BMW CEO To Germans: Get Over Your Angst, Buy Electric Cars Already!

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It's a tough job selling electric cars anywhere in huge numbers at the moment, with much of the buying public still skeptical of the potential benefits.

Spare a thought for those trying to sell electric cars in Germany then, where buyers are traditionally even more conservative in their tastes.

To this end, BMW has taken the very Germanic, no-nonsense step of telling his countrymen to "get over it" and drop their fear of electric vehicle technology.

According to Bloomberg, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer has told his fellow Germans they should put aside their fears of the unknown and embrace electric vehicles.

“Germany is respected and admired the world over for its engineering expertise and powers of innovation, but ‘German angst’ is also a concept the rest of the world is familiar with.

“We like to engage in long and fearful discussions because we Germans tend to see more problems than opportunities, and it is no different with electro-mobility."

With two significant electrified models from BMW set to debut in the next few years, the i3 and i8, Reithofer's comments are a timely message that genuinely good, usable electric vehicles are on their way.

Like many European countries, Germany's electric vehicle has been somewhere in the low to disappointing range--though the choice of vehicles isn't as high as it is in countries like the U.S. Aside from the Smart Electric Drive, there also haven't been many production electric vehicles from one of Germany's big manufacturers--something that could spur on Germany's domestic-loyal buyers.

BMW has launched a marketing campaign for its "i" electric sub-brand this week, promoting cars like the i3 and i8 through print and internet ads and a series of nine online videos.

Both cars will be thoroughly-engineered as electric vehicles, with no relationship to other BMW models.

At the same time, neither is a full step into all-electric mobility: The i3 does have an all-electric option but will also offer a range-extending model, while the i8 sports car is a plug-in hybrid rather than full electric vehicle.

Each is certainly more than a tentative toe-dip in the water (that's what the MINI E and BMW ActiveE are for) but both might appeal to Germans not yet comfortable with full battery-electric vehicles. And indeed, non-Germans not yet comfortable with such a thing.

At the same time, it'll put BMW at the sharp end of electric vehicle development, in a market that German analyst Stefan Bratzel believes will make up 2 to 3 percent of the global market by 2020, with hybrids taking 12 percent.

Perhaps some light admonisment from BMW will ensure Germany plays its part in that number...

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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Comments (11)
  1. Accusing Germans of EV anxiety is a bit rich frankly coming from a company which upcoming i3 is rumoured to be going to cause a bit of a sticker shock.

    So will the electricity bill BTW at $0,30/KWh. Driving a small diesel is actually only marginally more expensive per mile in a country that staunchly rejects any form of economical power generation.

  2. That's fair criticism, I believe. Market conditions are different in Germany than here in the US. Renault Twizy has done remarkably well there for a reason. Unfortunately, it does not count towards the sales volume of EVs, since it's technically a quadricycle. Another interesting trend is the wide adoption of e-bikes by commuters and city dwellers. They are much cheaper to operate than a car, and more sustainable too. The BMW i3 could do well in Germany. It's still one of the largest car markets, and many people love their vehicles. I believe those are the clients Mr. Reithofer was wooing in his speech.

  3. I bought the April edition of Top Gear magazine, the very first thing inside the cover is a huge BMW i3 ad. I bought the magazine because it has an article on the i3 and i8 there is also an article about the Mercedes SLS e-drive in it.

  4. Was the article more balanced in EV coverage than the show Top Gear is? Or is it just as bad?

  5. Actually the magazine is very balanced, just under the title in bold print it says "We grab a chilly lift in BMW's game-changing i3 and i8" both cars being winter tested. The article was very positive, Top Gear magazine is a well produced magazine that's on par with any other magazine. The article was written by Paul Horrell.

  6. I think if the German citizenry learns to embrace (and build) electric vehicles in numbers we will reach a tipping point.

  7. Germans to Reithofer: You first... After you... Grandstander. [Must be that time of the month... er... uh season. Yeah that's it. That's the ticket!]


  8. BMW would need to build a desirable product first, before Germany warms to EVs. I feel that their i3 and i8 are both a bit... odd.

  9. Again the USA shows its the leader in electric car adoption and innovation. Germany's addiction to middle eastern oil is bad.

  10. Leader, U.S.A.?!? Wow.

    U.S.A. is how behind, it is an international embarrassment. There are plenty of people on this site would really, really, really want to push electric vehicles, but to what end? Except for in a few states, most of the electricity is generated from coal and nuclear sources; the country as a whole has no consistent clean energy generation infrastructure nor policy; no infrastructure for recharging; and the technology, with its debilitating lack of range, is crippling.

    While the rest of the world happily put-puts around in environmentally friendly, advanced clean diesels of every make and model, most people here think clean diesels are bad, because they are terribly ignorant. Which leader, in what?!? Ignorance?!?

  11. "USA shows its the leader in electric car adoption and innovation"

    How is that statement wrong?

    Now, on what you wrote: "Except for in a few states, most of the electricity is generated from coal and nuclear sources; the country as a whole has no consistent clean energy generation infrastructure nor policy; no infrastructure for recharging; and the technology, with its debilitating lack of range, is crippling."

    Do I need to flame you again with all the energy consumption of EVs and how much new renewable power each year will MORE THAN cover the increase of EV loads to the grid?

    Can you do some math instead of just making blank statements? The best infrastructure for charging is home and work.

    Today ($/gal): diesel $4.50, gas: $4.02.

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