In May 2021, The Korea Times reported about 70 BMW i3 electric hatchbacks left for dead in a remote area on Jeju Island. The publication cited local reports stating all had been seized after a rental company went bankrupt. A total of 200 vehicles were acquired with a monthly installment plan but the firm failed to pay them off and went bust.
Fast forward to March 2022, a new video provides a walkaround tour of the abandoned BMW i3 EVs. Suffice it to say, it’s not a pretty sight. Since they’ve all been neglected for an extended amount of time, their condition has deteriorated. Some of them still appear to be in decent condition, while others are missing body panels. There are also several crashed cars, including a few with deployed airbags.
According to the Yonhap News Agency, BMW Korea obtained court approval to buy the cars back through an auction. Apparently, it’s a common issue in that area with rental car companies that buy EVs as they can’t afford to maintain them. The Korea Times says rental companies are not legally allowed to sell the cars within the first two years if they’ve been acquired using government subsidies. It’s a rule instated by the Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Government.
Legal Hurdles With These BMW i3 EVs
The problem occurs when authorities want to get their money back. Why? Because there are no laws specifying the subsidies must be returned. When the company files for bankruptcy, the cars are seized, but there isn’t a legal solution to recuperate the EV incentives. Most of these BMW i3 units are from 2015 or 2016 and all of them are being auctioned this week, per a decision coming from the Jeju District Court.
It’s likely a good opportunity to buy one for cheap in South Korea. However, we’d be extremely careful which one to pick since some look better than others. The BMW i3 is on its last legs as production will be coming to an end in July. However, the “i3” moniker will survive in China where it will be repurposed for a long-wheelbase 3 Series Sedan EV.
Source: UNTOUCHABLE-언터쳐블 / YouTube