On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of spending the day with our main BMW supplier. While much of this was to review delivered stock, discuss upcoming deals and options, some of the conversation turned to the new BMW i3 and whether this really is the next step in electic vehicles (Note – one of our main bloggers, Phil King, is extremely passionate about all things eco, electric, automotive and futuristic). Quite a heated and controversial debate followed …
Electric cars and ‘eco’ hybrid cars have moved forward over the last 3 years; we are at last seeing fleets and company cars consisting of the Prius, Ct200h or Ampera (to name but a few). Everyone has their own reasons car choices, whether reducing company car tax, avoiding the congestion charge or simply wanting to do their bit for the environment. The only small issue, is that these vehicles have only just become more functional and, above all, affordable (that technology isn’t cheap you know!).
So how does the new i3 fit in? Well, according to BMW “The BMW i3 opens a new chapter of a visionary design language for BMW tailor-made for electric vehicles….driven by pure electric power and customised for the requirements of a sustainable and emission-free mobility, it embodies an intelligent form of travel.” In short, BMW believe they have designed a functional and desirable electric vehicle which is visionary in both design and function. As any manufacturer is with a new product, there is a real sense of confidence that this can be a real success.
From a cost perspective, the vehicle is aimed at around £25,000, after the Government rebate for the vehicle. Not totally out of the realms of affordability for a car with this technology. Yes, a sub-£20k eco-car is really required to make them truly affordable but we are really at the cusp of production still. Economies of scale, which follows demand, should hopefully carve inroads here.
Howe does it drive? unfortunately we are yet to have our first experience due to lack of availability. The i3 will only be sold in a limited number of dealer groups to begin with. However, our good friends at Top gear have already given this car once over and they have been mostly positive about it. Yes, this will probably be suited to a narrow and specific genre of car drivers but with acceptable performance, handling and battery range, it is genuinely a car that could work for you. And that is surely the key thing? It is actually a functional car that can work on a day-to-day level at relatively affordable prices.
So is the car of the future really here? We say it pretty much is.