Couple of weeks earlier we applied for a test drive at BMW i website, providing our Munich hotel address. Had to make it this way because Bulgaria is not in the list of test drive countries. Yeah, we won't wait five years for sure!
Fast forward to Munich, showing up at the BMW on demand desk at BMW Welt we presented briefly our EV team and simply asked:
"Can you please arrange an i3 test drive for us? We've traveled 1500 km to do it!"
"Umm, no, we don't have the i3 here."
Whoops! Once again:
"OK, we're running an established EV blog and info platform. We're blogging and informing about the car (and all EVs of course) for couple of years now and we've come to test and show it to the public. There should be something you could do to arrange an i3 test drive for us, right?"
"I guess you better ask at information desk, but let me come with you."
There, not much of a help either. Some discussion in German, some anxious faces, and back to "on demand" desk.
"Would you hold on while I call BMW Niederlassung to ask if they have a car available for test?"
Sure, give it a try, brother, we've crossed the continent so getting couple of streets further should be pretty easy.
The guy then called, gave my cell number and email to someone and said:
"They are sending you an email right now," and while still on the line added, "but i can't promise anything."
"Why is there 'Request a test drive' form on BMW i website when BMW does not provide i3 test drives?", we ask.
"I don't have an answer to that," came the answer in a blush. "But you can try the ActiveE for €25 per hour!"
Ugh? Thanks but what's the point to do a video test drive and show people car that is not going to get into production? And we've blogged and posted a lot of videos about it already.
With no emails or calls coming our way, we headed to the BMW i corner. Cool idea, if there's someone to talk to. No one around the non accessible i3, so lets take some pics until we wait. Ten minutes later still no one but hey, we can do some i8 pics upstairs meanwhile.
Done. Back to i3 but no, empty as before... no BMW person to talk to.
"You hungry, guys?", I ask my buddies. "Let's have something while we wait."
Enjoying our fresh salads over at the other end of BMW Welt, we enjoyed the crowd at M-corner. Right, everybody loves M, no matter i is all over the place (including a giant poster on the building across the street and solar panel array big enough to charge a building full of i3s)...
Half an hour later, with still no one at the i-corner, we were quick on a decision: We won't surrender – off to BMW Niederlassung!
It's close and once there we finally find an i-guy. We quickly repeat our story and here we go again:
"I'm sorry guys, but we don't have the i3 here. Not yet. We start November 16".
Yeah, we know. We blogged about it months ago. But we already organized couple of EV test drives for Renault in Bulgaria well ahead of the launch. So BMW starts the test drives along with sales and not earlier? Sounds weird, no?
Running out of options, "What now" comes to mind? We've being refused an i3 test drive at the Welt and at the dealership so traveled in vain? Of course not. Renault's right next to BMW. And our ZOE's waiting quietly to take a spin. But it turned out we're not finished with BMW yet...
Signing the paperwork, something catches our glance outside. "Camo" i8 with a young and obviously embarrassed guy behind the wheel. Looked like a student. Can't be a test driver, we tried to soother ourselves, they don't have test vehicles, yet!
Five minutes later, an i3 stops at the traffic light with Test drive vehicle sticker on the drivers door. What the... but didn't they say "we don't have the i3 here"?
Apparently they do. And not just one. Returning from our ZOE test an hour later we ran into another i3. Oh, it's not for people from the small markets. That could be it! No, guys, we do not accept this, so we push and will push more and more for EVs getting to Bulgaria as well (not years later)!
So, sad but true – looks like you can't drive (electric) BMW even in Munich.
Luckily, this was not the case with Tesla. We had a blasting 30 km test drive with our Tesla host, who used to work at BMW, and now we're just sorting out the leasing for our Model S.
As for the i3, looks like it's going to be some other time.
Oh, once we let our readers know about the experience in Munich on our Facebook page, someone posted a picture of a i3 test vehicle charging right in front of the Welt, sometimes in September. So October proved the wrong choice for us ;).
P.S. Still no email (or call) from BMW i, but on a personal side not, I very much like the way BMW communicates (but not the teasing) about the i3 and i8 – emphasizing the sustainability. So I disagree with Eric Lovdeay's recommendation that BMW shoud try to sell i3 based on "looks, performance, price and brand name". Thought you're kind of green, not a boring status quo guy, Eric. If we put it all down to "looks and 0-100s" then it's just like every other car. So, yes, I'm excited exactly about the fibers, the oil, the eucaliptus, the screens and every other distinguishing i3 EV feature. If they only kept the glass doors . Would not be wondering "to buy or not to buy i3" now...