World First

13 December 2012 – 9:09 am

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BMW i launches its first concept store in London’s Park Lane.

Featuring an almost ready to go BMW i3 concept and a futuristic concept sports i8.

Under the slogan, Born Electric, great emphasis is placed on BMW’s range being designed from the outset as an electric vehicle. Unlike some other motor manufacturers, this is not a retro fit. BMW states this has engineering, as well as marketing benefits. For instance the batteries are concealed in the floor pan of the chassis derived car, giving better stability than class competitors. Most manufacturers typically place a battery wherever it will fit; in what was originally a vehicle designed for the internal combustion engine.

BMW i’s manufacturing process is also green, with products in the vehicle having an eco-friendly dimension. For example the leather is tanned using olive oil, rather than harmful toxins, the German assembly plant will run from renewable energy sources and so forth.

The first car in the range, the five door i3, will be available to buy from late 2013. A range extender will be available as an option, to alleviate ‘range anxiety’. The idea is this petrol motor can charge the battery when needed, but will never be the main driving power source.

On the marketing side, there is a strong US awareness push, tying in with BMW’s i Ventures, and its car sharing scheme which is currently having success in places such as San Francisco.

The dynamic verdict is, this is a step in the right direction and BMW has taken time to position itself in what is becoming a crowded confusing space. BMW’s plans are well thought through and on brand. However, getting to such perfection, has seen other manufacturers steal a march to date. The field is wide open and BMW is the first to develop and market in a 360 manner, which is going to see much quicker model recognition than previously in the sector, which should translate to sales for BMW and sector prominence.

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