By on November 5, 2013

02-2014-bmw-i3In lieu of short-term monetary gains over their competitors at Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen (via Audi), BMW is spending its earnings on building up their i sub-brand through the city-focused i3 and the plug-in hybrid supercar i8.

As a result of their focus on the cutting edge, and in spite of demand for the brand’s 3 Series, the German automaker posted a 3.7 percent decline in third-quarter earnings, pulling in $2.6 billion this time around. In an effort to stay ahead of their hard-charging competition (both of whom aim to bury BMW in the sales war by the end of this decade), BMW will introduce 25 new models during the 2013 and 2014 model years, 10 of whom are completely new. In contrast, Mercedes aims to release a baker’s dozen of all-new Teutonic goodness by 2020, while Audi plans to add a few more numbers to its Q series of SUVs.

Regarding the i3, 8,000 orders have already been sent to dealers in the United States, Europe and China, prompting BMW to make more of the EV in time for its debut in European showrooms November 16; American and Chinese customers will get theirs sometime in the first half of 2014. The price of admission for the i3 on our shores will be $41,350, with an optional 650cc 2-cylinder engine — whose sole purpose to keep the electric power going for an additional 80 to 100 miles on top of the 80 to 100 miles the electric-only model travels — priced around $4,000.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

22 Comments on “BMW Focused On i Subbrand Over Short-Term Monetary Gains...”


  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The problem for these cars to overcome is reliability. The only way to get a payoff on an electric car is to keep it a long time. Perception is that keeping a BMW that long is foolish since owners in years six through ten are very likely to get handed a twenty five hundred dollar bill for some ancillary part more than once a year.

    Bottom line is that it’s not that much more to be the first owner/lessee on a BMW so when is the return going to be gotten on fuel savings?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It’s not like gas BMWs provide any kind of monetary return on investment either. They’re something to be seen in.

      The electric car is a lot further than reliability away from a practical product. They sell as something to be seen in too.

      Advertising trendy environmentalist douchebag to the world in place of trendy regular douchebag is an awfully small distinction. BMW is positioned to absolutely nail this.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Besides which, something tells me that an electric Bimmer would actually be more reliable than its gasoline-powered counterpart.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Kyree,
          I need to learn to ignore that crap like you did. Well done.

          As for reliability, I only ever bought straight sixes from BMW and they were always excellent. It was all the other parts that were problems. I would be really interested to hear they got all new suppliers for the rest of their parts but we all know that they will go for parts commonality.

        • 0 avatar
          GiddyHitch

          Given all of the niggling electrical issues BMWs tend to develop (thanks to Bosch), I’m not sure that I agree with this and even more so since the effect of these issues just went from mostly annoying to potentially catastrophic in an EV. At least you avoid the biodegradable cooling system and disposable HPFPs with these i-cars. And I say this as the owner of an E46 going on 12 years old.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Dan,
        Now that you have called us BMW buyers douchebags, pardon us if we don’t hold your opinion in very high esteem. Also, as a favor to people who may drive what you do, please keep it a secret so they don’t have to worry that others will confuse them with people like you.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Dan’s last paragraph is butt-funny. Do you pop your collar and drink cheap American beer because you’re a hipster? Oh you really want a 3 series don’t you? Are you splitting a 12 pack of cheap American beer with a friend who helped you wrench on your car? Oh you really should be driving your 3 series through the twisties. Sadly, the hipsters have won the ownership/public perception wars.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    So they’re spending development money on a segment with limited appeal in lieu of a segment they command.
    Sounds like a solid plan /sarcasm

    I would guess few new BMW buyers are well enough versed to change fluids or check basic wear points. But to demand that they plug in their car every night? That seems a little overbearing for those consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      Yeah, because putting a plug into the wall is comparable to checking your brake pads for wear…
      And this comes from the fan of a brand that was during its short lifespan known for the most empty-headed, trend-following, debt-ridden clientele.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Doesn’t matter how you compare it, the buyers for your average BMW aren’t going to have the patience to go through the rounds every day.
        I can wait til tomorrow to get gas, I don’t have to have it in the #1 spot on my mind, and get screwed when I forget it.
        Petro engineering degree, 0 debt, and land that I enjoy my trucks on – bet your stereotyping also has the false belief that I want to see EVs fail.
        Ignoring business principles in favor of rash judgements won’t get you far.
        In fact that would be straight out of “Rules for radicals” – attack the person.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Hummer,
          You deserved the reply you got. When you stereotype and broad brush you deserve to get it back in exponential hyperbole. My neighbor who owns several BMW’s likely has much more time under the hood than you do. He is also an engineer, but semi retired.

          You may not have intended to insult BMW owners, but since you posted after Mr. “Douchebag” above, you gotta understand how your post can get taken in context.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      They use a new, not yet tested, production method in a segment that isn’t their core business because if it fails or it takes more time to work out the problems than they can do that. Delivering an i 6 months late because the carbon fiber factory can’t produce is an option, doing the same with the 3 series is a very fast way to the bankruptcy court

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        But isn’t the point of the article about the majority of development costs going into this project?

        Sure it makes more sense to test it on the non-core products, but they’re putting the cart before the horse if the sole reason is carbon fiber development.
        To me that means they see carbon fiber as the solution, not that they want to research the legitimacy of the claim.
        Do note, as apparently I can’t be taken at face value, that I have no opinion on the question of which is better.

        • 0 avatar
          charly

          Those development cost is all that carbon fiber. That is one hundred percent reusable when they develop the carbon fiber 3 series. Carbon fiber is much lighter than steel so if you can make it work than it is definitely a really good solution.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well, for MY2014, BMW released the 4-Series and the new X5 (which we know will constitute a new X6), so there are those. The 2-Series is on its way, and there’s talk of a an X4 (four-door coupe based on the X3), as well as a four-door-coupe based on the 3-Series, which will probably be placed within the 4-Series lineup. You’ve already mentioned the i3, and an i8 is coming. Now, if we’re talking entirely about models within series’, of course there are new smaller diesel versions of just about everything, the new entry-level 320i that was just released, the fact that RWD is, for the first time, an option on the X5, and obligatory M models for the new 2, 3 and 4-Series, and the upcoming X5 M and X6 M. And I think the current M6 was released during MY2013, so it probably counts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Z4 M, since BMW knows the Z4 can’t currently hold a candle to the Jaguar F-Type. Also, expect some kind of range-topping 7-Series to slot above the Alipna B7…you know, to bridge the gaping gap between the 7-Series and its structural sister, the Rolls-Royce Ghost.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The “i” sub-brand has no raison d’etre. The ICE has been getting steadily more efficient over the years, and energy-recapture technology has already broken through the 40% thermal efficiency threshold. The underlying efficiency problem is mass. The Model T weighed a bit over 500kg. The X3 weighs over 3 times as much. Transporting a 4-wheeled living room approximately 200 miles per week is not a worthwhile endeavor.

    If BMW trimmed the i3 chassis until it weighed less than 1,000kg, why did they add back 500lbs of batteries? BMW seem to be playing a dangerous game. Luxury manufacturers were once able to convince wealthy consumers to buy energy-inefficiency at a premium, but I’m not convinced the same strategy will woo new generations of people who are not really participating in car culture, specifically because they cannot sustain the inefficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “The “i” sub-brand has no raison d’etre.”

      The purpose is to comply with future EU greenhouse gas (fuel economy) regulations.

      Tesla took the approach of building an appealing car with a very large battery.

      BMW took the approach of reducing weight to the point that the i3 could get the typical range of an EV with a fairly small (read: affordable) battery.

      The Tesla is more sexy, but current battery costs won’t allow for a profit. The BMW is less interesting, but it might just make a profit (or at least hit breakeven) if there is enough interest.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> The “i” sub-brand has no raison d’etre.

      THe i sub-brand is the proving ground for their carbon/aluminum architecture which will help the performance of future ICE vehicles. It’s more than just electric technology that’s being perfected.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    There’s just so much wrong with this course of action I don’t know where to begin.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Some comments:

    1. How is this car’s powertrain better then the Accord Hybrid Plug-in with the Intelligent Multi-Mode hybrid system? I mean, if we were to give both cars the same kwH rated battery pack, wouldn’t the Accord destroy this thing on any objective measure?

    2. Honda is touting the new 2.0 Atkinson engine as the world’s most thermally efficient production engine.
    –> I wonder how this thermal efficiency compares to the boosted and non-boosted engines offered in other vehicles including the range extender in this thing?
    –> I wonder how the new Hybrid Accord’s thermal efficiency will compare to the Gen4 Prius?

    Lastly, does everyone realize the kick to the face Honda just gave the industry with the overall I-MMD layout? I mean, the way in which they decided in a simple 1:1 clutch lock-up for the e-CVT is pure brilliance.

    Just imagine for a moment…. the Accord’s existing drivetrain but with a structure made of CFRP… what would be the FE of the Accord with 500 pounds removed????

    My point is there is no point in this i3


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India