Figuring out the competitors for the 2014 BMW i3 may be the toughest challenge face by buyers--and by BMW's own marketers.
The all-electric city car costs more than $40,000 and yet is shorter than any other five-door luxury car sold in the U.S.
Many buyers view it as similar to the Chevy Volt, when the i3 is fitted with its optional range-extending engine, but the Volt is far less radical in design, materials, or conception.
The highly lauded Tesla Model S may be the best electric car in the world, but it's a large luxury sedan with seats for five and ranges of more than 200 miles--not to mention a price roughly twice that of the electric BMW.
The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric car in the world, but it has nothing like the interior grace and clever details of the i3, nor is it remotely luxurious.
In some ways, the i3's closest functional competitor may be the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, the battery-powered two-seat city car.
But the Smart is now aged, crude, and spartan against the wider, quicker, and far more pleasant i3.
Finally, there's the Lexus CT 200h, the smallest luxury hatchback sold today.
It uses gasoline, unlike all the others, but it delivers a genuine 40 miles per gallon and a healthy dose of luxury features--at a price somewhat lower than the plug-in BMW i3.
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|35 MPG City / 40 MPG Hwy||43 MPG City / 40 MPG Hwy||34 MPG City / 38 MPG Hwy|
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|Rear Wheel Drive||Front wheel drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive|
|Automatic||Automatic||CVT w/OD||Automatic||Auto-Shift Manual w/OD||Automatic|