By Jon LeSage, contributing editor, Dealer Digest Daily
BMW has been taking a cautious, research-based approach to bringing electric cars to global markets. Testing the Mini-E, BMW ActiveE, and BMW i3, has been quite useful to the company, according to interviewed executives. Its sales numbers have been mild, but BMW does have a long-term strategy similar to Nissan’s in bringing electric cars around the world. And it could be competing more directly with the Tesla Model S than others have been able to do so far.
Offering perks to electric vehicle buyers is now an important part of BMW’s strategy. Here’s the latest on what BMW has been up to…
- Extra services for “i” electric car owners, including occasional use of fuel-powered models.
- Installing optional home fast-charging systems for the i3 as it comes to market at the end of 2013.
- Onboard navigation will guide drivers to the nearest public charging stations.
- BMW will also add the i3 to its DriveNow car-sharing fleet to enable a wider range of customers to explore the vehicle.
- Owners can borrow a gasoline or diesel powered BMW from their local dealer for weekend or vacation trips needed longer range.
- BMW knows that sales numbers will be limited for a while, as has been experienced by rival Nissan with its Leaf. BMW thinks it can make its initiative more profitable by offsetting expensive new materials with a sales setup intended for limited distribution costs.
- The i3 electric four-door sedan will be followed by the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in early 2014. Prices haven ‘t been released yet, but it’s thought that the i3 could start at around $52,200 and the i8 would be much higher.
- BMW will keep its electric cars more profitable by carefully managing the parts and components. Carbon-fiber reinforced plastic will make up the passenger compartment, and it weighs half as much as steel and 30% less than aluminum. That will help offset the extra weight needed for the battery pack. Thermoplastics will be used instead of steel for the body panels, and that eliminates the need for a paint shop.
- Another big change was slimming down the production process by reducing the number of body parts by two-thirds.
Source: Automotive News