It’s still a long ways away, but poor sales haven’t dampened BMW’s confidence in the model

Say what you will about the BMW i3’s lack of sales success – a little over 60,000 units have been delivered since the car wine on sale at the end of 2013 – but BMW is reportedly not willing to throw in the white towel on the model just yet. Sure, it’s probably wishing that it would’ve resonated more to its customer base, there are indications that a second-generation model for the i3 is likely still in the cars.

Speaking with Automotive News, the i3’s project manager, Heinrich Schwackhoefer, expressed confidence in the likelihood of seeing a next-generation model. Schwackhoefer didn’t expound on his apparent confidence in the model’s status within BMW, but even if he did, it’s unlikely that BMW will have made a decision on the car considering that the incumbent model is still just three years into its life cycle. If anything, a next-generation model wouldn’t be due until sometime in 2019 or 2020 and by then, there could be a completely different narrative surrounding the i3 itself.

In the meantime, BMW is still working hard at giving the i3 the updates it needs to remain relevant in the market. In fact, the German automaker even rolled out a significant update for the model earlier this year. The update includes, among other things, a higher-density battery that BMW co-developed with Samsung and comes with a 33kWh-capacity – an increase from the 22kW batteries of the old models – that has an EPA-certified range of 114 miles on a single charge. That adds an extra 33 miles on the range of the previous battery. Whether that’s enough to boost the sales of the i3 is another matter entirely, but fans of the model can rest easy, at least for the time being.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

BMW can’t cut the cord on the i3

It’s true that the BMW i3 hasn’t sold as well as BMW expected, but even if it needed to make an immediate decision on fate of the compact EV, it would be a bad move if it decided to stop production altogether because I think it would set a bad precedent for BMW’s future electric vehicles.

Like most automakers, BMW has high hopes for its future EV lineup. It already has plans for a roadster version of the i8 and it’s even planning new models to join the fold, including the rumored i5 SUV. Beyond that, BMW is also working on a bigger flagship mode that will have its own autonomous driving capabilities and even its Mini sub-brand is getting its own electric model in 2019.

All these cars are part of a long-term plan to bolster BMW’s zero-emissions lineup and that doesn’t even include the introduction of a zero-emissions version of the X3 crossover. Now imagine if BMW decided to axe the i3 because of “poor sales?” Whatever response you have to that question, one thing is clear: it’s not going to be a good look for the German automaker if it cuts the cord on a model that’s considered as one of the two models, together with the i8, that ushered in a new era of BMW vehicles.

From a business standpoint, the i3 hasn’t lived up to its end of the bargain and BMW is right to be concerned about its future status. Here’s the thing though: the zero-emissions market is still in its infancy and there are some growing pains that come with it. So instead of blaming the i3 for its poor sales numbers, it’s in BMW’s interest to double-down on the i3 and give it new features and technologies that’s going to make a bigger and more lasting impression to prospective buyers. It just so happens that a second-generation i3 is a good place to do it.

Read our full review on the BMW i3 here.

Source: Automotive News

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