It takes customers a little while to get used to any new vehicle, but for new vehicles like the BMW i3 and upcoming BMW i8 sports car it could take a little longer than most.

As electric vehicles, and uniquely-styled and equipped ones at that, there's plenty to learn. Just how do the cars work? What functions does it have? How do I even turn the thing on?

BMW has prepared for all that with i Genius--an SMS-based service using artificial intelligence to converse with customers and answer their queries on the car. It's been developed by London Brand Management, founded by 19-year-old Dmitry Aksenov, who says, "our Artificial Intelligence software is truly groundbreaking and provides a unique channel for BMW and its customers to make better buying decisions by getting access to the right information at the right time in the right place."

The system is capable of interpreting words, as well as the context of the words and the sentiment behind your questions--helping it piece together a real-time, helpful response. Because the entire system is electronic, customers can ask it questions whenever they like--handy if you need to know something about the car while your local dealer is closed.

At the moment, the system is UK-only, but if it proves popular it's likely to spread to other countries selling BMW i vehicles too.

We tested it out, texting a question about the BMW i8's powertrain to the shortcode number, 84737. It answered the question quickly with no issues--even if the language was a little verbose and very much PR-based rather than simple and casual. A follow-up question about the BMW i3's launch date--November in Europe, early 2014 in the U.S--was also answered, with a link to BMW's official i3 site.

Once BMW delivers its first electric cars, it's sure to be a useful resource for those early-days ownership questions, too.


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