Reports suggest that BMW are getting cold feet over their electric Project i and are considering delaying the i3 and i8.
But as a replacement for the ICE car it’s a non-starter. An electric car is a commuter toy for the well-off – those prepared to pay through the nose just to cock a snook at congestion charges, BIK and VED – not a remotely viable alternative to an economical diesel or a 3-pot petrol.
But BMW’s Project-i visualises a world where buyers are happy to fork out serious money for an electric BMW. The little i3 is expected to cost at least as much as a decent 3-Series and the BMW i8 supercar more than any other mainstream Beemer.
Not only that, BMW envisage sales of 100,000 i3s a year and a not inconsiderable 10,000 sales for its i8 plug-in hybrid. Ambitious numbers, but numbers it now seems BMW are starting to think won’t happen.
With Western economies in trouble – particularly in Europe – ongoing subsidies for ‘Green’ motoring seem likely to be reduced (or disappear altogether) and there’s no sign of any significant quick-charge infrastructure on the horizon. And poor EV sales show that motorists really aren’t turned on by EV cars that do almost everything less well than their ICE alternative, but at a premium price.
So will BMW pull the plug on their i-brand? It’s a possibility, although one that would cost the Bavarians billions of Euros. What seems more likely is that the BMW i3 will hit the market later than planned with a focus on the range-extender rather than the pure i3 EV BMW expected to be its flagship.
As for the rest of the planned BMW Project-i range, it seems likely they’ll be left on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
BMW i3 Concept Photo Gallery
BMW i8 Concept Photo Gallery