It’s safe to say that Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) has the high-end luxury electric car market locked down, at least for the time being. Arguably, the Tesla’s closest competitor is the Fisker Karma, a car not even in production anymore (at least so far). Pickings for electric cars are still pretty slim, so if you’re looking to move down market in the electric car segment, there aren’t a whole lot of options to choose from.
There’s the Nissan Leaf, a practical and utilitarian car that for all intents and purposes serves the needs of the masses with relative ease provided that you a) are not traveling more than 75 miles or so per day; b) are not hauling large quantities of people and/or cargo; and c) can manage your daily needs just fine with what a fairly typical hatchback offers.
But if you’re looking for something more upmarket than the Leaf and less upmarket than the Tesla, there’s virtually nothing in the way of a plug-in electric car. That is, except BMW‘s (BAMXY.PK) quirky i3 compact, which I had the good fortune of taking for a quick spin earlier this week. To say it’s unlike any other BMW on the road is an understatement — it’s truly a different car in just about every way.
Firstly, let’s tackle the looks. Yes, it looks pretty goofy — really goofy, actually, but definitely not short on character. It’s boxy and a bit strangely proportioned, but retains some very BMW-like details like the kidney grille and the sleek headlamps.Needless to say, its looks aren’t for everyone; generally, BMWs are exceptionally pleasing on the eyes but BMW is determined to put some separation between the i line and its main line of vehicles, and it’s done an exceptional job in that regard.
That unusual back window curve doesn’t exactly help the i3 fit in; but then again, it wasn’t meant to — the i3 is essentially a design study in modern motifs. It’s like a concept car that never made it to the production stage but was produced anyways. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — just different.