BMW i3 to be in “High Demand” and “Supply Will be Somewhat Limited,” Says BMW CEO of North America




Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America, told Automotive News that the BMW i3 may be difficult to get a hold of when it first hits US shores in Q2 of 2014.

I3 Overhead

I3 Overhead

As Willisch says, the i3 will be a game changer for BMW:

“The i3 will tilt our image more toward innovation and sustainability, not only for the product, but for production and sustainability—that we dare to change from sheet metal to carbon fiber on a big scale.”

But it seems that, with it being so revolutionary, the i3 will be hard to get.

Willisch told Automotive News that the i3 “will be in high demand and the supply will be somewhat limited.”

Hopefully, “somewhat limited” doesn’t mean scarce.  Willisch did add that “We will sell every car we get,” but that’s to be expected of any cutting-edge technology vehicle when it first launches.

As we see it, it’ll take some time for BMW to fill the pipelines around the globe with the i3 and this will be a global vehicle.  In fact, aside from the Nissan LEAF, no electric will be available in as many countries as the i3.

Surely some i3s will trickle into the US in Q2 of 2014, but we don’t expect them to be in abundance in North America until at least several months after its US launch.

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24 Comments on "BMW i3 to be in “High Demand” and “Supply Will be Somewhat Limited,” Says BMW CEO of North America"

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June ’14 is my lease end, I am doubting that I will be seeing i3s in Texas by then.

Article Translation: Vehicle will be priced above MSRP.

I think I’ll wait it out

Yup. Wait just a few more years for the Tesla GenIII. Then see what the i3 prices are like, when the Tesla beats it on every front.

Who would want one? Why?

I don’t see it. Just the BMW name?! It’s a very expensive 80-mile BEV folks.
One with a body nobody in your town can repair except your BMW dealer
who’ll charge you enough to choke you.

Get real. “High demand”?!!! Pffffft.

Hmm… you must live outside of Southern California. Seems like a lot of folks here in L.A. buy Bimmers for no other reason than the fact that it’s a Bimmer. It’s like a piece of clothing that they want to wear and be seen in when they’re going somewhere. Lots of folks hee seem to also buy hybrids for this very reason, and have switched from wearing a Bimmer to wearing a Prius since green is in fashion nowadays. So I suspect this i3 will sell quite well in So Cal.

Made In California by American workers doesn’t persuade Cali
folks to reconsider buying something for the badge?

Maybe if Obama is photographed glad-handing at the Fremont
factory? That just may not happen due to liberal California’s
support of the old-guard Detroit-esque labor union model.

We’ll have to see – but when auto reviewers get their hands
on i3 and we see it’s real limitations vs. Tesla….I think you may
be incorrect.

BMW buyers are, after all – not completely stupid ( notwithstanding
the crazy way they drive! ). Folks in that income bracket generally
and I say, GEN-ERR-ALLY, do due diligence and some checking
before laying out large sums of cash, perceived prestige or no.

From what I’ve seen, Tesla says PRESTIGE very well, and the
American product makes these i’s look pretty bad. We may be
seeing a changing of the prestige badge. Californians have always
bee quick to adopt change – much quicker than other parts of
North America.

There’s an interesting video out there in the webosphere with
a UK TV journalist grilling a BMW UK exec upon why he should
choose an i3 over say, a 3 series BMW product being the
3 series performs better and is cheaper. The BMW guy
launches into a sermon on Euro Co2 and urban congestion fees.

“I’ll have to talk it over with the wife”, says the journalist. LOL.
I’m not sold. Neither was he.

Why is nobody quoting the BMW reps who tell the media they’re
building i3 and i8 as a hedge against Euro and NA regulations?

This is very slick corporate-speak for “compliance car”

Just you wait.

BMW CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer discussing the true reason for existence
of the nonsensical i3 and even more nonsensical i8 2-seater.

If you’re impatient, fast-fwd to 1:04 of the video and enjoy!

Dr. Reithofer says “Building cars like the iZree iz a must!”….

A “MUST!”….like eating vitamins and not overdoing high chloresterol foods ya!

Do you zee zat BMW iz not passionate about ze electric car ya?

Sickening are all the comparisons with Model S. Look how they even
compare the 85kwh Model S to i3!!!! Or the 2 seat impractical,
carbon fiber i8!!!! What’s to compare?!!!

It’s nuts I tell ya.

I’d also like to pinpoint Dr. Reithofer’s strategy of i3 and i8 being
BMW’s bookmarks moving forward – notice all the comparisons
between Tesla and i3-i8. One composite $150,000 sports car 2 seater
with a 15-20 mile AER that won’t outperform 85kwh 7 seat
Model S with 2 trunks. The other, a $50,000 composite urban
car with an 80 mile AER, motorcycle tires and 2 cyl motorcycle backup
that won’t match electric performance, and can’t justify the price over
say, a LEAF!

I’ll take the $63,000 60kwh Model S on a track with my entire family,
my mother, a week’s worth of groceries in the frunk and my electric
Go-Ped scooter + six bags of Costco paper towels and by camping tent
and still kick your butt around ANY course! With 200 mile range
I’ll never need the X5 CUV rental car, or the inconvenience of
getting it. I won’t have to limp around between 3 hour charges,
and I could just go on and on.

Aluminum bodywork has to be expensive. Carbon fiber bodywork
will cost you more time and expense than you can ever imagine!

Model S vs. i3 or i8????!!! Are you kidding me?

Um, nice soliloquy.

Indeed. I think “James” might have lost his audience after the second post.

I’m interested in the i3 REx. Double the electric range of my Volt is the biggest reason for me.

How will you justify your insurance company totaling the i3 after a small fender bender? Who will repair the composite body? How much will that cost you? LEAF has twice the electric range as the Volt. So, for $20,000 dollars more and for all it’s composite, aluminum structure, it still gives you LEAF AER and a second or two better to 60? The “range extender” on i3 is said to have the ability to charge it’s batteries while rollilng down the highway to 42%. So you’re spending much more in cost for liquid gas to charge your battery than the pennies it costs from the plug? This is why GM went the route it did with the Volt. In the 2 cyl. motorcycle motor “peace of mind” category of justification for i3, it’s still silly. Silly in that BMW says i3’s ReX performance doesn’t match it’s electric performance, and we’ll find that’s an understatement. It’s a limp- to-charger scheme. Try climbing hills with that 2 cyl.. I believe you and James M ( I’m also James M, btw ) will come around to see my valid points later when the i3 begins reviews in production form by auto journalists. At… Read more »

James is definitely on a rant against BMW. I on the other hand commend BMW for offering one of very select few purpose built EVs. Apparently a relative late (=weak?) comer to the EV market, you might wonder if BMW is just targeting compliance. Just the opposite, they have made $100s millions in R&D and manufacturing investments to be able to create a premium product in every way. Like the Tesla, the car will not rust, offers a safer front crumple zone and carrying capacity, maximized interior space, low center of gravity for ideal handling and premium styling and choices. If one drives the car as intended, enjoyable but safely, it could last decades. It’s clearly not a compliance vehicle. In fact, other than the very pricy Model S (unfortunately), it’s the best offering around and appropriately priced. I’ve been researching for two years, to find the right EV to buy, and the i3 is it. The only questions I have left on the car is it’s EPA mileage and safety ratings, which should, considering the design, end up on the top of the stack.

James M to other James M –

( see above response )


You haven’t addressed the comparison of your stated priorities with
LEAF vs. i3. Both are 80 mile urban BEVs with similar interior capacities. LEAF
scores high on NHTSA and Insurance Inst. safety ratings.

You’re completely ignoring the costs of repairing the i3.

You’re ignoring my points re: i3’s ReX.

You’re ignoring i3’s extraneous service charges.

You’re ignoring the price chasm between servicing a BMW and a
LEAF, Volt or Model S.

I think you’ve made up your mind for prestige and perceived prestige reasons
and have totally ignored true comparison with cars that do what i3 does,
but better at both below and slightly above ( 60kwh Model S ) i3’s price.

In my neighborhood, a Tesla shouts prestige pretty loudly, as well as
a person who’se bought a quality American car that is clean, quiet and green.

How rare to have two James Ms. 🙂 James I do concede: – don’t crash your i3, but how is that different than the Model S? All aluminum is just as specialized so you’re just as married to Tesla for expensive repairs. (BTW this is one real advantage to regular ICE vehicle BEV retrofits like the Focus Electric, body parts are inexpensive and readily available) – don’t buy the ReX, a 10% premium for a 10% EV performance loss. BMW has effectively recommended to plan to use it essentially in emergency situations. I have read several statements by BMW that its not for everyday use. The only reason to consider it in my opinion is if you plan to resell your i3 one day (as the majority of buyers will still be hung up on range anxiety for years to come). I have no intention to purchase the ReX as like most BEV owners today, we have a second vehicle for long road trips and our daily use of the i3 will be much like research shows: trips totalling 30-40 miles. Otherwise: – what “extraneous service charges”? – servicing BEVs are in general drastically lower than ICE – no spark… Read more »

I can’t wait until Elon Musk begins to address all these ludicrous comparisons
betwixt i3 and his Tesla 85kwh, let alone the much more reasonably priced’60kwh.

Bloomberg’s “Tesla vs. BMW i3” video wrongly quoted 60kwh Model S’s price,
and used 85kwh Model S’s 0-60 numbers. Their comparison didn’t take into
consideration free Supercharging and all the extra BMW services and goodies
they speak of in their promotional material. These extras add up to a much
higher than $45,000 pricetag. $4,000 for the very weak abilities of the
ReX is ridiculous. Then he’ll address the difference between repairing the
aluminum Model S vs. the proprietary carbon-plastic body of the i3 – not to mention
those gloriously complex aluminum underpinnings.

i3 seems to have you guy’s not using the practical portions of your minds.

Again, I do concede, the supercharger infrastructure is a real benefit and strategic advantage for Tesla which makes road trips truly cost free and long range. Musk’s recent battery replacement demonstration is even more compelling. Consider, for about the same price as a regular gas fill-up you not only get a fast full charge but even more important, no more worry about aging and declining battery range, just swap whenever you’re in hurry.

I’m after the best but affordable EV, so the Model S is not it. The i3 not only in the ball park of affordability, but practicality with its hatchback styling, and still guaranteed fun to drive in BMW fashion. I’ll admit my personal challenge is get the i3 now, or wait several years to see what Tesla’s gen3 delivers…

I do think the I3 will be a fabulous city car. However, I remember some time back that BMW was boasting that they would probably produce 30K I3s the first year and could ramp-up even more; thanks to the radical new design and building process. I think BMW wants to sell these jewels at top $ and does not want to have extra inventory sitting on lots, which can give the wrong impression JMO. As far as collision repairs they will be higher for most-all plug-in vehicles. I can’t wait to read about the I3s crash test data. Don’t forget to get insurance quotes when buying any vehicle 

The i3 is a big bet for BMW, no doubt about that. Since it’s such a departure from the status quo, and only the second or third EV in the premium segment, depending on how you count, market demand and the projected sales volume is anyone’s guess.

Considering how packed Tesla’s stores are, there seems to be a lot of traction for EVs and gas-free driving. If you recall what the prognosticators said about Tesla’s chances of making inroads into the premium car market, then the comments about the i3 here and elsewhere won’t come as a surprise.

The Model S is a fabulous car, but it might be too large or too expensive for some. Don’t judge, and let the market decide. BMW’s success, if they end up meeting their objectives, will help other EV manufacturers, particularly if BMW recruits new EV owners from the ranks of ICE drivers. A rising tide will lift all boats.