In a piece for the New York times, Dexter Ford introduces the 2015 BMW i8, calling it the sports car of the future. From the information presented, however, it seems more like a commercial for the future. The i8 represents a lot of what consumers and producers have shown interest in recently; it is very light, and can run on electricity alone, making it clean and quite. Then there are the down sides. For starters, it costs $136,000, which immediately eliminates the majority of the market. Add the fact that it can only go 20 miles before needing three half hours to recharge, and it looses even more appeal. Finally, Ford seemed to find it very important to mention that the i8 has limits on who can ride, with a back seat that is “designed for tiny, limber people” and a driver’s seat that lacks leg room. Additionally, he describes getting out of the driver’s seat as trying to get out of a bath tub without using your hands. In a time where consumers expect more technology, comfort, and enjoyment for less and less money, the i8 does not appear to be market ready, and seems to serve as more of a concept car.
However, I believe that this is not the worst thing that could happen for BMW, and it was likely even calculated to an extent. By making it available to the market earlier than other companies’ counterparts that are likely to follow, BMW is announcing their technological capabilities and establishing themselves as a company of the future. I believe that in the future, as every auto producer has a lightweight electric vehicle, consumers will remember BMW as the company that was around longest. If it seems that consumers aren’t remembering this, the 2015 i8 can easily be used by BMW advertising executives as an example of their longstanding place in the electric car market.
The only downside to this strategy would be if too many people gave too much attention to the i8’s flaws, which could cause BMW’s electric cars to develop bad reputations.
Does it seem like this arguably early release will serve as a good marketing strategy for BMW? Or will they regret it in the long run?