressure option to little effect. There are not even tire options to allow using a low noise tire.

Secondly the wayward steering. We have had the suspension reset with camber/castor/alignment etc to no avail and it seems that this is normal with the i3 - how did BMW get the steering geometry so wrong?? Not noticeable around town too much but tiresome on the open road and it stops me enjoying a winding road as the car feels like it has a mind of its own. Tucking into corners uninvited or running wider than anticipated; changing lines in mid corner; too much self-centering combined with a sticky patch around straight ahead; wandering over swoops in corners etc etc. Drives me mad!

Having said that people who drive the car and are not so steering sensitive; unaware or polite don't seem to notice! But I LOVE perfectly weighted razor sharp, consistent and predictable steering.

And lastly the bloody suicide doors which are just a pain every time we go shopping; have passengers or want to load up the car at home (we've had to give it TWO garage bays so it can be useful). Why oh why did they put them on a urban run- around?

If it was quieter; steered perfectly and had normal doors, we would be almost in ecstasy....


Aug 14, 2016
New Zealand
Congrats on your EV and hello from NZ!

The i3 was the second EV I ever drove after the Renault Zoe and it was a real blast! The car is kinda funky but I agree the silly tires and silly doors are a turnoff. You must know more about car performance than I do because I hadn’t noticed the understeer etc.

We have Toyota Corolla’s at work and now I can’t stand them. Horrible noisey gutless things with crappy CVT gearboxes. No more ICE cars for me lol

I now drive a Nissan Leaf 24kWh and it has been loads of fun, especially around town where only high-end Euro cars can keep up out of intersections. Currently waiting for RHD Model 3 and I hope you also have that opportunity in Elon’s home country very soon.
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