BMW Begins 2016 With Significant Drop In BMW i Subbrand Sales

2 years ago by Mark Kane 27

BMW i worldwide sales – January 2016

BMW i worldwide sales – January 2016

BMW i8

BMW i8

BMW happily announced record car sales in January with growth of 7.5% year-over-year to 133,883.

But the year 2016 didn’t begin that well for the BMW i subbrand, which consists of i3 and i8.

Global sales fell down by 32% year-over-year to probably the lowest result ever since launch – 1,255 (combined i3 and i8 worldwide sales in January) and the lowest 0.94% plug-in electric car market share compared to total BMW sales.

The bulk of this failure was caused by US sales, where the BMW i3 fell to just 182 sales and the BMW i8 just 32 – a year ago, the results were 670 and 85 respectively.

It’s interesting what is happening with the i3/i8, as perhaps we are at some inflection point, or perhaps BMW is having some issue with the supply chain that has yet to make headlines…or maybe it was just January blues.  We will find out in a couple weeks if February turns the tide again.

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27 responses to "BMW Begins 2016 With Significant Drop In BMW i Subbrand Sales"

  1. Chris says:

    One word: OVERPRICED!

    1. alohart says:

      Advanced materials for the chassis and frame aren’t inexpensive. Those of us who value CFRP and aluminum over steel (light weight, corrosion resistant) are willing to pay the premium over heavier EV’s built the old-fashioned way. Efficient vehicles are a necessity in the future, so I was happy to be able to buy the most efficient EV now.

      Rear wheel drive and a sophisticated rear suspension (no basic twist beam!) are just icing on the very nice cake.

      For those who don’t value such things, the i3 might seem overpriced. But the rest of us are willing to support BMW’s effort to lead to a more efficient future.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        CFRP, aluminum, and top of class efficiency are great. But the small battery, high price, and . . . uh . . . ‘polarizing’ design are not so great.

      2. Larry says:

        The i3 may be worth over $40K, nut it also involves too many compromises for its price point. Why non-CARB states should be saddled with limited Rex range and no Rex hold function is beyond me. They also charge too much for rear-view camera and decent audio, and for the full-size LCD. It’s also less appealing to pay $40K for a car that will be seriously upgraded in 6 months or so.

    2. ElectricPower says:

      And i3 is ugly like soap-dish on wheels.
      i8 is not fast or efficient for that price

  2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    If I understand it correctly, BMW has not signaled that they have any intention of increasing the range of the i3 to 200+ miles in the near future. If that’s so, then I don’t expect sales of the i3 to ever be what they’ve been in the past.

    If BMW wants the i3 to sell well in the USA, then they’ll have to match the range of the Bolt. They should do that, or else cut back on dealer inventory to compliance numbers.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      BMW has said the i3 range will increase this year. However, not to 200 mile levels. Either way, prospective customers will wait for the 2017 model with more range or the upcoming 200+ mile competitors. I see similar underperforming sales for the Leaf (even 30kWh) this year too.

      1. Big Solar says:

        My guess is 33Kwh pack with 30 useable to give it a 120 mile range. I’d like to have one if it were 0 to 60 in 5 to 6 seconds.

        1. ElectricPower says:

          The news were “more range with same battery” but may be now with Leaf 30, BMW will add more cheap batteries from Samsung in i3.

      2. damian says:

        You are correct. I own an aging leaf (it gets me less than 30 miles in winter) but I’m not going to replace it until the next gen (60+ kWh) is out.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      I agree. No matter what their future plans, it will not be easy selling the current crop of small battery i3s.

    3. Mark C says:

      I don’t see good sales for anyone until they match the currently unavailable Bolt’s range. .

      GM did great for themselves when they announced the 200+ mile range Bolt for all the sales thay’ve cannibalized and without even having a vehicle to sell.

  3. ffbj says:

    Both have their pros and cons. Worthwhile efforts, but nothing earthshaking, and very expensive.

  4. Alex says:

    How some can compare i3 with a Bolt, its a whole different philosophy, i3 is over 1100 lbs lighter. 2017 i3 should have 125 miles vs 200 miles of the Bolt, but the 2018 i3 160 miles is also in view.
    Adding much battery like Bolt means also much resources like Cobalt, issue today is that childen work for this
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/01/Child-labour-behind-smart-phone-and-electric-car-batteries/
    Cobalt reserves suffice for 500 Mio. i3s or for 250 Mio Bolts, so bigger batteries not only has advantages.
    But like today with gas cars i don’t expect good sense, 90 % people think the bigger the better when you look on today car sales.

    1. ElectricPower says:

      That’s the BMW to get cheap batteries from Samsung.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      If the cobalt used in li-ion batteries comes from countries that don’t enforce child labor laws, that’s a reason to pressure battery makers to switch cobalt suppliers. It’s not a reason to advocate for plug-in EVs (PEVs) with small battery packs.

      I find rather bizarre this trend of some EV advocates arguing for small battery packs. PEVs will become fully competitive with gasmobiles only when certain advances occur. One of those advances is getting 300+ mile battery packs. Even if range wasn’t an issue, larger battery packs are needed for the ability to recharge more quickly, for flexibility in using the car, to keep EV resale values from dropping precipitously, and other benefits.

      Anyone advocating that PEVs should stick to small capacity battery packs either doesn’t really want PEVs to replace gasmobiles, or else they are ignoring reality pretty firmly.

      1. jh says:

        +10. I can’t say that I understand the small battery crowd at all.

      2. SparkEV says:

        If large battery comes without cost, of course, that should be used. But large battery costs more money, costs more performance, costs more energy, basically it costs more. Someone has to pay the cost, whether it’s the pollution from making bigger batteries, the primary buyer’s wallet, or last buyer who may have to junk the car if battery cost is too high to replace.

        Even 9999 miles range EV will not meet 100% people’s needs without charging, so it’s a balance. Someone picked 200 miles ( (ten fingers + ten toes) * 100 = 200 miles?). It could just as easily be 80 miles or 150 miles, or as many gas bags claim, 500 miles.

        What isn’t discussed often is charging speed, currently close to an hour for 200 miles range EV, including Tesla. What should happen is 15 minutes, and this speed should be for all cars so people don’t wait as much. Then 150 miles range is just as good as 500 miles range gas car; 2.5 hours of freeway + 15 minutes of rest.

  5. Speculawyer says:

    The 2016 Volt, the upcoming Bolt, the improved LEAF, and the highly anticipated Model 3 have really hurt many of the current EVs.

    1. fotomoto says:

      ^ This.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      That’s one sign of a disruptive tech revolution. Each year’s new model makes last year’s look rather outdated. With the tech advancing rapidly, each year’s model starts looking obsolete pretty quickly.

      Plug-in EVs still have a ways to go before they’re fully competitive with gasmobiles, so expect this trend to continue for at least several more years, if not a couple of decades.

  6. Alpha777 says:

    There’s only one issue I see with the i3, or maybe two.
    -I’d like a little more rubber on the road.
    -The radar collision prevention needs to bump up to high speed prevention, like the 2017 Volt.

    At least the i3 has rear seat headroom.
    Best in class efficiency along with acceleration, ride and handling.

    Would be nice to see Apple Car Play available.

  7. Alpha777 says:

    The radar “upgrade” should be really easy, shouldn’t it?

  8. ydnas7 says:

    rumors of enhanced i3 REX, somewhat Osborneing current i3 REX

    actual deliveries of LEAF 30kWh, hurts i3 BEV

    GM publicity of 200mile Bolt, hurts both i3 REX and BEV, increasing effect each month

    Tesla M3 hype not having much effect yet, but it will be significant after deposits accepted.

    BMW i3 cash on hood, for CARB states is the short term answer, that and focusing on EU market where GM, Tesla and Nissan are less on the public’s mind.

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Unfortunately, the news is that BMW plans to increase the i3’s range by only 50% this year, at least according to reports:

    http://www.motortrend.com/news/2017-bmw-i3-to-increase-range-by-50-percent/

    With the advent of other plug-in EVs with a range of 200+ miles, BMW’s aim of about 120-125 miles of EPA rated range simply won’t compete.

    BMW needs to either up its game, or fold.

    1. Alpha777 says:

      The BEV could be affected by the new Leaf/Bolt range.
      But, the Range Extender?

      Most people don’t drive more then 100 miles every day.

  10. JH says:

    The osborne effect in full swing it seems.