BMW i3 surviving an uphill battle

BMW i | March 21st, 2016 by 12
BMW i3 MR PORTER Design Limited Edition 2016 Genf Autosalon Live 01 750x500

With gas prices being an an unexpected low point, currently, and other automakers continuing to push the bar forward, in terms of EV technology, the …

With gas prices being an an unexpected low point, currently, and other automakers continuing to push the bar forward, in terms of EV technology, the BMW i3 faces a tough uphill battle moving forward. For the past coupe of years since the i3’s been in production, it’s been the number three best-selling EV in the US. However, it’s numbers are dipping, as the brand only sold 430 vehicles in the first two months of 2016, making it only ahead of the Fiat 500e.

Dropping gas prices and increased competition have the BMW i3 against the ropes at the moment, with even BMW realizing that 2016 will be much harder than the years prior. “No one is sitting still from a technology standpoint. Look around at other manufacturers.” said Jose Guerrero, BMW i Division North America Product Planning and Strategy Manager. On top of that, many states are dropping their EV incentives. “We knew states like Georgia were taking out incentives. We knew it was going to be a tough year,”

BMW i3 i8 photoshoot bucharest images 10 750x561

BMW also has to make its lease deals more attractive, as many buyers are weary of owning an i3. “A lot of these two-year leases are coming due, and people will wait for the new car or for when BMW puts on crazy incentives to get rid of the 2016s,” said Tom Moloughney, early BMW i3 adopter and EV enthusiast. If BMW wants to keep people in i3s, lease deals are going to have to get better but it’s difficult. “We are nowhere near as affordable as the others … we will command the premium expected from BMW.” said Rich Steinberg, BMW’s head of product planning and strategy.

But it also comes down to BMW training dealerships and salespeople on the BMW i3 and making sure that they are knowledgeable enough to properly inform customers. “It takes a lot of effort to sell these cars because the clients that come in are tech-knowledgeable,” said Manny Antunes a former salesman at BMW of Springfield, N.J. “Salespeople are very lazy, and if they have to put in a lot of effort, they are not interested.”

But BMW will argue that the BMW i3 is far more important to BMW than just its sales figures would suggest, though. The i3 helped BMW create and develop new technologies and manufacturing techniques that can and will be used on future projects. Plus, keeping the i3 around, regardless of its sales figures, keeps BMW in the EV game and allows people to recognize BMW as a player in it while the brand continues to work on future i Division vehicles. “The i3 keeps BMW on the radar when it comes to brands that are offering unconventional drivetrains with an environmental focus,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “To be seen as a full-fledged premium brand, you have to do that.”

BMW i3 Shadow Sport Edition LA Auto Show 1 750x500

The BMW i3 will be receiving an increase in its range this year, bumping it from 81 miles to around 120 miles, but that still significantly shorter than much of its competition. While 120 miles is far more than enough for the average American, and is actually around four times more than what the typical American drives daily, there are still many detractors claiming it to be inferior. So the BMW i3 faces a rough go in the coming year, while BMW works on future i Division projects and electric and autonomous vehicles. BMW is going to have to work very hard to keep i3 sales alive and well, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be easy.

[Source: AutoNews]

12 responses to “BMW i3 surviving an uphill battle”

  1. John says:

    Psssssst! It’s also quite an ugly car… Maybe the next version will look a bit better…

    • johnbl says:

      ..It’s size, shape, and performance is perfect…I hope to enjoy many more years in my snappy BEV i3.

      “For the type of customer looking for premium quality in an electric vehicle, the BMW i3 fits the bill. Better still, it’s a surprisingly practical machine for its size and it offers just a little bit of sporting panache typical for the Bavarian car manufacturer.” as per auto/evolution

  2. CDspeed says:

    Gas will never be as inexpensive as electricity.

  3. George Jewett says:

    While I would call the exterior quirky the place I spend my time is serene. Driving day to day in the urban jungle this calming an slightly higher vantage is a good place to be. Quick off the line and nimble through traffic it is a really good city car. I am one hundred percent certain I will get another at lease end in March of ’17. I do not especially like the front, I do like the profile, and I love the compact pack ageing.

    • Matthew Kennedy says:

      I think the i3 with the nice alloys on and in the right colour looks really, really good, I think they should give more options though so you can change out the blue highlights if you desire. The Mr Porter edition i3 looks well with the white highlights.

  4. George Jewett says:

    Oh, and since a few clever advertisements an eon ago BMW has done NOTHING to promote this brand. That and the media like mainstream magazines have written NOTHING in the last 12 months (which says BMW is not promoting their investment in this technology). I have read more about the Bolt in a month than I have seen cumulatively since the i3 was introduced. I applaud Chevy for what they are coming forward with and I hope that this is a bit of a catalyst for BMW and others.

  5. iDriver says:

    If BMW as a brand keeps making a lot of noise about pushing more large SUVs like the X7, an even larger luxury model above the 7 series, more M/M Performance models – how can the company expect customers to believe their intentions to sell and stand behind an EV like the i3.
    BMW will have to make choices about the direction they want to go in for the next 100 years – and stand behind those. The concept they showed at the birthday celebration earlier this month was only quietly referred to as zero-emission and no detail was provided on the drive train. Again no guts to stand behind electrification. If no exciting new BEV of the i division is shown in this anniversary year, BMW will loose its technology leadership position.

  6. Mike333 says:

    Just hope they keep up with GM and Tesla in the radar area. GM already up to 70 mph radar collision prevention.

  7. Mike333 says:

    Here’s how to increase sales. Put in the bigger battery, and then bump up the WIDTH of the front tires. They are SCARY skinny. Now that may be just looks, but that’s affecting your sales volume.

    Secondly, fix the front aerodynamics. That grill is causing wind turbulence.

    Third, more solid colors. And I don’t like that price increase for basic black.

    You’ve got two tone paint and skinny tires holding back sales.
    Both are easy to fix.

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