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Pre-owned BMW i3 electric cars are becoming more popular in South Africa

Pre-owned BMW i3 hatchbacks are becoming more popular in South Africa as attention on electric vehicles (EV) increases.

Not only do the numbers support this statement, but also anecdotal evidence.

We started noticing much more i3 EVs on public roads recently and wanted to know whether it’s just the renewed interest in battery-powered cars that make these vehicles more visible, or whether South African car buyers are actively swooping up used units.

To find the answer, we reached out to AutoTrader.

The numbers

To gauge South African consumer interest in second-hand BMW i3 cars, we compared data from AutoTrader listings in the first quarter of 2021 to that of the first quarter of 2022.

The table below, as provided by AutoTrader, summarises the findings for BMW i3 listings in the two periods:

BMW i3 listing info Q1 2021 Q1 2022
Average list price R534,060 R648,195
Average list mileage 33,406km 39,150km
Average model year 2018 2018
Number of searches 57,128 69,893
Number of new unique listings 46 23
Number of consumer inquiries 115 268

Bigger demand

Bigger demand for a vehicle on the pre-owned market usually means a higher price, and on average the price of a BMW i3 on AutoTrader rose by R114,135 between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022.

However, prices for the majority of used vehicles have risen substantially in the past year due to hamstrung supply, so this alone is not a good enough indicator of increased sales.

Similarly, more searches for the i3 were performed on AutoTrader in the first quarter of this year than the year before, which also alludes to higher consumer interest, but does not provide solid proof of higher sales.

The drastic increase in consumer inquiries, therefore, offers the surest sign that there are more pre-owned BMW i3 EVs on South African roads now than there was a year before.

AutoTrader previously said a high number of inquiries point to a vehicle that consumers are the most serious about buying.

A more than two-fold increase in inquiries between the periods, coupled with a 50% decrease in new unique listings, points to the fact the pre-owned i3 is getting more popular in South Africa.

Additionally, the average list year being 2018 for both periods complement this claim.

It hints that owners of newer models are not that keen to give up theirs just yet, while owners of older models are holding on to theirs for a bit longer, hence the higher average mileage in Q1 2022.

“The BMW i3 has historically been the most popular electric vehicle in South Africa making up 38% of all EV searches in 2021,” said George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

“Aside from the recently introduced Mini Cooper SE, it has by and large been the most accessible entry point for consumers and car enthusiasts interested in learning about the new technology.”

“For the Annual South African Electric Car Test, it was important that this popular model was included in order to understand how this local favourite would perform against the other options,” he said.

It’s also worth noting that the BMW i3 is rumoured to be discontinued in South Africa later in 2022, so the opportunities to buy one new at a starting price of R754,200, as well as pre-owned, are becoming fewer.


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