BMW will be embarking on a bold new method of selling cars with the launch of its electrified i3 city car
and i8 sports car
next year, the first models from the automaker’s new i sub-brand for environmentally friendly vehicles.
BMW will reportedly offer the cars to customers online, as well as through dealerships, which would be a first for the automaker though we could quickly see additional models sold in such a way if successful.
The reason is that online sales could drastically reduce costs, Bloomberg
reports, as it will eliminate the need for a vast dealer network. BMW is reportedly keen to draw back the high investment cost of developing the new models.
“We clearly, as a company, go into any product launch with the view of making profit, which is no different with the i brand,” BMW marketing chief Ian Robertson said. “This is a car line just as every other car line, and we intend to make profit from Day 1.”
Of course, people buying online won’t be able to test drive the cars. For this reason, most predict that online car sales will take years to gain any significance, meaning right now it is just an experiment. Additionally, such a scheme would face hurdles in the U.S. where automakers are not allowed to sell cars directly to customers in most states. Instead, car sales there must be transacted by an independently owned third party.
To spread the word about the new models and enable people to come up and get a hands on feel for them, BMW is taking the cars on a global tour to key markets where it expects them to be the most popular. Dubbed the BMW i Born Electric Tour
, it recently kicked off in Rome, Italy, and will be traveling to six other major cities over the next 12 months.
BMW also plans to open a new range of retail stores showcasing its i range. Called the BMW i Store
, the first is located on London’s trendy Park Lane and will be followed by additional stores in other locations in the not too distant future.