|It's -2 degrees F here in Canada and I'm talking BMW i3 at Budd's BMW in Oakville!|
I've written a few posts on my blogs about how poorly many dealerships have done when it comes to selling their electric car offerings. I blasted Nissan and GM pretty good a while back and had hoped that BMW would learn from the mistakes the other OEM's made when they rolled their EV's into their dealers' showrooms. However I'm starting to wonder if that will be the case.
Electric cars are different in so many ways. If the sales team isn't prepared for the onslaught of questions that they are going to get hit with as soon as the i3 becomes available to order, then it will not only hurt sales of the i3 but it will certainly tarnish the BMW brand image. BMW dealers will have an even tougher time than the other brands had in my opinion because the i3 isn't just an electric car, it really is a revolutionary vehicle. Besides the typical EV questions about the car's anticipated range, battery life, battery management, the effects of weather on the battery, charging, etc, they also have to explain the unique architecture with the carbon fiber and aluminum construction and the thermoplastic skin. How will it respond in an accident? How expensive will it be to repair? Why are the tires so skinny and will they perform well? And that's before they even begin asking about the range extender. Can it drive up a long hill at highway speeds? Can I simply refill it with gas and keep going? Why can't it be turned on manually? Does the waste heat from the engine warm the cabin? What is the maintenance schedule? And so on...
|I've been working with JMK BMW in Springfield to help get them ready for the i3 also.|
In addition to the Geniuses asking me for help, I have recently been getting emails from BMW dealerships asking me questions about the i3. They say BMW has promised them support for the i brand, but they haven't gotten it yet and people are now starting to call and come in to ask for i3 and i8 information and they don't have anything. I have even been asked to come to a couple of dealerships to help train the staff. One dealer in particular, Budds' BMW in Oakville, Canada really wanted me to come and give them a crash course in the i3. They flew me to Toronto and paid me to spend the whole day there and instruct three training sessions. I didn't do it for the money. I really just wanted to help them out since they clearly want to establish themselves as the area's premier BMW i dealer. They were willing to go the extra mile to fly me out there and pay me to help train them and I respect that so I went. The day went really well, and I'm sure they learned a lot about the i3. The following day I got emails from both the dealership manager and the owner and they both thanked me and were so pleased with how the training went they indicated that they would like me to come back to help them more once they get closer to the i3 launch. I have to say they were all really great people up there and I will certainly continue to help them if they ask.
It's not too late to get everybody up to speed, but the clock is ticking. The i brand launches in a couple of months and there is a LOT of ground to cover. I'll continue to help out when I can and in fact I have another dealership training set up for next week. I won't mention which dealer because I didn't ask them if I could talk about it. Budds' was fine with me talking about this, and they really should be in my opinion. I commend them for wanting to be prepared. They are obviously a forward-thinking, progressive dealership that wants to have a competitive advantage and I really respect that. The next few months should be very interesting. I guess I'll know how well BMW is doing in preparing their dealer network for the i3 by how many phone calls for help that I get! I really hope they do it well. BMW put so much into the development of the i3 and i8, it would be a shame to have them do poorly because they didn't help their dealers get prepared for these unique and ground-breaking, cars.