German automaker, BMW has officially made its entrance into the electric vehicle (EV) market, with the release of the i3. Previously marketed at auto shows as a concept car, BMW is ready to release the production version of the i3 next year. While the specs of the i3 don’t outshine the electric cars currently on the market, the car is still set to shake up the EV space because it’s a BMW. As reported by techrunch.com:
“The BMW i3 is the company’s first production electric vehicle under the ‘i’ sub-brand. Priced at $41,350 in the U.S. (£25,680 in the UK) and headed to the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2014, the i3 isn’t a car for the masses. Even though it’s one of the least expensive EV’s available, the sticker is still out of reach for many. Worse yet, its EV range is less than that of competitors, including the Nissan Leaf. But it’s a BMW. And it looks fantastic.”
While the BMW moniker will be enough to get most car enthusiasts excited, not everyone is thrilled about the specs of the i3. Performance for an electric vehicle is typically judged by the distance a car travels on a single charge. In the case of the BMW i3, that number is 80 to 100 miles, nothing superior to other offerings on the market. According to cnet.com:
“For the amount of fanfare and effort BMW gave to its i3 electric car, I would have expected something at least nearly competitive with the Tesla Model S. But BMW’s vision for a clean, futuristic urban vehicle doesn’t reach far beyond what has already been put on the market by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford, and Honda, at least when it comes to raw performance numbers.”
This being BMW’s first try at an EV production model, they will probably be using it as proof of concept before they jump into more competitive offerings. That strategy is a common practice within the auto industry regarding electric vehicles. As also noted by techcrunch.com:
“For BMW, the i3 isn’t about building and selling the best electric vehicle right now — rather, it’s about building a platform for the future. This is standard operating procedure in the automotive world.
“Tesla started with the Roadster, a vehicle that borrowed a good chunk of its framework from Lotus. From there, once many of the bugs were worked out of the novel electric power train, Tesla released the Model S sedan, a car that cost about three-quarters what the Roadster did. Chevy is doing the same thing with the Volt.”
Surely BMW has high expectations for the electric car market. In a CNBC special, the company’s CEO spoke of the future of BMW and their ability to create cars that are not only electric—but also drive and accelerate like a typical BMW. Being able to execute that vision will determine their success in the market, as their company motto is “the ultimate driving experience.”
Check out the video below from the release event for the BMW i3.