Nowadays, you can buy most anything online. Maybe you do your shoe shopping on the Internet, buy your electronics digitally, or purchase grocery deliveries on the world wide web.
But would you ever buy your car online?
BMW’s (ETR: BMW) innovative new Project I is aiming to make that possible. It combines the ease of online shopping with the green appeal of an electric car.
By 2013, BMW will have introduced two new electric vehicles: the i3 and the i8.
The BMW i3 is intended for city driving. It has a sleek design with opposing doors for a wide entryway into the four-seat cabin. Its technology can link to the owner’s smartphone, enabling them to find their car, locate charging stations, and find out other information easily.
It can be charged fully in six hours or 80% with a high speed charger in one hour.
The BMW i8, on the other hand, is a stylish hybrid sports car. It’s design is similar to the i3, with glass on the doors and roof, but this elegant four-seater has doors that lift up akin to Doc Brown’s DeLorean.
It can travel 20 miles on pure electric power, but as it’s a hybrid it isn’t limited to that. And since its electric range isn’t all that huge, it charges quickly too—100% in two hours in a regular socket.
The i3 is scheduled to be released towards the end of 2013 and have a price tag of around $48,500, while the i8 will be released in 2014 and cost quite a bit more—at least over $122,000.
And both of these vehicles will figure in BMW’s effort to sell cars online.
The site will allow BMW to skip the step of the middle man. Not having to go through a dealer mean 5 to 7 percent cheaper vehicles.
But of course, there has to be somewhere that the customers can see and test drive the vehicles. Most people prefer to drive a car before making a purchase.
But BMW has that covered. There will be a limited number of showrooms for the electric vehicles, and the dealers must have a high sales volume of BMWs to qualify.
The first showroom opened last week in London, where information will be available and prototype cars will be on display.
The idea has received much criticism from skeptics of the Internet-sales scheme. Many believe sales will struggle as customers will be unlikely to buy something so high tech without seeing it and testing out the features.
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Arndt Allinghorst of Credit Suisse AG said:
“Currently available electric cars have a limited market success because they are a big compromise. Customers are not willing to compromise and spend a lot of money.”
But BMW is confident in sales. It expects to deliver 31,380 i3s in 2014, which will actually surpass the Z4, its lowest-selling car.
And the company’s sales chief, Ian Robertson, doesn’t anticipate a loss from the risky project.
“We clearly, as a company, go into any product launch with the view of making profit, which is no different with the I brand,” Robertson said. “This is a car line just as every other car line, and we intend to make profit from Day 1.”
The company started the BMW I Born Electric Tour in Rome, an event that will last six months and travel through six other cities. The tour will promote the project and generate interest.
The success of the six month tour should create a firmer idea of how popular these innovative electric cars will be.
That’s all for now,