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BMW i3 Poll reveals surprising facts about who buys electric vehicles

Torque News’ exclusive poll reveals that buyers of the newest electric vehicle, the BMW i3, are not who BMW predicts will buy the car, and what they trade in does not fit the gas guzzler to green car narrative.

Torque News has done our own poll of BMW i3 owners and those with cars on order in the US market. We found that the cars that are being turned in by these US market early adopters and BMW EV enthusiasts fall into some neat categories overall. The easiest observation to make is that almost nobody that buys an i3 electric BMW sedan is turning in a gas guzzling internal combustion engine powered “ICE” car.

This should not really be a surprise. It does however upset the meme that electric car buyers are moving to them from polluting gasoline powered cars. We are in year three of the modern electric car market in the US. We are also at the end of the first decade of Toyota’s amazing hybrids. So that means that the people with a passion for the environment who want green cars may already have made their first purchase of a green car.

In total we polled a group of about 1,800 i3 owners and enthusiasts and 40 replied with a definitive answer about what they are trading in for the i3 they have bought. A couple are trading in 2 vehicles, so we counted both and we therefore have 42 vehicles listed that owners either sold or traded for their new i3. This may sound like a small number, but remember only 336 i3 were sold in the US last month (May). We have answers from roughly 12% of that number.

Meet the ActiveE Electronauts
Some readers may not know this, but BMW started a program a few years ago to bring in some EV enthusiasts who would lease electric versions of their small sedans. First BMW electrified some MINIs. Then they created a more formal program with electrified 1 series coupes. These cars are called ActiveE cars and they look like a regular BMW 1 series car, but are fully electric. I drove one and found it to be one of the best EVs ever built. Possibly only the Tesla was a better electric car overall in my opinion. However the i3 is a much more dramatic EV. It goes beyond the ActiveE in many environmentally beneficial ways.

The people in the program are called by BMW “electronauts.” These BMW insiders and early adopter/brand champions are a big part of the i3 early buyers, and that is no accident. On the list you will see ActiveE is presently the most commonly turned in car for new i3 owners. My observation is that these electonauts loved the ActiveEs. Many requested extensions on their leases.


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