The big news for BMW at the Los Angeles motor show is the latest push in its electric i car programme. We’ve seen the BMW i3 hatchback and the BMW i8 sports car before, but LA marks an acknowledgment that the sub-brand needs to grow.
Last night, the BMW i3 Concept Coupe was revealed at a preview event in Beverly Hills. And the car we were shown is arguably the most interesting of all the i models. It injects more style and, as i design boss Benoit Jacob put it, “more emotion” into the brand.
The i8 Spyder, which we’ll see later today at the show, may be the car that gets the magazine front pages and will be the car that the adolescent car buyer of tomorrow will hang on their wall, but it is cars like the i3 Coupe that are more likely to leave interested parties reaching for their wallets.
Jacob also suggested that a small, urban car and a sportscar may not be the only models the i brand will spawn. The nomenclature given certainly supports this, allowing for something smaller to sit below the i3 range, and a number of larger, more practical models above it.
But a sub-i3 offering may not necessarily be a car. Jacob said i “isn’t just about car mobility”, and everything from kick-along scooters to charging infrastructure is all part of the i dream.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether buyers want a 'solution', or just a car that can do everything. If that’s the case, then maybe a pure electric car is just a red herring; a Minidisc moment that will pass when something more flexible comes along.
Range anxiety isn't going away, and the proliferation of range extenders proves there is another way. BMW should consider it, even if it waters down the pure i brand.