BMW Throws Innovative Model Under Bus: Stops US Sales

Love it or hate it the BMW i3 was and is an innovative vehicle. Besides it being the first all-electric car to come out of Leipzig, Germany, it had other unique features. The structure was a combo of carbon fiber with aluminum bonded to it. When we think of carbon fiber in vehicles we think of only exotics, not the kooky BMW i3

The BMW i3 was kooky-cool but flawed

2020 BMW i3 in front of brick building
2020 BMW i3 | BMW

It’s also quirky but in a good way. When it debuted in 2013 it was still a time when hybrids and electrics needed to stand out. We have since moved away from that idea. But the design of the i3 reinforced that tenet of EVs in the day.

Now, BMW announced it will stop selling the i3 in the US this week. Though improvements in range and functions found their way into it the i3 had some built-in problems that kept it from possibly selling better. Not that it sold terribly-at least not in the beginning. 

The i3 was compromised out of the gate. Its biggest flaw had nothing to do with the car itself. It was priced at a fairly high $41,350 for the base model. Though not in the same league, a 2013 Nissan Leaf S had a list price of $28,800. 

The i3 had range issues that BMW only half-addressed

2020 BMW i3 in blue and black
2020 BMW i3 | BMW

Then there was the range. Initially, you could only get 80 miles of range if you took it easy. That is limiting, though as a city car with a home charger it was more than enough. In 2017 BMW upped the range to 113 miles, but you wouldn’t consider using the i3 for long trips. It just wasn’t that kind of EV.

Over the last couple of years, BMW seemed to have given up on the i3. Though receiving a minor facelift in 2017 and that range increase, not much else has changed. And no new iteration of the i3 was in the cards. BMW was making it clear it would explore other EV avenues. 

The i3 saw its best-selling year in 2015 with 11,024 sold. Since then it has been a slow decrease, then the floor dropped out of i3 sales. Just a hair over 1,000 found buyers last year. For 2021, only 340 have sold so far. Had it made it through 2022 it would have been a full decade of sameness.

The i3 will be sold in Europe in 2022, but not the US

2020 BMW i3 side view
2020 BMW i3 | BMW

And it will see production in 2022, just not in the US. But that will be its final year as BMW looks to its iX SUV, i4 sedan, and iX3, which we won’t see in the US. Plus, these won’t be viewed as entry-level products. The i4 will start at $55,400, and the iX SUV will see prices start at $83,200. 

But the i3 was a noble, interesting-if flawed effort. At least here in SoCal, we see them everywhere. They’re as common as a Prius or Leaf anecdotally. We’ll miss seeing the kooky cool i3.

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