BMW’s i Division is extremely important to the brand and its success is paramount to the success of BMW moving forward. As much as us enthusiasts bemoan the takeover of the electric vehicle, it’s coming and probably sooner than we think. So it’s always good to try and steal some insight from people in BMW’s i Division about the future. Which is exactly what we did at the 2017 NYIAS when we spoke with Jose Guerrero, Product Manager at BMW i.
We first asked about the new 94 Ah BMW i3 and Guerrero wasted no time boasting about its recent success. “Yes, it’s still winning awards [World Urban Car of the Year].” said Guerrero. He’s right, as it was still wearing its award like a crown on BMW i’s stand at the show. The new 94 Ah battery has drastically improved the i3 by giving it a range of over 100 miles, which is gone a long way to rid customers of range anxiety. We ask if that has decreased the take-rate on REx (Range Extender) models. “Yes and it’s natural. I didn’t wanna go to crazy trying to predict it but you’re already seeing the switch.”
We also learn that BMW i frequents here at BMWBLOG and hear to what we have to say, whether or not they listen. With the new 94 Ah i3 offering more options and colors in the US, options that customers requested, we asked Guerrero if BMW i was looking to add anything else. Apparently, they’ve heard our claims for a BMW i3 S, something faster and with better handling. But whether or not BMW i makes it, it won’t be because of us but because of customer demand. “Early on we saw some customers asked for more power and handling and a sportier nature. People see what BMW M Performance does for the core model and people were looking for something for BMW i.”
But Guerrero claims that the i Division can’t wait a few years for updates like BMW can with its core models. Modern electric customers are far more in tune with current trends and technologies, even tech that isn’t on the market yet. Because of this, BMW i needs to release updates far quicker that the standard BMW LCI, especially considering BMW i’s competitors aren’t sitting still.
One of those competitors is the upcoming Tesla Model 3, a car that most EV enthusiasts feel is the coming of a messiah. BMW i is well aware of the Model 3 and is watching it closely. “The Model 3 is the talk of the town and it will be interesting to see if production ramps up and what technology comes to the market,” said Guerrero.
With competitors like the Model 3 on the horizon and cars like the Chevy Bolt out right now, BMW i needs to keep adding incremental updates and new options. One of the most popular new additions to the BMW i3 was the Fluid Black color option. Apparently, it’s now the most popular color of all i3s sold. We wonder if this is to dull the sort of wild looks of the car, as people often stop and stare or question the i3 for its funky looks, so bright colors don’t help.
We ask if similar updates will be making their way to the BMW i8, such as the larger battery. According to Guerrero, the BMW i8 will be getting some new updates but not in the same sense as the i3.
“Don’t look at just the e-range, look at the marketplace.” He wouldn’t elaborate further on that but he hinted at possible new variations of the i8. That could possibly mean an i8 Spyder or something more exciting.