Reithofer: Government Programs Key To BMW I3 Success

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
reithofer government programs key to bmw i3 success

BMW’s i3’s success is helped by a number of government incentives in a few of the automaker’s key markets, according to CEO Norbert Reithofer.

According to Automotive News Europe, Reithofer said that sales figures for the i3 are connected to political initiatives toward electric mobility, adding that when those initiatives are there, “the registration figures for the BMW i3 soar.”

The CEO cited Norway as an example, where the government not only has a charging infrastructure where owners can park and recharge for free, but does not levy sales or registration taxes on EVs. Those incentives have helped BMW move 2,000 i3s in 2014.

Meanwhile, significant financial subsidies in the United States, as well as privileges such as use of dedicated HOV lanes, led to sales of 3,000 units in California alone, a figure that is half of all i3s sold in the U.S.

Other incentives include looser licensing restrictions in Shanghai, circulation tax exemptions for 10 years from date of first registration in Germany, and company car tax exemptions for life in France.

Speaking of Germany, where 2,000 i3s were sold in 2014, Reithofer said his country’s government needs to “pick up the pace” in pushing electric mobility. Germany wants 1 million EVs on its roads by 2020, and has plans to offer additional incentives to achieve its goal.

In the meantime, BMW will introduce its DriveNow car-sharing service this spring, beginning in London. San Francisco will be the first U.S. city in the program by May, while the German cities of Hamburg, Berlin and Munich will join in July. The program is meant to help boost acceptance of electrification, and widening the tech’s appeal among younger drivers.

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  • Sjalabais Sjalabais on Mar 25, 2015

    I live close to Norway's second city and EVs are everywhere. The i3 is highly successful. Yet, I am very uneasy about this policy. It is expensive, ill-directed and inefficient. The subsidy required is immense - and it goes to a populace who is not in need of being subsidised. New car buyers aren't poor people. A Tesla S costs about 600000NOK (1.3*average yearly income) to start with, a comparable Porsche Panamera is 1800000NOK. Allowing the Tesla to be sold at prices similar to a small-engine petrol Volvo XC70 means you relieve wealthy households of taxes. Ouch. EV technology is underdeveloped. How long will these cars last? Will second and third owners opt to pay a third of the price of a new Golf in order to replace batteries? If you subsidise rich people, why not rather throw money after better insulation, new windows etc? If you focus on transport, offer better trains, trams and busses. Last, and most important: Vehicular emissions total a small piece of the emissions cake. Somewhere around 20-25%. They throw billions of kroner after a few cars, yet one single factory in Hardanger, producing zink and aluminium, pollutes with as much as a third of all automobile traffic in Norway. It is going to be modernised now - and this is well-spent money. The car industry is one area were government should regulate, not intervene. The tax advantage for diesel lead to large-scale particle pollution - see the driving prohibition in Norwegian cities and, now, Paris. Capping emissions, as the EU does, or the EPA in the US, should be sufficient.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sjalabais Sjalabais on Mar 25, 2015

      @dwford Seems like we are very much in line here. :) Another issue is the private side - carmakers becoming partly, maybe fully dependent on subsidies, get dependent like addicts. Maybe even just on one marked. Policy changes might have desastrous impacts.

  • TMA1 TMA1 on Mar 25, 2015

    This car's perfect, for those who decide a Kia Soul doesn't cost enough.

  • Wmba Wmba on Mar 25, 2015

    "Reithofer said his country’s government needs to “pick up the pace” in pushing electric mobility." Yes, we're hurt at the slow pace of government handouts, as it will not allow us to make our traditional company-wide 10% ROI. We invented this weird car and we fully expect a three year payback on the investment for being so wonderful. We expected subsidies - now where are They?