BMW i3 vs ELR: battle of the EVs

BMW i3 vs ELR: battle of the EVs

One US writer for Autoblog got to spend time with both BMW’s i3 and Cadillac’s much more expensive ELR recently, and in a head-to-head test the results proved surprising.

The ELR combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine with a 16.5kWh lithium ion battery that produces a healthy 295lb/ft of torque and makes the ELR effectively Cadillac’s halo model. It comes with a variety of modes to go from the most efficient set-up to the most sporting and it’s a genuine driver experience that goes some way to justifying its near $80,000 price tag in the US.

BMW’s i3 is a whole new approach. It’s smaller, and the body is produced from a carbon fibre reinforced plastic shell stretched over an aluminium frame. Its 170-hp, 184-lb/ft. motor is powered by a 22-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and there’s an optional range extender for those that need to make longer journeys and are worried how far the batteries will take them.

The end result was a tricky one. The Cadillac is clearly the better driver’s car, but the i3′s price tag, $42,275, swings the balance in its favour. So BMW’s pricing policy is what marks it apart for now, but favourable reviews of the i3 should mean it becomes a regular in the city in coming years as it skirts Congestion Charging, and there are a number of tax incentives for the public to adopt EVs like this one.

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