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BMW Admits i3 Did Not Meet Customer Expectations

Electric Car

But this doesn't mean it's been a complete failure.

Back in 2013, BMW launched its i3 alongside the i8, though it was the former the German automaker hoped would become a best-seller. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for a number of reasons, among them the i3’s unconventional exterior design and, perhaps most importantly, it was engineered for urban mobility. What does that mean? Its range was not good enough for customers. Automotive News Europe recently spoke with the head of BMW’s i brand, Robert Irlinger, who admitted the i3 didn’t meet expectations.

“What I can say… is that we had a learning process. We started with a range of 130 km to 160 km (80-99 miles) in everyday conditions (with the original 60-amp-hour cell i3),” he said. “We thought that was enough since we positioned the car for urban mobility. But the customer had a mindset that more range would be better, so we decided it was necessary to bring a second battery update relatively quickly.”

The updated i3 and its more powerful battery pack and expanded range from 81 miles to about 115 miles is very much welcomed, but compared to new rivals such as the Tesla Model 3 and the less expensive Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt, the i3 is lagging behind. Basically, BMW miscalculated the fact that EV buyers wanted their cars for more than just “urban mobility.”

They wanted an EV with the same capabilities as a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. Why should they be limited with range? BMW recognized this fairly quickly, hence the update. BMW improved the i3’s by an additional 30 percent for 2019 as a direct response to customer demands.

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“Car buyers continue to ask for more range at present,” Irlinger added. “But there could come a time when they say, for example, 600 km (373 miles) under WTLP rules is sufficient. The updated i3 and its more powerful battery pack and expanded range from 81 miles to about 115 miles is very much welcomed, but compared to new rivals such as the Tesla Model 3 and the less expensive Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt, the i3 is lagging behind. Basically, BMW miscalculated the fact that EV buyers wanted their cars for more than just “urban mobility.” They wanted an EV with the same capabilities as a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. Why should they be limited with range?

BMW recognized this fairly quickly, hence the update. BMW improved the i3’s by an additional 30 percent for 2019 as a direct response to customer demands. “Car buyers continue to ask for more range at present,” Irlinger added. “But there could come a time when they say, for example, 600 km (373 miles) under WTLP rules is sufficient.

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