BMW will be offering extra services to entice customers to make the shift to its "i" electric-car lineup, Marcus Krieg, a sales and marketing manager, disclosed during a presentation in Leipzig, Germany. The extra services include the occasional use of fuel-powered models as well as installation of optional at-home fast-charging systems for the i3 city car that is due at the end of 2013.
The vehicle’s onboard navigation software will be programmed to detect the nearest public charging station during travels, and i3 owners will be able to borrow a fuel-powered car from their dealer for a longer range driving. The i3 will be entering the electric vehicle market that has proven to be challenging even for old-timers and has yet to reach industry expectations.
For instance, Nissan expected to sell around 9,000 Nissan Leafs in Europe, but only managed to deliver 5,210 units, according to figures from JATO Dynamics. Nissan also expected to sell around 20,000 Nissan Leafs in the United States in 2012, but was only able to reach less than half of the target sales.
BMW, on the hand, hopes to secure early earnings from its electric car lineup by compensating for its expensive new materials with a sales setup designed to limit distribution costs.Harald Krueger, BMW’s head of production, remarked that the carmaker is charting a new territory, but is confident it will earn money with every BMW i3 it sells from the launch on."
BMW plans to follow up the i3 with the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in early 2014. Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Science in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, estimates the i3 to be priced at around EUR40,000 ($52,200).
On the other hand, the i8 will have a price that exceeds EUR100,000, according to Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief. Christian Ludwig, an analyst with Bankhaus Lamp, remarked that the i3 is “more a car for the wealthy few." He noted that the i3 is not practical with its limited range and limited loading space. He added that a buyer also needs a garage or private parking space to charge the battery since the public infrastructure is still very limited.