Choosing an electric car can be difficult, especially if you haven’t bought one before. Where do you start?
That’s where we come in. In this article we are going to compare two popular electric city cars; the BMW i3 and the Mercedes-Benz B250e on everything from running costs to practicality so you can be as informed as possible when it comes to making a decision.
It should be noted that in this article we’ll be looking at the fully electric i3, not the i3 with the Range Extender.
BMW i3 vs. Mercedes-Benz B250e: Running Costs
Both cars are fully electric, this means that they are going to be extremely cheap to run anyway. But, which one actually costs the least to run?
The BMW i3 is one of BMW’s flagship electric cars, its sister car being the much larger (and much more pricey) BMW i8. Its looks have divided opinion, but it’s very hard to argue with the low running costs.
Based on 8,000 miles a year, charging it overnight on an economy tariff will cost you £9 per month. Parkers point out that a BMW achieving 50mpg with the same distance over the same period will cost you £90 a month on fuel.
Also, because it has just an electric battery it will cost you very little to service. A common misconception about electric cars is that the batteries are very technical and very expensive to service. While we aren’t going to argue that they are pretty hi-tech, they are actually very simple and therefore cost very little to service. The i3 only needs to be seen once a year and even then the work will be much less than if you were to get a fuel-powered car.
Of course, as it’s an electric car it won’t cost much at all in road tax or company car tax. It sits in insurance groups 21-23.
Instead of creating a whole new electric car, Mercedes have decided to simply make an electric version of some of their most popular models. In fact, you wouldn’t even know the B250e was electric.
Based on the same things as the i3, it costs the same to run. It will take nine hours for it to reach full charge. You can opt for a quicker charger, however these tend not to be compatible with plugs here in the UK. As with the i3, the B250e will cost you very little to service due to its simple battery.
Electric cars do generally cost very little to charge, and if you have an economy tariff for your electricity then it will cost you even less. It’s really down to your own tariff.
BMW i3 vs. Mercedes-Benz B250e: Performance and Range
If you’re looking at a BMW or a Mercedes then the chances are is that you want a car that performs well. The good news is is that with electric cars, you do not have to compromise on performance. Many electric cars are quick off the mark, and these two are no different. We’re also going to talk range in this section because that is even more important.
The fully electric model is actually the faster one of the two, doing 0-62mph in only 7.2 seconds. However, critics have said that it’s at the traffic lights that the i3 comes into its own. I know, it sounds odd.
The i3 is considerably lighter than other electric city cars at just 1,195Kg meaning it’s fully equipped to work the dense city streets.
Of course as it is a city car it is more suited to going 30mph and lower and only goes as fast as 93mph. It also has a range of just 80-100 miles. While this isn’t the best range on the market, it is pretty good for a city car.
The B250e is almost as quick as the i3 and can do 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds. So, it’s whether those 0.7 seconds are important to you.
Again, it’s best suited for city driving and electric cars are the best at speeding off at traffic lights. It does however, have a top speed of 99mph and has a more impressive range of 124 miles.
Of course, it should be noted that when we talk about the range it’s probably going to be less than what the manufacturers claim because you have to include traffic and the possibility of you going faster than 30mph.
BMW i3 vs. Mercedes-Benz B250e: Reliability
Because electric cars are such a new concept, reliability comes into question quite a bit. Because they are so new, it is not possible for us to discuss how reliable these cars will be in the long term. But, we can at least see if there have been any recalls.
BMW have come under scrutiny for their reliability in the past, but this is no longer the case. Recent BMW models have been very reliable, so we don’t think that there will be many problems with the i3.
The drivetrain used in the trial was the same one in the 1 Series models and that hasn’t had any problems. There have been no recalls either, so it’s looking good.
It is too early to tell how well it will age, however, but electric batteries do not age the same way as combustion engines, so we aren’t too worried.
Along the same vein as BMW, Mercedes have had to quell rumours of their unreliability for some time now. However, we don’t doubt that both Mercedes and BMW have spent a long time testing their electric vehicles to make sure that these cars are as well-built and as reliable as possible.
The rest of the car is based on the other B-Class Mercedes’ and there have been no problems with those so we don’t think that there will be many problems.
Again, we can’t tell you how reliable it is in the long term, but this is a very well made car, so we don’t think there will be too many issues.
BMW i3 vs. Mercedes-Benz B250e: Practicality
Speed, running costs, and practicality. You don’t want to spend that much money on a car only to find you can’t have your golf clubs and your children in the car at the same time.
These cars are city cars, so they aren’t going to be the most practical cars on the market but that doesn’t mean that they still can’t be spacious and comfortable.
There is a fair bit of space in the i3 and we don’t doubt you’ll see a lot of these at the school gates in the future. There’s plenty of room and there’s enough room in the back to fit adults quite comfortably.
Its interior gives the illusion that the car is considerably bigger than it is, eliminating any claustrophobia fears – particularly in the back. There’s no transmission tunnel either, freeing up a lot of space.
The boot has 260 litres of space, 840 litres if you fold the rear seats down. This isn’t the largest boot in its class by any means, but it is still pretty impressive.
The new B-Class has an option of a ‘sandwich’ version of the rear half of the cars platform. This is called the ‘Energy Space’ and raises the floor in the rear half of the cabin freeing up space underneath.
In the electric version, it is here that the battery is kept. This means that, unlike many electric versions of fuel powered cars, you won’t have to compromise on space.
Instead, you get an impressive amount of space in the B-Class with generous head and legroom as well as a class leading 500 litre boot.
So the Mercedes leads the way in terms of boot space, but the i3 is just as spacious when it comes to leg and headroom.
BMW i3 vs. Mercedes-Benz B250e: Price
And finally, let’s talk about price. One of the disadvantages of an electric car is that they are considerably more expensive than their fuel powered counterparts. Of course, they do make up for it with running costs and the fact that you are saving the environment but they are still very expensive. So, how much do our two cars cost?
The i3 will set you back between £32,540 and £37,690. We said they were pricey.
There are still some grants available by the government but the more popular these cars become, the less likely they are to continue. So, you’ll have to act fast.
It’s predicted that many i3’s will be leased as opposed to being bought. However, don’t expect many discounts on these, they have already proven to be incredibly popular.
Though this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lease it, it will still be cheaper than buying. At the time of launch, the i3 cost £369 a month for 36 months on 8,000 miles a year with a £2,995 deposit. To see the latest deals on the i3, you can find out more here.
Possibly the worst thing about this Mercedes is that the electric version is much more expensive than the fuel powered car. While the i3 is a standalone car, the Mercedes B250e is just a different version, which makes it harder to argue in its favour. However, hopefully the fact that it is much better for the environment and boasts seriously low running costs will convince many.
The B250e will cost you around the same as the i3 so around £31,000. However, a silver lining is that if you do include the government grant then you will end up paying around the same amount as a diesel automatic B-Class so actually, you aren’t worse off. In fact, with the government grant, you’re miles ahead.
As this is not a standalone car, you could end up getting a better deal in terms of leasing. But, to see our latest deals you can head here.
Both cars are well built, practical and fast. Their range is good for a city car and their running costs make them more than appealing. However, their cost does hold them back a little bit. If prestige isn’t the most important thing for you, then you might want to have a look at some of the less expensive electric city cars. Hopefully, though, this has given you more information on the two and you are on your way to a more informed decision.