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Published on October 7th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Model S vs BMW i3 vs Nissan LEAF — Your Answers Are In

October 7th, 2015 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

About a month ago, I wrote a long article about my challenge deciding between a Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, or Tesla Model S. I buried a short poll on the bottom of the article and, honestly, didn’t think many of you would see or respond to it. Surprisingly, 1,651 people have responded to the poll!

For a few days, the three options were super close — basically split ⅓-⅓-⅓ — and I think each of them were #1 at some point or another. That matched my mindset pretty well.

However, I got more and more solid on a preference for the BMW i3, and the poll actually turned in that direction as well. Based on responses from EV Obsession and CleanTechnica readers, this is were it stands now:

Nissan LEAF vs BMW i3 vs Tesla Model S

That’s 699 (42%) voting that I’ll choose the BMW i3, 551 (33%) the Nissan LEAF, and 401 (24%) the Tesla Model S.

We’ll see, and despite heavily leaning toward the i3, I’m still not sure and intend to do two more test drives each (1 on my own while I’m in Florida to present at the EV Transportation & Technology Summit and 1 with my wife later on).

I’ve all but ruled out the LEAF since it can’t make a few trips I want to take and since, I think more importantly, the drive quality of the i3 and Model S is just stunning. So as a quick update, these are the strengths of the two models relative to each other (not any other cars) that are pulling me to them:

BMW i3

  • Compact but feels spacious.
  • Greenest car on the market.
  • ~50% cheaper.
  • Doesn’t have excess battery capacity I won’t need ~99% of the time, but still has the ability to make the road trips I want to take (with the REx, but primarily using electricity).
  • Will theoretically help to pull more people over to EVs since it’s more affordable and also similar to much more affordable models people could choose if the i3 was still too much for them.
  • Awesome regenerative braking package.
  • Looks cool.

Tesla Model S

  • Amazing acceleration and handling.
  • Safest car on the planet.
  • Produced by a company that is 100% for electric transport.
  • Produced by a company I’ve invested in.
  • Supercharger access that allows me to never touch a drop of gas again (in the US, at least).
  • Awesome tech/infotainment.
  • Looks super slick.

It’s a tough decision. I’m eager to get behind the wheel of these again. And, yes, I’m still going to test out the LEAF and probably some other EVs as well before making the decision. 


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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