Sunday, January 19, 2014

Strong Turnout at JMK BMW For i3 Drive Event

One of the i3's at JMK before they needed to take it off the showroom floor to use for test drives. I'd guess at least 50 test drives were given during the day.
Manny Antunes, JMK BMW client adviser and BMW i3 specialist admitted he was overwhelmed with the amount of people that came to check out and drive the i3's the dealership had for the day last Thursday. BMW gave JMK two i3's for the day and the original plan was to leave one on the showroom floor and use the other one for test drives. However as soon as the day began it became clear they needed both cars for test drives because there were so many people there that signed up to drive an i3. Manny did a great job and was at it all day. He didn't even stop for lunch as there was a line of people waiting all day for test drives.

Manny Antunes & I after a long day
The problem was, once they took the car off the showroom floor there was nothing there for the people waiting for their turn to test drive one to look at. Plus since Manny had to use another client adviser to accompany the customers in the test drives, there really wasn't even anybody from the dealership that could stand there and take on all the i3 questions. However that's exactly why he asked me to stop by, just in case they needed help with answering questions about the i3 or electric cars in general. I usually never mind talking about electric cars, but even I was worn out after over 8 hours of nonstop questions from the 100 or so people that came to see and drive the i3.

Even with running both cars not everybody got to drive one, since both cars drove well over 150 miles they needed to be charged a few times during the day to keep them going. Witnessing the strong demand for test drives was very promising. The range of people I talked to was also surprisingly varied. There were Nissan LEAF owners as well as people that have never even driven in an electric car but had heard about the i3 and were interested in buying one. We also had about six ActiveE drivers stop by to take another look before they decide to place their order for the Electronaut Edition i3 or not.

I'm really happy Manny and JMK reached out to me to give them a hand with the i3 launch. The i3 is going to be like nothing that BMW dealers have ever had to deal with before. Dealers that understand this and reach out for help will be the ones that excel with the i brand and sell a lot of i3's. Nissan and Chevy went through the same thing when they launched their electric car offerings. Some of their dealers are selling plenty of LEAF's and Volt's, yet other dealers in the same markets sell very little. What is the difference? Being prepared. Knowing the product and training the client advisers to know what questions to expect will make all the difference. I know JMK BMW is taking this serious and I'm sure they are going to be one of the areas leading i brand dealerships. Wherever you live, if you are thinking about getting an i3 check out a few of your local BMW dealerships and feel them out a bit. Make sure you find one that is making an effort to really know the i3 and have people on hand that can answer the unique questions that battery electric cars have. If your dealer doesn't know the difference in level 1 and level 2 charging, or they don't know the details of the i3 battery warranty then my recommendation would be to look elsewhere.

It was a crazy hectic day, but it was really great to see how many people came out to test drive this truly revolutionary new BMW.

11 comments:

  1. I was there in the afternoon and didn't have to wait too long for the test drive. I was the one asking you all the questions about the heat pump. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me it was very helpful :~)

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    1. You are welcome. If I recall correctly you drove over an hour to get there, thanks for doing so. Like I said at the event, if you have any questions just email me, I'm happy to help.

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  2. over and beyond! Awesome job Tom.

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    1. Thanks Peder! It was so good to see so many people interested, many of which have no prior EV experience. It's like they really wanted to get one, but they need the reassurance that they aren't making a mistake. This is a big jump for someone. They have a LOT of concerns, charging and battery life paramount. They need to feel confident the person they are talking to at the dealership knows this stuff inside and out.

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  3. Really nice to hear there is so much interest out there, which bodes well for BMW's future electric offerings!

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  4. In Berkeley it was a different story. There were 3 i3s and no wait. I guess a lot of people read your blog!

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    1. That plus the i3 has made many appearances in CA already. This was the first time it was available for test drives in NJ.

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    2. Very nice of you to help them out like this. The folks in Berkeley didn't know the car at all.

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    3. That is the case at most dealership Alex, unfortunately. I'm actually flying up to Canada next week to help train a BMW dealership up there. There is a LOT to learn about these cars and unfortunately it appears BMW hasn't really done much for the dealers yet and they are getting nervous. I have been contacted by a few dealers that have asked me for help already.

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  5. Hi Tom,

    This is Alex, the guy with the French accent and the 2 kids that came around 6pm.

    It was nice meeting you; thanks for answering all my questions!

    There is only 1 point that left me confused: the battery warming system and the heated seat option. You confirmed that day that you need that heated seat option to get the battery warming system. But the BMW sales team said exactly the opposite when I asked them to confirm:

    "Heated seats have nothing to do with warming the battery. I’m sure that was a simple misunderstanding. The battery’s temperature is cooled and heated by the Thermal Battery Management system which also uses electricity to heat the seats, that may be the connection he was referring to."

    I think it's an important point to clarify for people; especially for those leaving in cold areas.

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Alex,

      I'll speak to them and make sure they get this right. They may be confused about the car warming the battery as you drive and having the ability to pre-warm it before you start your journey. You need to order the heated seat option ($300) in order to have the ability to precondition the battery with heat to make sure the battery is warm and you are still at 100% charged when you leave your home in the winter. Otherwise it will use the energy from your battery while you are driving and it will cut into your range quite a bit.

      If you live in a cold weather climate like we do here in the North East, you absolutely need to order the heated seat option so you can precondition your battery and warm it up in the winter.

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