Head Of BMW’s i Brand Confident Of Success With i3

NOV 29 2012 BY STAFF 17

BMW i3 5-Door Concept

In a few days the public will get a chance in the US to see the i3, i8 and the all new i3 Coupe Concept up close at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and BMW’s head of all things electric, Ulrich Kranz,  is confident they will like what they see.

Head Of BMW's i Program, Ulrich Kranz (via Autobild.de)

Mr. Kranz recently sat down with Automobilwoche and discussed BMW’s i brand, and the company’s vision of the future.

The BMW boss of EVs, said that of  the i3,  they are offering something that “has not existed to this point: the first electric car in the premium segment. ” 

Given this interview was given in Europe, we imagine he is not considering Tesla’s US roll-out of the Model S.  (The Tesla Comes to Germany late Q3 of 2013)

“With its driving performance and dynamics, the i3 will generate as much pleasure as a car with a traditional powertrain. Next year, we introduce the regular-production version, and it will reach the market at a competitive price in late 2013.”

BMW i3 Coupe Concept

When speaking of other small electric cars, Mr. Kranz says why BMW has opted to not build mini-cars (not to be confused with MINI that Bimmer produces):

They have clearly been rejected – whether you are in Asia, the U.S. or Europe. Minicars are not considered safe. Customers want to make sure that we are taking care of the environment, but they do not want to do without comfort.

Automobilwoche then tries to get a little creative with the questions and asks, “The i3 is being built in Leipzig, Germany. What capacity are you starting out with?  We have heard that the plant will give your niche model an annual capacity of about 30,000 units.”

“We have clear objectives but I cannot cite them for you yet.  It won’t be a niche model.”

With the i3 Concept Coupe debuting this week, and a rumored i4 concept in the works, Mr. Kranz is asked if BMW’s future plans depend on how well the i3 and i8 do in the market.  His answer is simple:

“They will do well.”

Clearly BMW is all-in when it comes to building electric cars. 

Both the BMW i3  and i8 production is being done at the company’s most advanced facility in Leipzig, and BMW says that there is “plenty of space” to add production (and models) in the future to their i brand lineup.

Automobilwoche via Automotive News Europe

Categories: BMW


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17 Comments on "Head Of BMW’s i Brand Confident Of Success With i3"

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shure some GM blood runnin thru its veins, didnt BMW get a GM Volt drivetrain desiner?

I had an opportunity to speak with Ulrich at a BMW dinner last year in Munich and he seemed like a really nice and genuine guy. I can also tell you for certain BMW expects to sell a lot of i3’s. I believe the 30,000 figure the interviewer asked about is a goal for first year sales worldwide but personally I think they hope to sell more than that annually once they are selling i3’s in every planned market.

As for the GM drivetrain designer, yes BMW did hire Frank Weber who was a key engineer for the Volt. However he had previously worked for BMW and by the time they hired him the i3 was already more than 2 years into development. Still, I’m sure his experience was useful for the range extender option the i3 will have. Since it’s an add on option, it’s greatly different than the Volt’s set-up as it purely a range extending generator and will not have any physical connection to the wheels. I’m not implying that is a better design, just saying it’s such a different design there isn’t much that would be ‘carried over’ from the Volt.

I don’t think the Volt planetary gear connects to the drive train unless over 70mph which seems the best of both worlds but I could be wrong. Still not taking away from the i3. It looks to be an awesome car with extensive engineering that you would expect from BMW. I hope the BMW faithful as well as newcomers take this car serious. I don’t see why they would not.

What I’m reading is that it will start at $45000 for 3 door, electric-only option and increase in price from there (range-extender).

Is this positioned well enough for 30,000 sales a year?

Actually, the 3-door is just a concept at this stage…the 5-door, estimated at 45K is what is coming next year.

I’d imagine if they can hold to 45K or less to sell 30,000 isn’t a stretch. Not because it is all that technically fabulous for that amount of money (although it is fairly ambitious), but because it is visually appealing and says “BMW” on the front.

Honestly, I would be fairly surprised if we can ultimately buy an i3 for $45K. At that price, I know I would seriously consider flipping the wife into that from her current plug-in.

i3 is definitely on my list of next cars to buy. Esp, the EREV version.

Only problems are
– likely price of EREV
– Likely to be much later than the EV i3

With the EV i3
– Not enough range / No CHaDEMO support.


I have a couple questions if you don’t mind answering.

Since these are your concerns:

What do you expect the range extender option to cost?
What do you consider “much later”?
What is enough range for you? (EPA rating)

What do you expect the range extender option to cost?

Looking at the overall cost, if i3 + range extender costs as much as an S base model (40 kWh) – I’d think of it as expensive. More specifically, if the base i3 can be leased for about $500 a month, EREV should add no more than 10 to 15%.

There is also a specific WA problem. EVs are sales tax exempt (9%). Plugins are not.

What do you consider “much later”?

More than 6 months.

What is enough range for you? (EPA rating)

100 to 120 miles. That would allow me to safely drive 80 highway miles in winter. The base Model S would be ideal, but for it’s size (and lack of QC).

I should have said “PHEVs are not” sales tax exempt.

“Looking at the overall cost, if i3 + range extender costs as much as an S base model (40 kWh) – I’d think of it as expensive.”

I take that back. I was comparing pre-tax credit i3 to post tax credit Model S.

I think EREV i3 should come in < 50k, pre-tax credit.

For what it’s worth this is what I’m expecting as far as your concerns:

Cost: Base BEV i3 = $44,500. REx i3 $48,000 (Fits your requirement)

REx availability: January 2014. While the i3 is planned to launch in September of next year, BMW has never said where it will launch. My personal guess is they launch in Germany in September and the US in November with the REx available either at the US launch or within 2 months. (fits your requirement)

Range: EPA rating 92-96 miles per charge. The i3 is going to fall a little short if you are hoping for a 100- 120 mile range. There every indication they are looking at low to mid 90’s with a MPGe of 120+ (Not that anyone cares about MPGe!)

If your guess on price/timing holds good, then the range doesn’t matter too much. I can get the EREV option for those last few miles.

BTW, how high does the driver seat go ? Wondering whether I can get this for my wife …

I haven’t sat in the concepts or tried to adjust the seats, but I did ask about the range of seat adjustments because the original concept had the real bench-like seat and was told the production car would have a full range if adjustments like any other BMW. I do not think power seats will be available even as an option because of the added weight.

I worded my question wrong. My wife just wants high seats to make ingress & egress easy.

Then she will LOVE the i3. The seating position is very high, something I think others may find a little strange at first. It is because the battery pack design under the passenger compartment. Unlike Tesla they are using large format batteries and unlike in the LEAF, the modules stand upright so the battery compartment is taller than in the other two cars. This makes the floor of the car and thus the seating position a little higher than most cars. You can kinda tell in this picture: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MvnExfvDX9g/UBwD8fw2a0I/AAAAAAAABWQ/VAV8mrKTtBE/s1600/HotWeather1.jpg

How high are those tires ?

I’m not sure what the porduction car will have but the i3 concept coupe has 175/60 R20’s on the rear and 155/60 R20’s on the front.

The production car will have large wheels for the size of the car, think 18″-20″.