BMW Targets 150,000 Plug-In Electric Car Sales In 2018

3 weeks ago by Mark Kane 18

BMW i8 Roadster

BMW Group intends to sell around 150,000 plug-in electric cars next year, which is 50% more than the target for 2017 (100,000).

The first BMW i3s was delivered in late December (to our own Tom Moloughney no less)

Mid-December BMW announced it had hit its 2017 goal of selling 100,000 plug-ins (details) – now its time to aim even higher.

At the end of this year, cumulative sales should hit 200,000.  In 2016, plug-in electric car sales amounted to just more than 62,000, so steady progress is being made.

Klaus Froehlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development, said that the volume will continue to go up, but the cars needs to be profitable at the same time:

“We’ll definitely boost sales by a mid-double digit amount. This is to stay ahead of the competition that’s starting to do its own rollout.’

“This can’t be just about showcase cars. We have to boost profitability and keep prices on an acceptable level by delving very, very deeply into our cost structure.’’

The latest offerings from the BMW Group are the i3s (check out our short take here) plug-in hybrid MINI and the recently presented BMW i8 Roadster. It’s expected that next year BMW will upgrade the range of the i3, which should translate into higher sales too.

2018 BMW i3s

Interestingly, at least according to the article, BMW has struggled with slow sales of the i3, which – as we understand – were expected to be higher that was was realized. Since late 2013, BMW has delivered more than 100,000 i3.

“BMW’s struggles with slow sales of the i3 city car, which used a lightweight carbon-fiber body for the first time in a mass-produced vehicle, prompted the carmaker to dial back its electric ambitions and pause from adding more electric-only models to its lineup.”

Side note is that BMW Group sold its stake in the joint venture SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers that produces the carbon-fiber for the BMW i3 and i8 to SGL Group. The cooperation will be continued, but it now seems to be less important to BMW than other areas – like battery labs.

source: Bloomberg

18 responses to "BMW Targets 150,000 Plug-In Electric Car Sales In 2018"

  1. Mint says:

    The majority of BMW’s plugins have far less than 25 miles of EPA-rated range, so it’s hard for me to call them real plugins.

    With the Model 3 and Bolt now here, which both handle well and accelerate faster, the i3 is at least $10k overpriced. It’s utterly uncompetitive, and will only sell to the small niche of EV loving BMW diehards.

    1. Forever Green says:

      Mint, Well said, I agree.

    2. menorman says:

      Agree that i3 is overpriced and that some of the PHEVs should get more range, but their existence will spur some people to actually consider a more capable EV on their next visit to the dealer, which is still a net positive.

      1. mx says:

        Nope. The BMW i3 with an aluminum battery frame, and carbon fiber body, along with a real independent suspicion, and a REX option, isn’t overpriced.

        The driving experience is impressive.
        Regular BMW owners should cross shop this car, especially people buying the 2 series.

        The nice thing about the car is it didn’t make the mistakes of GM and Nissan. It’s got a real rear independent suspension, and a nice interior. No Buyer Remorse.

        1. Mint says:

          The only people who wouldn’t choose a Model 3 over an i3 are those who absolutely must have a higher seating position, or hate some quirk of the Tesla.

          Out of this remaining tiny niche, how many will turn down the doubled range of the Bolt for a better interior or a BMW badge?

          You mention the i3’s better rear suspension twice, yet this reviewer says the Bolt handles better at speed:
          http://www.bmwblog.com/2017/02/13/test-drive-bmw-i3-vs-chevy-bolt/
          Elsewhere, reviewers like the handling of both, but the i3’s skinny tires has downsides. It’s a wash.

          The i3 has too many shortcomings:
          -only 4 seats
          -poor access to the rear seats
          -rear windows that don’t roll down
          -limited cargo space
          -range of an economy EV
          -harsh ride

          It was somewhat compelling when the Leaf was ugly/slow/low-range, when the Bolt didn’t exist, and the Model 3 wasn’t imminent. Now it’s simply poor value.

          I don’t believe your claim of “no buyer’s remorse” for a second. Buy an i3 today and it will depreciate faster than any other EV over the next 3 years, because very few will find one desirable.

    3. Prsnep says:

      Law of diminishing returns applies here. The first mile of electric range displaces more gasoline than the 2nd. 2nd mile more than the third and so on. A car with 25 electric miles will displace majority of the gasoline-miles. Cost of vehicles grows more leniently with increasing battery size, unfortunately. For plug-in-hybrids, many drivers will not benefit significantly when switching from 30 to 40-mile PHEV, for example.

      So we need lots of plug-in options, even if they only provide 15 electric-only miles.

      1. DJ says:

        Most sensible thing I’ve read on here all day!

      2. Mint says:

        That’s not the only “law” at play.

        Many people intended to plug in, but found it was just annoying for only 10 miles, and use PHEVs mostly as a hybrid with an HOV sticker.

        If we assume that every PHEV is plugged in once per trip, yes, 15 miles electric range makes more use of each kWh than a bigger battery. But that assumption isn’t true. Moreover, the battery is only one part of the electric drivetrain. A 20 kWh battery will make more use of the electric motor (and clutch, inverter, etc) than a 10kWh battery.

        Finally, you mention 25 miles, but BMW isn’t close to that in the real world. It’s more like 10-15.

        1. Prsnep says:

          Do you have proof that PHEV vehicles are not being plugged in? Because anyone in the right mind would do so since it provides lower cost of operation and a quieter ride, especially at low speeds.

          1. Mint says:

            No thorough evidence, but there’s some evidence here and there:
            http://gas2.org/2017/09/21/shocking-news-plug-hybrid-cars-need-plugged/

            Consider the first Prius Plugin. Each plugin gives you 11 electric miles, so for a 50 MPG car, you save 0.22 gallons, or 60 cents. At 95 MPGe in EV mode, it takes 3.9 kWh of charging to get those 11 miles, and at 12c/kWh, that costs 47 cents. In some areas, the electricity will cost more than the gas saved.

            So you save 13 cents with each plugin. Not bothering with a measly 13 cents doesn’t make you crazy or foolish.

  2. Prad Bitt says:

    Anti-marketing making 150 000 hybrids (and some ICEless electrics) look like a bold goal.
    B.S.

    Ditch the ICEd cars, add a zero and we will be impressed…

    1. Prsnep says:

      What?!

  3. mx says:

    The i3 is starting to see the respect it deserves in the auto press. I think people are actually driving the car, and kind of demanding it get recognized for the sweet ride it is. I mean BMW doesn’t put a sophisticated suspension in the car just for the spec sheet.

    The i3s ( Sport ) add’s enough handling that it can truly be called a “hot hatch”, finally.

    1. John Doe says:

      I have an i3 as a company car, and many people I know have tested it – and they are surprised by the handling.
      As a result several of them has bought the i3.

      When it comes to the look of the car, it grows on me. I actually like the look, kind of. In black it’s kind of cool.
      I like the firm suspension, and the acceleration. The interior quality is nice, and since I usually drive (older) vans, the difference is gigantic. A new van has the interiour quality of a 5 year old cheap car – at best.

      The i3 handles active driving well.
      I love the technology of the car. Watching how it’s made it like porn to me.
      The back doors are kind of unpractical when I drive too and from school and kindergarten.. it does not matter with the smaller kids in a child seat, since they need help to get out anyway and here the doors actually help me to get a better position and reach better inside the car.
      For the older kids, it was annoying to get out of the car all the time, just so they could get out. Now I’m used to it, and it’s all right. Most of the trips, I need to get out anyway, when they are doing sports or other activites.

      If the handling is not that important, and the materials, and the way it’s made – I’m sure I could have chosen a VW e-Golf too. Feels like a very solid product too, and it has normal doors in the back. Both cars are kind of expensive, but it depends on how much hard plastic and what kind of materials you want in your car. How it handles.. depending on what you want.
      I have thought about buying an e-Golf too.. but I feel it’s a bit expensive. Why does it cost so much more then the Leaf?
      I’m sure VW makes good profit on this, as it’s made together with the regular ICE Golfs. Talking high volume production, which reduce price.

      I know many that owns the Renault Zöe, and they are super happy with that as well. That is a cheaper car, and for many that does the job. It feels cheaper then the Golf and the i3. I feel I’ve been kind of ruined driving the i3, since most EVs feel a bit to soft, and not so interested in active driving.

      When It comes down to what I would buy myself – I’m not sure. I liked the Ionic too, but the range was too short. I also would have to spray paint the grill of the Hyundai.. the grey stuff don’t work for me at all. But that is just a minor cost to do.
      I’ve been looking at the Zöe too, and I can not make up my mind. Home charger and installation included in the deal.

      If people have the chance to testdrive the i3, please do. It’s actually really nice, and it just grows on me.
      I may even fork up my own money for it.

      I’m a bit surprised that BMW didn’t release the i5 too. There was mules running for almost a year.. and then they stopped. With a more normal look, and a larger car – I think they would have sold well.

  4. Roy_H says:

    BMW is a prestigious brand, people will gladly pay an extra $10k over an otherwise equivalent ICE car in another brand. They will do just fine with the i3.

    1. PHEVfan says:

      With the arrival of the Tesla M3, I doubt your optimism. Higher price for less range, less performance, and less space isn’t going to help BMW at all.

  5. Jesse Pylväläinen says:

    I think BMW can achieve that goal, I simply cant still get my head around the i3 looks, I mean its just so ugly in my eyes. Sure a cute little city car but just no…

    Yeah i3 is a great car, carbon fiber body, aluminum battery frame, great interior as is to be expected but the exterior is perhaps only rivaled by the 1st generation leaf

  6. James says:

    The painful thing to watch is legacy gas car companies trying desperately to find sub niches to place an electric model in. Then watch them either not advertise it, or just in California or CARB states.

    Every ICE carmaker seems to be making or developing an EV carefully crafted to not interfere with their gas models.

    Jaguar, GM, Audi…Coming out with $70-100,000 2 row crossovers and calling them Tesla Killers…Its funny but sad. BMW created i3, a car they themselves call a city car. No great number of people will shell out $50,000 for a city car.

    Honda makes a fine PHEV solution. The Clarity PHEV started showing up on dealer lots in my state a few weeks ago. The largest dealer I contacted had 3. He said that was their allotment FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR OF 2018!

    ICEmakers will eventually have to build EVs that compete with their ICE profit makers. It’ll be a slow process, and how well Tesla does will be a great factor in how fast the others rise to build competitive models.

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