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i3 BMW Fail

I just read a first impression review on CNET (

Range of 80 to 100 miles, ugly, optional engine? What is good about this thing.. better then a horse I guess.
This yet another example of a manufacture that cannot get the engineering right so they put the burden on marketing. Hey this is all that people need.. you don't need to go over 100 miles.. no..

Good job BMW, in one fell swoop you have given late night comedians and the oil industry something to talk about.

@mrspaghetti, I agree with you to a great extent. I also believe a great leader can turn a company around. Take a look at GM, Consumer Reports recently scored the Chevy Impala 95/100. This is the car that nobody cares about for many years. Yea, it's still an ICE car but it doesn't mean they cannot put the performance and technology know-how into a EV, Volt v2 or v3? The report said their CEO, Dan Ackerson recently hired 1000 engineers in Michigan to do "electrification" and he admitted they will "study Tesla cars". What the big company has is capital and cash and they can hire top notch engineers to turn things around. I think the next 3-5 years we will see much better EVs to compete with Tesla. This is good for consumers as well as EV revolution.

Tesla is the only company that is dependent on the electric car to succeed, THAT is why the Model S is better than all these EVs.

Other companies are competing with themselves and eachother when they decide to release an Electic Only vehicle. Not to mention the NADA that has more to lose by selling EVs, to the point that the manufacturers will probably NOT be able to compete with Tesla until everyone is allowed to sell EVs by direct sales instead of traditional dealers.

Just my opinion on the subject tho.

BMWs EV offering looks like crap because the point wasnt to make a great EV that they hope to sell like crazy, it seems like it was made to NOT be attractive and to "remind" people about how great ICE are over EVs.

A lot of things need to change before the old timer car manufacturers, will have free reign to build great EVs IMO.

The BMWi3 is a joke. Model S is better than similarly priced ICE cars in almost every category. In contrast, the BMWi3 is worse in every category compared to a similarly priced ICE. For example, for the same price as an i3 you could get a BMW 3 series (MSRP (including destination) for a base BMW 335i is $44,075 and a base BMW 328i is $37,775).

Who is going to walk into a BMW dealership and buy a butt ugly BMWi3 with only 80-100 mile range when they could buy a 3 series for a similar price? IMO, very very few will. They may sell some to people who are only considering an EV, but they are not going to make many converts.

As others have said above, BMW has purposefully made the car ugly and with a limited range so as not to reduce sales of their beloved 3 series. If they keep this up, they as well as the other big ICE manufacturers will end up like 'horse carriage makers' from the beginning of the last century: Out of Business.

+1 cloroxbb, right on the nose!

Doesn't California have a requirement that all auto manufacturers who sell in California must also sell a certain number of EVs or AFVs (alternative fuel vehicles) in the state? I believe that is why Toyota sells the Rav 4 EV only in California. Could it be that BMW's i3 was developed to satisfy the same requirement?

I'm just asking this specific question because it might explain the half-assed effort on BMW's part. At least the Rav 4 EV rides on a Tesla power train and battery. Unless required by law, there is little incentive for any manufacturer to make AFVs or EVs. The only force that will make BMW put a concerted effort into doing it right would be downward market pressure on its existing vehicles and lost revenue to EVs like Model S.

Possible counterpoint... the Nissan Leaf, which has an equally lame 70-100 mile range, has sold approximately 25,000 units in North America as of May 2013. Like Model S, it has been a success in limited numbers. Perhaps BMW is looking to that example instead of Tesla?

bigez1 and 2050project both provided a link to the "Slate" review, and I thought the title to that article warrants a specific mention:
"BMW's New Electric Car Is Just Like a Tesla, Only Much, Much Worse"

@AmpedRealtor, the BMW i3 is not limited to being a California compliance EV ala Honda FIT EV, Fiat 500e EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, etc. BMW has poured 2 billion euros into their electric car program. BMW intends to sell the i3 globally.

"The ultimate driving machine!" WTF happened BMW! Where has the passion gone? :(

For $20K more, the 60 Model S gets more than twice the range, more seating capacity, significantly more storage, ...

The more EVs in the $30K to $40K price range now - the better for the EV industry and Tesla - especially while Tesla has the only long-range EV on the market. With the exception of the Model S, the other EVs require comprising the performance, range and/or capacity in order to get the benefits of driving an EV - and while the extra $20K reduces Tesla's potential market now - it's good for Tesla to have other manufacturers selling shorter range EVs today - to grow the market for EVs - and the infrastructure of charging stations.

And, when Tesla releases the Gen 3 - there will be a large potential market of existing owners of hybrids and the short-range EVs.

They should have electrified their "Mini" sub-brand (keep current styling), put in a real battery (~150 miles), left out any apologetic gas motor option, and beefed up performance a bit (0-60 in ~5.5-6 sec). Such a battery would likely cost ~15K. Take out the 5-7K engine, charge an extra 5K to the customer, and take a small "hit" in profits. But enter into long-term contracts with battery suppliers that take advantage of expected battery price drops over the next 3-5 years, and so essentially defer profit in order to break into the game with a truly viable EV option.

@YL +1

That's what I would have expected from BMW if they were serious about selling electric cars. They have already gone to great lengths to differentiate the Mini brand from BMW, so that would protect 3-series sales in the short term. And there's even some kind of a field trial underway with electric Mini E. That's where they should have put their money. The i3 is embarrassing for EVs, which I guess is what they wanted.

What BMW (and all other car companies) demonstrates jumping into EVs is that Tesla is by far the best company hands down in the market and for many years to come. Nothing is coming even close. BMW and others are showing Tesla has a barrier to entry to the EV market with it's clearly superior drivetrain/battery technology patent. If all cars will eventually become EV (a trillion dollar industry) that patented tech is extremely valuable and the stock market/tesla investors are reflecting it. As more companies attempt to compete with Tesla, Tesla's advantage will become more apparent to the wider public, thus a further increase in valuation (even when Tesla only makes 21K cars and is seemingly overvalued on paper.)

So to all other car companies wanting a piece of the EV pie, please, by all means, take the plunge. It will only help Tesla become more valuable and achieve genIII program and then some...

This is what I meant when I wrote the i3 is "technologically trivial". It advances nothing in the critical dimensions, and compromises are throughout the design. I.e., not "serious". Despite what the PR dept. and CEO have to say.

It advances in one critical dimension and that is price - same as the Cadillac Volt offspring... and if that turns out to be somewhat successful then that is a big win for Tesla. There are people who would eat ramen soup every day just to be seen in a Mercedes, Lexus, BMW... you couldn't find them dead in Nissan. And I actually like the constant comparison with Tesla - just raises the awareness and acceptance of Tesla. Can't wait for the arrival of the Mercedes B-class...

I kind of like the interior. The exterior less so but it's not horrible by any means.

But 22kWh? Really? That's 2kWh less than a Leaf, and exactly the size of the Zoe battery, except the Zoe costs less than half the i3. I mean, sure, the Zoe and Leaf have much plainer interiors, don't have a carbon fiber structure, and don't have the BMW logo on them. But still, 22kWh is a small battery for a car meant to be a cut above ordinary EVs.

It would make more sense to me if it was around 30kWh. Not Model S grade, but at least it would be a true 100 mile EV under almost any weather or driving condition short of drag racing.

Mdemetri - well said. Tesla's EV beats ICE cars in the same price class. BMW's i3 doesn't.

Danielcc - ah, now you have come upon the dirty little secret of the transition to EV's: margin.

Without a concurrent innovation in direct distribution and in-house drivetrain tech as TM has done, no automaker can afford to buy as many kWhs of batteries as Tesla.

The only option is to keep chopping battery costs until you have a kinda-sorta workable price for a compromise car. The result is cars you don't want. High cost for wimpy range.

These guys are not stupid, they just aren't sufficiently committed to do the whole job of change that TM has embraced..

The reason the stock is strong is that TM has 2+ years of open highway in front of them to grow quickly.

I hope they use it wisely.

I doubt there is a significant market for EVs which do not have close 200miles range. Maybe a little more in Europe. But I doubt in general there is big market for such EVs even in Europe. BMW is trying to address this shortcoming of theirs by offering extension ICE motor and/or free ICE rental for long distance travels. I doubt it will work for them in any bg way. The extension ICE engine will likely increase the price of the car significantly in terms new car price tag and service costs. The free rental deal is probably offered in a very limited condition it won't be very attractive.

In Europe the distances are shorter, streets are narrow... seems a good fit to me. And if you go on an occasional road trip then you stop every 100 miles... and the stops are fast in and out not as cubersome as in the US. I would not underestimate the appeal outside the US.
Most cities in Europe have already low emission zones which you can only enter with clean vehicles. Add noise restrictions to it and EVs are a must for city dwellers.

Mark K;

Why all the hate on I3 ? It's a electric vehicle (without the addon motor). Every EV out there is a step towards the goal Elon wants. (transport to be on electric/No more ICE).

There will be residual effects. Some of us who bought Model S came from Nissan Leaf. So there will be those who will come from I3.

As for the driving part, no one at this point has driven one to my knowledge, so let consumer reports do their thing and we'll see.

I don't see hate here.

Only the sober, scary realization that BMW chooses not to use its considerable talent to build an EV that's better than its ICE counterpart.

They could have, but they didn't. They have the skill, but not the will. The change is simply too disruptive to their status quo. And the story is the same with all the others.

The disquieting truth is that right now, this entire EV revolution depends on the unwavering determination of a single company ... Tesla.

More than we knew, our future depends on them.

@Mark K: +1.

BMW was the one company I had hope for. There is _something_ going on with Tesla and BMW in terms of appeal and mindset. Even the Tesla employee that I took my test drive with mentioned that they noticed a disproportionally large number of BMW drivers test driving and ordering the MS, and relatively few Audi drivers, for instance.

I think if they did the i3 right, they would have been in the "winner circle" together with Tesla, for quite a few years to come. But like you said, they could've, but they didn't - and now it's lonely at the top ;-D

@all who said the car should have a bigger battery

There is a reason Tesla is not making the gen3 now, because we are not there yet, especially cost wise. And this is why all the other car makers are making cars like this. They are what a 'normal' guy can buy for a 2nd car if he want's to go electric for whatever reason.

The others decided to go to the broad marked now and live with the limitations. Theyr cars are smaller, lighter, slower and therefore enviroment friendlier than the MS. The limited range also could have positive effects. people maybe will not travel so far, or at least not by car. Using public transportations more often... training people to use less energy, kinda.

The MS on the other hand suggests a lot more worry free joy, we are investing in the future, that has to be enough right? Let's have some fun drag racing yeahhhhhhhhhh. I'm a fan of tesla since 10 years, and I ordered one too and I do completely understand their top down approach. but I return to this though a lot. Also others here on the forum describe the pure joy of driving a model S and how much more they drive now, and how much more money they now 'SAFE' in not buying gas anymore...

After you leave out the conspiracy theories that the big car companies want their cars to fail. Their approach is a legit one and at least as true to the bigger cause, wich is making transport enviroment friendlier. It's not as sexy, it's not as cool, it's not as practical, it's not as fast and so on. But it's affordable and good step into the right direction. And more people trying to get somewhere in different ways increases the chance that we get there.

Andrew18- "This car fell off the stainless steel ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!"

Note the car body is carbon, not steel.

@Mark K - maybe not hate. But assuming inferiority we encourage our arrogance.

Perhaps there will be more love for the i3 in the EU, where typical driving distances are shorter and the mentality is a little different. Here in the US the car driving mentality is a bit different. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've spent a lot of time in the EU. It seems to me that over there, a car is more about transporting someone from point A to point B. Here in the US a car represents freedom. So while the expectation here may be for larger batteries and whatnot, perhaps the EU audience will not be as critical of that? Just guessing.

Regard the OP, I often confuse a bmw 135 for a 7 series, easy to confuse the two...

@Keist - Arrogance is indeed the enemy of excellence. That's why we must take BMW's talent seriously.

Bigger picture, I see more risk of arrogance at the king of ICE rather than the scrappy little EV startup. The Model S proved it can be done. Once the genie is out of the bottle, BMW can't put it back with a middling offering.

@Christian G - True. Making a great mid price EV is not economically feasible today, which is why Tesla started at the premium end. But BMW chose not to, which is telling.

BMW could have made an i7. It could have been the must-have upgrade for Mercedes and and Audi premium buyers. But they didn't. Because it would have cannibalized their own 7 ICE car too.

Bet-the-company moves are always very scary. But at times of great change, waiting is actually far more dangerous.

BMW, and all ICE automakers, are just dipping toes in the water, not swimming fast to the new shore.

I think the styling comes from a half-baked marketing scheme. If BMW is trying to reach the younger generations, then they are looking at the Kia Soul, Honda Element, etc. - the "box" is "in" or at least was. Several non-sport concept cars from the Asian brands are almost all boxy.

I, too, am disappointed with the result. However, I also agree that it will probably sell better as a percentage of market share in Europe and Asia. USA? Not so much.

At best, it would take a few sales away from the Leaf or Volt, as a "Model S consolation EV" of choice.

I would not be surprised if, by the time the first GenIII sedan is delivered, the GenIII will have more USA backlogged orders than the i3 will have USA sales.

All evidence suggests that Telsa already has the 4.0Ah cells from Panasonic to build the GenIII, and all evidence further suggests that the final battery pack costs, based on the 3.1Ah cells, are below $200/kWh for the current Model S and X.

The total pack costs for the GenIII will also most likely be under $200/kWh before the car goes into mass production in 2016 or so. That's a profitable sedan 20% smaller than the Model S with a 200+ mile range starting at $40k before gov't incentives.

This article and the comments at the end pretty much says it all:

All the other automakers continue to experiment with custom, large-format cells that, for now at least, are uncompetitive by a staggering margin with the price/performance ratio of the modified Panasonic/Tesla 18650 cells.

In all the hoopla about GM starting a task force to study Tesla, the CEO was quoted repeatedly as saying something to the effect that "we can't just say 'oh, it's a bunch of laptop batteries, blah blah blah'".

I didn't think about it much until just now: this leads me to believe that, after all the trouble A123 has had and after the Boeing fiasco, this GM task force is most likely focusing on Tesla's "Beowulf" approach to the battery pack (and patent coverage). Is it possible that GM might abandon the larger form factors and go with commodity-style cells?

Tesla's competition is so far behind that it isn't even funny. There are no 200+ mile production-intent EV prototypes announced. Given the gestation period for a new vehicle or an upgrade to an existing vehicle, by model year 2017 (GenIII launch), it will still be only Tesla Motors that will be selling 200+ mile EVs globally in any automotive category.

If that doesn't justify a $200/share price, then what does? Tesla will continue to sell every vehicle they can pump out that entire time, and probably for a long time thereafter.

No matter the size of the car company, no matter the financial resources they have, the few critical things none of them can buy is the intellectual capital, knowledge base man hours, and commercially superior patented EV technology portfolio that Tesla has. I beg them to try.

Tesla is the only viable company focused solely on EVs. Their entire business is built around it. You think the established ICE industry has put in the same time and focus as Tesla? The sobering reality is a loud no.

I say again, if the most likely outcome is all (or a majority) of vehicles will EVs in the future, then Tesla is looking to become very, very successful. As it stands, they are the only ones able to make a car that has acceptable range, storage space, aesthetic, and superior performance and safety over comparable ICE cars. And this is just the beginning since they have plans to produce vehicles in most (if not all) vehicle classes as well as improve on current (patented) drive train/battery technology. Not to mention single handedly developing an advanced charging infrastructure far superior to any competition (including solar storage capabilities).

Folks, Elon(et al partners/employees/companies) is not just the next Steve Jobs, he is the next Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Edison, Franklin, etc... builders of economic/industrial infrastructure. This might just be a case of circumstance, chance, or plain old luck, but it is what it is and we are going to have to live with it. I think all other car companies are starting to get it and soon will have to reevaluate how to survive in the quickly approaching mass EV future. BMW is really going to see this through abysmal sales of the i3 compared to the more expensive Model S (just as Leaf/Volt/Spark are/will). The market value of Tesla in the face of these less desirable products coming to market will continue to rise. The current balance sheet and production levels right now are not accurate measures of market value. The EV execution capabilities coupled with commercially viable patent portfolio are. Better for car companies/analyst to study these areas in order to assess Tesla compared with competitors.

BMW i3 (and all others coming down the line) should be a compelling indicator of their are on the above areas in relation to Tesla.

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