What is happening to the long awaited BMW i3? BMW has put a great deal of planning into this car and has prepared for consumers range anxiety issues by providing a range extender. Its most recent EV program began with the E Mini and then the ActiveE and now we have the i3 and i8 in the BMW Fleet.
The situation for the USA BMW EV team is the seesaw sales rates that we have seen this year. January thru May had the following BMW I3 sales, 670, 1089, 922, 406, 818 according to Insideevs.com. This is clearly not an uptrend. Its bestselling month was back in October of 2014 which hit the 1159 mark. During this same time, the Nissan Leaf and Tesla S has clearly out sold BMW and has consistently had sales over 1000 units each month. This is all while sales in April for BMW only came in at 406 units.
Clearly, there is a mixed reaction to the i3. While I alluded to the engineering of the car to help overcome the range anxiety challenge, there is, of course, a potential issue with the styling of the car. Has the rear doors that open reversed from traditional rear doors hurt sales? Has the new styling that has completely left the traditional BMW lines become an issue for buyers? Is the overall range too low? The sales numbers almost indicate a mixed reaction to the car itself. While sitting in the car, my head hit the roof and I’m 5’ 11” tall so that might be a drawback as well.
The Plus Side of BMW i3
On the plus side the car BMW i3 has the REX (range extender) which sells as an optional add on, thus making the I3 available as a Hybrid. While EV purists will hate this, there is a practical reason for EVs to love this version of the i3. Let me explain my thoughts: While the Chevy Volt team looked at the average miles travelled and stuck with that as their EV range and then added on the range extender, BMW packed in as much EV range as possible and then added in the Range Extender. In effect, offering Evers a Hybrid with the most EV range. This is truly a benefit as it helps the car stay in EV mode much longer than any other hybrid.
One other potential issue could be lack of dealer support however I personally know dealers that have gone above and beyond to help people see the light of Electrification!
It will be interesting to see whether or not, BMW sales will continue the up and down rate of the last few months or break upward and start moving up in the sales rank! Time will tell.