By on May 3, 2016

BMW i3 and i8

BMW’s electric car sub-brand is growing, thanks to new and upgraded models, but its management ranks are shrinking as executives flee to a Chinese startup.

Three top names, including the program’s head, were lured to China’s Future Mobility Corp. this year, Automotive News Europe reports, while sales dropped by nearly a quarter in the first three months of 2016.

Call it a case of “i” gotta go.

Sales of the i3 city car and i8 supercar dropped 23 percent in the first quarter, during which time Carsten Breitfeld took off to the Chinese startup, along with manager of the i division’s powertrain group and the head of product management.

BMW CEO Harald Krueger tried to stay positive when discussing the brand’s EV sales, telling reporters today that the drop can be partly attributed to German customers waiting for a government incentive program to roll out.

“We expect further impulses for i sales in the second half when we bring an i3 with a 50 percent longer range,” Krueger said.

The i3 will see its available range boosted when 2017 models go on sale, but the boost is bigger in Europe. The U.S. model will be able to drive 114 miles on a charge, but the Euro-spec model is due for a 186 mile range.

Models equipped with a gasoline range extender receive both the bigger battery and a 25 percent larger fuel tank. The original battery packs remain on the entry-level model.

The i8 plug-in hybrid will receive a facelift for the 2018 model year, about the same time that a roadster version of the scissor-doored sports car appears in to the lineup. Like its squarish little brother, the i8 gets a larger battery pack, as well as a more powerful electric motor to compliment its turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine.

The roughly 10 percent boost in power would put the vehicle’s combined output at about 420 horsepower, Autocar reports.

The expansion of the i sub-brand is the first part of BMW’s long-term plan for the company, which includes electrification and development of connected vehicle technology.

[Image: BMW Group]

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9 Comments on “BMW i Models Branch Out While Executives Take Off...”

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but that i3 is HIDEOUS. That i8, tho…GRRRRR….

    • 0 avatar

      It isn’t a look that grows on you over time either. Every one I see on the street is an assault on my rods and cones. The i8 is at the other end of the spectrum. I’m always surprised at how damn low they look in person.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Good iLuck.

  • avatar

    I wonder… how much BMW insider information China is getting along with the expertise and know-how of their poached executives?
    They have become expert at taking “reverse engineering” to a new level.

  • avatar

    I spoke to a man who is looking for tires for his wife’s i3. They’re back ordered by the TireRack, and nobody in town will put them on if he can find them anyway. BMW probably should have made wheels that mount as their motorcycles do, since car tire mounting machines can’t handle 175/55R20 tires and motorcycle tire mounting equipment doesn’t work with automotive rims.

    • 0 avatar

      …NTB have never had any problem mounting 175/50R16 tires for my elise; is the larger 20″ wheel size a problem with narrow tires?..

      …now i *have* run into independent shops proffering bogus excuses against installing third-party tires, but the tire rack maintains an excellent network of preferred delivery/installers who have always served me well…

      • 0 avatar

        I think that’s BS. Tire machines are still fairly manual. Might be a PITA to remove tires off such skinny wheels (if run-flats), but give me a tire spoon and just about any Hunter tire machine and I could have them off in quick order.

  • avatar

    From some reason I find the i3 strangely appealing. It doesn’t offend me like a Prius or a 1st gen Volt manages to. Love the i8, though, just not the price tag.

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