BMW i3 price slashed to qualify for electric car grant

The prices of the BMW i3 and the sportier i3s have been cut by several thousand pounds so that customers can receive the UK government’s plug-in car grant (PiCG).

BMW raised the price of the electric city car by £3665 to £39,690 at the beginning of March but was blindsided when the government announced immediate changes to the grant the following week.

The PiCG was cut from £3000 to £2500 on 18 March, while the cap on eligible vehicles fell from £50,000 to £35,000. That meant that potential buyers of the i3 would be significantly worse off.

Reacting to the shift, BMW says the entry-level i3 now costs £33,805 on the road, while the more powerful i3s is priced from £34,805. Benefitting from the grant once again, the cars will cost customers £31,305 and £32,305 respectively.

In September, the i3 will have been in production for eight years, but its future is safeguarded until at least 2024. BMW says that 22,000 examples have been sold in the UK and more than 200,000 worldwide.

Since it went on sale, it has been subject to minimal design tweaks, with the biggest changes being the addition of the performance-oriented i3s in 2017 and the removal of the petrol-engined i3 Range Extender variant a year later. 

The i3s delivers 13bhp and 15lb ft more than the standard car, as well as improved dynamics, courtesy of its wider track and firmer suspension. Its official range is slightly shorter however, at between 150 and 173 miles. The standard i3 manages 182-190 miles.

The exact reasons for the March price hike weren’t revealed by BMW, but a spokesman confirmed to Autocar that it wasn’t related to a restriction of supply or changes to the model’s planned lifecycle.

“There has been no change in the planned production or supply of the i3 to the UK,” he said. “Production of the BMW i3 has been confirmed until at least 2024 – far beyond the typical model lifecycle. This is due to continued worldwide sales success of the model since its introduction in 2013.”

Until last year, the i3 was sold alongside the i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupé as part of BMW’s initial wave of electrified production cars.

With the i8 now off sale, the i3 is being joined in dealerships by the iX3, an electric version of the X3 mid-sized family SUV, offering a WLTP range of 282 miles – significantly more than the longest-range i3. The SUV is priced from £58,850 in its limited Premier Edition guise, but cheaper variants are set to follow. 

While the i3 has been signed off for an extended production run, its position in the BMW line-up will be far less unique in the years to come. The brand is rapidly swelling its EV family as part of a plan to launch nine new stand-alone electric models by 2025. 

Most of BMW’s core ICE models – including the 4 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series and X1 – will gain electric variants in the coming years. Also on the cards is an electric version of the 3 Series saloon, which could adopt the i3 moniker. This, however, seems unlikely, given that the current i3 will still be on sale when that model is launched and occupies an entirely different market segment.