BMW chasing electric car mark with the BMW i, but it may be too slow

BMW chasing electric car mark with the BMW i, but it may be too slowBMW has traditionally focused on an affluent customer segment, and the target for the upcoming all-electric BMW i is no exception; it just also allows that same segment to feel guilt-free. The company began working on electric cars in 2007, calling its endeavor Project i. It’s great to hear that BMW is putting some focus on electric cars but with a release date targeting 2013 it may be a little late to market.

Before looking why the BMW i may be late to market, it’s important to understand some of its features. The BMW i will come in at least two different flavors: the four seat i3 and the sporty i8 which the company claims will reach 60mph in 5 seconds. Carbon fiber is used in the passenger compartments on top of an aluminum chassis and taller, narrower wheels than a traditional car. Great stuff, but one key point drivers will probably look at is all-electric range, especially given options like the Chevrolet Volt and some plug-in hybrid Prius options on the way from Toyota.

Case in point, BMW claims the i8 will travel up to 30 miles using just electricity before switching to power generated by an onboard 3-cylinder diesel motor. Considering the Chevrolet Volt, while probably not quite as affluent or luxurious a brand as BMW, already provides 35 miles of all-electric range according to its EPA rating. BMW’s i8 number could go down further after the EPA evaluates it, and the price tag won’t be cheap. And, it isn’t releasing until 2013, that gives competitors a chance to leapfrog those mileage ratings.

Of course, the segment BMW is targeting may not care that much about mileage rating, but it may irk them that a Chevrolet Volt is even in the same echelon. Acceleration is a whole other matter, and BMW certainly has that nailed. Regardless it's exciting to see this enthusiasm from a luxury car company in the electric car space. It will only serve to drive more innovation.


As you say, the BMW i is meant more for affluent customers looking for a high mileage electric hybrid.  There' no way a BMW owner would buy a Chevy.  It's unlikely a Chevy buyer would buy a BMW.  If you tried a feature to feature comparison between a similarly sized Chevy vs BMW car today, you would say that Chevy wins due to price, functionality, and mileage.  That is, until you drive a BMW.

I think you're doing a disservice with that comparison. The i8 and Chevy Volt aren't even in the same ballpark in terms of segment. The i8 provides those 30 miles while delivering high-end performance, so those 5 miles are largely irrelevant because you get a car with 350 horses, sub-5-seconds to 62 mph and a higher level of performance and luxury all around. You're also likely going to pay $250K instead of $40K for it. Companies like BMW and Porsche aren't trying to compete with pedestrian cars like the Volt; they're trying to build all-out flagship supercars that use advanced technologies to deliver cleaner driving and top-end performance. Sure, a less powerful, smaller commuter is always going to be more efficient than a 500-hp gas/electric supercar, but that isn't really the point.

You can't compare the i8 with the Volt with that simple measure without taking the rest into consideration. When the Chevy Volt line has a performance, sports, luxury car that puts gives you 35-40 miles of all electric driving, then you can make that comparison.

As long as the company will gainrecord revenues from selling conventional cars, they are not forced to focus the electric sector. However its good that they show interest and do R&D efforts in this field. Last year it seemed that they would totally ignore this evolution.

BMW has given some good electric model cars which also has some good features in it it gives an amazing design which makes it stand out from the other brands