While BMW has once again posted a record sales year, the German market has been less welcoming for the new BMW i3 electric vehicles. Only 2,128 (sales figure provided by InsideEVs.com) BMW i3’s found their home in Germany through November 2014 which is significantly less than rumored 5,000 units sales target imposed by from the Munich HQ.
Since I have spent some time in Germany lately, I “looked” around to identify some of the reasons why the i3 sales fell short of expectations. In the end I came up with five reasonable reasons why BMW i3 is yet to be a success in the local market.
For the most part, the findings are not backed by statistical figures, analytics or other data, and they are rather based on common sense. You will see that Europeans have a different way of doing things and how they perceive electric cars compared to the U.S. counterparts for example.
*Editor's Note: This post appears on BMWBLOG. Check it out here.
- Public Transportation
In my opinion, a significant obstacle in the way of adopting electric cars is the ultra-efficient German public transport system. If you live, for example, in BMW’s hometown Munich getting around in a car for anything but pleasure is a nuisance of epic proportions. Half the time, this magnificent city is locked in a serious traffic jam that literally grinds to a halt many times during the day.
The smart alternative is to jump on the highly efficient U-Bahn or S-Bahn system which blitzes you around the city in mere minutes. The same travel in terms of distance can take up to 1-2 hours in a car, compared to just 15-20min on a train.
Add the cost of parking, lack of parking and generally, driving a car during several staus, and you will understand why driving is a daunting challenge. Not even an electric vehicle can fix all these issues.
If you live in Munich and your residential area is located inside the U-Bahn zones, you will pay 97.00€ for a monthly ticket, granting you access to the entire network with completely unlimited travel time, travel distance and usage of the entire subway system there. The usual trip from the city center in Munich to the farthest station on the subway system is around 30min every day, when things are running regularly over there. No parking fares and no sitting in traffic, at all. It’s efficient, easy to use and cost friendly too. The public transportation system also runs throughout the day and night with only a short 4 hours break in the middle of the night, where the network is inspected, cleaned and maintained.
On the other hand, a lease for a BMW i3 runs approximately 500€ for a 36 month lease with a hefty down payment. With the BMW i3 designed as a second car or a city car, the price tag you need to cough up for one doesn’t warranty the expense for some people.
- Alternative models
Tesla Model S
The extended range of the Tesla Model S makes it a perfect vehicle, especially with the introduction of the Superchargers in various parts of the country allowing for a quick and easy charge.
- Overall Appeal
BMW i3 is appealing to the younger and more techno friendly group of potential customers. In Germany, the general feeling towards cars in general is a mixed one. Unlike the United States, where a car is a necessity, in Germany it is not.