Sunday, August 4, 2013

Racing Into The Electric Car Category

Last week, BMW unveiled the i3, an electric vehicle with a driving range of 80-100 miles.  The anticipated cost for the i3 is $42, 275 and it's expected to be on the roads early next year.  BMW is the first traditional luxury automobile brand to introduce an electric vehicle, joining Nissan and Chevrolet as early competitors in the emerging electric car category.

The first three are well-established car companies with household names.  But Tesla is brand new.  They don't have the big factories or networks of dealerships already in place. So it would be natural to assume that Chevy, Nissan and BMW would have a big advantage in the race for leadership of the electric car category.

But branding is an extremely powerful element of business.  In any new category like electric cars, companies with "experience" are at a disadvantage because they've already branded themselves as something else.

Tesla has not.  They only make electric cars; that's the only thing a "Tesla" can be. But a Chevrolet, a Nissan and a BMW can be a lot of things.  They could be big cars, small cars, expensive cars, cheap cars, gas-powered cars or electric cars.  Their brand names are much more undefined.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Chevy, Nissan and BMW cannot build an electric car.  It just means it's a lot harder for these brands to sell them.
As always, thank you for reading and for sharing.


Austin Lutz said...

What is most concerning is that this does not feel authentic for BMW. BMW claims to be the ultimate driving machine, and now they are trying to reposition this car as a city car that is very economically friendly because it is electric. This is going to confuse traditional BMW fans and they will not adopt this car because it is not authentic BMW. The i3 is not the ultimate driving machine. It doesn't look like the ultimate driving machine with those tiny wheels and golf cart shape. It doesn't perform like the ultimate driving machine with 80 miles per charge and their zero to 60 speed is 7.2 seconds with a top speed of about 90 miles per hour. I can drive 90 miles an hour in rush hour traffic in Cincinnati Ohio so reaching my cars max speed in rush hour leaves more to be desired. Knowing the range will be further compromised by my aggressive driving style it leaves me no choice but to head straight home and charge before I can pick up the kids, meet some friends for drinks, or go to the gym without worrying if my battery will die.

Frankly it feels like they are just producing an electric car because they have to and not because they want to create the ultimate driving (electric) machine.

Alexander Villeneuve said...

We agree 100%.

Nothing about the i3 says BMW and ultimate driving machine. They should create a new brand for electric vehicles that won't hurt the ultimate driving machine position.