The Quirky BMW i3 Tops Newly Affordable Used Cars List
The weird and wonderful BMW i3 can now be had as a three-year-old used vehicle for less than $28,000 on average, according to iSeeCars’ latest car affordability study that takes into account the average household income and compares it to an idealized income for financing.
Between October 2022 and September 2023, 23 three-year-old models have become more affordable, meaning their prices dropped, the majority of them being combustion cars.
Prices for the original BMW i3 have gone down the most in the last 12 months, reaching an average of $27,748 after an 18.1 percent drop. The Tesla Model 3 – the only other EV on the list – is also among the newly affordable three-year-old cars in the United States with an average selling price of $32,861, as per iSeeCars, which describes itself as a search engine that aggregates all listings of used cars for sale into one site.
A quick browse on Cars.com reveals that the math checks out for i3s that were made after 2020, but it’s worth noting that the quirky German EV can be had for much less if you’re willing to go for an older model year. Both iSeeCars and Cars.com have listings for i3s that are as cheap as $8,000 – granted, they’re more than 10 years old and have over 80,000 miles on the odometer.
Getting back to the affordability study, used cars, whatever their power source, have become 5.8 percent more affordable in the past year as prices fell and median household income rose. New EVs saw their prices drop 10 percent, while the average price for used EVs has gone down 20 percent.
However, it’s not all good in the car-buying world, as new cars, in general, have become less affordable due to higher prices and higher interest rates, prompting some consumers to take out 90-month loans to make the average new car affordable, a move that can add as much as $14,000, or 28 percent, to the total cost.
Gallery: 2018 BMW i3s: First Drive
“With the unprecedented rise in interest rates over the past year we didn’t expect vehicle affordability to improve for any segment,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “But used car prices have finally come off their highs and are starting to moderate after years of increasing. Electric vehicle prices have simply tumbled over the past year, improving affordability on both new and used models. This shift, plus the rise in median household income, has improved the situation for buyers and added 23 models to the used car affordability list compared to last October.”
iSeeCars analyzed new and used car affordability over time by calculating its Car Affordability Index, which compares median household income to an idealized income for financing a car. An index value of 100 suggests household income is exactly equal to the idealized income for a car purchase. Values above 100 indicate household income is above the idealized income and therefore cars are increasingly affordable. Similarly, values below 100 suggest actual income is less than the idealized income, meaning cars are unaffordable.
As for the BMW i3, it’s a rear-wheel drive, four-door hatchback that has a carbon fiber-covered aluminum chassis and a design that even its maker decided to ditch for the next generation (take that as you wish). Multiple battery versions were offered before it was retired last year, including range-extender options that used a motorcycle gasoline engine to recharge the battery on the go. A total of 250,000 units were made during its eight-year production run, with the largest-capacity battery-only version being capable of driving up to 153 miles on a full charge, according to the EPA estimate.
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