Three-Day Test Drives Increase BMW i3 Sales

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 12

BMW i3 Out For A Test Drive

BMW i3 Out For A Test Drive

BMW i3

BMW i3

Try it before you buy it.

That’s the idea behind BMW’s new three-day, extended test drives for the BMW i3.

Nearly 140 BMW dealerships in the U.S. now offer the i3 on extended loan (up to 3 days-) for potential buyers to try before they buy.

This program has already proven to be a success.  As the New York Times writes:

The first few times that Phil Tipper drove the BMW i3, he loved the car’s acceleration but was put off by its strong regenerative braking, which quickly slows the electric car when the driver backs off the accelerator.

But then Mr. Tipper, a self-identified environmentalist, took part in BMW’s i3 Extended Test Drive Program, which replaces quick spins with a loan of up to three days, and he changed his mind.

That’s but one story of dozens or perhaps even hundreds who have given the extended-drive program a go.

Kenn Sparks, a BMW spokesman, stated:

“We offered the program to any dealer authorized to sell the i3,” he said in an interview. So far, he said, 138 have signed on, which is almost half of those offering the i3. Cars used in the program will most likely be offered for sale as “pre-owned.  While technically a pilot, the response from customers and dealers has been so positive I imagine that we’ll keep it going.”

BMW is not doing anything new here with this extended-drive program, but it may be a first for plug-in vehicles.

Some dealers have up to 4 i3s (BEVs and REXs) available for extended drives, while others will only have 1.

Demand for the test-drive vehicles is high.  Keith Kubat, general sales manager at BMW of Greenwich in Connecticut, tell the New York Times that 25 people had signed up for the dealership’s lone i3 tester by early October.  That books the car through the end of the year.  Two who had driven this particular i3 later committing to buying.

It’s that getting butts in seats thing again, which we all now is so vital to increasing EV adoption.

Source: New York Times

Tags: , ,

12 responses to "Three-Day Test Drives Increase BMW i3 Sales"

  1. vdiv says:

    Irrefutable proof that BMW is serious about selling EVs. They deserve recognition and the others should take note.

  2. David Murray says:

    This program is brilliant. I did the test drive even though I was pretty sure I wouldn’t buy it. But I gave about a dozen rides to interested people and posted about it on facebook, etc. So letting me have it for 3 days really increased the exposure. So if this is true for every person that does the test drive, that is a lot of exposure and free advertising.

  3. EVer says:

    How the hell was he put off by strong regen?

    These electric car noobs smh

    1. Phil says:

      Hiya, EVer. He’s not a noob. He has 40k miles and almost 4 years of EV driving experience. He just prefers his strong regen to be selectable instead of always on. Also, he’s me. Have a nice day.

      1. Phil (also) says:

        Did you end up buying?

  4. Ocean Railroader says:

    The BMW i3 was the first ever electric car was the first electric car that I have ever ridden in it. The local dealer had very knowledgeable people come in who specialized in the BMW i3. Riding in this car also allowed me to break some of the ev myths about them being under powered. In that the car had no trouble getting up to speed or stopping.

    Based off of this I think BMW is very serous about getting people into buying EV’s.

  5. Doug B says:

    BMW have put out an entirely new car, which has then accounted for 5% of their sales in less than 6 months, many sales to customers new to BMW. I bet they are overjoyed with the results.

    1. Big Solar says:

      I would have never walked into a BMW dealer if it weren’t for the i3. I like it as much as any ev available today. I just hope they don’t have the maintenance/electronic issues that BMW gas cars have.

  6. pjwood says:

    Kudos BMW. Why didn’t GM think of this? Since few others are pushing EREV, perhaps they’ll figure out what sales could be behind a more typical car.

  7. James says:

    I love cars. I’ve owned some nice ones in my day – nothing exotic nor phenomenally expensive, mind you – but nice cars nonetheless.

    After marriage, I knew we needed a practical family machine for those future cubs. My wife had a trashy ’96 KIA that leaked oil from every orifice, so getting her a car for our future was a no-brainer. this poses that epic realization you are becoming your parents and you are actually buying a vehicle ( other than a pickup truck, mind you ) that is purely for utility – no excuses needed. It had to be frugal, yet have capabilities for Costco runs and room for strollers, bikes and all the children’s flotsam and jetsam. So we went minivan. We went to the Toyota dealership to shop Sienna vs. Odyssey. The sales guy really blew my mind as he had a stylish Hunter Green Sienna with power everything, DVD players, courtesy lamps in the outside mirrors, and even laser cruise. Then he offered to us for an entire three day weekend! I was floored! Why not? Great sales move – by Tuesday we’ll be begging him to take our $40+thousand dollars.

    I wanted a practical vehicle, but I had seen Who Killed The Electric Car and was swiftly going from plain old, “car guy” to smarter, “Screw Oil” guy. I had followed the Motor Trend Car of The Year 2nd gen Prius with whimsical interest until that documentary got to me. Thinking seriously about hybrids, my wife soundly told me a Prius was out of the question – “WE NEED LOTS OF ROOM FOR KIDS AND STUFF!”. So we tried out the van for 3 days, and I had read that Toyota had a hybrid minivan in Japan for six years already, but wouldn’t sell it in the USA to mess with it’s lucrative Sienna thing they had going.

    We handed the keys of the Sienna back to the salesman and bought a Prius! I had the wife bring in a child seat and put in in back of a Prius and she was blown away at the room and storage of a hatchback! We’ve never looked back.

    This i3 trial run will surely open many eyes to electric cars. But surely, many will hand the keys back after realizing it’s many limitations.

  8. alohart says:

    I was interested in the i3 because of its innovative construction (light with little steel to rust) and driver assist tech. I had an i-MiEV whose size and design (e.g., rear wheel drive) I like and which are similar to the i3. But from our new apartment, we could not drive around Oahu without stopping to charge for a hour or so. My range-anxious wife told me that if we could drive an i3 around Oahu without needing to charge en route, its high price relative to our I-MiEV would be money well spent.

    So I contacted BMW of Honolulu to request an extended BEV test drive only to learn that they did not participate in this program. However, the salesperson told me that he would see if he could arrange a 24-hour test drive in a BEV version (BMW’s 3-day test drive is apparently REx only).

    Last Wednesday, we drove to BMW of Honolulu, exchanged our i-MiEV for an i3 BEV, and were able to drive around Oahu without charging (no A/C). When my wife realized that the i3’s adaptive cruise control could maintain a safe distance from the car in front (allegedly unlike me 🙂 and could parallel park, both with no driver input, she was sold. We were both impressed by the apparent build quality and the included tech (but BMW really needs to hire Apple to improve iDrive’s UI).

    When we returned to BMW of Honolulu, we drove home in our own i3 sadly abandoning our little i-MiEV which had done nothing to deserve such treatment other than being put to shame by a car that costs twice as much. We have no regrets and neither does the salesperson who went out of his way to let us drive over 100 miles on one of their new, not a demo, i3’s (we purchased a different i3 that was configured more to our liking).

    So extended test drives can really work well!

    1. Big Solar says:

      Good story, I hate to get rid of my Imiev, it is such a cool little car and is under appreciated greatly by people who have never driven/owned one. I am also considering a i3.