Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Is BMW i3 a Complete Failure?

I saw BMW i3 in BMW Welt (German for BMW World), which is a free-admission showroom and exhibition in Munich, last year. I was generally excited about the place, going from this corner to the other, taking photographs and reading things. I read many positive points about this electric car including usage of recycled material and polymers to make it light and at the same time safe for the driver and passengers. There was not much about the electric power though until a few days ago I decided to have a look at the BMW Site. I'm seriously thinking of buying a BMW. My first thought was to by a 3 Series, a sedan which you can easily keep it under 40 K. Then when I realized that i3 could be well kept under 45 K, I said: Why not i3? It's nice. It's modern. It's BMW
I checked the available information as well as a few clips on Youtube. The result was quite disappointing and discouraging. Here is why I would not have bought an i3, Had I just decided to purchase a new car:

1- The vehicle has a limited range which can be seen on its console monitor. The cars computer calculates it based on the power left or better to say, available in the battery. That's the first disadvantage. Considering the charge stations are not available in cities. You are very limited to go places with this car. It could be good if you wanted to take your kid to the school or do a little grocery shopping at a local supermarket though. But for many including me who like to go outdoor at least once a week, it would be a disaster. 

2- The available power always could be reduced on the way. It's surprising that BMW has not provided at least, a small battery charger on board. Let's say you are on your way to a family party at the other side of the town and rain is forecasted. Black, thick clouds fill the sky just 5 minutes after you leave home. The vehicle automatically turns the lights on (even mine does that!) and you need to turn on the wipers. It's a Fri. day not and there's the usual traffic and rainy weather adds up and has caused many people who had decided to walk back home or to a nearby bar or restaurant, to drive. The car has to stop every few minutes. All of a sudden the range significantly shrinks and you realize you can't make it to the party unless you plan to leave the car there and ride a cab back home or tow it back to your garage!! That's absolutely a bummer! You would think: Why the hell did I spent almost 50 K on this junk!?

3- BMW has provided this so-called range extender. It's a small combustion engine, something quite similar to motorcycle engine that you pay some $4000 extra to be able drive another 140 km, I guess. That's one of the reasons that they tried to make the vehicle very light, as light as possible, so in case anyone wants to drive it longer distances, an small engine could be mounted on it while in a vehicle such as Prius the system is already there. 

4- I know BMW has tried to be as unique as possible, as always ans wanted to have a different shape car with a different design but the rear doors are really not comfortable enough for adults to get in a get out easily. It's good though, again as I stated earlier, if you're taking your kids to school. If BMW had intended to provide a school bus, I sincerely believe they would have succeeded. Considering the size of primary school kids, let's say grade 1 to 3, an i3 could be a perfect vehicle to take them to and bring them from school. You can fit 4 kids easily in the car and they'd love it! 

5- Price is a problem. Many might decide to buy the car despite all of the problems explained above. I could do that keeping my old car for my road trips and out of the city mountain adventures but then the price would be a problem. If I can buy a luxury 3 Series sedan for less than 50 K, why would I pay more than 50 K for an reliable vehicle which I'm not even sure whether it will take me to the final destination or not? 

6- BMW's market would be very limited. Generally BMW does not have a big market due to its vehicle's high prices but it sells very well because again of it's high price! If BMW sells one 3 Series it gains as much as Toyota selling two Corollas, even more. This one would be different. There would not be much demand for this vehicle in the US and Canada due to cheaper gasoline price, compare to Europe. Middle Eastern countries is another market that the price of gasoline would be a hinder for BMW to expand its market. The oil-rich countries would not mind drive their big SUVs and sedans. Europe would be divided to two parts. Poor countries such as former Soviet block and shity craps like Greece and such and at the other side western Europe. The second part would be the only market that BMW can count on. Would that be enough to make BMW happy? I kind of doubt that! 
(Photo: I took this shot from an i3 in BMW World in Munich last year. I guess you could book a time to ride a vehicle but I didn't take the chance)

No comments: