It’s no secret that the BMW i3 faces an uphill battle now that its new competitors pose larger threats than ever. When the i3 first debuted, it was funkier, more interesting and more impressive than any other EV even close to its price range. Now cars like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 have ability to offer a range that beats the i3’s at a price that undercuts it. This fact has caused BMW i3 sales to drop in recent months, as customers aren’t as impressed with it as they once were.
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So BMW needed to give its i3 a shot in the arm to pump it up a bit and the Bavarian brand did exactly that. Now that BMW has updated its i3, giving it a 114 mile range, as well as some new options and technology, could the i3’s sales jump back up to where they were?
I think that all depends if the BMW i3 has now met a lot of the demands from buyers who chose otherwise. However, I think the big thing for the new BMW i3 is the 100 mile-plus range. A lot of buyers probably looked at the previous i3’s range and saw a maximum 81 miles, turning them off. While 81 miles is still far enough for about double the average American’s daily driving, the fact that it couldn’t do 100 miles likely turned a lot of customers off, as range anxiety is still the biggest opponent of the electric car. However, seeing a range of 114 miles, while only 33 more than before, will give many more customers better piece of mind. Just seeing a three-digit mile range will make customers feel more comfortable with the i3 as a daily driver, even if they never get close to reaching that. Americans like extra everything, as already know.
Another big help for the newly updated BMW i3 will be the addition of a power moonroof. That’s one option, or lack thereof, that angered many American buyers. While the European market had the option of a moonroof for the i3, the American market lacked such an option, something that bothered many Americans and rightly so. Why pay so much money for a premium EV if it doesn’t even have the option of something that a Hyundai Sonata at half its price comes with as standard? So now that BMW has brought the option to the US, it’s likely to attract a few more customers who were previously turned off.
One thing we will almost certainly see for the i3 is a change in its sales from REx (Range Extender) buyers to BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) buyers. So many BMW i3 customers chose the REx model, for fear of running out of battery, as the BEV’s 81 miles of range didn’t exactly instill much confidence. However, now that the BEV boasts 114 miles of range, the REx will likely seem less necessary and many customers who were considering the REx, or even previous REx owners or lessees, will make the switch to the cheaper and lighter BEV.
So the BMW i3 certainly has a chance to regain much of its lost audience thanks to its recent updates. Despite being out of a while now, it still looks more futuristic than anything else on the road not named i8 and it’s still the best driving EV in its price range by far. So the added range and options will probably bring back a lot of sales and be a big shot in the i3’s arm. However, much of that can be undone if the Chevy Bolt delivers on its promises. The Bolt remains the BMW i3’s biggest threat when it debuts, so we’ll be monitoring its situation heavily over the coming months.