- The 2015 BMW i3 will launch in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year with a unique financing plan.
- OwnersChoice with Flex, which combines features of a lease with some benefits of vehicle ownership, was developed especially for the all-electric compact.
- BMW says the plan optimizes cash flow, provides a lower monthly payment and allows the customer to repay the Flex amount at a more convenient time.
WOODCLIFF LAKE, New Jersey — When the 2015 BMW i3 launches in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year, it will come with a financing plan developed especially for the all-electric compact.
According to BMW Group Financial Services, the OwnersChoice with Flex plan combines end-of-term options similar to a lease with some of the benefits of ownership.
The original OwnersChoice plan — available only in Illinois and Texas, according to BMW — gives customers several options at the end of their term of ownership: turn in the vehicle for another BMW; pay off the remaining obligation (the "balloon" payment); or simply walk away.
What the new OwnersChoice with Flex does for i3 users is shift more of the financial obligation to the end, increasing the final balloon payment, but lowering the monthly payments during the usage period.
Curtiss Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager at BMW Group Financial Services explained the details to Edmunds: "Flex enables the customer to increase the end of term balloon by up to $7,500 (the amount of the federal EV tax credit). Flex optimizes the customer's cash flow, provides a lower monthly payment and allows the customer to repay the Flex amount at a more convenient time, up to and including end of term. Customer eligibility for the federal EV tax credit depends on their personal tax situation."
The plan is only available with the 2015 BMW i3, the company's first mass-produced, all-electric vehicle. Smith said the intention is "to provide our customers with a convenient and innovative finance solution that would bridge the gap between the time a customer finances an i3 and the time the customer files their federal tax return."
Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed said: "It almost seems as if it actually is a lease arrangement described in different terms. It's important to understand that anyone can purchase their leased vehicles by paying what could be described as a balloon payment. So it could be that this is the reverse of that, where you do buy the car but you have the right to return at a predetermined price or pay the balloon payment."
Edmunds says: As with all leasing and finance plans, whether or not to opt for BMW's OwnersChoice with Flex plan is a highly individual decision. But it appears that its close resemblance to a lease could meet the needs of many consumers looking to step into their first EV.