Sometimes the most fruitful seeds that one sows are the ones that take the longest to grow.
Even by electric vehicle standards, the BMW i3 isn’t exactly the strongest seller on the market with sales numbers falling below even what BMW expected for the vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not high on BMW’s list of priorities. As Automotive News reports, even though only 60,000 i3s have been sold since 2013, 47,000 units less than the number of Model S sedans Tesla sold during the same period, the German automaker does not think the i3 is a failure.
It’s numbers like these that leave many wondering, will BMW even bother to make a follow-up? When asked about the potential for a successor, i3 project manager Heinrich Schwackhoefer said, “"I firmly expect that. It's not the sentiment within the company that it's been a failure -- absolutely not at all." Part of the reason why the i3 may be seen as a winner despite not selling like one is that the model, as well as the i brand itself, is an investment on BMW’s part that may not pay off for at least a few more years. The i3 and i8 took a substantial amount of R & D investment from the Blue and White Roundel, but the result is that BMW now has a head start on the race for electrification over some of its competitors.
BMW even beat Mercedes to the punch, with the Tri-Star only unveiling its EQ sub-brand in 2016, three years after BMW launched its first i vehicle. This will pay off when cutting edge battery design that offers better range and charge times, strategic placement of lightweight materials for optimal vehicle dynamics, and use of recyclable materials becomes more of a priority throughout the industry. Better still for the Bavarian automaker is the fact that its i3 is made using green materials, taking the vehicle’s eco factor further than it would by purely eliminating CO2 emissions. With an all-electric X3 on the way, we can be sure that some of the lessons learned building the i3's successor will be carried over to reduce costs.