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Skeptical German Reviewer Buys BMW i3 Electric Car: Likes The Car, Dislikes The Price

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If it's worth saying once, it bears repeating a hundred times: The best way to get people to buy electric cars is to put them behind the wheel.

One German journalist has done just that, buying a BMW i3 electric car despite protestations from colleagues that the price, short range and lack of charging stations would be a step too far.

And after a few months, Spiegel reporter Michael Specht has decided that only the price of BMW's electric offering is really an issue.

In all, Specht's observations match that of others who've tried the innovative, carbon-constructed i3.

The interior, for example, goes down a treat. The concept, design and materials are all praised--all except the unusual fiber dashboard top, whose surface reflects on the windscreen whenever it's sunny.

MORE: Electric Car Price Guide: Every 2014-2015 Plug-In Car, With Specs

In common with some owners, Specht also criticizes the rear-hinged rear doors. In tight parking spaces, the need to open the front doors first means it's almost impossible to reach a bag dropped on the rear seat.

But the smooth, powerful acceleration goes down well, as does the attention it attracts. And in terms of overall concept, its jump over conventionally-powered vehicles is likened to the chasm between an old Nokia cellphone and modern smartphones like the iPhone.

Specht notes that all this, and not the i3's 'eco' credentials, were the motivation behind the purchase. The latter is still in doubt for the German reporter, in countries that still use coal-generated electricity.

It's easy to get used to plugging the car in though, and while BMW's claimed European range of 118 miles is dismissed as "utopia" (a less literal translation from the German might be "wishful thinking", 87 miles or so is certainly possible on a charge.

MORE: 2014 BMW i3 Electric Car: Likes And Dislikes From An Early Owner

Specht recommends using the car's seat heaters instead of the heating and ventilation to warm the cabin, and driving at lower speeds to preserve range--all techniques already employed by electric-car drivers.

In the end, the i3's lease price in Germany is hardest to stomach: at 856 Euros per month (over $1,160 at current exchange rates) it's as expensive to lease an i3 as it is a BMW 7-Series luxury sedan.

Luckily, U.S. i3 buyers get to pay a little less for the car--as little as half that reported in Germany. U.S. BMW i3 pricing starts at $42,275 including a mandatory destination charge.

[Hat tip: George Betak]

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