Friday, February 7, 2014

US i3 Orders Limited to Special "Launch Edition" Package For First Three Months

You want one of the first i3's in the US? You'll be getting the full leather Tera World interior as seen above and every option available besides the 20" wheels then. Welcome to the "Launch Edition i3"

Just yesterday, BMW i dealers received a bulletin that informed them they can officially begin to process customer orders and place them in the pipeline. Many customers have already left deposits at their local BMW dealerships even though it wasn't an official order yet, with the hope of being one of the first people to take delivery of this revolutionary vehicle. However they didn't have an official order place in the system, that was just to have a place in line reserved for them and to make sure they got one of the few allotted cars their dealer would get for 2014. So now that these reservations can be turned into official orders, everyone must be really happy, right?

Not so fast. In a move that will most certainly anger many of the enthusiastic people waiting patiently for their i3, BMW informed the dealers that the initial first three months of US i3 production will be restricted to a special "Launch Edition" i3. The Launch Edition i3 has the top of the line interior Tera World and every option available on the car besides the 20" Sport Wheels which you can add if you would like. (Options include: Metallic paint, Parking Package, Technology and Drivers Assist Package, DC Quick Charge Option, Heated Seats and the Harman Kardon Premium sound system). The only choice the customer gets is whether or not they want the range extender, the exterior paint color and if they want the 20" Sport wheels. So unless the people waiting in like with deposits are willing to take a fully loaded Launch Edition i3, they will have to wait an additional three months for production of the custom ordered i3's to begin. The Launch Edition i3 production will run from March to May so custom ordered i3 production will not begin until June.

As expected this isn't sitting well with a lot of folks who have had deposits and reservations for many months now. I've had over a dozen people reach out to me today to confirm whether or not this was true after being notified by their dealer. Some thought the dealer was just trying to jack up the price of their car by making them get options they didn't want and were seeking clarification from me. I wish I could tell them it wasn't the truth, but this is how it's being done. The unfortunate thing is many people have expiring leases and planned to make due for a few weeks until their i3 came in but now the gap is more like 3 or 4 months and they don't know what to do. Should they bite the bullet and get an additional ~$4,000 of options they didn't necessarily want or wait till July for the i3 spec'd the way they ordered?

Here is the cost breakdown of the Launch Edition i3:

Base:141A(BEV): $41,350.00
Color:B81: $550.00
Tera world:ZTW: $2700.00
Parking Package:ZPK: $1000.00
Tech+Driving Assist:ZTD: $2500.00
Heated Front Seats:494: $350.00
DC Fast Charging:4U7: $700.00
Harman/Kardon:674: $800.00
Destination: $925.00

Total: $50,875.

If you want the range extender just add $3,850, so a Launch Edition i3 REx will set you back $54,725.

The only exception to this is ordering process is for the current ActiveE drivers like me. As a "thank you" for participating the the ActiveE trial lease program, BMW is allowing us to order our cars "a la carte" in addition to giving us the heated seats and DC quick charge options for free. BMW is also creating some unique features that only our cars will have like interior, exterior and door sill badging, embroidered front trunk liner and BMW i floor mats. Plus we get priority ordering and the first batch of i3's that come to the US will include our cars and we should begin receiving them the end of April. BMW is calling our cars the "Electronaut Edition i3" and these only be purchased by current ActiveE drivers. The ironic thing is, I ordered my i3 REx with the Tera World interior and every option available including the 20" sport wheels. So even though I had the freedom to build my car the way I wanted to that the other early i3 buyers won't have, I'm still getting the car loaded just like the Launch Edition anyway.

I'm sure this will elicit some interesting comments below.


  1. There does seem to be quite a lot of indignation in the i3 facebook group at the moment :(

    Anyone who has kept an eye on the bigger picture will know that there are plenty of Europeans who placed orders last summer which are still waiting for their cars to go into build. Along with that, anyone in Europe ordering an i3 today is currently being told August delivery for the REx and September for the BEV.

    The US orderbook is just opening now so is it so bad that the date given is June/July ? That's a bit quicker than previous orders and if you want an i3 sooner BMW are giving you the option to purchase the "Launch Edition" to jump the queue.

    On the i3 forum I've previously seen US members saying that they expected to get their car in March after placing an order in January. Maybe that's where the disappointment comes from (incorrect info from dealer?) but to anyone watching how long the Euro orders have taken a 3 month leadtime was very unlikely IMO.

  2. Rubbish. Just another way to squeeze us for more $. Make the this special edition for a month and then begin filling existing orders. Why are they making this exclusively for three months? Do that many people want a loaded i3? This drives the price of the all electric version up over $50,000 and the range extended one to $54,000

  3. The problem is really for people whose lease is ending soon. (If you own your car, just order and wait.) I'm in that situation, considering an i3 to purchase or lease at the end of August. I guess it'll make a renewed commitment to Chevy and the Volt easier.

  4. This is bad news for me...

    I am one of the early adopters of leaf and my lease is up in May... I cant wait till august... I was hoping to lease a i3... I guess not.

    One more leaf it is :(

  5. I ordered mine with REX fully loaded as well...

    So, the irony follows me as well...

    Still waiting on the letter, but my dealer still has the sunroof in his paperwork. Waiting for them to yank that out too... (as previously reported)

    1. @ Dennis, the sunroof is still on the PDF of standard and optional features on BMW's US website, I called my dealer about the sunroof and according to their information the sunroof is coming. Although, I contacted my dealer, BMW North America, and BMW Genius ( through the genius app) I got not reply from BMW NA, my dealer yes basically, but the genius said no. The genius said in a very generic letter, they had decided not to offer it at first but they'll gauge demand and may offer it later. So I'm just going to cross my fingers and hope my dealer is smarter then the genius.


    2. We aren't getting sunroofs, I am 100% certain of this - unfortunately.

    3. That does suck, but owners of the M4 coupe, M6 coupe, and M6 Gran coupe don't get sunroofs due to the CFRP roof panels they all have. So I guess I can live with that, though if they take away one more thing, hello Mercedes B-class eDrive. I've never had a BMW without power seats, a sunroof, rear passenger doors that don't open independently, and such a shallow trunk.


  6. I ordered every option except for the rex so I'm ok, but I called my dealer anyway. My dealer has eight allocated to them, I got my deposit in early enough that I should be getting one of the first group of i3s in my area.


  7. Thanks Tom for your usual excellent summary of this latest issue.

    The picture you paint is exactly mine -- I've been stretching myself across "the gap" between cars, waiting for the i3 to come out. As I wrote in the article that you published (link below), my Volt lease ended on Dec 22nd and I've been holding out for an early i3. I placed deposits, designed my configuration, etc. Initially I hoped the car would be out in March, then April, then I heard May. But now I get this shocking news of either A) paying $3500-$4500 more just to get it in May, or B) waiting until July.

    Unfortunately I can't wait any longer than April or May. I'm already carless, and 7 weeks into my "experiment in creative transportation". And so sadly as of 48 hours ago I'm suddenly re-evaluating other EVs, include a test drive this weekend. I don't like them as much as I like the i3, but I'm in a corner here and need to get on with my life. It really is a loss for BMW because I am a hugely active EV enthusiast here in the Atlanta market, and would have provided enormous exposure for the car. (During my Volt ownership, at EV events people routinely thought I worked for GM and joked that I should be getting a kickback from them. Just this week somebody told me that their interest in the Volt was solidifed by my evangelism of it.)

    For me at least, BMW really blew it.

  8. I'm in nearly the same situation as Tom and Dennis, preferring all of the options with the exception of the Parking Package, and would have preferred to order without it. Ordered anyway, though, figuring the extra $1,000 gets me a pretty good chance to avoid the sunroof with the added weight and reduced structural integrity and headroom that come with it. It is very difficult to find a well equipped BMW without a sunroof, and I don't think this opportunity will last long.

  9. Tom,
    As a fellow electronaut, I have to say that I'm surprised by your post above. By any measure this is an insult to the activee community. One should read your December post from your activee blog to understand that all 699 of us where taken for a ride! I'm hoping BMW has taken good care of you, you certainly deserve it. As for the rest of us, BMW shouldn't be surprise when they see most of us pass on the opportunity to order an insulting "Electronaut Edition" i3.

    1. The response to the EE Edition has been all over the boards. I'v actually had a couple dozen Electronauts email me their thoughts about it. Personally I don't think BMW owes us anything. There was never any stipulation about completing the ActiveE trial and then you get some kind of deal on an i3. That being said, I think BMW probably missed out on a huge opportunity to reach out to the early adopters and really make something special for them, to give them a really nice than you for participating. What they are doing isn't terrible though. We get priority ordering, and will get out cars before anyone in the US. We get the choice of two colors Capparis White and Arravani Grey that nobody else can order yet. We get free DC quick charge option and the heated seats at no charge, plus the Electronaut Edition badging which I'm told will be done very tastefully.

      I can assure you BMW hasn't "taken care of me" I'm just another Electronaut and have never received anything from BMW and have never been compensated one cent. I'm buying my car from JMK BMW in Springfield and will pay what every other customer does for it. Being in their e-mobility program for five years now I've formed some friendships with many of the program managers, engineers, product managers and marketing people so I get exposure to some things that not everybody else does, but that's it.
      And for ordering, yes, I am sure there will be quite a few that pass on the car, but it was the same back when some MINI-E people didn't get the ActiveE. The take rate on the i3 with Electronauts has been high though. I don't have the official numbers - BMW won't offer that, but the last I heard it was over 60% so that is pretty good in my opinion.
      I am sorry you feel like you were take for a ride, I do hope you find yourself in another EV now that you're moving on, I would hate to see you go back to gas! All the best, Tom

  10. The production of i3 is rather limited due to llimited production capabilities, and the demand exceeds the supply by quite a margin.

    Therefore BMW are reallocating the i3s to the markets where they can make the biggest profit (eg Nordic and Benelux countries and fleet buyers).

    All the other markets include USA are currently not a priority. So the first customers to get i3s in USA are the Electronauts and the buyers who are ready to pay a full price of fully loaded i3.

    Electronauts are getting the cars earlier as a gratitude guest - yet under BMW'S conditions and without any huge discounts.

    With such moves BMW are trying to cater to the earliest adopters who are willing to pay the most and provide BMW a healthy profit. It's a logical move when demand exceeds the supply: then those who are willing to pay the most get the products first. All the others have to wait a bit longer. That's a base market rule.

    Best, Tine