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Bob Sacamano

BMW electric vehicle programme in trouble

Poor sales, engineers being poached. i must admit it's rare you see an i3 on the road and I had no idea it's been out for 3 years now.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/bmw-l...-electric-vehicle-line-1461086049

There'll be some interesting Chinese cars coming out in the future.
Humphrey The Pug

I believe the i3 isn't that reliable either.

I love this quote:

"The i8 is the best-selling plug-in sports car, he said in an email."

Errr, can anyone name any other; apart form the £million 918, LaFerrari and P1?
Chris M Wanted a V-10

Well, you'd have been in trouble with a plug-in electric car in my part of the world on Monday.... two power cuts, one in the afternoon and another early evening.
Racing Teatray

I think BMW missed a trick but not making the i3 look more normal. It could still have been distinctive without needing to look so wilfully odd. The i8 can get away with it, but the i3 ought to have been more of a volume seller. Look at the Tesla 3 which almost as dull-looking as that forum favourite the Mitsushiti Minge. I was interested until I saw it and then I pretty much lost all interest but it seems to appeal to the great organically unwashed. Tesla is desperately overhyped in my view, sadly.
Bob Sacamano

Racing Teatray wrote:
I think BMW missed a trick but not making the i3 look more normal. It could still have been distinctive without needing to look so wilfully odd. The i8 can get away with it, but the i3 ought to have been more of a volume seller. Look at the Tesla 3 which almost as dull-looking as that forum favourite the Mitsushiti Minge. I was interested until I saw it and then I pretty much lost all interest but it seems to appeal to the great organically unwashed. Tesla is desperately overhyped in my view, sadly.


Really? To achieve what they have done in so short a time indicates there's plenty of substance to back up any hype, no?
JohnC

I thought there was a good bit of substance when I was pinned to the back of the seat. Another client of mine has just bought a Tesla after an M5, 535d, XFR, XF 3.0DS and 330D Touring and he loves it. Every day battery life is c225 miles and about 280 miles on a longer journey so it's not perfect but it does for the vast majority of trips and he says it is more than quick enough. His is just the base model with dual motors and not the P85D I was in before.
Bob Sacamano

We had a client in with a Tesla and he uses it across the country and up and down mororways visiting suppliers and he raved about it. The smoothness and instant pick up are addictive apparently and he can't imagine driving anything else. The fact that he runs it as a company car and makes massive savings is just icing on the cake.
Twelfth Monkey

I'd seriously consider a Tesla if it's the sort of car I needed, and love that the i3 looks so different.
Nice Guy Eddie

Teslas look great until you see the price. This weeks Autocar road test is on a P85d and all is good until you realise its more expensive then an S500. Now the Teslas fast but the interior, to my eyes, is seriously behind the best and not even the equal of a 30k 5 series.
PhilD

Twelfth Monkey wrote:
I'd seriously consider a Tesla if it's the sort of car I needed, and love that the i3 looks so different.


+1

BMW could also offer some of the tech in the Active Tourers to cater for the boring crowd like Racing  
gooner

Bob Sacamano wrote:
Racing Teatray wrote:
I think BMW missed a trick but not making the i3 look more normal. It could still have been distinctive without needing to look so wilfully odd. The i8 can get away with it, but the i3 ought to have been more of a volume seller. Look at the Tesla 3 which almost as dull-looking as that forum favourite the Mitsushiti Minge. I was interested until I saw it and then I pretty much lost all interest but it seems to appeal to the great organically unwashed. Tesla is desperately overhyped in my view, sadly.


Really? To achieve what they have done in so short a time indicates there's plenty of substance to back up any hype, no?


I agree with Racing. I've got a friend who chopped in his 5 touring for one and says it's actually very practical, but just looking at it you wouldn't think so. In many ways Audi fell foul of the same mistake with the A2. Looking back it's a good looking car, but at the time it's looks were at odds with the rest of the market and it appeared smaller than it actually is. When you're asking buyers to pay out significantly more than they would for a more conventional model, challenging looks will not translate into sales success.
JohnC

Nice Guy Eddie wrote:
Teslas look great until you see the price. This weeks Autocar road test is on a P85d and all is good until you realise its more expensive then an S500. Now the Teslas fast but the interior, to my eyes, is seriously behind the best and not even the equal of a 30k 5 series.


I agree but there is one big bit of the equation missing: most of these are bought as company cars.

Under current rules, the company gets a 100% tax deduction for the full cost of the car in the year of purchase as opposed to getting only 8% if it were anything else with CO2 above 130g/km: that is a significant attraction.

The individual also finds a massive saving in tax. \the client who has just changed to a Tesla was paying 40% tax on a benefit in kind of c£17,500 for his 330D which cost him c£7,000 a year for the car and all his fuel.

The Tesla is going to cost him just over £2,000 in tax this year.

For those kinds of saving, many Directors are prepared to forgive the car a few of its foibles.
Big Blue

We're still talking tiny sales numbers for a company like BMW and others to chuck huge sums of R&D into (the R&D costs are why Tesla report massive losses year on year apparently; nothing to do with trying to market a new product onto a staid public) at the expense of R&D on models that are selling by the train load. There is still a public / consumer perception issue with electric cars, mainly around the charging aspect which was proven by the i3 needing to offer a model with an engine in it to satisfy the nerves of the owners.

Regardless of the i3's looks, the i8's "wow" factor the fact that petrol and diesel 3ers and 5ers are still selling tens of thousands around the world each quarter when the hybrid variants of each aren't (yet) shows that the BMW i programme remains in nascent form, but it still exists and lies in wait for the time when the Joneses next door are prepared to be washing one every Sunday safe in the knowledge it will get them to the in-laws and back for a family roast lunch.
Big Blue

JohnC wrote:

Under current rules, the company gets a 100% tax deduction for the full cost of the car in the year of purchase as opposed to getting only 8% if it were anything else with CO2 above 130g/km: that is a significant attraction.


So can I order a Used i3 and write off the tax on the cost in the same tax year????

Yes, that's attractive.
DetmoldDick

I read a long-term report on the i3 and he just could not live with the car. Nothing to do with the drivetrain; the problem was that in a normal parking space it was a major pain for both front and rear passengers to egress simultaneously due to the design of the doors  
PhilD

Big Blue wrote:


the BMW i programme remains in nascent form, but it still exists and lies in wait .


with the knowledge, experience and patents ready to go.
Big Blue

PhilD wrote:
Big Blue wrote:


the BMW i programme remains in nascent form, but it still exists and lies in wait .


with the knowledge, experience and patents ready to go.


Exactly. A bit like, say, owning Range Rover, developing the X-series of cars and then dumping Range Rover onto PAG. When the electric car market takes off mainstream-style be assured a Bavarian product will be sitting in the lead "want-one" position on many lists.
PG

I see one of the people they poached is "Benoit Jacob, who was head of design at BMW i,.."  Bit risky?  

The "why did the i3 look so odd" debate depends on what you believe:

Theory 1 - how the i3 looks has been a mistake, it should have looked more conventional. The route Tesla took. Ergo they have not had the success they wanted.

Theory 2 - ah yes, but had BMW made a 3 series look-a-like with the i3 technology, and they had orders for 5 years' supply with everybody stopping buying 320d's, then they'd be fucked.

So, I think that BMW have made the i series different - wilfully so - to attract attention to themselves as players; yet not bet the farm on the technology.

Much as bb says - they are gaining knowledge and kudos, at little real business risk to themselves.

Whereas Tesla have done the right thing and with the 3 will also do the right thing. They have to sell them and lots of them and they have no internal competition with their own ICE cars. So, make it look normal, remove the "fear factor" and watch the orders roll in.

Which is what makes the Tesla v the Germans fight so interesting. Merc / BMW / VAG rely on huge sales of their ICE vehicles to fund the new technologies. If the drop of in their ICE business is too fast, their source of funding dries up.  And that balance as one curve goes down and another goes up, is almost impossible to predict accurately. Which is why history shows, time and again,  that it is exceptionally difficult for a large company to change its business model and survive.
Racing Teatray

Bob Sacamano wrote:
Racing Teatray wrote:
I think BMW missed a trick but not making the i3 look more normal. It could still have been distinctive without needing to look so wilfully odd. The i8 can get away with it, but the i3 ought to have been more of a volume seller. Look at the Tesla 3 which almost as dull-looking as that forum favourite the Mitsushiti Minge. I was interested until I saw it and then I pretty much lost all interest but it seems to appeal to the great organically unwashed. Tesla is desperately overhyped in my view, sadly.


Really? To achieve what they have done in so short a time indicates there's plenty of substance to back up any hype, no?


115,000 orders in a day for a car not available for delivery for several years is hype by any standards.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Tesla Model S, albeit that it has an interior which, having had a sit in one, is more than a bit "here's one the grad students at MIT made last week". But I fear Musk may overreach himself.
Tim

Racing Teatray wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I like the Tesla Model S, albeit that it has an interior which, having had a sit in one, is more than a bit "here's one the grad students at MIT made last week".


That seems a little unfair when you see the cluttered hideousness that, for example, Merc deem to be a good dashboard nowadays.

Anyway, all the i3s I've seen a re being driven by what look like retired architects, I don't recall seeing any driven by a youngster.
JohnC

Big Blue wrote:

So can I order a Used i3 and write off the tax on the cost in the same tax year????



NO, it has to be new. A couple of words tucked away in the depths of the legislation says that it has to be new:

https://www.gov.uk/capital-allowances/business-cars

I had a client buy a 3 mth old diesel Mini when they qualified and he was seriously miffed when he found out. If he'd only asked the question first!!
Racing Teatray

Tim wrote:
Racing Teatray wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I like the Tesla Model S, albeit that it has an interior which, having had a sit in one, is more than a bit "here's one the grad students at MIT made last week".


That seems a little unfair when you see the cluttered hideousness that, for example, Merc deem to be a good dashboard nowadays.

Anyway, all the i3s I've seen a re being driven by what look like retired architects, I don't recall seeing any driven by a youngster.


It's a very large computer screen surrounded by indifferent design, quality, fit and finish. And all very black.
Tim

Ok, I haven't been in one.
I do think the outside is quite generic and I'm sure I've seen what I think are some new big Hyundai/Kia whereas it was actually a Tesla.
Big Blue

JohnC wrote:
Big Blue wrote:

So can I order a Used i3 and write off the tax on the cost in the same tax year????



NO, it has to be new. A couple of words tucked away in the depths of the legislation says that it has to be new:

https://www.gov.uk/capital-allowances/business-cars

I had a client buy a 3 mth old diesel Mini when they qualified and he was seriously miffed when he found out. If he'd only asked the question first!!


See, that's why I asked
Alf McQueef

Electric seems to be taking off elsewhere - I was in Amsterdam for the first half of the week and there are Teslas - and various other electric or jybrid vehicles - everywhere!
PhilD

Alf McQueef wrote:
Electric seems to be taking off elsewhere - I was in Amsterdam for the first half of the week and there are Teslas - and various other electric or jybrid vehicles - everywhere!


Bit dangerous with all that water around!

It's not surprising that the city of bikes in a country which must be one of the most eco-friendly in the world is embracing EVs.
Frank Bullitt

It doesn't say what BMW's sales targets were for the i3 or i8 (unless I missed it) do not sure on what definition it's a failure - BMW as a mass-producer has effectively got a product to market which, whims about the styling aside, are incredibly well developed in the main although my i3 owning colleague prefers to drive it rather than the 116d she gets when it is invariably in the garage. However as a learning curve it's a solid one and especially in the case of the range extender i3 and i8 is clearly having an impact on their main product range of 'e' models.

Going back to the A2 it didn't sell hugely well of course for a number if reasons but Audi's main objective was to understand how to mass-produce aluminium space frame cars so it's legacy lives on.

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