BMW To Use Geniuses Like Apple--To Sell i3 Electric Cars

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BMW i3 Coupe concept

BMW i3 Coupe concept

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If you've ever bought a car, you might have experienced the frustration that comes with a sales person who doesn't really know about the car they're selling.

That's not an experience you'll have had in an Apple retail store though, where the Genius Bar program provides product experts to hand out advice and technical support for your product.

Soon, you'll get a similar experience in BMW dealerships, with the "BMW Genius Everywhere" program.

Trialled in the UK last year, the program is now being launched all over Europe--and a pilot program in the States will begin later this year, before full rollout in 2014.

Automotive News Europe reports the program places specially-trained employees in dealerships, armed with iPads.

They won't be responsible for selling cars, and they'll earn a salary rather than the typical commission on car sales. Instead, they'll be there to inform shoppers about vehicles, help them choose options and features, and generally improve the buying experience. If a customer wants to take the next step, they're handed over to a salesman.

That'll be particularly important when one particular BMW product rolls into dealerships--the i3 electric and range-extended electric cars. BMW wants a "critical mass" of Geniuses before the i3 arrives in early 2014, ready to inform customers on the car's powertrain and features.

Peter Miles, BMW of North America's vice president of operations, says every BMW dealership will be required to have a Genius.

That shouldn't be a hardship for dealers. In the UK's trials, dealers have found that Genius-aided customers tend to equip their vehicles better, and the cost of extra staff is negligible when the improved customer satisfaction is considered.

Lexus and Cadillac already offer similar services, but it's the introduction of the i3 line that will really put BMW's Geniuses to the test. Video and audio experiences will be included in the program.

"The strategy is to make our knowledge about our brand more interesting and more accessible to the consumer" said Miles.

iPhone and iPad apps will also be available, ensuring the customer is fully up to speed on the new technology. BMW is keen to inform customers of the engineering that goes into the car, rather than selling a car based purely on price.

One might say, given the expected elevated cost of the i3, that some knowledge of the engineering and design will attract customers despite the price...


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Comments (12)
  1. I can't wait to test out those "geniuses"...

  2. It would certainly take geniuses to sell this car at the rumoured $44-50K price tag in any serious numbers.

  3. Agreed. I'm actually interested in it and $44K-$50K is fine but who knows what else will be available in two years when I'm done with my Volt?

    But I'm probably far from a typical consumer, even for EV proponents. One positive for me is it's a sedan, not a crossover, as I'm not fond of crossovers at all.

    In the end, if a Volt is $42K and this is only $2K-$8K more, that would work for me. I still doubt this is what I'll get, but if there are leases, I'll certainly include it in my short list.

  4. On my last four cars I built them on BMW's website, printed out my configuration, and brought it to the dealer. It's not that hard anyone can do it, and I've yet to meet a salesperson that didn't know the details of the cars they sell. Most luxury car sales people are required to go to a factory training day to learn about the new cars and drive them. I don't think people need some nerd with an iPad to repeat information that's already online.

  5. "I've yet to meet a salesperson that didn't know the details of the cars they sell"

    Try some of the Chevy dealers that don't sell a lot of Volt(s)... Or Nissan Dealers that don't sell too many Leaf (leaves)...

  6. I did, I've test driven both the Leaf and Volt both times the salesmen were well informed and able to answer my questions.

  7. Lucky you! I can give you some of the dealer's name in Northern California for you to try out... Espcially those Chevy dealers...

    I had to drive past 3 Chevy dealer to get my Volt and all three of them are full of sales staff who are clueless about the Volt...

  8. i NEVER go to the BMW dealer- the service rep is a woman who knows NOTHING about cars- and the salesmen are annoying twerps- so, BMW needs to change it's whole corporate structure in the USA!

  9. Seems a little harsh to tar the entire BMW network based on the experiences of your one local dealer...

  10. This is the first BMW I've ever given a 2nd look to, too bad it's only a 2-door, though. I only buy 4-door rigs.

  11. The pics are of the i3 coupe, there is a four door it was the first i3 concept shown. Supposedly at next months Geneva auto show BMW will premiere the production four door i3.

  12. The i3 will launch as a 4 door. The rear doors are coach(suicide) style. The picture you see is of the i3 coupe concept that *may* follow some time later, but the i3 will be a four door.

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