Polarizing Design Of BMW i3 Is Intentional


It's Rather Difficult To Find a Good Angle Of The i3

It’s Rather Difficult To Find a Good Angle Of The i3

“The design … can be polarizing to people.”

Says Jacob Harb, head of ele ctric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW North America in an interview at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Separately, Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW North America, told Business Insider:

“The concept was designed in the beginning to be a megacity vehicle.”

“What we know from research is that people that drive a car like that want to make a statement, they want to show that they choose a different way of mobility. It’s not the ordinary steel car with an exhaust pipe.”

So, Willisch is explaining why the BMW i3’s design is so…umm…unique.  Meanwhile, Harb says the i3’s polarizing design is actually a selling point.

“The whole point of a new model is conquest and to bring new people into the brand. With i, we know we’re doing that.”

That’s commonly called conquest sales and if BMW’s i lineup can get those new buyers in, then i becomes an immediate success.

Source: Business Insider

Categories: BMW

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44 Comments on "Polarizing Design Of BMW i3 Is Intentional"

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The Chris Bangle designs were also polarizing and intentional.

this is hogwash: with the amount of money involved in the launch of an automobile, you do not design cars with the intent of being “polarizing”. what is happening is that BMW had hoped to play the “emperor’s new clothes” game and sell people on all of the presumably innovative engineering. when that didn’t quite pan out and some rejected the design, the marketing department is now introducing this “intentionally polarizing” meme so that people don’t think that BMW made a mistake.

I have no doubt that the i3 will appeal on the Edmunds Ugliest Car list, alongside the Nissan Leaf, Cube and Juke, the Prius and the i-Miev.

I know that these manufacturers use consumer research, but do they actually target the ones who say they have to look different?

The thing is, love it or hate it, it is working out for them. Maybe it won’t do well in the US but elsewhere it’s selling more than they expected.

They are selling more than expected because it is the first car that uses the right combination of a good battery range associated with a small onboard generator. They would actually sell it way more if the design had been conventional instead of the repulsive i3 shape and doors thing. If they do a more normal i5 they will simply be unable to meet the demand instead of selling simply more than expected.

That’s funny – Nissan just last week said they are going to change the body of the Leaf in the next generation because they realized that the market is bigger if you DON’T make the car look polarizingly different. Some marketing people are clueless.

I want to buy a sleek, efficient, and fast car (i.e., Tesla)…not something that looks like the Carebear creators designed it…no bubble cars…though Mitsu takes the cake regarding pathetic appearances like the jellybean (i-meiv-whatever).

The Prius design philosphy? Grrr. Stupid.

Make it different . . . but don’t make it goofy. Tesla did the right thing.

Both BMW say the same things about their BEVs. Both are F U G L Y!!!

Opps, meant “both BMW and Nissan”…

You’re blind if you think the i8 is fugly.

If they really intended it to be polarizing, it worked. Way too well.

Were they trying to out-do what Mercedes did with their “Smart” brandline of city cars?

If they were aiming for the Moon with how polarizing they could make the looks of this car, they greatly exceeded what they aimed for and hit Mars.

*disclaimer — I went to the i3 launch party at my local BMW dealership recently, and the odd looks do grow on you when you spend time with it in person. But I still prefer the aesthetics of the ActiveE.

my friend who has a lotus exige has a smart ed and loves how it looks so..

the new facelift smart cars look awesome, stop being whiny its a micro car it has to look a certain way and it looks cool the way it is, it isnt a sporty sedan rofl

No one is discusing the aesthetics of the Lotus or Smart vehicles…


LOL… 😀

I can’t even get past the name “Smart ED” (Erectile Dysfunction) to even consider how bad that car looks.

It is like Mercedes doesn’t even remember Bob Dole…


Well….few remember Bob Dole. Not even the GOP who voted against a handicapped Bill he championed.

I’m sure that is what the designer of the Pontiac Aztec said, “Yes, we intended it to be polarizing.”


Enter Pee Wee Herman: “I meant to do that”

Well, they polarized me into crossing it off my list of vehicles I might be interested in buying. Well done!

I believe it looks like they ran a Prius into a wall, and instead of repairing it, they planted a pair of iconic kidney shaped grills on it and Voila’,,,
the new “Polorizing i3 !”
Have you noticed, Not even the usual “Shills” for BMW have shown up on this site to attempt to put lipstick on this Pig.

Next time I’ll avoid drinking apple juice while reading your message, it got me so laughing that I couldn’t keep it in my mouth. It started at the vision of the word kidney.

“What we know from research is that people that drive a car like that want to make a statement, they want to show that they choose a different way of mobility.”

Uhm … wrong.

If BMW wanted to make a statement, they should have used more acceleration, less weirdness.

If you have driven it, you would know it doesn’t need any more acceleration. Increase battery size? Definitely.

what i find so misguided about people who seek “performance” EVs is that such driving is time-expensive. when you waste charge in an EV, the time to recharge is measured in hours. by contrast, when you waste gasoline in an ICE, the time to refill is measured in minutes.

while it is true that electric motors can give cars a performance boost, if that is your motivation, you are better off with an ICE from a convenience perspective. EVs are better suited for energy efficient driving which allows you to maximize range.

Maybe that’s why I like driving the C-Max. I can use that acceleration, and recharge quickly at a gas pump.

We understand. But there are plenty of times when you know you have no range issue and want to have some performance.

All these EVs should have multiple different drive modes to handle this desire.

Honestly this was what I am hoping for. In three years when they start coming off lease I hope no one likes the look of them or wants one and I can pick up a REX model for peanuts.

BMW does appear rather pleased with the sales results so far. Maybe the car does have a certain X factor to it after all.

So far, the i3 has been a smashing success. Having another strong contender on the plugin vehicle market is all that matters, its looks notwithstanding.

I’ll be the contrarian, trying to balance this thread. The i3 is “different” (for sure) but not ugly by any means. I went for a test drive with my 14 year old daughter, and she went head over heels for it. Her words: “it’s like they reinvented the car”, which was a statement that took both the outside and inside of the car into account. Kudos to BMW for pushing the envelope and offering a different but really exciting product. Frankly, I don’t understand the scorn and teeth-grinding. I’m sure BMW will eventually come out with a more classical product, perhaps the i5, but in the meantime, the i3 is a compelling product in its own way, and I hope they sell well. Coming from a Volt whose lease is ending in August, I’d personally be interested if it were not for the smallish trunk (I have 3 dogs).

i suspect that the $40k+ price is a contributor to the negative reaction to the for the package that is the BMW i3. “intentionally polarizing” cars like the BMW i3 are sort of like the gospel of St. John, it is oriented toward the “already converted”: namely, people who would buy just about anything that had a BMW nameplate on it. in some respected, BMW probably would have been just as well off just offering the BEV version because the REx version is such a compromised embodiment of range extension that it seems hardly worth the extra cost. only the “already converted” would buy a REx: if you are concerned about range anxiety with the BEV, range extended driving in the BMW i3 is so degraded that it would seem to offer little. the people to whom the REx will most appeal is for the “already converted” who generally would have bought the BEV anyway. of course, it is all fine and well to play “contrarian” for purposes of debate on anonymous internet forums, and for people to post here about how they *would* buy this car or that car, but until they actually *do* buy, it is all whistling… Read more »

Huh? I drive a Volt. Why wouldn’t I be considering an i3? (Don’t bother to answer. It’s a *rhetorical* question.)

I drive a VOlt and the i3 REx would work fine for me. It’s on my short list to replace my leased Volt in November.

With all due respect, I don’t think that you understand some of the guiding thought behind the i3 product design. It’s classic conquest car, which will bring new customers to the brand without cannibalizing existing model sales. While the design language and the overall concept and unconventional, it looks like the vehicle will sell well and will attract an ardent customer base, which bodes well for future BMW offerings in this market segment. The REx will be very popular and a key defining feature of the i3. Like it or not, this is a very well thought-out product, which should find a strong footing in the marketplace. Let’s hope that BMW and other car makers will follow up with future products worth writing so many articles about.

to cut through the crap, explain exactly what market segment is the intended target for the BMW i3? all this talk of “classic conquest car” and not “cannibalizing existing model sales” means nothing unless you know exactly what the target segment is and how that segment is different from existing segments? i mean, really, what is this “new market segment” (which presumably is different from existing BMW market segments) that is going to be willing to pay in excess of $40,000 for *that* car?

It’s evident that there is an utter lack of understanding for basic industry terms as “conquest sales”. Since you classified my well-meaning comment as “crap”, I won’t put any effort into writing another response.

So BMW made a great car for 14 year old girls. I doubt they were going for that. 😉

I love BMW i3 design. Period.

It is beautiful and will get into the relevant set next time I buy a new car.

Yeah. Right. Pull the other one, BMW.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Megacity vehicle? Does it have integrated machineguns and Widomakers?

You’re confused,,,,,
That, would be a muggercity vehicle.

I think that most people who criticize the looks of the i3 have not seen the car in person yet, walked around it, been inside it. A lot of cars are unattractive in a picture, but look great when you spend time with it in person. I think the i3 looks great in person. Now what?

Agreed, the i3 is much more appealing and charming in flesh. Some of the curves and angles do not look all that well on paper.