BMW’s $150,000 ‘Electric’ Car Sales Crater

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BMW has been in the high-end “electric” car business for some time. Its BMW i8, a sports supercar, which sells for $150,000, is really a hybrid. BMW sells about 50 units a month, and those sales are collapsing.

BMW has not offered any explanation why sales of the i8 coupe have imploded. BMW has only sold 331 of them in the first nine months of 2017, versus 1.089 in the same period a year ago — a drop of 70%.

BMW calls the i8 an “electrified vehicle,” which means in reality it is a hybrid. For wealthy buyers who want a real high-end electric vehicle sports car, this will not do. BMW promotes the engine configuration:

When a car looks this fast, it better live up to its appearance. The BMW i8 does exactly this with its innovative electric motor that sits on the front axle and the TwinPower Turbo 3-cylinder engine that drives the rear axle. When combined, they deliver a total output of 357 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque, and can reach 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.

Even though the charging system for one engine works similarly to a Tesla, the three-cylinder engine makes the car both gas-powered and electric.

Without debate, the i8 is a supercar. It has an extraordinarily luxurious interior, futuristic construction with some parts of the car build from carbon fiber, and a zero to 60 mph performance of 4.2 seconds.

What are people in the market likely to buy if they bypass the hybrid i8 because they want a fully electric car? Probably the high-end Tesla Model S, the P100D. The $135,000 car has comparable features to the BMW i8 and has a zero to 60 mph performance of 2.5 seconds.

Like every other major car company, BMW has ambitious electric car plans and aspirations. The i8 has been a very poor start, so BMW has a long way to go.