Announcing BMW Claim Chowder

Last week, Harald Krueger was named future CEO of the BMW Group in place of Norbert Reithofer. Until Krueger’s appointment becomes effective in the spring of 2015, the automotive press has started drawing profiles of the upcoming BMW Chief and detailing what he will have to do to ensure the relevance of the Group in a highly competitive market. This is all very well, until you read the content of one of these profiles.

Automotive News reporter Diana Kurylko has been on roll lately. More than a month ago, she made a questionable assessment of state of MINI sales in the US, and earlier this week she published a laundry list of everything that’s “wrong” with Reithofer’s legacy and how it represents a major challenge for his successor. It is perfectly fine to criticize the state of something when there are tangible facts to support such criticism. However, when said facts are twisted to serve click-bait headlines, this is a problem. Car companies publish a significant amount of news and data on a weekly basis, which makes it difficult for generalist news outlets such as Automotive News to report on everything in a thoughtful manner. Nevertheless, it should not prevent their journalists from doing proper investigation work and thinking twice before publishing their posts.

To that extent, and inspired by the fantastic work of John Gruber at Daring Fireball, we are announcing a new category in BimmeFile: BMW Claim Chowder. Although BimmerFile doesn’t pretend to be the source of truth on everything BMW, we like to think that our opinions are based on a deep knowledge of the brand and a proper understanding of the industry. And since some journalists repeatedly appear to disregard this basic principle, we’ve decided to keep track of their claims for future reference.

With that in mind, here is what sparked our interest in Mrs. Kurylko’s latest post:

CEO Norbert Reithofer wants the environmentally friendly i cars to be his legacy. But initial sales are relatively low: This year, BMW delivered 13,849 i3s and 1,129 i8s worldwide through November.

This statement doesn’t read as “the i3 and i8 are niche, low volume cars” but as “i3 and i8 sales are disappointing”. That’s very interesting, because not two month ago Automotive News reported that BMW was seeing surprisingly strong demand for the i3. Also isn’t the i8 sold out? In fact, both cars are doing so well that BMW decided to triple its production of carbon fiber. And because we are not BMW apologetics, we compared launch sales of the i3 and i8 to the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S respectively.

The Leaf has become the best selling EV in the US, and with a higher price-point, I think the i3 is not doing so bad compare to its competitor during the same launch period. Similarly, the i8 doesn’t have anything to envy to the Model S which now dominates the luxury EV segment. These cars might not make for the best of comparisons, but it indicates that both the i3 and i8 appear to be doing fine, and above else, that anyone should refrain from making a judgment after six and three months of sales respectively.

I can’t wait for Mrs. Kurylko’s next article on the subject!

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  • Herr26

    A retraction has been requested. Said manager was beyond rage. Many attribute Reithofer to things he has not done and should have done for the enthusiast. But what he has done for the customer and the brand in his tenure is seriously overlooked especially that BMW now have a serious innovation lead over their competitors.

    • Nick Dawson

      I totally agree with you that BMW now has a serious lead in innovation over its competitors, but the real question must be, at what cost?

      As you know, the problem for RN was that BMW’s ‘Old Guard’ was never 100% behind the i project, and resented the ‘billions’ that the project consumed and diverted away from R&D on traditional models. They argued that BMW could not afford the i project, and they may yet be proved right.