Blog: Dave LeggettBMW i3 and questions posed for the US...

Dave Leggett | 22 October 2013

The BMW i3. Hmm. It certainly looks impressive and is clearly the result of some clever future-looking corporate strategising backed up with heavy investment, though we at just-auto haven't yet driven it ourselves, so we reserve judgement there. 

Here's an interesting review from US-based John Voelcker, who poses some interesting questions concerning how the car will be perceived in the US marketplace and, indeed, how relevant it will ultimately be to the typical US car-buyer. I guess we're into a numbers game: how many affluent types are there in target US cities for whom an i3 makes sense and will come under serious consideration for future purchase?

This model, remember, was rolled out to journalists earlier this year, with no shortage of razzmatazz and hyperbole, in London, Beijing and New York City. The i3, we were told, heralds the start of a new era for BMW (and, well, the human race!) and all that. Clearly the US market is going to be pretty important for a model with such global significance and relevance to the bright new sustainable future - the premium EV, a new sub-brand, properly engineered and sorted from the trusted maker of hugely successful and desirable premium cars. Legions of US media people have been shipped to Amsterdam to try the car out. Amsterdam, though, is not US suburbia.

A couple of nuggets for people in Munich to chew on from JV:

  • 'In building its first battery-electric vehicle, BMW has done precisely what it has been saying for three years it would do: build what may be the world’s best electric city car. The question is simply whether that’s relevant to a country where no head of household in recorded history has ever said, “Honey, let’s go buy a city car.”'
  • 'BMW has built a very good city car, one that does something that no other electric small car does: actually makes the driver willing to tolerate congestion and chaotic urban traffic. How applicable that is to the majority of Americans who live in suburban sprawl remains to be seen.'

Food for thought, but I guess we're back to the raw numbers and where they live, demographics/incomes, changing social attitudes, high-tech appetites etc. What vehicle would someone get out of to get into an i3? 

2014 BMW i3: First Drive Of BMW's Radical New Electric Car


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